We all roll the dice when we step outside each day; safety hazards are everywhere. But some of us have better odds than others; it largely depends on the type of work that we perform. As fellow IB attorney Steve Lombardi and his colleagues have been explaining for the last month or so, construction workers are incredibly susceptible to injury. Luckily, there are many precautions that workers can take to increase their chances of staying safe. Because you just don’t know what might happen.
Take the construction workers hired to work on the renovation project at a Hammond casino, for example. The casino replaced its old riverboat with a new model, more than three times its size. As the Chicago Tribune reported, just as the $500 million riverboat was 8 feet from its final mooring place, workers on a barge under one of the boat’s boarding ramps felt a “sudden, unexpected kick.”
Attentive to their surroundings, the workers exercised quick judgment and plunged from their small barge to the waters of Lake Michigan. Seconds after their quick escape, the ramp above them came crashing down into the lake, just missing the fleeing workers. Seeing the danger unfold, several other tradesmen heroically jumped into Lake Michigan to rescue their coworkers. The employees were lucky, after all; most only suffered scrapes and bruises, with only one worker injured severely enough to be taken to a local hospital. They were simply working at the wrong time, but they managed to make their own luck by following safety precautions. Officials credited their safety to life jackets and quick action.
Agents from both the U.S. Coast Guard and OSHA were on the scene investigating the cause of the ramp’s collapse. Clearly, risk cannot be avoided entirely; these construction workers were dealt a bad hand. But this vignette does a good job of illustrating how we can take an otherwise dangerous situation and impose certain safety precautions. Not only were the workers provided with life jackets, but they also implemented their own good common sense and acted appropriately by jumping into the water when they sensed danger. This combination of employer-imposed safety equipment and employee-imposed sound judgment is an example of workplace safety at its best. Let’s hope it inspires all of us, employers and employees alike, to increase our odds of staying safe.