Now is a good time to post about my own injuries. I don’t think I am careless or unsafe, it’s just that I’ve worked there for so long. Also, the attitude toward safety has changed drastically in the last 10 years or so. When I first started safety was never mentioned, and OSHA was considered an impractical nuisance and a good example of federal government overreach. Recently we went over a year without a workplace injury of any kind, an amazing feat considering the hazardous environment we work in.
My first injury happened while I was machining a head on a Blue Valley. Shavings were building up between the machining arm and the side roll. So I tried to kick them free, and sliced my leg. Seven stitches. I was off work for a week. The doctor told me I had nearly cut a tendon, which would have been more serious. Metal shavings sometimes curl off the head in long strands, and appear thin and insubstantial. But they are razor sharp. So I don’t kick at shavings anymore.
Next, I was machining a head and got a bit of metal in my eye. I had safety glasses on, I would never do anything so stupid as work without them, but it was summer and I was hot and sweaty, and they must have slid down my nose a bit. When we machine a head there is an air line that blows the shavings out of the icr as the head spins, to prevent the bits of metal from being crushed into the head. So a piece of metal got blown into my eye. I reported what happened, and was told to drive to the nearby emergency room for treatment. That was how lackadaisical the company was about such things back then (this happened in the late 70,s or early 80’s), I could hardly see out of one eye and was told to drive myself to the hospital. The emergency room doctor took one look at my eye and said he wasn’t touching it. That’s not a good thing to hear, if you are ever in the emergency room. He sent for a specialist. Who explained what had happened was the metal had been hot, shavings are always hot when machined off a head, and the bit of metal had fused to my eyeball. So he numbed it with drops, then with tiny pincers pulled on it. It felt like he was pulling my eyeball out of its socket. But it came out. He showed it to me. It was a tiny speck of metal. It had felt like a beam when it was in my eye. Then he polished my eye with a tiny little grinder, then flooded it with a healing salve. I wore an eye patch for two weeks. But it healed, and my eyesight was as good as it ever was.
Next, I was pulling on a wrench so hard it slipped and I smacked myself in the forehead. Normally I wouldn’t even have bothered reporting this, but I was bleeding all over the place. I drove myself (!) to the nearby urgent care and got four stitches, with orders to go home for the rest of the day. When I returned to work, the human resource manager, which at the time was Bob E., didn’t think the injury was serious enough for me to miss the rest of the shift. So he called the doctor and argued with him. Which is stupid, you never win an argument with a doctor. So I eventually went home once the doctor got tired of arguing with Bob E. and hung up on him. That’s the kind of personnel manager Bob E. was. He’d do anything to hinder the employees. Delay, deny, obstruct any claim. The year he retired he attended our Christmas dinner. No one would talk to him. Not even people in the office. They didn’t like him any better than we in the shop liked him. He never came back.
Then there was the time I got shocked. It nearly got me fired. I was working in the metal polishing department at this time. We had a turntable for heads that were too small to run on the polishing machine. I’d bolted a small head to the turntable, got the head to spinning, then hand polished it by holding a patent wheel grinder to it as it spun. Since a lot of polishing grease had to be applied to the head, this was not only difficult but also a very messy job. The patent wheel threw the grease everywhere, mostly on me. But on that day I got a strong shock. So I cut the turntable off, unplugged it, then informed the foreman, Tom H., that the turntable had a short in it. The maintenance man, Bob A., checked it out and said there was nothing wrong with it. So I went back to work. And got another strong shock. I was so angry I clocked out and drove myself to the nearby urgent care and told them I’d been shocked twice. They checked me out, said I was okay, then sent me back to work. Where Geoff L. was ready to fire me. He said if I ever left work like that again without telling anyone and went to the medical center to report a workplace injury all on my own he would fire me. I told him I was sick of getting shocked. So Bob A. took the turntable apart, and this time he found the short. I don’t know if Tom H. just thought I was trying to get out of a dirty job, but I’ve got a healthy respect for electricity and those were two strong jolts I got and no one was doing anything to find out why.
And that is the extent of my lost time accidents. Of course there have been minor cuts and abrasions and burns. And I have been off work for extended periods three times, but they were for injuries incurred away from work. One of those times something humorous, which at the time I didn’t think of as very humorous, happened. I had my knee scoped out. It was minor surgery, but I was still going to be put under. So beforehand I had to go in for a stress test. They put me on a treadmill! With a bad knee! It was agonizing. The reason for the operation was my painful knee, and they caused that knee a great amount of pain with the stupid stress test. They had me hobbling really fast for a long time. It was a female tech, so she probably enjoyed seeing me in pain. But now my knee is fine, as fine as a 64 year old knee can be.