October 3, 2007 | Ken Reed

We always do it that way…

I came home from work the other day, and saw contractors working on my new garage.  They were just about finished putting up cinder block walls.  It was about 95F, and I was thinking that I’m glad they were doing this, and not me!

They came to a corner, and needed to put in a partial block.  The lead mason had his worker cut him a block of just the right size.  The worker was wearing sneakers, shorts, and a ball cap (nothing else).   He perched a fresh block on a pile of rubble and held it steady with his foot.  He then picked up the electric-powered rotary masonry saw, squinted his eyes, and turned his head slightly to the side (I guess to protect his eyes).  Starting the saw, he started cutting the cinder block.

I couldn’t stand it.  “Hey!! Hold on a minute!”  I asked the mason (the guy in charge) if that was the best method to cut a cinder block.  “Don’t you guys have eye and hearing protection?  What about long pants and boots?  Can’t we set up a clear area for cutting?

He shrugged and said, “That’s how I’ve always done it.  I haven’t cut myself in a long time.  He’ll learn pretty quick the right way and the wrong way to cut block.  It’s too hot to wear that stuff, anyway.”

I told them that they would have to stop until they got adequate safety gear.  It so happens they had everything they needed in their truck (except for long pants).  I cleared out an area for cutting off to the side.  They finished the job, and that’s the last I saw of them.

– I wonder how much extra time it really took to do the job right.  Just clearing the cutting area actually speeded the process up. 

– I wonder how much time, wages, and production was lost by injuries to this guy’s crew. 

– I noticed that the mason walked with a limp.  I wonder how many toes he has…

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