Effect Measure

The Weekly Toll is at once inspiring and heartwrenching, a record of unending and unnecessary death in America’s workplaces. We’ve posted about it a couple of times in years past (here, here; read some of the entries), but not for a while. The Weekly Toll appeared for some years on Jordan Barab’s superb health and safety blog, Confined Space, and yesterday we brought you the wonderful news that Jordan has been selected as Deputy Assistant Secretary at OSHA (and in fact will be Acting OSHA Director starting next week). That’s the good news. The bad news is that Death didn’t decide to give it up just because Jordan is going to OSHA.

Most Americans don’t appreciate the pain and tragedy unnecessary injuries and deaths cause to workers and their families. A vivid example of this accompanies a YouTube video that portrays, in graphic manner, the many ways people are killed and maimed in the workplace. As usual on YouTube, the poster includes a short description, and this one is truly dismaying:

This video was actually shown during an Asbestosis training that I attended today! I almost hit floor in absolute laughter and tears during the training.
Category: Comedy (YouTube)

There is nothing inaccurate or comedic about this video. Death may be laughing, too, but I’m not.


  1. #1 Martin
    April 11, 2009

    Thanks for this very timely message. I’ve contributed my own Very Serious Health and Safety video (for forklift drivers) over on The Lay Scientist.

  2. #2 The Science Pundit
    April 11, 2009

    I didn’t laugh at all; I cringed–especially at the ones that I saw coming!

  3. #3 kdervin
    April 11, 2009

    Great news that Jordan Barab is going back to OSHA

  4. #4 Orac
    April 11, 2009

    I’ve actually seen hands like the guy who got his fingers caught in the press. I did part of my surgery residency at MetroHealth Medical Center, which is right near the Flats in Cleveland. We got punch press injuries and other industrial injuries in the E.R. all the time.

  5. #5 Lea
    April 11, 2009

    Yes, congrats to Jordan Barab, Acting OSHA Director.

    The video was gross yet it got the point across.
    When the capital building in Salt Lake City was being refurbished and brought up to earthquake standards there was a death deep in the bowels of the basement. Only thing is they didn’t find the guy until well after the construction was completed, he’d been dead for weeks!

  6. #6 george.w
    April 11, 2009

    I had to stop it halfway, couldn’t finish watching it. I was injured 28 years ago in an industrial accident, and the moment has not faded. I got to keep all my fingers but it was dicey for a bit there.

    And it isn’t enough to say “be careful”. My accident was caused by improperly maintained equipment and a fluorescent-strobe effect.

  7. #7 maryinhawaii
    April 11, 2009

    I am quite sure these were dramatizations: Highly highly unlikely that cameras were on the scene with someone actually filming such accidents. Thus, as a training video, I’m sure the You Tube poster found the dramatizations so “over the top” that he was amused. Laughter is a way we have of rejecting the ludicrous: It doesn’t necessarily mean he was callous and unfeeling.

    This is not to say that such accidents don’t happen, nor that some of the people who spoke on the film had not been so injured, nor that we shouldn’t feel sympathy for victims. It’s just that it was not actual accidents we were seeing, so although the screams and blood gushing were no doubt meant to increase the drama, and in real life would have been horrifying, in this educational safety film they were a little much.

  8. #8 revere
    April 11, 2009

    marhinhawaii: Of course hey were dramatizations. But there is nothing funny about it.

  9. #9 Lea
    April 11, 2009

    That was my impression too revere and it’s what I wanted to say but didn’t want to take on another commenter.
    Key board keys sticking?

  10. #10 Lora
    April 13, 2009

    I’m surprised the guy who lost a finger in a mill roller got to keep his arm. Even with the safety triggers, they tend not to go off until you’re kicking at them–which happens so fast that you’ll lose an arm before the mill shuts down. And then you have to wait for the rescue team to get a kit consisting of steel wedges and a sledgehammer to break the mill apart before you’ll get your stump back and be hauled off by the paramedics.

    Used to work in a polymer lab. We had one employee with long hair who refused to put her hair up like the safety requirements said, but her boss didn’t want to force her to do it. It turns out that they CAN re-attach your whole scalp if you can get it back out of the mill.

    Also got to witness a chemistry cowboy who tried to open a drum of isocyanate with a blowtorch, as demonstrated in the video. Only, the guy was wearing shorts and flipflops in the lab. I was in the lab across the hall, but I got to see through the plexiglas in the doors. The explosion bit wasn’t as dramatic as the video, but the burns after they let him out of the hospital were not a sight for the squeamish. Thank goodness he had been trying to do it in a fairly fire-proof hood, and most of the fumes were exhausted quickly.

  11. Even if it’s thought to prevent such kind of situations – I find it too brutal… Can’t it be done without such a literality? Really upsetting…

  12. #12 M. Randolph Kruger
    April 15, 2009

    Ever seen a DC-10 run over a guy at the crotch? Yep, I have. Crushed so badly that it sealed the veins and arteries else he would have been dead. Here is my read on this one. Cant ever be too careful and if there isnt a reason (like someone is going to die) dont do it. I have seen jet intake disasters where the hard hats got sucked off a workers head and then into the engines. Fodded the engine and then the engine exploded and threw turbine blades into the owner. Would have thought that the guy would have been sucked in but well only the helmet. I dont think we need a YAR (yet another regulation) with your guy Revere. But just enforce what we have on the books and everything will be just fine. Again, cost against injuries/deaths. Zero is the idea, work towards it always,but dont be unrealistic with the regulations either.

    We are competing against a bunch of people in Asia…. No regulations there. So if its not a level playing field you cant just say it has to be absolutely safe… But it doesnt have to be Asia either.

    Sondaze…Oh for once Revere and I agree on this one… I want them to see the nasty stuff that can and does happen. A 5 gallon pail of Isocyanate in contact with water on a warm rainy spring nite is about as interesting as it gets. You’ll just have to hope the wind isnt blowing in your direction.
    We are known as the supersafe at my insurance company. We have never had an injury bigger than a paper cut in 18 years.

    We also have a safety observer who does nothing but watch too.

    Prevent defense.

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