Friday, April 17, 2009


Pat Murphy was helping me. What we were doing was not fun. It consisted of cutting up a 16' boiler and the ancillary piping and accessories and removing them from the building. Heavy work, uncomfortable, maybe a little dangerous. There was insulation on some of the piping. Maybe it was asbestos, maybe not. It made Pat nervous. He didn't wish to be exposed to a dangerous substance. I could sympathize with that feeling. But what I couldn't understand was Pat's attitude to the rigging and lifting of the heavier items. That really is dangerous. If a lift is rigged wrong or a mistake is made, if the operation is performed carelessly, something can be broken or SOMEONE CAN BE KILLED! INSTANTLY! Pat didn't seem to realize that the immediate results of an exposure to asbestos or a similar substance is nil, there may or may not be an ill effect and it may well take decades for it to make an appearance, if it ever does. The immediate result of a foul-up in a lift, however, could well be DEATH or DISMEMBERMENT! RIGHT NOW! No waiting around for the onset of a chronic disability and regular trips to the clinic. Just a standard autopsy, viewing at the funeral home and a gravesite ceremony. That's what can happen if you don't understand a potentially dangerous activity.

This attitude is evident all around us all the time. People who drive like maniacs, chattering on their mobiles, dog loose on the front seat, woozy from lack of sleep or too much drink, are worried about CO2 in the atmosphere and radon in their basement. Or mercury in the fish they catch. Or the amalgam in their fillings. Or some other substance that can only be detected by atomic absorption testing. But truly dangerous conditions that are all around them, especially on the highway, but in other scenarios as well, are accepted as a matter of course. It's the government's fault.

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