Wednesday, December 31, 2008

One Of Those Days

I fully intended to post yesterday and show in detail how the sink counter is attached to the wall and all that blah, blah but work just got the best of me. I have been having to weld up these big goal posts (barricades) in the new freezer area and it's a real pain. It's freezing, literally, in there and I had to use a lift to get up to the steel to weld, so that means wearing all this crap to keep warm and then having to wear a safety harness on top of that because I'm over 6 feet off the ground, so I have like, 10 extra pounds of stuff on me. So, I'm up in this lift welding and I smell something burning and I look down and realize I've set my hardhat on fire. I can't wear it while I'm welding as I have to wear a hood, so I had set it down on the floor of the lift. Well, it was the liner inside the hardhat but, at any rate, flames are coming out of my hardhat. I got that put out but it messed my hat up and my boss had to order me new insides for it. Anytime I set myself or some other thing on fire they always just sigh really hard and slowly shake their heads. I can't help it though! Stuff happens. So, then I get one of my bad migraines towards the end of the day, so when I got home I just had to take some meds and go to bed. I feel better today though.

That whole incident reminded me of some of the stuff that has happened on jobs over the years. I'm always kinda amused when some women I meet say. "oh, I wish I could do the work you do" and I think, weeeelll, maybe you don't. Not that I wouldn't encourage women to give any of the crafts a go, but there is a lot of stuff that happens that I don't think many people would want to go through. Like setting yourself on fire. And it seems that food distribution centers are good for that sort of thing as there is a lot of miscellaneous welding for us in those places. I remember one I was working on several years ago; it was in the summer thankfully. I had to climb up the steel structure about 30 feet and cut some braces out with a torch. I was standing on a 8" beam, 30 feet in the air while cutting steel overhead. Now, I was tied off. We have to wear these elaborate safety harnesses. They strap on sorta like a parachute with one strap across your chest, a padded belt around your waist and a strap around both legs at the crotch. A lanyard attaches to the straps across your back and then to the safety lines or steel. Sometimes when steel is very dirty or rusted it will pop when it is being cut and splatter molten slag all over you and everything and this is what happened. It seemed everything happened in slow motion. I saw the flame pop and the slag spray and then I saw this one very large blob of steel fly up into the air and arch over towards me. It was like a little meteor of glowing, yellow metal plummeting right towards me. Now, when you are tied off like that, at that height, you really can't go anywhere. That lanyard is only 6 feet long and my hands are full. So, I stood frozen as this molten blob descended on me and fell perfectly straight down my shirt. As you can imagine, slag at that temperature is not slowed much by a cotton shirt. It did hang up for just a second when it rung my, um, cleavage but it burnt through my bra and continued down to my waist where it got caught by the tight belt of my harness. Now, when something like this happens you have an automatic response to grab at what is causing you pain, to try to remove it from your body. But I still had that lit torch in one hand, nowhere to put it and was just trying to get the slag away from my skin. With all that twisting though, the slag did move and dropped down into my pants. There it was caught by one of the straps around my legs. Mercifully, it had cooled enough at this point it was no longer burning through my clothing and going further down. However, the strap managed to hold it tightly against my leg as the belt had done. Somehow I did not sling the torch to the ground or step off the beam during the whole thing. After I felt the pain subside (it had burnt the nerves I guess) I turned the torch off, got everything secured and slowly climbed down. The pain came back as I walked to the office trailer though and the guys noticed that I was walking kinda funny. Now, the boss is supposed to look at any semi-serious injury to determine if you need further medial attention but nobody was looking at anything. I just got some antibiotic ointment and sterilizing swabs from the first aid and went to the bathroom. I had to use my pocket knife to dig the last bit of steel out of my thigh where it had settled. It didn't seem something that size could cause that much pain. But, that is just part of the job and after I bandaged up I went back to work. The scars are not very noticeable nowadays although I have had an occasional question from, um, a friend or two about how I got them. They make for an interesting story at least.

I hope no one out there sets themselves on fire and has a great new year celebration if you are planning anything. I have the day off so will try to post again! Happy New Year everybody!


Richard said...

I can relate to setting yourself on fire. Was on one job in winter that we were all wearing Carhart's. Mine were brand new (less then a week old) and I was grinding down a weld. Started to smell something and looked down to find my pant leg on fire. Luckily it didn't burn them to bad. Would have hated to lose new Carharts.

Anonymous said...

I've never had molten stuff on me thankfully, I have dropped a cigarette butt down the back of a blokes pants accidentally though LOL...lordy don't ask, long story and involves hay carting, trucks and too many blokes running around like headless chooks!

Floridacracker said...

What a hottie.

Okay, I know being burned by molten slag is not funny, but the picture you painted was ... okay, I admit it, I was chuckling.

Glad that you came out of it okay though!

Have an excellent new years!

Ed Abbey said...

I wish I had a dollar for everytime I did the molten metal in my clothes jig or the punching myself to put out the fire on my clothes dance. I would probably be able to afford a fairly nice dinner by now.

As I've aged and gotten wiser, I now take the time to put on more and more protective clothes, hats and chaps to prevent having to do the jig and dance. I don't like doing them.

The Cheiftain of Seir said...

You can get hurt in all sorts of interesting ways when you are out on a job.

The most nasty scar on my body was caused by my pants.

It was one of those 16+ hour days and I never even stopped for lunch, much less supper (I survived by eating candy bar after candy bar). During this entire time I was on my feet save for the few times that I jumped into a truck.

Anyway, I was wearing some real heavy work pants and it was snowing out. Plus I had a bunch of gear in my pockets and on my belt.

Make a long story short, my pants slipped down bit from where they should have been and the inseam wore a grove right in the side of my leg.

I felt it starting to hurt as the day went on, but you know how it is when you are on the job. I just ignored it. At the end of the day it was killing me. When I finally quite, and got some dry cloths I saw how bad the damage was.

I had worn a grove right into the side of my leg. It bled plenty but the worst of it was when it started healing. The scab was not not very flexible and when I walked it would start to crack....

Anyway, I have melted my skin with heat, cut my self so that I bled like a stuck pig, and hurt my back. But I do believe that the abrasion wound my pants gave me takes the top prize.

Though upon reflection, I would rather not hurt my back again.

countrypeapie said...

I've only ever caught my bangs on fire, back when I had bangs, and I smoked things that would catch them on fire. My husband, however, sometimes comes home from work with the most gruesome looking injuries, and half the time he doesn't even remember how he got them.

Island Rider said...

The heights you climb would do me in, no need for molten slag. It was dizzying just to hear you describe it.

edifice rex said...

Hey Richard! Yeah, love those Carharts! I have so many stories that include the phrase, "looked down and saw I was on fire".

Hey Molly! Haha! I've seen the cigarette thing happen myself! Fortunately, I was not involved.

Hey FC! well, it is kinda funny now and the guys had a good time arguing about who was going to get to bandage me.

Hey Ed! Oh, I wish I had a dollar too! Man, I could buy something for the house. I do wear leather sleeves when I can and other stuff but sometimes it still doesn't help!

Hey Cheiftain! Oh, I hear you man! I've done all those things myself; except for the pants abrasion! Ugh! That made me hurt just reading that! And yes, hurting your back is really a bad thing. I've been up and down with mine over the years.

Hey peapie! You know, I don't think I've ever caught my hair on fire but then I always have a hat of some type on. Yeah, I've had some pretty awful looking injuries but I always remember mine!

Hey rider! Actually, that was not some of the highest work I've ever done. Guess I shouldn't mention that time I had to walk out on that plank 5 stories...oh, never mind!

Jenn said...

"nobody was looking at anything."

Oh, you poor thing. Good to have a crew you can count on. I mean that kindly. Stalwarts to the last.

Were they as good about not giving you grief, later? Because, my god, the potential...

Talk about paying your dues!

edifice rex said...

Hey Jenn! they really are good about looking after me, although now, they will take any opportunity to rib me good about stuff. If they ever think I am injured badly, they get very serious quickly though. I'm proud to say we all look after each other very well.