A Bit(ter) Reminder
/ Author: Chad Vankoughnett 915 Rate this article:
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A Bit(ter) Reminder

Be thoughtful. Be safe. Make it home without a story to tell

By Chad Vankoughnett, Representative

A few weeks ago, I was working in my shop on a project that involved using my compact router to shape some wood. Without thinking much about it, I was guiding the tool with my thumb on the plate, careful to keep my fingertips away from the router bit as it cut through the wood.

In a moment of inattention, however, I turned the router and my thumb slipped merrily into the open port on the tool, and introduced itself to the rapidly spinning bit. You can likely imagine the lengthy string of invectives that followed as I spent the next few minutes determining exactly how much of my thumb I had just lost (and calling myself nine kinds of idiot).

It seems like every 10 years or so I get complacent working in the shop. I get lazy, or distracted, and I forget to respect the tools the way I should.

Luckily for me I have yet to do something that has caused permanent damage. But I was reminded again how easy it would be to lose a finger, or an eye, or my life, just because familiarity made me forget how dangerous my work area really is.

Every day, we go to our jobs assuming that at the end of the day we will go home happy and whole. Unfortunately, it is an assumption we just can’t afford to make. Our safety, and the safety of those around us, doesn’t happen by accident or through lack of effort.

I know that we all have regular safety meetings at work, and we do hazard and risk assessments as a matter of routine. The problem is that things that are routine can quickly become thoughtless, and as I have just been reminded, thoughtless equals dangerous.

I want to encourage you to take a moment each day to carefully think about the risks of the job, and to make a personal commitment to being safe, and keeping others safe, as you do your work. Don’t let the mundane routine numb you to the real dangers of your environment.

Thankfully my story ended with nothing more than a big scar and no permanent damage, but it would have been so much better not have a story at all. So be thoughtful. Be safe. Make it home without a story to tell.

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