CMU School of Drama

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Screw That!

Tools of the Trade | Safety, Jobsite Safety, Construction Safety: My first experience of a serious tool-related injury occurred in about 2004 when I was framing a house. It was a warm summer day, and not too muggy—the best kind for work like that. Our lead framer had gone to another job, leaving me and a newer guy alone to frame the exterior walls. He was a hard-worker, earnest in his desire to get the job done. But he was also frenetic in everything he did, which made me nervous.

11 comments:

Taylor Steck said...

With the constant slew of injuries revolving in and out of 33, I felt inclined to read this article, especially when the x-ray of a wrist with a screw in it looked nearly identical to an x-ray photo hanging on our own walls of a screw stuck in the bottom of someone's foot. While this article was mainly comprised of nothing really more substantial than just a few horror stories in a humorous tone of power tools gone wrong, it does help to further promote the safety of those power tools. I wish that the article actually spoke more about the specifics of how to avoid the injuries that we wrote about. I would like to further learn about the protocol to take when their is an injury like this, especially in the scene shop. And despite the article being more story telling based, I do like that his intentions as the author were essentially to just promote safety, something I feel gets forgotten a lot about here, mainly in the freshman design studio.

Mark Ivachtchenko said...

It must suck to suffer two serious injuries within such a small time span but it's definitely a case of fool me once, fool me twice for this guy. He should've learned his lesson the first time and it's a shame that he rushed his work. Personally, I know a lot of frenetic craftsman as well and can't help but grimace a bit when I see them using tools--fingers and all real close to saws and rotating tools. The past 5 years of being a carpenter have been a huge learning experience and I'm sort of glad that I suffered some of the injuries or hiccups I've gotten because I've immediately reevaluated my technique on certain tools to avoid future injuries. Can't say the same about the aforementioned friend of the author. The table saw stories in the scariest in particular because, although I've only heard of fingers getting chopped off, I've seen the aftermath and I've seen 2x4s flung across the room that bent metal walls. But, the screw injury is horrifying all the same. I've never seen or heard someone get such a serious injury with a simple drill and screw (besides stepping on it without proper foot attire) and it really gets you thinking how anything and everything has the potential to hurt you. In terms of the author's lessons and from what I've been thought, the "get-it-done" mindset is awful. Whenever you're not in the right mindset, sleep deprived, or tired from a long job, a break is much more important than cranking it out without much thought. I respect DR and all shop staff for understanding that and offering to excuse students from class when they're not on top of their game that day.

Lauren Miller said...

Why is it that the only way for us to get others to be safe in a shop is to tell horror stories about the various ways we and our friends have been injured? Is there not a more efficient way to deal with this? I have done some profoundly stupid things in the shop before (not this one, but others yes). I’ll admit that fear can be a great way to make people cautious and take what they are doing seriously. But this story-telling often unfolds into a contest of who is stronger, which just contributes to the toxic unsafe environment of some shops. Use your stories as a teaching method, not as something to be proud of (to be honest, I have been guilty of this in the past). So, in a questionably hypocritical turn of events, let me tell you some stories. When I was in high school I fell 10 feet off of a ladder while carrying a source4 (did I mention that march is ladder safety month) and dislocated my hip (for the second time… ). It hurt a lot, and I actively make a point to tell people when they are being unsafe at height because I still don’t have full range of motion in my hips and sometimes it hurts to walk. Making a single bad decision can haunt you for a lifetime. Be safe out there.

Vanessa Ramon said...

Even though this article was mainly the author telling us about his injuries over the years and then only relating it back to a life lesson in a couple of sentences at the very end, I think sometimes it can be beneficial to hear stories like this because these stories are... Scary. They help you to realize that all of these tools your working with are dangerous and could possibly threaten your life in many ways. This article reminds me of my irrational "awareness" (or slight fear of knives). Many people use knives everyday, but it is not everyday that you remind yourself how dangerous they are. People use knives to kill other people or threaten them, and even one slip of the knife and bad things can happen. Anyway, back to the importance of tool safety. Overall, I think this story does a good job of reminding you what's really important and how it is truly safety that must come first.

David Kelley said...

I wanted to read this article mostly because I can reall relate to the notion of take your time or wind up hurt. Working with power tools and other objects that have the potential for harm I was taught at you age to respect the tool and endeavor to be as safe as I could while using it. That being said I have like the writer of the article rushed a job and ended up hurt. While I never managed to put a screw through my hand thankfully I have plenty of scars from dumb choices, one from an axe that went through part of a tree and into my leg when I was in high school and one of many scars on my hands from this year where I rushing to close a door in the warehouse managed the get my hand caught. In short minding your and others safety in the shop is important, if you think that you may be cutting or working on something in a unsafe or stupid manner, take a moment and step back to evaluate the situation. I say this because stupidity is painful.

Megan Jones said...

This article is especially relevant right now as Carnival season approaches us and the build of Booth is in full swing. Last year I was in a sorority and had to participate in the build, load in, and tear down of our Booth. No matter how hard the Carnival committee works to enforce safety practices on Midway people still do extremely stupid things while building. To quote the lovely Emma Reichard on facebook the other day, "If you're wearing shorts, opened toed shoes, and no safety glasses, does that make the hard hat a fashion statement?" There was also no mandatory hearing protection, which is crazy when you consider that every organization brings their own saws and blasts music out of speakers. Sometimes I think that everyone who participates in a type of build like this should be made to read these horror stories so that they can realize the importance of following safety procedures. Maybe when they see that even seasoned professionals can get hurt they'll be a little more aware of what's going on.

Ali Whyte said...

I think articles like this can be very informative and eye opening for a lot of people that have a sort of cavalier invincible attitude towards power tools, and even non-power tools that can be equally as dangerous. So often I have encountered the attitude of, "oh, but that will never happen to me." I think seeing articles like this, written in the words of an average someone and not dramatized or exaggerated, can help people see that these kinds of injuries can and will happen to anyone who is not careful. Even a screw gun, which so many of us see and harmless can drive a screw into someone's wrist if they're not paying attention. I think it is always important for people to be paying attention to what it is that they are doing because they can just as easily be injured with something as "harmless" as a screw gun or as the perhaps more intimidating table saw.

Claire Farrokh said...

Ah this article comes just in time for the season of endless tool related injuries as fraternity brothers and sorority sisters who have never held a hammer in their life cart plywood over to Midway to begin the frenzied chaos that is the build of Booth. This is something that happens every year for Spring Carnival, and every year people step on nails, get hit with wood, and get multiple bruises from god knows what. Part of this is lack of experience, but a lot of this is also due to the sense of urgency behind build, and I think this is something that is a problem in theatrical shops as well. In scene shops, there can often be a sense that things must be done as soon as possible in order to get the show ready for load in. While this is certainly true, safety precautions can often fall by the wayside, especially when everyone that is working is very experienced and feels like they don't have to be quite as cautious as they maybe once were. Whenever I hear horror stories about work injuries, and I am even more inclined to never enter the scene shop again, but it is important to remember that generally if one exercises a lot of caution and doesn't do anything remarkably stupid, no blood will be spilled.

John Yoerger said...

i think one of the most important things that this article discusses is what he continually refers to as his "get it done dash." What a fantastic way to phrase a state of mind that will lead you to being a stupid idiot. Frankly, I consider it natural selection, but that is beside the point. I see students working in the shop do things like this far too often. And I don't feel like it is anyone's fault except the idiots themselves because they've certainly been trained on the proper procedure. This is part of what gets me too...Like do you just have no regard for your ability to use that hand? To walk? To live? Or are you just totally stupid? ... The biggest time I see this attitude that is so dangerous is during the technical process. Everyone is on a tight timeline during tech week but it doesn't mean safety should be compromised. As we learned in March (latter safety month) 1 person dies every day from a latter related incident. That's one person who didn't have to die had they chose to be safe and not be in a "get it done dash" ... I know this is a sweeping generalization, but let's roll with it.

Julien Sat-Vollhardt said...

I will be he first to admit that I have a pretty gung-ho attitude when it comes to safety in the shop. Oftentimes I forget about safety glasses, but one of the things I will never forget about is ear protection. I have been very protective of my ears ever since I noticed that I have less hearing than other people from blasting music in my youth. Even as I will forget the eye protection and then use the table saw, I never forget my ear protection. My experience with Carnival has made me very conscious of safety concerns dealing with a mass of inexperienced people working in a tight space. We enforce wearing hard hats and safety glasses at all times on midway, and safe practices are encouraged and watched out for by Carnival members around the clock. Even with surveillance like that, accidents always happen, so we have EMS in their own trailer on midway, waiting to strike.

Sarah Battaglia said...

I am never safe enough around power tools. I always know what to wear and I always try to wear them but often I forget and thats really not the way to be. I am fortunate enough though to often be surrounded by people who will say "hey put glasses on" or "hey you forgot about ear protection" and then I say oh crap and I put them on. I am not working on Booth for the second year in a row, and I am one of the more experienced people in my sorority working on the construction. That in itself is a little scary because I wouldn't consider myself to be particularly experienced outside of what I have done in the School of Drama. There haven't been any bad injuries from Booth in a long time but people are consistently using tools that they don't know how to use, or lifting in the wrong way and it makes me more than nervous to watch it happen. I am sure that they will be fine and a drill can only hurt you so much but there definitely need to be bigger requirements for safety from the people who run carnival.