Workplace Safety

My agency moved to a new building this summer.  We have adjusted to the new space,  and have worked on getting basic things like heating and cooling adjusted. One new feature of our  building is the electronic security.

All the waiting rooms in the new building are separated from the offices by doors that can only be opened electronically by staff who have special fobs that allow entry into  the labyrinth of offices beyond them.  Sometimes the electronic doors work.  Sometimes they don’t. They refuse to open for about 30 minutes each day.   The doors that won’t open vary.  It is intermittent.  It happens daily. No one can figure it out. When it happens, we have to take circuitous routes through other doors so we can get to our offices.

One consistent problem is static. Because of all the locked doors and their metal openers, we employees get repetitive shocks every time we walk down the carpeted halls and touch the metal door mechanisms  to open them.   The shocks are painful. I suppose the low humidity in the building accounts for this, but it sure is annoying.  I have to ground my body by touching the wooden door, and the then touching the metal opener. Sometimes I am in a hurry and I forget. Then I get a shock.  It is tiresome.

Tell about some “interesting ” work environments you have had.

50 thoughts on “Workplace Safety”

  1. Right after first wasband and I got married, we moved to Milwaukee where I got a job in what was, at the time, the premiere bakery in town. The bakery an old building with a basement under the building that we did not use but other tenants did. And what this meant is that there were for furry critters. You usually didn’t see them but occasionally if you were the first one in during the summer, when you turned on the lights there might be some scurrying in the corners of the big back room. I used to wear Dr. Scholl’s sandals to work. My guess is this probably wasn’t OK but at the time no one said anything to me and I didn’t have a clue. They were good support and I liked them. Anyway one summer morning I was the first one in at 4 am and when I turned on the lights, I didn’t see anything. I went over to the sink to put away a few things so that I could get going on the morning. As I was standing at the sink, a furry critter rushed out across the room and in its effort to get by me to it’s escape route, it ran right over The top of my feet. Even after all these decades I can still feel those little claws and fur going over the top of my toes. I never wore the Dr. Scholl’s sandals to work again.

    Liked by 6 people

      1. When I worked at Earl Armstrong’s watch repair shop at the Base Exchange at F.W. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, for a short period of time, there was a little mouse that would come visit me when I was alone in the shop in the morning. It would sit right there in the middle of the small shop and munch on treats I brought for it. I would just very quietly and watch it. Of course, once the powers that be discovered there were mice in the building, all kinds of measures were taken to get rid of them. I felt a little sad for my friend.

        Liked by 4 people

      1. Nope…famous for their fabulous pastries and cakes. Shorewood Village Bakery up near the U. They are no longer in business but mostly because the man who owned it is gone now and none of his sons were really interested in the business.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. When I was a student at the University of Minnesota, I held for a time a work-study job as a janitor in various buildings around campus. The thing these placements had in common was that they were after hours when the buildings were empty and semi darkened. I worked alone in these buildings or nearly so.

    I’ve talked here before about the stint at the old Bell Museum, where I swept among the faintly lit dioramas of immobile wildlife and in the backrooms where taxidermy was in process. I worked across the street from the museum at the armory for a while as well. This was at the height of student protest against the Vietnam war and it felt like being in enemy territory. One thing I remember was that every desk, no matter how lowly, was equipped with a “Top Secret” stamp.

    Possibly the most atmospheric of all was the Hydrology Lab, a building set down along the river in a fairly isolated spot. The building incorporated a channel that could be opened to let the river flow through the lower part of the building, where it was utilized to test models of dams and so forth. Being down on the river, the place was subject to strange noises. I had one coworker, a retired farmer who drove in daily from Princeton, named Newton Brooks. He told me that from time to time the bodies of drowned individuals would drift up and be caught in the gates of the special channel.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. The Bell Museum, if my memory is right, was directly across the street from the ROTC building, and that of course was the subject of student protest. At one point antiwar students announced they were going to reduce that building to rubble by blowing a trumpet (as Joshua did in the battle of Jericho). And at the promised time, they did blow a horn. Alas, the walls didn’t even tremble.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. As anyone who has spent time working in a theater knows, most theaters have a ghost. Even if you don’t believe in ghosts, theaters have ghosts. Sometimes they are playful, sometimes they do weird things – sometimes they are an excuse for why something is the way it is. At one of the community colleges where I worked I found out about the ghost after I had been working there for awhile. I was often on the stage working by myself in late hours (after the actors had gone home), up on ladders painting or building things. I had spent a lot of time in the shop previously – the shop was shared by an outdoor summer rep theater I had also worked for – but this was the first show I had built indoors for the school. Several times while I was up on a ladder one week I had the sense that someone was in the house, watching me from the seats. There never was, so I would go back to painting. I never had the same sense when there was someone there working with me, just those times I was alone on the set and up on a ladder. I mentioned it to the director one day and he said, “oh, that’s our theater ghost.” I didn’t quite believe him (not believing in ghosts) – so he brought me a copy of an article from the student newspaper from the early days of the college about the ghost. The story goes that one of the workers who helped with all of the parking lot lighting fell while working on those lights and did not survive. So he shows up on campus when people are up high, especially in the theater as that is the end of the building near where he fell. I’m still not sure I believe in ghosts (or the story), but I can tell you that I worried less when I had the sense I was being watched as now I felt like I was being protected.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Do you think the ghost was hanging around when people were working up high because he was watching out over those folks or because he was kind of hoping to see someone else meet his own fate and maybe relieve him of his haunting??

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Oh yeah, Theater Ghosts. The old building that first housed the Rochester Repertory Theatre, that place definitely had a ghost. Footsteps, noises, oddities. His name was Art and he was just mischievous. It was an old building; built in 1894 and was a funeral parlor at one time. Only once that I remember did Art affect a show. A juke box that had all the insides TAPED DOWN played during a show. It was plugged in so it would light up, but none of the mechanics worked. Except it did one night and the music played so loud the actors had to unplug it to go on with the show.
      And several kids said they’d see a man dressed in old clothing go into one of the offices.
      When the Rep moved out 11 years ago the building was torn down. We don’t know what became of Art. At the new location I haven’t noticed anything as mysterious. I did notice just the briefest wisps of smoke one day. So brief I’m not even sure that I did see it. But I believe it’s possible.

      My college theater ghost we call Alan. He leaves me Oak leaves. I can be working alone, turn around to pick up a tool and when I turn back around there’s an Oak leaf laying there. That’s happen a few times. Doors are shut, no one around, Oak leaf. He hates it when I forget to put the ghost light out. He feels like we’re forgetting about him. And then he unplugs stuff or just messes with stuff. Nothing serious. But I try to remember the ghost light. (The ghost light is just a plain light bulb out onstage. It’s for safety too, but, really, it’s to keep the ghosts happy. It’s a theater tradition).

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The Palace Theater in Luverne was built in 1915 and is still used for plays and movies. It is said to be haunted by the former owner, Maude Joachim, who they think plays the pipe organ sometimes, and turns on and off the lights. She used to play during the silent movies they showed there.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. When I was a U of M student back in the late 70s, I worked for Parking Services for about 3 years. Most of the time, I sold tickets and parked cars during the morning rush for the street lots. A normal shift was four hours, and after the first two or so, the lots were full. The rest of the time we’d just sit in the little 6×6 huts and occasionally tell latecomers that the lot was full. Interesting in the winter when all we had for heat was a tiny space heater. A decent place to study, but not as good as the library of course. Still, getting paid to study isn’t too bad.

    However, in warmer weather, I had enough space in the hut to practice my trumpet during the slow times. Actually got a gig at the Norwegian Lutheran Church downtown because the organist happened to pass by while I was practicing. She offered me a job on the spot for a particularly special church service. Norwegian Independence Day sticks in my mind. “Sitten de Mai?”

    That led to steady work at Easter, Christmas, and one or two other performances per year at the church.

    Once I had some “seniority,” I got more of the plum overnight jobs in the underground parking garages. Those were 8-10 hour shifts. On a Friday or Saturday night went a concert was being held at Northrop (for example), I’d sell tickets to the “rich folks” who could afford the underground garage. Same deal, work for an hour or two before the show, then just sit there for the rest of the night. Northrop actually had a folding cot and we could sleep until 6:00 am. Unless of course, someone showed up drunk at 2 am knocking on the door saying they lost their car keys and either needed a locksmith or a cab to come and get them.

    But I also worked at the infamous “Ramp A” which was the underground parking garage for the hospital. That lot always had a trickle of traffic during the graveyard shift, so no cot to sleep in and more of a challenge to study for long periods of time. Plus you had to stay awake all night.

    My one brush with greatness was when Muriel Humphrey came into the garage. Hubert was in the hospital, dying, unfortunately, and she was visiting. Someone else was driving her, but I got a glimpse of her and recognized her from photos. Sad but cool at the same time.

    And I thought I was making relatively good money for a fairly easy job back then–$3.65/hour.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Chris – you may have been working in Ramp A when I parked there for the night shift at the hospital. This was in the mid to late 70s. Every nurse on my unit had to work a 7 night stretch in a 4 week schedule. It was so nice to have a relatively warm “attached” garage to park in during the cold winter months.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I actually managed to save a few bucks for my wedding, a week after I graduated. But we blew all but $75 of our remaining money on the honeymoon (3-week camping trip out to Cape Cod and back). Came home, added up the money, and said, “Well, I guess we’d better try to get jobs before rent is due.”

        *Spoiler alert, we found jobs. 🙂 *

        Liked by 5 people

  5. My first full time job in Mpls when I arrived in 1978 was at a company called Pinecrest, which sold louvered shutters, custom made doors, etc. It was then housed in an old Pillsbury mansion on 22nd and Blaisdell, and had some elegant rooms, but was kind of an odd layout for an office. Owned by a guy who liked big game hunting, so there were these large animal heads in the main hall… I wonder what’s there now.

    I only lasted there 6 months, but it was an interesting place, and it’s where I met (now) Husband’s sister, which led me to Husband.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. The last place I worked before I went freelance had its odd moments. Like the time one of the project managers skinned a deer with her jeep at the edge of the parking lot in what was essentially an office park.

    The company was engaged in a number of areas, but the principal one was the development and production of how-to books on various subjects. One of the most popular was a series on hunting and fishing and that was the source of some of the especially atypical activities.

    The book on deer hunting was going to show how you can skin a deer by hanging it from a tree, tying a rope around a loosened portion of the hide which had been wrapped around a rock, tie the other end of the rope to the bumper of your vehicle, and drive off. The project manager was testing the technique.

    We had a very large glass-sided tank in the photo studio where the photographers could capture underwater images of fish. This meant that they needed fish to photograph and there were employees tasked with procuring specific kinds of live fish to fit the shooting schedule. Not all the fish were still live, however. I remember one instance of the front half of a recently live fish fixed on the end of a stick so it could be made to break the surface after a bait on cue. A fish puppet.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I spent two summers clerking in a fly fishing tackle shop located near the lovely Brule River in northwestern Wisconsin. My erstwife and I were confused and concerned because the shop rarely sold anything, and its charismatic owner went about in patched up clothing you couldn’t give away at Goodwill. Then somebody clued us in. John, the owner, had inherited a large piece of Time Warner, so he literally had more money than he knew how to spend.

    So: if he was rich, why run a fly shop? The shop was a project or hobby to keep John from being bored. We met several wealthy folks who had similar projects. They would have been embarrassed to admit they were too rich to work, so they had a little business (like an art gallery or bottled water plant) where they pretended to work.

    John loved the Brule but disliked many of the customers. Example: a loud couple approached John to let him settle a dispute. The man wanted to rent a canoe and paddle the Brule. His wife feared a boating accident. Was it dangerous? John smiled and said, “Well, I’m sure you two won’t have any trouble. You guys look like you can handle a canoe.” The woman squawked in terror. John went on, “The only tricky place is The Falls.” “THE FALLS??” “Yeah, I’ve seen canoes opened up like bananas and wrapped around the rocks below The Falls. But you two, you surely can handle that.”

    We loved those two summers. I wrote a pretty good essay about our experience. If anyone wants to read it, shoot me an email and I’ll send it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Steve, you wrote about that place in your book ‘The Ones that Got Away’. I enjoyed those stories. (I can send the book to anyone interested).

      Just watching 5 male pheasants walking back into the woods. The last few years, once we get some snow, we’ve had pheasants come down to eat the corn I throw out for the chickens. With this cold weather lately, the chickens aren’t going far outside the shed (but they’re enjoying the sunshine on the south side). At first it was just two or three pheasants. The next year was 4. This year 6 males or sometimes 4 males and two females. It’s pretty cool to see them. Why don’t the females come out as often? What are they eating, Steve?

      Liked by 2 people

  8. My second (and last) workplace was a wonderful, large room at the end of a “strip” of classrooms – this was Half Moon Bay, California, 1973. It had originally been a jr. high art room, and the top half of the walls on at least two sides was windows, so lots of light. There was an alcove for the art table, room for a play house, tables for for playing, say, Alphabet or Number Bingo, a blocks corner, and a carpet for story time. Just off the alcove was the storage closet, and the outside door to the decently equipped play-yard. I can’t think of anything it lacked, except my sanity by the end of my time there..

    Liked by 4 people

  9. All the hundreds of my workplace sites have “interesting” aspects to them. One of the hospital systems I worked with is operated by Seventh Day Adventists. No secular work is allowed on their facilities from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown in observation of Sabbath. Those constrictions caused difficulties in accomplishing tasks within that window. Flooring frequently has working time issues on preparation and installation. Several times I had to check timetables as to sunset in western Ohio rather than accept a general work stoppage at noon Friday.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Remodeling the Grafton, North Dakota “school” for mentally challenged. The tunnels connecting buildings were the worst of the “interesting” aspects of a shameful part of North Dakota history. Dimly lit. Groundwater leaking through the brick surfaces. Mold. Stink.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. One of my gardening jobs was at a big old house at St. Mary’s Point, on the St. Croix river. I would take a break and walk down the shoreline, usually accompanied by a dog named Mac who liked to chase a tennis ball that I would throw into the water for him, bouncing it off a dock. He’d go flying down the dock and leap into the water, then scoop up the ball in his mouth and dog-paddle ashore. Since he was a dog, he never tired of doing this.

    After a time, zebra mussels invaded the river. The shore became littered with their sharp shells, and Mac’s owners kept him indoors so he wouldn’t cut his paws on the shells.

    Liked by 2 people

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