Tuesday, October 23, 2012

OSHA would have a fit

I've seen some pretty interesting work site situations here in Florence. If the lack of guardrails on narrow mountain trails and giant holes in the middle of sidewalks with a single piece of yellow tape around it are any indication, Italy is a country where you're free to do whatever you want as long as you remember that you alone are responsible for your safety. Consider every trip out your own front door as perilous from start to finish and you'll be fine. No one is going to go out of their way to warn you of danger ahead or point out the obvious. There shouldn't be any need for expensive railings at the edge of a cliff. Everyone knows that if you fall off you'll get hurt, so use your head. And if you don't you are the one responsible.

The same idea seems to hold true for the workplace as well. I saw three city workers at a stop light. One man was shaking his finger and his head at the woman stopped for the red light while rolling some kind of adhesive onto the road in front of her bumper. The other two guys were furiously rolling out and cutting a wide, long piece of white reflective tape. The man with the roller kept saying "Vai, vai!!!" or what we as Americans would say "Come on, come on, get going!" The woman's eyes darted between the man shaking his finger and the red light, obviously trying to calculate whether or not she could dart through the intersection before they get that roll of stuff in front of her car.

Why the great hurry? Because they were trying to do this during the short cycle of the red light. During rush hour. Without a guy with a flag to stop traffic or to divert it. They weren't wearing high visibility vests or reflective anything. No warning signs to drivers to be careful ahead. OSHA would be appalled.

It was like watching those pit crews during a NASCAR race. The light turned red and they all sprang into action trying to beat the green light. Wet glue flying everywhere as the man in charge urged them to move faster and faster. Struggling with large roll of reflective material that kept trying to spring back into it's roll shape like Christmas wrapping paper.

I think they got it done with only seconds to spare. My only question is how long is a stiff piece of reflective tape floating on an ocean of liquid adhesive going to stay where it was put as hundreds of cars drive over it before the glue actually dries? I'll have to check later. My guess is it's moved about half a block and has about six creases in it and part of it even now is stuck to the bottom of  a car on it's way to Pisa.

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