Decisions: Good and Bad

English: Ameren lineman practicing a rescue.

English: American lineman practicing a rescue. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Right and wrong. Often we think of them as the two sides of a coin as it were, and often they are, but are they always? Let’s dig a little deeper here.

As a power lineman, and as an electrician I often deal with power that is concentrated enough to kill you quick. Not that it’s always in the line of duty.

Many years ago, a woman friend of mine had a TV fall into the bathtub with her child. The child was killed. It was called a horrible accident, and it was. Or was it? She knew, or should have known that you don’t let electrical appliances get anywhere near the bath, yes some, such as hairdryers are less dangerous because of safety regulations but still, you are taking a risk. And a CRT television (which was the only kind then) is very high on the list, risk wise. There are very high voltages and some are stored for a time. Bad news. She lost the bet. Sadly, although nothing could replace that child, neither could she have another. And so a woman who by most measures was a pretty good mother, is now childless. But it really is her fault, because of her carelessness. But I did and do feel sorry for her as well as the child.

Another story which I’ve told before

They were lucky but, every time Chris looks at his buddy, he’s reminded. Just as that woman in the first story is every time she sees a small child. We say it so often but do we believe it Actions have consequences. Believe it, they do.

And as a responsible supervisor, it is entirely my responsibility to make sure my crew is safe, from hazards known and unknown. Acts of omission can be (and often are) just as bad as acts of commission

I’m very glad neither of those accidents are on my conscience, I’ve been in a measure lucky but I was also taught to be careful, and what can happen when you are not. And yes, I do have some scars from near misses, both physical and mental. We do our best, that’s all we can do.

Church-of-EnglandWhat started me thinking about this now was that yesterday, my co-author Jessica’s fiancé was ordained a priest in the Church of England. And yes, I am extremely happy for them, and even more for the congregations that will have their services over their lifetimes. But what made me think about those stories above is this.

A few months ago, a young woman came to his rectory because she had heard she didn’t need an appointment to talk to a curate. She was in trouble, she was single, and she was pregnant and she didn’t want to be. But let us let Jess tell the story herself, because she was there and she shared with us then. Please do read it, it is here.

It is a remarkable story isn’t it? Especially the part about how she knew she had done wrong, what we would call grievous sin, although that term had no meaning to her.

And that is something that Jess and I have talked about with each other. In the United States, nearly everybody has some passing familiarity with Christianity, it may be entirely wrong, and yet, as a rule people, while they may think us judgemental (and sometimes we are) and with our noses in other people’s business (ditto), they have an idea of what we believe. In Britain, I gather that is not nearly as true. It is entirely possible to grow up and live your life without ever once coming in contact with Christianity. How that interacts with having a state church, I have no idea but, in any case it’s sad.

Most of you know that I consider abortion to be nothing less than infanticide, a fancy name for murdering your child, and I do.

But here’s the thing. In my examples above the actors knew what they were doing, they made an informed choice. In the case of Jess’ friend, she really didn’t. [As an aside here, she has become a stalwart member of the congregation, helping to run a homeless shelter, and very happy in her new-found faith, or so Jess tells me. I admire her greatly, and pray for her often.] But in Britain as in America, for a large part of the population, abortion is a convenience, used to avoid problems in your career and in your love life. In truth that was the case here.

But here, God in some hidden recess of her told her that she had sinned, and from what Jess said, I would guess that she was close to the point of adding suicide to her list of sins. I don’t know if you have ever been close to that black place of despair, I have, a couple of times, and one does not come back without help, of a friend, of a counsellor, or a pastor, and /or God himself. But if you do, you tend to come back stronger.

And that, my friends, is why I don’t condemn people. I do not know what they know, nor do I know how they reached their decision. This young woman reached out to those who were supposed to help her, and they were too busy, but she persisted and found a willing ear in a CofE curate. he listened and sympathised, as was right because he couldn’t make the decision for her. He moved her enough for her to want to see him after her abortion, and in that meeting, the three of them, plus God himself, saved that woman’s life. But reminding her that while those of us that are guilty (and that is all of us) must not cast the first stone, Jess’ friend as well as the woman at the well was instructed (as are we) “Go and sin no more“.

And the way I remember that is to always remember that one can only make decisions based on the knowledge that one has, if we have more complete knowledge, and they ask us, we must share our knowledge (and belief) but we may not, and even God does not, force them to use our knowledge. We all answer individually.

ABC= Always Be Careful

High-voltage lines for the long distance trans...

High-voltage lines for the long distance transportation of electrical energy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s that time of year again out here, we’re well into harvest, and everybody concerned is going full-out trying to keep up. That means nearly everyone is working till they get stupid. That’s the term I use when you keep going until you’re so tired that you’re not thinking clearly anymore. It tends to be endemic this time of year around farms, and with those of us that work in the industry.

I don’t condone ignoring safety rules but, I recognize it’s going to happen sometimes, and yes, I’ve done it too. But the thing is, I’ve been doing this work for nearly 50 years, and have pretty much of an instinctive knowledge of what can happen. I also know that some rules are not to be broken ever. If you think you know which, you don’t, so don’t break any of them.

By the way, I find that the older I get, the fewer I break, and then only for very good reasons, and not shutting down your operation is not one of them. About the only reason to for me anymore is to rescue somebody, and that I have to think about. Because it’s not going to help them if I kill myself trying to rescue them, is it? And with electricity it is quite easy to kill yourself.

In this first video, although it’s filmed on an industrial panel, it’s at a level that is available in your panel in your house. I know a lot of you like to do your own work. In truth, I’m sympathetic but, if you don’t know what you’re doing without guesswork, call a professional

Trust me, I’ve seen it in real life and you don’t want to! Luckily it was on a small irrigation pump but it was bad.

Look Up for Safety’s Sake

If your working with portable grain handling equipment, or even harvesting equipment sometimes, you can get much too close to overhead power lines. the only real solution is to pay attention This video is of a twig falling across the most common distribution voltage in the United States

You do not want your auger playing twig in this scenario. Along with that and besides winter is coming with ice storms and such, what should you do if a power line falls on your vehicle? Don’t know? Here’s a video that will show you. Watch it all, it’s important.

Remember that because it could quite easily save your life.

In fact, if you see any kind of wire laying on the ground, stay away from it, and keep others away and call the power company or 911 If you’re around industry or even a fair number of systems on the farm, you know that a lot of electricity is used at what we call 480V. It’s the most efficient overall voltage for commercial and industrial use. But it also can be a very dangerous voltage. Here’s another video

I saw a similar video years ago where the cover of the panel was blown clean across the room. There is an incredible amount of potential energy there. This is a demonstration by Progress Power of some of the things that can happen around power lines

Those of us in the industry have spent thousands of dollars on tools and education about these hazards and our rules change nearly every year as we learn more. If your interested, this video talks about some of the research that is being done

But, in truth, what makes a safe job, is safe workers. I can provide you with enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to make you unable to walk across the room. But if you are overtired, impaired, or just plain careless, it doesn’t matter. Sooner or later, this is going to happen, and I or somebody like me is going to have to explain to your loved ones why you will never be coming home again.

So whether you’re a practicing professional or simply a consumer always

Be Careful Out There.

ps. You may have noticed that I never mentioned OSHA in this article. There’s a reason for that. I find some of their rules and paperwork requirements as nonsensical and burdensome as any of you. And if you read here often, you know how much I resent intrusive government. But, in today’s world, if you are a practicing electrician or lineman, OSHA is your friend. Far too many companies can not see beyond the monthly bottom line, and in a production environment, they will push you to violate every rule and procedure and even your common sense. Without OSHA you have very little protection from them. It’s definitely imperfect protection with our corrupt government but it’s the best we’ve got for now. In the last analysis your safety and that of your crew is, as it always has been, your responsibility. Nobody else’s.

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