The View Up Here

Random scribblings about kites, photography, machining, and anything else

Stay Safe

Posted by Tom Benedict on 01/12/2010

I have the dubious honor of being the person at work who has filed the most injury and near-miss forms.  It’s reached the point where my boss doesn’t even want to see me approach the first aid kit, and my co-workers nicknamed me “Bubble Boy”.  But hey, the point of the paperwork is to bring any and all accidents or potential accidents to the attention of our safety committee so they can look at what happened and see if there’s a way to prevent that kind of injury in the future.

Sometimes the changes are small.  Here’s a good example:  At one point I injured myself while using our small mill because the right-hand crank for the table came a little too close to a toolbox.  My hand whacked the toolbox, and a good 2″x.5″ patch of skin was removed from my hand.  It hurt about as bad as that sounds.  The fix?  Move the #$%@ toolbox 8″ to the right!  Done.  No real cost, and no repeat of that injury in over seven years.

Other times the changes are more involved.  But not often.  Most of the changes really are small.  It really doesn’t take a lot to be safe.  Just a little common sense.

And with that introduction, let me introduce you to my latest injury:

Gloves are good, but...

It’s not work-related this time.  This was 100% me.  If you can believe it, it’s a kiting injury.  Consider this:  Even a modest kite can put upwards of ten pounds of force on the kite line.  Under that kind of force kite line starts to behave like an abrasive hacksaw.  Common sense says wear gloves when working with kite line.  I do this regularly, and keep a pair of leather gloves in my KAP bag for just this reason.  And you’ll notice in the photograph above, my hands are injury-free.  I was wearing my gloves!

But my arms weren’t.  I also tend to wear a beat-up old cotton work shirt when I’m out doing KAP.  But this time I was wearing short sleeves.  The wind picked up, the kite started to pull harder and harder, and I had to bring it down.  Two of us got on the line with our leather gloves, but it was still a struggle.  I wrapped the line around my elbow to get a little more purchase on it, and the line slipped.

Common sense, right?  Not so much.  I’ve seen people make the same move with rope, fishing line, all kinds of stuff.  I’ve even seen one kiter proclaim that using this maneuver means the line cannot slip, and that he therefore doesn’t need to wear gloves at all.  From first-hand experience I feel safe in saying:  BALONEY!

Whenever you put your hand on a rope, string, line, cable, chain, etc. you must assume that it will at some point move.  The line could fail and the suspended weight could pull it through your hand.  The wind can change and the kite will pull the line through your hand.  The thing your rope is attached to might unexpectedly move, and will pull it through your hand.  Insert scenario X, Y, or Z, and they all come back to this:  No matter what you do it can move.  Do it enough times and eventually it will.  If you’re not protected, you get hurt.

Such was the case here.  The line slipped, I got a nasty rope burn from #200 Dacron line, and from now on I won’t pull that maneuver unless I’m wearing long sleeves.  Lesson learned.

Stay safe, folks.  Even when you’re just flying a kite.

– Tom

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