My grandfather’s truck needed some maintenance work recently. In the process of fixing one thing, I noticed that the exhaust was being secured by bungie cords. I took the truck to our local muffler repair shop. The building is a metal building with three large overhead doors and a people door. I handed over the keys and entered through the people door. The waiting area was open to the shop but clearly marked with a yellow line and a sign “Employees only.” I watched from the designated area as the truck was lifted in the air allowing the technician to inspect the exhaust. I knew I was in for bad news when I heard him chuckle from under the truck.
He informed me that both exhaust pipes were rusted and broke off. He told me “well at least I can cut off what is broke.” The next thing I knew he was lighting the cutting torch and cutting the metal away from under the truck. I noticed he didn’t put on safety glasses or a shield but found myself thinking “he must know what he is doing.” I watched as metal fell to the shop floor and then he put the tools away. From across the shop he begins to explain to me what needs to be done next. Growing tired of yelling and me saying “I’m sorry, what did you say?” he instructs me to come look for myself. So here I am standing under a lifted truck in open toe shoes, in the designated “employee only” area. Still the thought “he must know what he is doing” went through my mind.
Looking back at my experience at the muffler shop I was reminded about what I learned at our behavioral safety training and how important it is to intervene when we see unsafe behavior or conditions. Thankfully nothing unfortunate happened but what should I have done differently? At the very least, I should have stayed behind the yellow line. Should I have said something about the lack of a face shield??