At this point in my life, the biggest physical risk I ever take at work is when I’m standing in front of a vending machine in the break room, and a 3 Musketeers bar is launched off a corkscrew, behind a thin sheet of plexiglass. Despite the high-nougat content, there’s a lot of heft in a 3M, and sometimes those babies are moving.
But when I was young, dumb, and easily intimidated, I was occasionally asked to perform functions that were even more dangerous than that. Thinking back on it now, I have a feeling those businesses weren’t exactly following the OSHA code to the letter. Ya know?
Of course, I was a 19 year old dumbass, which isn’t exactly an exotic and irreplaceable creature. There was a fresh herd of us stampeding out of Dunbar High School every year. So, what did it matter if a few were killed along the way? They could just snap in a replacement dipshit, and never miss a beat.
Below, I’m going to describe the most dangerous tasks I remember performing at work. Some of my stuff is probably pretty tame, compared to folks who worked in coal mines, and that sort of thing. But, you’ll have a chance to set me straight, in the comments. Let’s get started, shall we?
The Fas-Chek ledge of death
After I graduated high school, and lost my lucrative position as a toll collector, I started working full-time at a grocery store in Dunbar. On mornings when “the truck” was scheduled, I started at 6:30 a.m., and was in charge of unloading and sorting that day’s delivery. It sucked ass.
There was no real loading dock, just a wide door in the side of the building. At some point there was a platform out there that could be raised and lowered, so you were able to easily take freight off the truck with a pallet jack, and on into the storage room. But that platform stopped working – probably during the Johnson Administration – and was never repaired. Because, you see, that would require money.
So, they always sent a truck with a so-called liftgate. It was a small platform attached to the truck itself, which was hydraulically operated. The driver would lift me and a jack up there, I’d pull a pallet of freight onto the platform, and he’d lower me down.
Sounds easy, huh? Well, it wasn’t. The platform was small: almost exactly the same depth as a pallet. So, I’d have one rolling along, and needed to stop it right before it went over the edge. If I stopped it too soon, it would be halfway inside the truck, and halfway out. And if I stopped it too late… I’d be dead beneath a half-ton of potted meat, or whatever.
There were two ways of braking those bastards: dropping the pallet, or quickly turning the wheel. I used the latter method, because the first one was unpredictable and also caused a lot of shaking of the platform. I didn’t care for the shaking.
So, I’d have a heavy pallet rolling through the truck, out onto that tiny platform, and would have to whip the wheel to one side at the last second. There was literally no room for error. It was scary, and the driver sometimes said things like, “Shit, man. I hope they’re paying you a lot of money to do this. Somebody’s going to get killed!” Yeah, I was pulling down minimum wage: $134 per week, before taxes. It always made me feel pretty good when they said things like that.
For the record, pallets of water were the scariest. They were impossibly heavy, and didn’t like to stop rolling. In fact, any kind of liquid put the fear of God in me. Even now, Hi-C gives me the heebie-jeebies. But, at least it doesn’t come in those big iron cans anymore. Shit!
The Skating Rink in the Sky
At the same grocery store there was a sign on the roof, above the front door. On it, they listed the week’s specials, and guess who got to climb up there and change it every Sunday morning? Yep, the kid with the Jiffy-Pop hair, who’s deathly afraid of heights.
They liked the way I did it, though. It always looked great when I was finished, and I knew how to spell “broccoli,” and challenging things like that. They’d give me the handwritten list (generally full of misspellings), and I’d take it and the box of letters to the back room, and get everything organized and proofread. Then, when I got to the roof, I’d just rip down the previous specials, and slap the new ones into place.
I was quick, and did a good job with it. Other people would have backward Ns, S instead of $, and an upside-down 7 in place of an L. Their efforts always looked like hell, but mine were a thing of beauty.
I hated climbing up there, though. The sign was only about 12 inches from the edge of the roof, so I had to stand in a very narrow area, with massive head trauma directly behind me. If I’d stepped too far back, or stumbled in some way, I could’ve very easily fallen off the roof. I didn’t like heights anyway, and felt extremely vulnerable up there.
And one morning my worst fear almost came to fruition. I climbed up, and the roof was covered in a thick layer of ice. I didn’t realize it, until my feet nearly flew out from under me — while I was putting the finishing touches on OREO or whatever. I don’t know how I didn’t fall off there, backwards. It was soooo close. I was down on one knee, contorted and panicked, and about to power-shit my Towncrafts.
I quickly finished the sign, climbed back down, and told the manager I wasn’t doing it anymore. My face was probably the color of Jack White’s, and my chin was likely trembling. He just chuckled, said OK, and that was the end of my sign-changing career. And the return of the upside-down 7 at the beginning of LYSOL.
The World’s Most Inconvenient Light Bulb
When I worked at the Dunbar Toll Bridge, a guy was supposed to show me how to change the big light bulbs that hung from the bottom of the bridge. They were there so boats wouldn’t crash into it, I assumed. And I didn’t like the sound of that nonsense, not one tiny bit.
But he and I walked up the sidewalk until we were directly over the river. He’d brought along a broomstick with a metal hook embedded in the end of it, and several replacement bulbs. We finally stopped walking, and he lifted a trap door. Inside was a spindly metal ladder, which led down to a small platform that was suspended high above the water.
“Just climb down there, hook the chain that’s hanging underneath the platform with this broomstick, and pull it up to you. Then I’ll hand you down a new bulb,” he said.
What?! Climb down there? Was he serious?! What am I, a circus performer?? I didn’t even like looking down the hole, there was no way in hell I was going to willingly navigate those thin wet steps. Were these people insane?!
“Fuck that,” I said. And he just sighed, like he’d been through this many times before, and did it himself.
The Day I Saw a Guy Almost Get Split in Two
At another grocery store, in North Carolina, they had an industrial cardboard baler. Whenever we emptied a box we were supposed to break it down, and throw it inside. And when the thing got full… we’d have to make a bale and start over.
The way you made a bale, was to push a red button on the behemoth, and a big mashing apparatus came down and squeezed the cardboard to about half its previous height. Then you’d have to feed three wires into it, and around the cardboard, before tying it off in the front. Once the wires were in place, you’d release the pressure, and the cardboard would try to go back to its original height. But the wires restricted it. Then you’d put a pallet in front of it, and roll the newly-created bale onto it.
However, if you half-assed the tying off of the wires, you were putting yourself at risk. Those things would sometimes snap, and could split a person in two. It was like the whip of the devil.
Indeed, I witnessed an obese gentleman (with significant body odor issues), almost lose the bottom third of his right arm, because of that baler. He released the pressure on it, took a step back, and one of the wires SNAPPED at the speed of light. Before he realized what had happened, blood was gushing from his forearm. There was a long gash, which looked mighty, mighty deep. I went running for help, and they took him away in an ambulance.
I never trusted that thing, and people would laugh at me for backpedaling like a maniac whenever I released the pressure on a new bale. But I’d seen what it could it do, with my own two eyes. Poor, Pits… He got something like 25 stitches in his arm.
And now it’s your turn. In the comments section, please tell us about all the dangerous shit you’ve been asked to do at work.
And I’ll see you guys again tomorrow.
Have a great day!
Now playing in the bunker
Use the Surf Report’s webhost: HostGator!
First. And I read the update.
Danger wise I haven’t had much of an issue unless you count being a traveling sales rep. The roads are dangerous.
But now that I’m an RN I regularly risk my life while performing my job. I’m not just talking about getting HIV or HepC from a needle stick. No.
I work in hyperbarics several days a week. We operate a 24/7 chamber and we take emergencies from all over. In addition we have regular outpatient treatments twice a day.
My chamber looks a lot like the decompression chambers you might recall from the old Jacques Cousteau series. We can hold nearly twenty people and pressurize to a depth 6 times normal atmospheric pressure.
Under those pressures fire and explosion are a real risk, as are the bends. If that chamber ever blows up we’ll lose a large chunk of hospital and everyone in it. And every now and then we do hear about it happening.
The bends can also be fatal if not diagnosed and treated quickly enough. Or I could just blow out a lung.
My guess is that after flying on the medevac helicopter, I take the second greatest risk in the profession. I think the helicopter would be cool too, and I’d look awesome in the helmet.
But as dangerous as it is, it’s very cool and I get a kick out of being he only nurse on this side of the state who does what I do (treat critically ill patients on ventilators in the hyperbaric chamber).
It’s worth the risk to me.
Wow, Jorge! It sounds like you have a great job and you seem so dedicated to it. I have HepC, which I got about 15 years ago performing middle of the night, roadside CPR on a guy who wasn’t wearing his seatbelt.
When I have to go into the hospital, I always tell the staff to double glove before they touch me because I have have HepC.
My daughter is working her way through college to become an RN. In the Summer she works as a CNA at our mondo cool new hospital in Nome.
Hospital people have to be the most dedicated people I have ever seen.
P.S. What hospital do you work at?
Well, first thanks.
Nursing is a great job. It will be great for your daughter. I know an Alaskan nurse. She went out into the bush in some really remote areas. She had some serious stories and fantastic skills.
For reasons similar to our hosts, I don’t name my hospital. But I will tell you we’re a nationally and probably internationally known urban trauma center. Our emergency department sees somewhere between 12-15% of our citys population every year.
It’s not exaggeration to say the book on trauma medicine was written in my hospital. The doc who runs the chamber is considered one of the fathers of modern critical care medicine.
I don’t mean to brag, but I’m very proud of my hospital and our staff. As rough and tough as it is I don’t want to work anywhere else.
Nurses are the unsung heroes in the medical profession. I can’t thank them enough for all their dedication and compassion. I place my life in their hands moreso than the doctor. True angels of mercy.
I spent a couple of years working on the flight deck of aircraft carriers. That got exciting at times.
Engine room on a carrier and before that 3 years on a sub training platform. Not as dangerous as the flight deck but still do some goofy stuff down there.
My worst was working at a fish processing plant. All the product came frozen from the mother ship, and us dweebs making $10 an hour would cut the fish up, getting them ready for packaging.
As you may well imagine, we worked inside a refrigerated room, cutting up crab clusters into individual legs. We wore cotton gloves as a first layer, and rubber gloves on the outside (which we were required to purchase from Big Fish, Inc.).
The first day all we did was cut up crab. The second day we cut crab in the morning, and as a special treat, they changed things up and we cut thin slabs of Orange Roughie.
Running crab clusters through the bandsaw is fairly safe,as you have approximately 12 inches of leg to hold onto before the bandsaw blade.
Orange Roughie is just a slab, and you have to run it through the blade far enough that you can reach around and pull it through.
Well, the guy to the left of me either didn’t read the instruction manual, or perhaps there wasn’t a manual. Anyway, he runs the slab of fish in so far that he also sliced his index finger through skin and bone down to the middle knuckle. It looked like Texas Chainsaw Massacre…but in a refrigerator.
So, that is my carreer in the fish processing industry…all one and a half days.
Easy. Be 11 or 12 and a golf caddy. Walking uphill to the 9th green with a golf bag on each shoulder, parallel to the 1st hole, whose tee-box was at the top of this same hill. In other words, people on that hole were driving golf balls generally in my direction. If they do hit one coming near you, they’re supposed to yell “FORE!”. Never heard any such thing; just saw a blur out of my right eye and something ‘thunk’ on my right shoulder. Yep – golf ball. 6 inches more toward me and that fucker would have been imbedded in my head. And then some 35 years later I never would have had the pleasure of making all y’all’s acquaintance.
That was my ball. Sorry…
Where I was caddying at the time, that would make you Jewish.
I didn’t realize the ball hit him down there.
Yep, cardboard balers. Been there, done that. The one at the grocery store I worked at when was as 16 was automatic, it made the bales itself and spat them out, all you needed to do was throw the empty boxes into the gaping hole with the thrashing mechanical arm. Of course it would jam, and being 16 years worth of stupid, I would lean/clamber in without switching the damn thing off. Play dodge the claw. Idiot. By law you had to 18 to operate the machine, and eventually the store told the under 18s to stop using it.
I also drove the forklifts despite never being formally trained. That was actually fun to a 16 year old. That stopped when a friend crashed one into the building – forks fully up and big hole in the roof.
Root 66 says
Agreed. Cardboard balers are ugly to mess with.
I also put my forks through a wall! The boss was yelling at me to hurry to the dock and I forgot that they were up. Yeah, a 20-foot lift won’t make it through a 10-foot doorway! I thought I was going to get fired, but everybody was too busy rolling on the floor! Clearly not one of my finer moments!
If you can visualize the scene, my friend put the forks into the roof above the door, which pitched the machine back onto the rear bumper, which dug itself into the tarmac. The thing was STUCK, all wheels off the ground. We had to pop it out by putting trolley jacks under it, lifting it until it dropped clear. A bunch of 16 year olds working at the weekend.
That could have killed us too 🙂
Root 66 says
My two-year stint at a meat processing and storage plant was my most dangerous job by far. Beyond the obvious danger of freezing to death, my most memorable feats were (in no particular order):
-Cleaning ice of the storage racks in the freezer. Of course they wanted the TOP racks cleaned off. I slipped on the ice many times, 20 feet above the ground. I don’t know how I made it, but I think a “Code Brown” might have been involved that day!
-One day in the patty processing area, our quick-freeze machine sprung a leak. Carbon dioxide was filling the room at an alarming rate. When I started having tunnel vision and couldn’t catch my breath, I told them I’d be back when they had it fixed!
-In the same patty processing area, I was unplugging a patty making machine so I could move it. The cord was caught in one of the doors of the machine (which had the safety shut-off over-ridden–go figure!) As I tugged on the cord, it shorted out and everything went dark and silent in the building after an enormous “POW” and fireball. Since I was standing on a damp floor with steel-toed boots at the time, I don’t know how I didn’t get fried by the 440 volts it ran off of!
I still work in an industry that uses some pretty foul chemicals. When we sell equipment in a state that has no experience with these chemicals, i generally have to meet with officials and convince them that the benefits outweigh the risks. Wikipedia is usually good for a reasonable explanation of hazards. Sometimes Wikipedia can work against us. One of the chemicals was experimented with in World War 2 by Nazi Germany but abandoned because they considered it to be too dangerous.
Bill R says
I worked at a fast food chain, I won’t mention the name but it rhymes with Bendy’s. It was decided from the big honcho’s at the corporate office that the air hoods needed cleaned on the inside. Me, being the tallest of the usual gang of pimple-faced sloths, was volunteered to ‘git up air’ and do it. I can still see myself straddling 6 vats of fry grease with the average temperature of the sun, trying to get these things cleaned out. The most interesting moments were when a few drops of water landed in the molten lava-grease and caused a full scale atomic reaction, sending massive amounts of steam (from a drop or two of water? Really??), and a plume of raging fry lard up into the legs of my pants. Good times!! 🙂
Holy shit Bill – just read this after posting mine.
Goddamn fry vats! No young lad working the fryers every ahd to worry about hairy hands.
Worst thing I ever saw in a fast food joint was a zitster carrying a big rectangular pan full of hot, old oil he was changing. As he walked behind the cashiers with this Satan’s brew, he slipped and the whole pan doused him from head to toe. It was horrific! I sure hope the kid got a good settlement out of it.
While working in the oil fields, I was afraid of explosions, passing out/suffocation, or getting smashed by a large metal tank approximately 101% of the time (statistical error +/- 1%).
I only had to clean out the “glycol unit” once. That was plenty. I’m not exactly sure what it did, or how it did it; all I know is that when it was functioning it dropped 50 million degree triethylene glycol through a giant tube of natural gas in order to get rid of all the moisture.
This glycol unit was about 15 inches in diameter and about 25-30 feet tall. Most of the good ones had a sweet little basket ladder, where you could wedge into or clip onto the while you are at the top of the unit. But not this one. Oh no, Evangeline Pumpers (heh, that was the company name at the time) was much too cheap for that most probably required safety feature. And none of the inspectors cared either, so long as it was a high schooler up there trying not to die. This one had a ladder just wide enough to fit the toe of one boot on a rung at a time.
At one point I had to fill this thing with little metal rings. To do so I had to carry a three gallon bucket of metal bits to the top of this tower and funnel them in. So no shit, there I was, at the top of this giant hollow pole, with frozen hands (a frigid 50 degree Louisianan winter), holding onto a bucket of metal bits with one hand, feeding the metal bits into the giant tube of doom with the other hand, and holding onto a tiny my little pony hair comb sized ladder with the other hand.
It took a few minutes to empty the bucket before I had to go down and fill the bucket again. I would just be up there, teetering on the glycol unit like a monkey standing on a soda straw, blowing with the wind, swaying to the groove of nature and industry coming together in harmony to try and murder me.
The best possible landing off the height of that beast was onto a flat cement pad. If you didn’t aim you final plunge well you would get mangled on an assortment of high pressure gas lines, water meltingly hot glycol lines, or a series of unnecessarily pointy valve stems and handles.
I did that for two days until the unit was full of little metal bits.
Mowing grass at the oil field was also terrifying. More so than most people imagine.
Before I ever started actually working there, I remember having to walk around to all the area residents’ doors and telling them not to flip any switches or start any flames, lest we have the Easton Memorial Crater in Louisiana instead of just the village of Easton, LA. (You see, there was a big gas leak somewhere and we didn’t know where to go fix it. We knew there was a leak because the pressure on a lot of the wells was really low. We didn’t know where it was because there are fucking hundreds of miles of gas pipe out there. Anyway, if something sparked in the wrong place that entire section of the planet would blow the fuck up.)
These leaks were a constant threat. And mowing the grass out there was horrible, partially because of that leak threat.
First of all, it was bad because I was a retarded teenager who thought there were two speeds on the tractor, “stop” and “bat out of hell”. So there wasn’t much time to react to any upcoming problem.
Then, there was always the general fear of hitting a rock, or the engine being too hot for the air, and being subsequently engulfed in liquid flame. The likes of which Michael bay has wet dreams.
But then every now and then I would hear a loud metallic *GCLWAINK* of the bush hog blades hitting an unnoticed feeder line or half buried valve head. All that ever went through my mind when that happened was, “Oh fuck I’m gonna die.”
That probably happened 5 or 6 times a month throughout high school.
Sweet Jesus, I won’t be able to sleep for a week after reading some of these stories. I think one of the worst potential for serious injury was when I worked at McDonalds (age: 16) and we had to clean the fry vats. You had to use some contraption to suck up and filter the grease and then use a vacuum type hose to shoot it back into the vat. That shit was like 350 degrees. Someone was always getting hauled into the emergency room from some devastating burn either from the grill itself or the fryers.
My sister worked in a supermarket deli. The stories she used to tell of kids and slicers made me want to pass out.
I feel lightheaded now.
I’m a nurse, but I don’t get to do cool stuff like Jorge. No, I do home visits. In neighborhoods that sane people wouldn’t even drive by. I’ve read somewhere that nurses get assaulted more than any other profession. I got threatened several times when I worked in the hospital. The most frightening of these encounters was when I was 36 weeks pregnant and not taking any crap off of anyone. Knock on wood, so far it has never proceeded beyond threat. I also used to hate scrubbing in on surgery when residents were involved. They’re a bit scary when they are wielding scalpels and needles. I’ve been covered in every body fluid a body can produce, and I’ve had a needle stick with a dirty needle.
Hunting Russian submarines in North Atlantic whilst being on an American submarine during height of Cold War.
The 4th Stooge says
My most dangerous is lightweight compared to you guys’ stories. Mine just involves asbestos, as in being stupid enough to work in a room that the asbestos was currently being removed without knowing that this was the time they were going to do it. We were so stupid that we didn’t even ask..but then again, why in the hell were we even allowed in the area?!
Of course, we laugh about it now, but breathing in dust (regardless of whether it’s poisonous or not!) isn’t a good thing!
I’ve got pretty much nothing compared to some of yez, but I do have a lightbulb less convenient that Jeff’s. On a broadcast transmitter tower, there are red lights at night. They are more-or-less regular light bulbs, and they burn out and need to be replaced. I got to climb the 700 foot tower to change light bulbs. Later, at the TV station, I had the less-hazardous duty of climbing up on the roof with a broom to sweep the snow out of the satellite dishes.
When I’m playing with my astronomy telescope I sometimes focus on the lights on the top of the broadcast tower that is “nearby”. I have wondered what sad sack has to go up there and change those bulbs, now I know 🙂
(can’t they do LED ones?!)
They might very well be LEDs nowadays. It would make total sense for a station owner to switch over; forget about energy usage, consider the liability insurance.
I haven’t climbed a tower in 25 years, so my information might be stale. Next time you’re telescoping, look at one of the obstruction lamps (flashing lights). An incandescent bulb will turn off with a fade-out that takes a large fraction of a second. An LED will turn off instantly. You can see this in cars’ turn signals too. I’m not sure you could tell by looking with the beacon bulbs (the ones that don’t flash).
I’ll just drop this here…
Root 66 says
Looking at this video will make you weak in the knees! I promise!!
Classic video! It keeps getting taken down and re-posted.
I never climbed the barber pole at the top – we left that for our well-insured rigging dude. And our actual antenna was further down, on the tower proper. Ours was only a 10kW ERP FM running on Heliax; this looks like some sort of rigid line, maybe waveguide.
The one thing that chaps my ass about this video – speaking of correctors – is the intro where he calls this a “guided tower”. It’s GUYED, goddamnit! As in, supported by guy wires. A thing that isn’t moving requires no guidance. Jeebus.
My scrotum kept begging me to stop watching this video.
My ass ate the cushion in my chair while I was trying to watch this. I honestly did that old “hide your eyes behind your hand” like in horror movies. Some of this I simply could not watch.
Still a full time firefighter but had a few close calls…. Stepping out of a window from a building on fire and had the roof collapse behind me just as I pulled my leg through. Me and my partner just looked at each other with big cheesy grins on and said nothing.
A few flashovers but no backdraughts luckily. (Have a look at you tube if you haven’t heard of these)
Oh, and car repair shops suck when they burn. Shit blowing up everywhere! Oxyacetylene cylinders, paint, thinners, cars. Not nice when you are inside….
Almost at the moment you posted that, about a dozen emergency vehicles descended on the house across the street from me. From here it looked like four fire trucks, three ambulances, two fire chiefs and a cop, with more arriving every minute. They’re wrapping up now, putting away hoses, so I guess it was a false alarm.
Yep, we get plenty of those especially.
Ozzie Bucco says
Once I got a paper cut and it really hurt. I also have a callus on my middle finger from using a pencil.
Pencil? What are you Amish?
We must maintain the tradition of the pencil. Otherwise, how will the Leaders of Tomorrow know the meaning of “pencil-dick”?
Wisey in TTown says
My most dangerous job was running the “power tongs” on a oil well pulling unit. Power tongs consisted of a long chain that’s wrapped around well pipe. It’s used to unscrew or screw the pipes to each other. You have to tighten and then slack the chain. I was 16 years old and the only employee who had all his fingers. I went to College after one summer of that shit.
Speaking of dangerous jobs and being young and stupid…
Partner in a new property development company
Myself – in charge of construction, engineering, etc.
Partner – in charge of finances
Unexpectedly big project in Chicago
Me: “How’d we’d manage the capital for this project?”
Partner: “Teamster’s pension fund.”
Me: “Oh fuck me…”
been there done that says
In the navy…flying off of aircraft carriers…in a plane that was older than I was…that did not have ejection seats.
Seemed fun at the time
Bill in WV says
Delivering newspapers to the one guy who lived on the summit of Mt. Everest. Fucking bad tipper too.
a coworker and i were dismantling a gas station carwash one day in order to install a new one.’
The old car wash had one of those top brushes that comes down and spins on top of the car. I had him hold on to the brush as i unloaded it using a forklift off of it’s mounts. We didn’t realize how counterweighted that thing was and it rotated and launched him toward the ceiling. another 6 inches and his head would have exploded like a melon.
I don’t smoke but we each had a smoke after that.
One other time we were trying to get a gas fired heated dryer to work. We finally got it to work by bypassing the safeties. I heard a loud BOOM from the back room. The dryer had fired up while he was on the ladder and singed off all of his leg hair.
Beyond that we were working with power tools and electrical wirig usually while wet.
Back in the days when I started where I am now I was cabling for a living,
I remember climbing the roofs of portables and grabbing hold of the electrical line… and tossing a comms cable around that bundle. Thank God for electrically isolated work boots and insulation that hadn’t degraded yet.
I have drilled into live electrical a couple times. Flames shooting out the flutes of the drill (18″ long concrete bit usually) was always fun.
I have also had to don the space suit and respirator to pull cable through asbestos filled crawl spaces numerous times. And it of course was always the middle of a humid summer when those jobs came up.
Asbestos was in a lot of our facilities (still in some).
Wrestling an old school satellite dish down three stories. Hefting the same up onto the new four story building, and then doing it yet again when we got relocated.
High voltage and current is something I’ve always been around. Back when I worked for a telco equipment manufacturer I was in transformer QC and test, some of those beasts where essentially a 3 foot cube of laminated steel with wires hanging out everywhere. My test bench was capable of delivering 1000 (thousand) amps at 800volts. You could feel the hair on your arms tingle at times, all the while avoiding bare conductors on the unit under test due to even higher induced voltages and on the behmouth, 400 amps, induced (no loads on that winding, just a voltage check. And no, we did not have enough volt and amp meters to hook up everything, we where doing this free hand with exposed leads and clamps all over… on steel workbenches and trolly tables. I did put 1200 volts though my left middle finger one day. And plenty of zaps over the course of doing that. Some smaller 100 pound xfmrs you had to test by hitting them full load (most you had a rheostat to ramp up the voltage) and these bastards would litteraly jump a couple inches into the air when you did this. You kept your distance when firing those babies up, if I remember right, we had to hit them with 600 volts, limited to 200 amps.
Like somebody else said, I doubt it would fly with OSHA today.
RIP Ray Manzarek.
In high school I worked as an usher (bouncer) at a drive in theater, had knives pulled on me several times and guns pointed at me twice. Still have some of the knives, didn’t get to keep the guns because that was serious enough we had to call the cops and they took them.
In college I climbed towers (TV and Radio) to do maintenance, many times without any safety equipment.
The towers were anywhere from 90 to 450 feet tall, the guy that got me the jobs told me it doesn’t matter how tall they are, anything over 40 feet your probably dead anyway.
I can remember once when the dilithium crystals were deteriotating, and I had to tell the captain that she just couldn’t take much more. He didn’t listen. Just told me to hold it together for a little while longer. We went through a bunch of close calls like that over the course of my career.
Wisey in TTown says
That was good.