Discuss this Gallery 8

on Feb 2, 2016

Ladder photo 5 of 23: This is common practice for phone and CATV. 1. The ladder shown is a fiberglass ladder and they have an electrical voltage withstand cert. 2. It is propped against a telephone local trunk line which has a steel cable messenger cable for support and for just such a need as holding a ladder. 3. Below the TELCO cable is the CATV trunk line. 4. Residential electric secondaries are well above the latter tip and the primaries are 16 to 18 feet above the secondaries if they are installed to Edison Electric Institute standards. The only thing I see is the ladder is not equipped with cable hooks on the fly end. That will eliminate over extension to hold it.

on Feb 2, 2016

I understand the intent of a photo gallery like this and the benefit of a "catch your eye" title along these lines. However, it is my hope that in the world of safety professionals and in particular, your magazine, that we have moved beyond blaming the worker mentality. A flashy headline such as the one used here will be forwarded and propagated to the detriment of actually improving safety. The workers in these situations will not be reached, but managers and leaders will see this article and perhaps finding it funny instead of tragic will have the idea that workers are stupid reinforced.

Your publication is better than that and should serve our industry better than you have done here. If possible, I request that you take this article off of your website.


Tom Garrett

on Feb 2, 2016

Maybe they are not idiots on ladders. Maybe they are just working men who need to feed their families.I worked on ladders myself for thirty years, and did many of the same things. I'm sure none of these working men could file a grievance. Lets face it, in the real world you do the job or you don't have a job. If they really were idiots they would be standing on the ground wondering how to do the job they are getting paid to do.

on Feb 2, 2016

Posts like this are embarrassing and completely unprofessional. Why we think it's acceptable for us to call the people we're supposed to serve "idiots" is beyond me. I get the need to have a laugh and a little fun, but to blame this all on the mental or moral deficiency of the worker is lazy and foolish. How are we supposed to build trust in our organizations is we insult the people we are ethically responsible to serve?

on Feb 5, 2016

I agree with the above comments. Click-bait type of headlines hurt EHS Today's credibility as an industry.

The only reason I clicked the link to the gallery was to comment on how appalling the title and spirit of it is. As stated above, these people, yes PEOPLE, are not idiots but human beings working to feed a family. If they lacked intellectual capacity in order to be classified as 'idiots' as you have they would either not be working or would be on the ground waiting for someone else to come of with a solution.

As safety and health professionals our charge is to protect people, property, and the environment, not to denigrate people for doing what they need to in order to provide for themselves. Assigning blame is not part of what we do, finding systematic errors and areas for improvement is.

Shame on you for perpetuating the misconception that workers are to blame when likely not provided with sufficient training, tools, and support from management. I recommend removing the gallery and issuing an apology for poor judgment in posting the gallery in the first place.

on Feb 8, 2016

Thanks for the input. While I appreciate the comments, even in a pinch, there are safer ways to do all of these jobs and workers should know better (as should their supervisors, if they have them). Just common sense should remind someone that propping a ladder on top of a van is a bad idea. Can anyone make suggestions on how these jobs could have been performed in a safer manner?

on Feb 10, 2016

Sandy, Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to comments. Yes, there are certainly safer ways to complete the tasks depicted in the gallery; however, the idea that workers 'should know better' and 'Just common sense should remind someone....' are not an excuse for degrading these people. As stated in comments above, this approach is degrading, unprofessional, does not address root issues, and hurts EHS Today's credibility as a resource. There are other ways to frame the photos in the gallery and get away from the shock headlines to get a safety message to people.

A quick note regarding common sense: What is common to one person may not be common to another. This is based on experience, training, education, culture, etc. Often times we see photos of construction projects in developing countries where employees are doing things considered unthinkable in the United States. These unsafe practices are what IS common in some areas. To say workers must rely on common sense is allowing them to make judgments based on their understanding of past experiences.... not what we want to rely on in my opinion. See article from Glyn Jones for additional discussion on this - www.cos-mag.com/training/training-columns/4477-is-safety-common-sense.html

on Feb 11, 2016

I think it is naive to believe that all of the workers in this photo gallery were untrained or poorly trained, placed under pressure to get a job done quickly or, even, unaware of the danger in which they were placing themselves.

We've all done it: Climbed on a chair rather than made a trip out to the garage to grab a ladder; scrubbed a toilet using caustic chemicals without wearing safety goggles; painted something without double-checking ventilation; allowed ourselves to be distracted while driving; didn't wear hearing protection while operating a lawn mower or weed wacker...

I contend that if you showed any of these workers his photo and said, "Was that a smart thing to do?" they would call themselves idiots and agree that the photo captured one of the dumber decisions of their lives. (And for the record, name of the actual photo contest from the UK's Ladder Association is "Idiots on Ladders.")

I think that claiming all injured workers or all workers involved in near misses were not properly trained is a cop out, a simplification of a much more complex issue. In some cases, workers receive hours upon hours of training and still take short cuts, even though the consequences of taking a short cut were explained to them at great length.

Author Bob Nease, PhD, spearheaded efforts that applied behavioral science to optimize the healthcare experience for patients. One focus was determining why patients don't take their prescribed medication. "Some of us thought it was an education issue, that patients just didn't understand how important taking their medications was. Others were sure it was a cost problem; that the copayments were just too high and patients couldn't afford to take their medications every day... We learned that 69 percent of the problem was due to forgetting or procrastination - inattention and inertia," says Nease.

He contends in his latest book, "The Power of Fifty Bits: The New Science of Turning Good Intentions into Positive Results," that there is a divide between what he calls the "good intentions" we have to do the right thing when it comes to the choices we make (and working in a safe manner is a sum of many elements - training, safe work practices and procedures, PPE and personal choice - in my opinion) and "our often faulty day-to-day decisions."

According to Nease, our brains can process 10 million bits of information a second, but our conscious brains can only process about 50 bits a second. Why the disparity?

Our ancient environment wired us for quick, instinctual reactions to a dangerous, unpredictable world. But 100,000 years later, we’re left with brains that are, says Nease, “stuck in the past.” We have very limited energy to put into complex, conscious decisions and so we often put them off or simply don’t bother with them. As a result, we behave in ways that may seem to contradict what is best for us.

I plan on discussing this issue further in my March Sandy Says column.

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