Safety 3rd: Cuban style

In a country where supplies are scarce, it comes as no surprise that necessity breeds a certain amount of McGyver’ing.  It also means that safety is not a top priority.  By no means are the Cubans we met foolhardy.  They are just more willing to accept some risk to get the work done and balance the amount of supplies used.  It is a lesson that when you’re visiting someone else’s home, you can make recommendations but they will decide ultimately how they want to live with it.  When we offered our gloves, glasses and other safety gear; they would wear them.  Otherwise, they would never ask, nor think to ask because it just isn’t something common in Cuba.  So when in Santa Clara…

When we got there, the outlet for the fan was just installed.  The bare wires were twisted together prior to the image.  At least now we got to plug the bare wires into an outlet.

Some rebar needed to be cut. Luckily we brought some 12″ cutting wheels.  The shaft was too small to fit the wheel so a 1/2″ PVC pipe was cut to use as a spacer for the wheel.  You can see the entire wheel because the safety sheild is removed.  You’ll notice he’s wearing hearing protection, and some funny eye goggles.  The glove was on the left hand to hold the rebar.

An outlet was installed on wood beneath the bench.  Very few if any outlets were three prongs … and those that were did not have the ground connected.

Mark burned through many gloves handling the rebar.  Most of the Cubans didn’t use any gloves.

This is a step-up or step-down transformer.  It is about three feet high.  It steps 110 to 220 volt.  At least it is all open so you can see when it sparks.

A wire hangs down in a door way.  Why waste good electrical tape?  It’s just going to fall off anyways.  Here Mark demonstrates the height of the wire.  I think it was about my ear height.  And yes, the wire is bare just above the top of his head.

The wet saw had a broken plug or switch.  Either way, that didn’t matter.

There is no reason to run all new wire.  If the wire breaks or is a foot short, just add another section in.  Color blind electricians are fine here.

Pete had something in his eye.  He said it was infected and ignored it for a day or two.  When he went to the Doctor there, he learned it was a scratched cornea.  The left eye is his good eye.  His right eye is normally blurry.  Next time I saw him, he was on metal scaffolding wiring in an overhead light.

This is the air conditioning unit that we cut a hole in the wall for.  Need electricity?  Just pop out the outlet and run a wire from it.  Want a circuit breaker?  Just tape it to the wire near the power switch for the AC.  The current protector’s light show that the power is “balo” or low.

The work was simple.  Dig out under the foundation of the church and lay a new foundation under it.  We only dug out two of the eight foundations at a time.

Hey, please go take that wall down.  It might be easiest if you prop yourself on the wall while you knock the bricks off.

These are Mark’s safety glasses that he lent me.  Good thing too.  See that scratch on the glasses about an inch below where I’m holding it?  That was a floor board that fell while I was removing a floor while standing under it.

Yordi needed another electrical line for something.  I looked over the wall down at him.   He’s standing on a ladder adding wire to the demarc point — where electricity comes into the building — to pull another circuit.

This is Yordi making another pig tail for something.

Safety 3rd

My recent trip to Cuba hammered home the concept of “safety third”. I stole the concept from Mike Rowe. Basically, it means that there is a certain amount of risk that someone needs to accept to get a job done. If everything were truly safety first, nothing would get done. Take a look at his blog entry at the following link.

Mike explains himself even more in the following TED talks video.

I bring this up because I’ve got a whole slate of photos for a blog post called “Cuban Safety 3rd” which will be coming soon.