As a mason contractor, you and your workers come into contact with potentially harmful equipment and situations daily. You probably take so many things for granted as you maneuver around a jobsite, but what you may overlook is the harm that lurks silently but wreaks long-term negative effects. Silica dust is a great example of such a harmful substance. Many times, the rules and regulations enforced by OSHA conjure anything from a roll of the eyes to outright frustration expressed verbally. But, let’s keep in mind that the ultimate goal should always be safety, inside and out. As the below Letter to the Editor explains, it’s worth the time taken to protect yourself, every day.
Letter to the EditorDear Jennifer,
I just had a chance to pick up and read the December 2009 issue, and I want to write and thank you for including the article on Silica Dust Collection. It reminded me of one of the last conversations I had with my dad. He was involved in masonry for most of his life (his dad was a mason contractor) as a bricklayer for 40-plus years. Just under two years ago, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. About a week before he started his chemotherapy, we went on a vacation with my family.
One morning, we were up before everyone else, drinking coffee, and we started talking about his cancer and how he was going to beat it. He was a smoker for most of his life and one of those guys who didn’t wear a respirator or any personal protection. He told me that was one of his biggest regrets – that he didn’t do more to protect his lungs when he had a chance.
Convinced that he was going to beat the cancer, he told me that when things were better, he was going to talk to his former bricklayers and boss about the importance of wearing personal protective equipment. Unfortunately, he didn’t get that chance. Two days after he had his first chemo treatment, he came down with pneumonia, and three days later, he died. He was only 63.
Fortunately for my mom, my brother, me and his grandkids, he was able to retire a few years early and enjoy some time with all of us. So, for all bricklayers, laborers and anyone in construction, know the importance of wearing proper safety equipment. Don’t do it because it is mandated by OSHA, do it because it’s the smart thing to do, and your parents, husband/wife, kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, friends and co-workers want you to be around for a while.
Steve Gantner, Jr.
Originally published in Masonry magazine.
About the Author
Jennifer Morrell was the editor of Masonry magazine. She has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry as a writer and editor, covering such topics as real estate and construction, insurance, health care, relationships and sports. A graduate of The University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in magazines and is an award-winning newspaper columnist.