Saturday, June 18, 2005

Howard's Health and Safety Role

So Howard has been getting pretty deeply involved with health and safety around work. He walks around checking cables and motors. He pops out of the electrical room carrying fuses and holding pliers in his teeth. The other day he accidentally aired himself on the walkie-talkie, cursing and swearing in the shed as he got tangled up in the ropes he was fixing: "this blasted birdsnest!! Doesn't anyone understand how to coil?!!"

One thing that doesn't quite make sense about his whole incentive to be there is that he was never elected as the health and safety rep. I repeat: NO ONE INVITED HIM ONTO OUR CREW. S stoically carries out his role as the elected health and safety rep, reporting to the ministry etc. But Howard just appointed himself out of some sort of voluntary responsibility to "protect" us. His presence is more de facto in nature. The ironic thing is that Howard can be a hazard, and he takes himself so seriously that it's an irresistible temptation to try to burst his fragile bubble.

The other day we were rigging on the roof of the apartment, and I had one end of the hose which I was going to hook up at one end, D was walking with it to the water source and Howard just happened to be carrying two weights to the beams attached to anchors when the hose tightened and pulled him over by the ankles. Howard grunted and went nose-first into the gravel, weights clanging against the beam. If Howard wasn't wearing his hard-hat, I'm sure he would have had more damage. As it is, his face just wears a sour new look.

It is good to get some free labour from him though. Sometimes I want to tell him to go ride a pole but Howard doesn't deserve that. Him and boss D bond by talking about chemical product and their reactions, referring back to the MSDS sheets. They strategize the best mixtures of cement together, Howard saying he likes to have an exact ratio of 3/16ths when he mixes water and semkote (a "cementitious" sealant). He puts a lot of concentration into painting the panels of the balconies and watching him take so much concern inspires me to get it done faster. We finished a drop on Wednesday. I could see his eyes darting around and checking to see if every corner was properly covered with one coat of primer and two coats of paint. He is always going on about how this or that direction of brush-stroke is important, or how maintaining good posture while painting or how the small things "make a difference." Then he crossed his arms and his eyes glittered with awe. He leaned back, smiled and sighed: "ah, look how she shines!"

Recently Howard has been starting to send memos. At first we would politely squirrel them away somewhere and then throw them in the trash later, but because they have become so numerous, my coworkers have been provoked to take on practical jokes against Howard. When one of us found a pair of panties in amongst the rubble and garbage from the balconies, we put it in the cement mixer for him to discover. Apparently he was bashful and unsure exactly what to do about them. He simply took another rag and draped it over the mixer and affixed a sign that said "do not disturb."

Here is an example of one of Howard's memos that I just found in my email inbox to my surprise:

Dr. Howard Wayword
Health and Safety Representative
Dilinger Dr. Lions Gate, P.O. Box 1109
Guelph ON. CAN

To our Honorable and Cherished employees,

It is important to take heed to the expected reaction and compliance to the legal and safety issues that arise like a tidal wave of grave concern. The moral standards of duty, and the due diligence of reason compel us to take up our hearts, minds, and hands to ensure that no unnatural or natural disaster occur to threaten or disgrace the lives of our employees -should it be dust in the eyes, or a tumble off a high precipice, or a saw-tooth in the leg, or a jolt of electricity from a portion of unprotected wire. May we not misuse equipment or lead to results of fire or death by electrical shock, or falling rubble in the backs or the sides of the head, or anywhere else for that matter.

When a hard-hat is worn, let it be understood as a great respect to the cranium. When spectacles of the protective sort be seen through, let us remember that the glow and curve of that ocular organ that is doing the peering, is also preserved in that nurturing shell of plastic for a higher purpose, it is of a plastic that is noble, loyal, and good. It doesn't?t take a very sharp chap to raise up his eyes to such a blatantly obvious concept.

I ask your commitment to the acknowledgement that blisters, warts and splinters are an irksome nuisance, which need not be born, and can be mindfully put off through the habit of glove-wearing and proper maintenance and routine manicure.

Besides these hot-topics du jour, and in response to such plaguing questions as whether or not so-and-so can take their grandmother for a ride on the swing-stages, or whether perhaps it might be nice to try the jack-hammer so-and-so?s printed memos, there are detailed and direct corporate actions and instructions for such things:

"Only authorized trained personnel shall operate this hoist in strict conformity with all applicable safety codes. In addition to instructions on hoist, you must read and understand the operating manual" which means "No"

Unfortunately, because some of you may wish to take counter-offence to my helpful and informing messages, I will now send information and guidance electronically. Therefore, if you choose to do them disservice, I fully invite you demolish them when they are in text form on your own PC. Secondly, if anyone ever shortens the length of my hoist against my knowledge again, that will be regarded as grounds for dismissal.

Thank you for carefully and diligently reading and understanding this memo. You may sign the backside of your printed copy and return it to me within a reasonable time period.

Howard Wayword

PS -I invite you to continue being such joyful and obedient employees. You may not be entirely knowledgeable of your purpose in this life, but it is your calling to ingrain a sense of safety into yourselves. When you grow to a ripe old age, you'll realize: it makes a difference.


Blogger Candace said...

Are you kidding me? Wow, this guy really takes his (unappointed) job quite seriously. It would be commendable if it weren't so sad.

8:54 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how old does he think you are? that's PATHETIC. There's always one in the bunch...come on now.

I LOVE THAT YOU POSTED THE ENTIRE ADDRESS OF THE MAN, ETC.....noting of course that I would assume you changed some of it up a bit, but if you didn't, and it's all legite...I'll send him a nasty note for you! jk.... ;)

9:02 p.m.  
Blogger sirbarrett said...

Write away. Howard needs a good brow-beating for his behaviour. I poured some xylene and dropped a match on his memo the last time he sent me one in the paper form but I don't think he got the message. Plus he was after me over the way I coiled the power-cable until I told him perhaps he'd like it coiled around his neck. That man is nuts!

11:19 p.m.  

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