Students in the masonry program recently saw firsthand what
can happen when the unexpected runs head-long into the unprotected; as when a
brick falls from high above and strikes a fleshy object that should have been
encased in a hardhat. The result is not pretty.
While in this case the fleshy object was just a medium-sized
watermelon, the messy point was well taken as students in Eric Thompson’s
integrated science class conducted a variety of experiments testing the
effectiveness of workplace safety equipment: hardhat, protective goggles,
steel-toed shoes, and dust mask.
In the case of the watermelon, students noted that it
survived the falling brick quite nicely when adorned with a hardhat.
Other experiments included using hardboiled eggs to simulate
toes inside both a safety shoe and an everyday street shoe, which were then run
over by a powered wheelbarrow loaded with concrete blocks. Suffice it to say
the egg in the normal shoe did not fare well, while the other was still
The group also tested safety glasses using a grape affixed
to a mannequin’s face. With the safety glasses in place the grape easily survived the
point of an errant nail. Without the glasses … well, point taken.
Using a coffee filter attached to the end of a vacuum,
students noted the filter remained clean when first covered with a dust mask,
but quickly filled with dust when uncovered.
As part of the exercise, students logged each step in the
process as well as materials, procedures, observations and findings. The one
overriding conclusion: safety in the workplace is priority #1. It pays to be