Workplace safety is absolutely nothing to laugh about. Or so they tell me at least once a month, inevitably after some moron has fallen out of his chair while rolling the four feet from his desk to his filing cabinet, resulting in a trip to the clinic designated for office injuries, $50 in drug tests, $5,000 in x-rays, and a final diagnosis of “dumbass-with-a-sprained-wrist-itis.”
They pack us in a conference room and some OSHA-Certified (Office Safety and Health Administration) HR representative drones on for half an hour about using handrails, avoiding burns in the coffee bar, or driving safety. Meanwhile, I’m surrounded by 15 mouth-breathers with the early-flu-season sniffles, smelling of mystery meat lunches and the pisswater they call coffee, debating how I’m going to word my report on the OSHA violations to my immune system.
Because I am totally an adult and have never spilled so much industrial shellac on myself that I had to have a doctor peel it out of my ear (okay, only once), my mind begins to wander. An office without OSHA would be an office at war with itself, where incompetence and workplace-Darwinism are perpetually locked in an epic daily struggle against mankind’s primal urge to finish the latest audit report on time.
Failure to remind employees on a ridiculously frequent schedule about making safe choices would eventually lead to the decline into haphazard chaos. Wet floor signs would sit in the utility closet, gathering dust. Water cooler conversation would be 85% consumed with the daily docket of slips, trips and falls – the other 15% with knife throwing demonstrations by the IT guy obsessed with Lord of the Rings.
Even the best employees would run down the wet staircases with scissors in hand, limbs covered in bandages from that last narrow escape. Scars would be displayed proudly on the hands of those who were lucky enough to have survived the Great Letter-Opener Incident of 2011! Polaroids of men and women sporting black eyes would adorn the one door in the building that opens outward, underneath the banner “I Survived A Run-In!”
The parking lot would be a veritable checkerboard of chalk outlines, a macabre mural commemorating those employees who were too damn slow to get out of the way of soccer-mom SUVs! Vending machines with faulty wiring would electrocute anyone trying to their 2:30 caffeine fix! BATHROOMS WOULD BE FILLED WITH NON-GFCI ELECTRICAL OUTLETS!
I am jerked back to reality when the intern sitting next to me sneezes loudly into his hands. As he attempts to discreetly wipe them on his pleated Dockers, I am once again listening to the HR rep babble about using the “door open” button on the elevators instead of holding it open with your arm. The meeting finishes, and we all shuffle out of the room, walking drowsily back to our cubicles. As we walk, I see a lady in front of me stumble after tripping over a rubber cord-cover stretched across the hallway. It’s a good thing we had that safety meeting…it could have been much worse.