A Person Without Integrity Is Nothing

By Phil La Duke

I don’t own a high white horse, so I won’t climb up on one. That having been said that I am again going to rave and rant about something that is troubling me. Those of you who have read my work know that from time to time I will write something audaciously provocative and after doing so I hunker down and wait for the proverbial excrement to hit the fan.  I know that I am being provocative and I expect fall out.  Last week, I shared with you the story of how a innocuous question posed in a LinkedIn thread resulted in an out pouring of support for plagiarism, selling work to which one does not have ownership, and a host of, if not illegal certainly  unethical acts.  I received threats of violence and a bomb threat.  The threats of violence don’t trouble me; the shriveled testicles of the cowardly bastards who send threatening email prevent them from taking any real action.  As for the bomb threat, given that the person who called me didn’t give a reason that they were going to bring a bomb to my house, I can’t definitively say that it was related to my writing (I did have some fun; when a door-to-door solicitor tried giving me his lame con that my neighbor orders some grizzled pony meat they were passing off as steaks I interrupted him by saying, “You’ll have to excuse me; I’m expecting a bomb”. For the record, the WORST idea for revenge is to warn the person of your intentions beforehand; it allows the intended victim to prepare to kill you as you attack.

What I learned from the threats, and the insults, (one half-illiterate called me a “stuffed shirt”), and the defensive of plagiarism, is that (steel yourself a big revelation is coming) the safety as a profession has more than its fair share of out-and-out thieves. One loud-mouth woman claimed that a professor friend of hers had 100% of his students admit to plagiarizing. I find that difficult to believe not because I have such faith in the honesty of college students, but at least at MY university if one was caught deliberately plagiarizing one would at least fail the class and most probably be brought before the Academic Review Board and potentially expelled; seems like a pretty big risk when all one has to do is cite his or her references.  All I said was that safety people needed to stop plagiarizing and people lost their heads.  Here are a couple of the defenses people used for stealing:

  • “It’s For Safety and That Means It Should Be Free”. This is the kind of water-headed, aging hippie, goofball rhetoric that makes people outside the safety world think we are dopey, useless, bleeding hearts who will bankrupt the company. If you are one of these people, let me ask you something: do you collect a paycheck for the services you provide? If so you are violating your own argument. Safety isn’t free and that is why we have such a difficult time convincing leaders that they NEED to spend money on safety.
  • “We All Got Into This Business To Help People” First of all, no we didn’t, and second of all to those who did I say, “so what?” Fireman, policemen, ambulance drivers, human resources professionals, IT help desk workers, doctors, lawyers, nurses, and so on, all got into their professions to some degree, to help people that does not excuse theft and dishonesty.
  • “Everybody Does It” Let me begin by saying that no, not everyone in safety is a crook. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 23,000 people read my post about the threats made to me simply because I said: “stop stealing”. The vast majority of the people who either publically or privately commented supported me and were disgusted by people’s reaction (except the one unbalanced shrew who repeatedly and bravely announced to 23,000 strangers that she was a thief and unethical. In keeping with not arguing with idiots I blocked her. I hope that every one of her customers and potential employers read her own words before deciding whether or not to work with her.
  • “OSHA Material Isn’t Copyrighted” Many labor under the misconception that OSHA (or other governmental authorities) work is not copyrighted. Most countries recognize that a work is copyrighted the moment it is put into a fixed and tangible form: “Copyright protects the words, images, sounds, etc., used to express an idea. Copyright does not protect ideas or facts themselves. Copyright does protect the selection and arrangement of ideas:, i.e., their original and creative expression, as soon as they are fixed in some tangible form.[1] What this means in practical terms is if you didn’t write it, pay someone to write on your behalf, or have some give you the rights to a work, it isn’t yours. You don’t own it, nor do you have the right to use it without referencing the original how hard is it to identify where you got your information? It’s actually quite simple unless you stole the material, or are repurposing material that no longer belongs to you. So while it is true that most safety programs have a shared root in OSHA or its overseas equivalent that does nothing to obviate your ethical responsibility to site yours source. There are a lot of good reasons for citing your source, not the least of which being that your source maybe a crackpot who just made things up. Do your own work and reference your sources, even in the source is a previous work you did.
  • “It’s No Big Deal” If the unethical use of another’s material is no big deal, when does dishonesty and the lack of personal integrity become a big deal? Is it okay to falsify an incident report so that an injury becomes a reportable? Is it okay to mislead an OSHA auditor? Is it okay to lie under oath? Is it okay to conceal hazards from workers? Is it okay to use case management to deny an injured worker disability benefits? At what point can you no longer justify lying cheating and stealing? How much do you have to steal before it is wrong? How can an employer trust a safety hack who has such a fluid and flexible sense of morality?

For years I taught a course in Ethics and Legal requirements at a tier one global automotive supplier, and because of that, I became the defacto judge of what was and what wasn’t ethical. I got some interesting questions relative to ethics in a given situation.  I would talk through the situation with the person and I don’t think I ever had to give anyone an answer.  They KNEW right from wrong; why don’t so many people who work in safety have these same standards of ethics?

Those of you who would defend thievery, dishonesty, and unethical behavior in the name of safety, please indulge me this. Sit down with your child or grandchild and look him or her in the eye and tell them that you steal and why it’s okay to do so; if you can’t do that, than you KNOW what you are doing is wrong but you do it anyway.  And that makes you every nasty name I’ve called you and worse.

Post Script: I am sure this post will generate a backlash of angry response from the mouth-breathing slime balls who will defiantly steal, but will lack the integrity to even admit that is why they find this article distasteful, so let me help you out.

  1. If you can’t refute someone’s position attack his grammar and punctuation. That way people won’t know you are a thieving coward, they will just think you are an anal retentive who didn’t have the brains to get a teaching degree.

  2. If you can’t refute someone’s position OR his grammar attack his style. Tell the world that while you don’t condone stealing (you do) you also don’t condone someone who would describe people as water-headed, mouth-breathers, or a sarcastic tone. This will take the attention off you being a sleazy thief and make you seem like someone who just doesn’t like name calling.

  3. If you can’t refute someone’s position, or grammar, or style, attack him personally. Loudly call out the person as incompetent and question his standing to speak on a topic. Punctuate your comments by pumping up your OWN expertise (“Well I’ve been in this business 170 years so I think I know a little bit about…”) That way people will see you as an expert and will forget that you are a thief.)

 

 

[1] Source: http://www.geom.uiuc.edu/events/courses/1996/cmwh/Copyright/c_protects.html

Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement is Stealing

by Phil La Duke

If one doubts the fierce ignorance and proud stupidity rampant in the Safety function one need only read a recent LinkedIn thread where I tried in vain to help water-headed, mouth breathing safety professionals understand that one cannot plagiarize the work of another simply in the name of safety.

The thread was started by a man that I’ve grown to like and respect, even though we’ve never met. Social networks are good for that because you get a sense for what people believe and you can get past your own biases about accents, manner of dress, or the myriad other things that we routinely do to judge the proverbial book by its cover.

“Safety people is it acceptable to “copyright” a safety manual you develop for a client? Further, is it acceptable to “cut and paste” from one manual to another even if what is in the manual has no semblance to the actual work done by the customer?  Is it just unacceptable or also unethical?” ( Source: LinkedIn (2017))”

This is an excellent question that as it turns out most safety people should know, NEED to know, but don’t know. First of all, copyright law is tricky and differs from country to country, but through treaties, international law, and varying reciprocal agreements most governments respect copyrights of citizens or corporations of another country.  All of this is beside the point because the question is pretty straight forward, and the answer is you cannot copyright material that does not belong to you and if you were paid by a client to develop a manual the ownership of the manual transfers to the company who commissioned the work. Thomas Edison didn’t invent all the things with which he is credited; he had a team that he hired to develop ideas and to shape them into “inventions”.  Similarly, while Steven Jobs as head of Apple brought us many wonderful products, he didn’t write the code, design ever facet of things (although he was very much a hands-on businessman).  In both cases, the individuals who did the actual work to bring these ideas to fruition could not claim ownership because they were paid for their work.

The thread was choked with water-headed safety dimwits who insisted everything from the Bible is public domain (it isn’t. There are many versions, translations, and editions each published and sold) to Safety can’t be copyrighted because it’s for the benefit of everyone to safety. The stupidity demonstrated by some of the posters was staggering. I was reminded of the dimwitted movement in Detroit where people protested the Detroit Water Department turning off people’s water for lack of payment.  When asked if I wanted to join the protest I told the grubby protest agitator who looked to me like it had been a decade since he had been anywhere NEAR water, that I would love to but I had a “pay your damned water bill rally planned for the same day”.  To those who screamed “water is a right and water should be free” I offered to call the water department and the associated Unions to arrange to have these dimwits work at the water purification plants and sewage treatment plants for free. Oddly, none of these protestors or free water advocates was willing to work in and around polluted water or sewage for free.  If people who work to provide us clean drinking water deserve to get paid, why then don’t the people who develop safety materials? Perhaps more to the point, why should safety professionals expect to be able to steal other’s hard work and sell it to their clients because “safety should be free”.

“Copyright does not protect ideas or facts themselves. Copyright does protect the selection and arrangement of ideas:, i.e., their original and creative expression, as soon as they are fixed in some tangible form.”—Source: www.geom.uiuc.edu/events/courses/1996/cmwh/Copyright/c_protects.html [1]

What this means water-heads, is that while Safety as a concept cannot be copyrighted, nor can a fact be copyrighted, BUT when I write a training program on fall protection or confined space I may be able to copyright it as long as it is not a work for hire. Determining whether something is a work for hire is simple, a piece becomes a work for hire if any of the following are true:

  1. Your employer asked you to do it; or
  2. You did it on company time or premises; or
  3. You used company tools, equipment, or supplies to create it.

Many would-be writers make the mistake of writing something they to which they wish to retain the intellectual property rights on their company computer. Oops! if you employer wants to, it can compel you to relinquish any claim to that intellectual property.

Plagiarism is different than copyright violation, because one can plagiarize something that is not copyrighted. Way back in high school, Brother Remigus Bullinger a great man and a great mind who bore a striking and yet unintended resemblance to Ben Franklin, taught me that the word plagiarize comes from a Greek saying that roughly translated meant “you stole my slave”. I recently completed a course on plagiarism as part of my preparation for work on the Wayne State Bio Safety Board to which I was recently appointed.  The course covered a lot of things I already knew, but I still managed to learn a thing or two about plagiarism, most significantly that is possible to plagiarize one’s own work.

Avoiding plagiarism is important not just because the person you plagiarized can sue you back to the Stone Age, but consider this; what if the source from which you stole was wrong? By claiming it as your own work you bear the legal liability for anything that goes wrong. Your stupidity and thievery could get someone killed.

Of course since many safety policies have the same source, i.e. international or national safety regulations, there is bound to be a great deal of similarity between training courses or safety manuals, but that doesn’t obviate the need to site the source of the material. It only takes a moment to credit a source, but in the post Napster world thieves and unethical puss bags will justify stealing because they think safety ought to be free. Safety companies, whether they be small mom and pop shops or international giants deserve to be paid, or at very least credited for their work.  If you can’t trust a safety professional not to steal can you really trust them with the lives or your workers?

 

[1] Do you see how easy it is to avoid plagiarism? Merely site your source dumbass

How One Decision 50 Years Ago May Have Killed My Dad

LaDuke boysBy Phil La Duke

Today, in the US is father’s day. A day we honor our fathers or at least respect the fact that our fathers provided the sperm cell that brought us to life.  Some of us had great fathers, some of us had horrific fathers, but today is a day where many of us introspectively examine the relationship we have or had  with our fathers.

What does this have to do with safety? Well, Friday my daughter called and asked me how to choose a rod and reel as a father’s day gift for her step-father. I don’t fish and know (expletive) all about picking out a rod and reel. I told her to call her uncle and ask him.  I told her the best person to ask would have been my brother-in-law who was an itinerate sportsman and fisherman, but sadly he died some years ago of silicosis, an industrial disease caused by the inhalation of silica dust.  He was taken too young and too soon.

This brought to mind my own father, who died of mesothelioma, an agonizing way to die caused solely thorough exposure to asbestos. We didn’t get rich off what George W. Bush described as frivolous “asbestos lawsuits” (I pray daily that W. contracts something as horrible and dies as painful and terrible way.) In fact, my dad was so anti litigious that when my mother died at 60 from a faulty pacemaker, he refused to sue.  He spoke to his children, well at least to me (I can’t speak for my siblings) and asked me to joint a lawsuit.  “Medical science gave us 10 with you mother that we ordinarily wouldn’t have had, and any money we get will just come out of their research budgets; they aren’t going to take it out of their profits.”  In fact, my father refused to sue his employer over the protestations of his attorney, because he said that when his employers learned of the dangers they immediately took steps to protect him and his coworkers.  He did however sue the manufacturers who KNEW about the dangers and concealed them from the public and from his employer.  $100 bucks here or there split seven ways does not compensate me for the death of my father, nor does it seem fitting punishment for the torture they put my dad through, but it’s something, and sometimes something just has to do.

My dad would be 91 had he lived, and there’s a good chance he may have succumbed to something else had he not died of mesothelioma but given that his older brother is still alive and in relatively good health there’s at least a fair chance that he might be here today, telling his kids that they shouldn’t have given him gifts and to save their money instead. Anyway, it would be nice if he were still around.

My dad, and so many like him wasn’t just a tragic victim. He was murdered by heartless corporations. Corporations that are still around I should add, who, through depraved indifference to the health and wellbeing of the workers.  Murdered; one can’t help thirst for justice that will never come.  I expect the serial killer executives who murdered my father are enjoying their Father’s Day with their kids and grandkids and not giving their victims a moment’s pauses.

So that’s what this has to do with safety. But what I really wanted to do is to tell you all about my dad. (I’m not going to reveal too many personal details to avoid the possibility of identity theft—mine, not his). My dad was born on a farm in the 1920s one of seven sons of a railroad worker. I don’t know much about my grandfather (he too was killed on the job) or what he did for the railroad but I can only assume he did it all the livelong day.  My dad was all that was great about the greatest generation.  I used to spend Sunday afternoons at his house and once in a while we talked about what it was like growing up back then, particularly since he was old enough to remember and appreciate the gravity of the Great Depression.  I remember him telling me of the fear that gripped the nation.  “We didn’t know if it was ever going to end” he once told me.  Similarly, a Word War II vet he told me that “America wasn’t a superpower back then; we didn’t know we were going to win the war”. My dad and four of his brothers enlisted (one being too old to serve and another too young).  Miraculously all five came home unscathed with only two of them seeing anything close to action (on Okinawa but in a later wave in the invasion).  My dad was in the rarified condition of being fit for duty but unfit for combat (his horribly flat feet meant he couldn’t march).  He stayed stateside during the war; a self-proclaimed war hero who “dive bombed cigarette butts” on the base in South Carolina.  He told hilarious stories about his time in the army, one of my favorites was him telling me how terrified he was that they would shoot him, because they would read the troops the articles of war and each ended with “the punishment for which will be DEATH, or whatever a court martial shall decide.”  He served in both the army AND the army air corps when the army decided to trade him and two south Texans who spoke only Spanish for two young officers up on in subordination charges.

When he was discharged from the service my dad came home and took a job at Firestone. He didn’t like it and quit and lunchtime.  He walked across the street to a Ford plant where he was immediately hired and worked the afternoon, he didn’t like that either so he quit and the next day he took a job at the place he would work until he retired some 40 years later.  I often think of that fateful day and how his decision to quit either of those jobs might have changed the outcome of his life.  Rest In Peace dad, you sure earned it.

What Making Movies Taught Me About Safety

shutterstock_93961807

By Phil La Duke

Last year at this time I was sweating sweltering heat in a pile of rubble I was assured too many times wasn’t asbestos, cadmium, and any number of other toxins known and unknown.  I was helping a location manager determine the exact kind of garbage tree that had to be removed for a shot and the owner, a…what’s crazier than an eccentric? Oh yeah lunatic insisted be replaced.  He had big plans to make an outdoor beer garden directly adjacent to one of the dirtiest, most polluted areas on earth.

This was part of my daily routine as a Production Safety Consultant for a major blockbuster about to be unleashed on the public this week. It should be good, at least for those of you who love action films.  I learned a lot from this gig—not about making movies, I have worked in the entertainment business long enough to know the monotony punctuated by sheer terror that is making a movie. No, the important lessons I learned were more about safety overall.  I should note that it takes a special breed of safety practitioner to work in this business; that’s not me bragging, I have seen many production safety people burn out, freak out, and generally leave the field screaming in fright.  Production safety is a bit like waiting tables—everyone THINKS they can do it until they try.  So without further ado is what I learned about safety from the set of a movie:

  1. Forget glitz and glamour. Working safety for a movie is mostly about building sets and tearing them down. Workers can labor for months to build a set that is used for 30 seconds in a film. So in this way, working production safety is a lot like working on a construction site. Just like working on a construction site you have all the same hazards and all the same attitudes you have on a construction site, both good and bad.
  2. You need to part of the solution not the problem. Imagine a world where traditional safety just doesn’t exist. Case in point, imagine workers installing a window frame in a building so old that LITERALLY the concrete isn’t failing; it’s ceasing to be concrete. That’s right the cement and gravel are so old that they are separating. Now, the average safety guy (a gender neutral term by the way) will look for something form which the team can tie off. Lacking that the next best solution is to drill anchors into the pillars and ceiling and provide tie off points there. But given that if one drilled anchor pins into this building and fell the result would be a worker falling to his death and half a ton of concrete would fall on top of things. Too many safety guys would just shrug and say, “the law says…” and “I don’t care HOW you do it but you can’t do it that way”. Just like construction, this approach leads to driving unsafe practices underground. The job has to get done and the workers are on a deadline so the safety guy and his or her opinion mean less than nothing.
  3. Safety is about problem solving not preaching. So many times I had to intervene and suggest a safer way of doing something. I never used the words “you can’t” rather I would help the crew work through the risks and potential consequences and help them make informed decisions about their safety. I had one obnoxious ass who every time he saw me felt the need to work out some deep seated hatred of authority figures. When I would arrive he would yell with the obnoxious overly dramatic tone that “the safety guy is here you all better have your safety gear on”. At one point this jerk saw me and asked in a mocking tone, “hey Mr. Safety, is everyone following the rules?” I told him that it wasn’t my job to make sure people follow the rules, and that frankly, since I’m neither his boss nor his mother I couldn’t care less whether or not he followed the rules. I went on to tell him that if he deliberately acted recklessly and ended up dead, after I had carefully articulated the risk I wouldn’t lose a wink of sleep, I went on to say that I am a resource for people who care about their safety and the safety of those around them, and furthermore I neither knew nor particularly liked him so his death wouldn’t have the slightest effect on me. This startled him. It was obvious that nobody, at least not a safety practitioner, had ever laid things out for him in such harsh and stark terms. After that the loud obnoxious announcements and snide comments stopped, and he eventually approached me a bit sheepishly and apologized for giving me a hard time. He then told me that I was like no other safety guy he had ever worked with (noting, among other things, that I wore full safety gear even in the miserable 100 degree heat) and that he got a sense that I was looking at the big picture because the crew tended to be task oriented and might miss some things. And then he did something that most safety people will never experience; he thanked me.
  4. Safety has to have the workers’ backs not be on them. From day one I approached each worker and introduced myself. I told them that I had their backs and wouldn’t be on their backs. I always made it a point to tell them that my job was to help them make informed decisions about their safety. I believed that, and after a short time they believed it too. It wasn’t long before I would arrive on set (I travelled to 20 odd sets in a week depending on what was going on and how risky an activity might be) and walk the perimeter completing the required paperwork. Eventually people would come up to me and ask me to be part of the planning process. They would say things like, “I’m not sure this is safe enough, can you think of anything we can do to make it safer?” For me that is the greatest thing a safety practitioner can experience, I wasn’t their enemy, I wasn’t a cop, I wasn’t even a neutral nuisance. I was an integral part of the crew; someone who had their backs and a fresh set of eyes that might pick up a life threatening hazard and maybe help them to save they’re own lives.

Safety and Training Shouldn’t Be Treated Like Luxuries.

Dublin 285

This picture has nothing to do with the content of this article. I took this in Dublin after my speech last week.

by Phil La Duke

Okay, my weekly blog post is late again. C’est la vie.  My trusty laptop got it’s screen smashed and I have been left hunting for my spare a newer, smaller and wholly less satisfying version of my mac power book.  Plus I went to Dublin for the better part of a week to speak at the Business Ireland Techconnect Live Conference.  There were some technical glitches but I can assure you that I will have a link to a video of the speech up soon.

This week I was thinking about politics; it’s hard not too when you spent the better part of the week apologizing or at very least looking sheepishly at someone asking about the latest gaffe the world’s favorite politician has made. It got me thinking back to the Clinton years.  This isn’t an endorsement of either Bill or Hillary, just eight glorious years when I had a good job with good security, I was optimistic about my future and I didn’t have to worry about my job.  You see, I live in metropolitan Detroit, where, as most of you know, cars are king.  The problem with being part of the Detroit economy is we are one of the first areas to be effected by an economic downturn and the hardest hit.  We feel the pain before the rest of the world, but we also feel the recovery.

I was talking to friend who works making the king-shit (I’m too tired to worry about those of you who are going to be offended by a bit of course language…drop me an email to complain and I will send you a response that will have you looking up words for the next 18 months and will make you blush every time you think of their definitions) of luxury items: hot air balloons. As we talked I realized that Safety (and training too for that matter)are treated like corporate luxury items; things that you spend money on if you have it, but the first thing you cut out of your budget when you tighten your proverbial belt.

I have been harping on and on about the fact that the best way to ensure a safe workplace is to have a well trained workforce for months. Training always draws the short end of the stick: in boom times we’re too busy to do training correctly; we can’t spare our crew and lose four hours of production and in bust times we don’t have the money to train our workers and we send a good share of them packing.  We either too busy to invest or too poor to invest.  It’s the same deal with safety.  We either don’t have the money to do things right or we don’t have the time.

The problem is that like it or not both training and safety are discretionary expenditures. The people holding the purse strings know that even if we have to spend money on training/safety, we don’t have to do it right now.  Yes of course there are exceptions, especially in situations where there is a regulation that is driving the training, but even then I have been asked point blank, “what is the financial penalty for not doing this assuming we get caught?”

I can no longer see safety and training as anything but intrinsically linked and I am deeply troubled that both are seen as expendable budget dross. Just because something is discretionary in nature doesn’t make it less essential.  Food is technically a discretionary cost but even in lean times I manage to find funds to feed my cram into my maw and feed my ever expanding ample belly.  When we cut funding to safety and training because we haven’t had a lot of injuries it’s like cutting your food budget because you aren’t hungry at the moment.

Phil La Duke Live

A week from Wednesday I will be speaking at the Office Expo in Dublin, Ireland. I hope at least some of you will be able to attend. If you are unable to attend, but would like a link to my speech on YouTube please post a comment and I will send you the link. Of course I will also post it here but you may miss it. Wish me luck, I’m paying my own travel expenses.

This is from their website

The Speaker line up is now live for Ireland’s largest SME Expo, Grow SME . You can view the 350 agenda speaker line up here . The event is being held in the RDS on May 31st If you have not already registered, I would like to offer you complimentary delegate. Over 7000 delegates are registered to attend the event in the on 31st may in the RDS. Furthermore, Grow SME is also collocated with the following events. Tech Connect Live The National Sales and marketing Summit Grow your Business Online Expo IT, Software, Data Summit Grow SME The office expo The Blockchain Summit The GDPR Summit Delegates are free to move within events. You simply need to register online and there will be a delegate badge waiting for you. Feel free to pass on the invitation to colleagues, clients etc. that you believe may wish to attend any of the events.

Death from Above

“Maybe you got a kid, maybe you got a pretty wife”—Bruce Springsteen, State Trooper

By Phil La Duke

Every month a colleague sends me the butcher’s bill; a list of the people killed on the job. To a person the death could have been prevented without any notable expenditure. Roofers are frequently the victim slipping and falling from a roof to the ground or concrete below. This happens a lot. In part because one doesn’t need an education to be a roofer or laborer, and in part because in the US and many parts of the world small businesses are except from most of the protections afforded to workers in larger firms. In the U.S. small businesses are sacrosanct; with the possible exception of the elderly, politicians value the voting potential of promising to help small businesses than any other group. The rights of small businesses are political gold, but what about the rights of workers? Roofers, tend to be some of the most poorly trained and take more risks than just about any other small business employees that I can think of, they aren’t even treated as human beings rather they are seen as commodities to be used up. But even if small businesses were (and in some cases they are) subject to safety regulations, most countries lack the resources to focus on small businesses and prefer to go after  bigger companies

What’s worse than the fatalities are those who get injured but take years to die. I am reminded of a dear friend and colleague, Bill Sagy Sr. who decades ago when working as a steel worker he hurt his back. It wasn’t bad enough for him to go out on Workers’ Compensation or Social Security disability, he continued working. And then nearly 40 years later, after increasingly frequent spells where his “back went out”. Almost two years ago he went for a new form of laparoscopic surgery. He was skeptical but by then the pain was unbearable; I spoke to him two weeks after he had the surgery. He was almost euphoric; wistfully telling me how he wished the surgery had been around decades earlier. That was Thursday. On Sunday I received word that he was dead. It seems that Friday he developed a fever, it got worse until his wife rushed him to the emergency room where he collapsed. He was taken to intensive care where he died sometime Saturday. His routine surgery came with a free infection that killed him. Now there are water-heads among you will argue that the back injury so many years ago wasn’t the cause, that it was the infection and the infection alone that killed Bill. I’m not going to argue with those who feel that way, an idiot who enjoys arguing with people who put the time and effort into blogging and arguing an academic point aren’t worth my time.

But let me pander to that thought process for a while, and talk about my ex-father-in-law. He was injured when despite safety rules, Union rules, and common sense was working above me ex-father-in-law when he dropped what was described to me as an angle iron. It free fell three stories and struck my ex-father-in-law in the neck shattering one vertebrae and driving the second into a third. He had what was at the time experimental surgery, and had a cow bone fused into his neck. The surgery was successful and while he couldn’t lift more than 50lbs and was therefore judged permanently disabled. At first his life was pretty good, sure his activities were limited but he wasn’t a guy who golfed, or bowled or did much highly physical stuff. He came to grips with his limitations quickly and with aplomb. The doctors warned him that the cow bone would degrade and he would eventually have to undergo the surgery again. But when that day came he was diagnosed as having mesothelioma and the doctors advised against the surgery. He got addicted first to pain-killers and eventually to heroin he died from the mesothelioma before the heroin killed him. Heroin ate through his family like cancer, eventually my ex-wife got hooked and last year about this time she died of an overdose. If you find it hard to summon sympathy for another dead junky that’s none of my business, but it crushed my daughter and her sister who, while estranged from her at the time, prayed for the day she would straighten out her life. Like most of us, they thought they had more time than it turned out that they did. As Tom Waits wrote in the song Walking Spanish “Even Jesus wanted just a little more time, when he was walking Spanish down the hall”. For me those injuries so long ago caused those injuries and fatalities, but they won’t appear on any chart or make up any statistic. So as safety people slap each other on the back and praise themselves for a job well done, I’m out here watching in disgust. OSHA estimates that half of all injuries go unreported. We can do better.