Monday, April 25, 2011

Safety On The Job...Or Not...

Rubbish collectors in Bangkok: the yellow crusher was shut off... I think.

After a few visits to countries with different safety standards then here at home it wasn't all that difficult to slide into acceptance of the somewhat fatalistic attitude that's so prevalent in many other places.

Danger warning sign at a commercial construction site in Bangkok, but a rare bird

It didn't take me all that long before I didn't even look twice when I saw a worker scampering up a seemingly makeshift set of bamboo scaffolding in their shorts and rubber flip flop sandals to do some spot welding without any protective eye wear whatsoever - unless I was casting an appreciative glance at them if they happened to be "hahn-sam". It's not that you don't care about their obviously flagrant abuses of what we'd take as common safety practices, but you see it on such a regular basis that you can easily become numb to it.

Larger and more organized work sites still tend to at least offer a warning to workers on the job - such as the large collection of "NO" warnings on the sign above, but I've seen repeated occurances where those warnings were completely ignored, sometimes by the very supervisors in place to monitor the workers. My favorite of the warnings is the one forbidding rubber slippers (to the left).

You saw the image of the rubbish collector up top today, right? I was watching workers tip up the green collecting beds of their trucks as they emptied them into the yellow trucks, which had compressing machinery in them to fit more into the containers to be hauled away. As I stood looking down the nine floors from my hotel window the man in the blue jumpsuit signaled his co-worker in the green truck to begin tilting the container bed up backwards to slide the contents into the waiting yellow crushing mechanism, and while the crusher was chomping down on the stuff sliding into it the man climbed in and began stomping the debris down into the crusher (below), moving along with it.

Playing "chicken" with a hydraulic compressor

I stopped taking pictures before he got too much closer than in the picture above because I'm not all that entertained by the gruesome, but it made me a little tense, regardless. I imagine he's done it a hundred times, but I wonder how many more lives that particular "cat" has left in him.

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