Aug 092008

As I got into the office of a client I was collared by one of the creative team “Is it possible that someone would take off his safety harness to go and retrieve a fallen hard hat?”

My response was that, just as there are no dumb questions, there’s nothing so dumb that someone hasn’t done it. In this case it was a worker at the Hanjin Shipyard at Subic Bay in the Philippines, which I can just about see from my roof.

The victim worked for a Korean contractor at the shipyard which has already totted up four of the 14 known fatalities at the site in the past year, and the second or third to die falling off a roof. The contractor’s services have, MAC understands, been terminated.

The worker was on the roof of the drydock, 29 metres up and attached to a safety harness. His hard hat fell off. When he couldn’t reach it, he released himself from the harness and, as he reached for his hardhat, slipped and fell to his death. He was wearing rubber flip-flops and recent rains may have made the roof slippery.

First, of course, had he worn his hard hat properly it wouldn’t have fallen off. Then he wouldn’t have felt it necessary to release himself from the harness to try and retrieve it. Then he wouldn’t have been killed.

Had he been wearing correct footwear, he might not have slipped.

While slightly different, The Case Of The Acidic Assassin features a similar situation in which a hard hat was not worn properly and may have contributed to a fatality.

Of course, there should have been a safety officer at the Hanjin site alert enough to spot what is a common a problem as workers wearing flip-flops at height (Yes, the victim wore those, too).

Make sure you wear your hard hat properly otherwise it will fall off and your head is nowhere near as hard as the hat, or the ground it’s going to hit.

Also, be safety aware not just for yourself, but your co-workers. Certainly, they might get annoyed if you tell them to put their hats on properly but maybe its better to accept the risk of being annoying than then risk of having to scrape their brains off the ground and into a bucket.

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