Safety goes beyond the workplace

Here at the Fort Frances Times, Tanya Cumming attends to everyone’s safety.
She constantly is reminding everyone about health and safety rules, which often includes information about nutrition, diet, exercise, and working with computers to reduce the risk of injury.
I like to think that our workplace is a very safe place to work.
I think most businesses constantly are stressing the importance of working in a safe manner to their employees. Often that safe manner requires a few extra minutes to put guards in place, or finding the appropriate stepladder to change a simple light bulb.
Around Fort Frances, you will see municipal employees wearing fluorescent shirts or vests, as well as wearing safety work shoes or boots. It is common sense.
Somehow when we get home, though, we seem to take unnecessary risks. We will stand on the top of a stepladder to change a light bulb or we will not properly level and fix an extension ladder in place.
I used to wear sandals when I was cutting the grass because they were cool and comfortable in the warm summer evenings. I didn’t think anything would happen until the blade caught a small rock in the grass and hurled it back under the steel mower cover, which then nailed my big toe.
The toe bled for a bit, and it was painful for a week. I now wear a much safer shoe when cutting the grass. It was a painful lesson.
Around our house, I’m known as a clumsy person who is always collecting scrapes, bruises, and small cuts. My wife keeps telling me that the band-aids are under the sink at the back door and to not tell her when I’ve hurt myself.
I don’t. But she quickly can spot a bandage on a finger or back of my hand. And even if I clean up well, she can find the tell-tale signs of bandages in the waste bin.
And her comment is, “What did you do to yourself this time? Don’t tell me.” And it is in a voice that says, “You should have been more careful!”
The worst thing that seems to happen at work is paper cuts. But at the lake, a northern pike’s teeth have raked me, I have caught a hook in my foot, and I have my fair share of bruises from slipping on rocks.
I’ve had far more slivers than I can count, and more black thumbs from missing the nail head when hammering.
This past weekend, I probably did the most foolish thing ever—I attempted to take a short cut that I knew better than.
We are remodelling our sleeping cabin and all new knotty pine paneling is going up on the walls. It is looking really pretty.
We have almost every power tool available to us for this project and I had been under cutting some boards to use as trim. But the safety pieces that cover the saw blade and prevent kickback had been removed.
I raised the saw blade so that it was no more than a quarter-of-an-inch above the board that was being cut. Turned the blade to the angle I needed but instead of putting the safety saw blade covers back on and getting a push stick, I just used my hands.
The test, after all, was only going to take a few seconds. I could wait to put the pieces back on.
Well, the wood kicked back. I reached across with my left hand to push it back down and caught the top of the blade.
Luckily, I just removed a bunch a skin and was left with a good bleed. It could have been much worse.
Not taking the few minutes to put the safety pieces on cost me much more time. There also was no sympathy for my foolishness.
And on Monday, every time I used my middle finger to type, the raw nerve endings loudly remind me of my stupidity.
We are risk-takers, but not taking the proper safety precautions around our homes and cottages is a huge risk.

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