Lessons from The Block

Most people in Australia are probably aware to one level or another that there is a reality show currently running called “The Block” – a DIY renovation show.  Watching it is rather educational: most certainly what not to do where it comes to safety!

Some of the things I’ve seen so far (and I haven’t been actively watching out for them, but a couple have really stood out)

* Using a circular saw to cut an opening for a kitchen sink.  Perhaps not too bad (but still a rather risky operation in the hands of an amateur (which these guys are)), but to do so with the second person crouching down, watching the cut from underneath, at close range???!  At least they were wearing safety glasses….but no hearing protection, and no dust masks.

* Cutting concrete sheeting with an angle grinder, no eye, ear or lung protection, and the cloud of dust the person was standing amongst, and breathing.

* Occasional inappropriate clothing for the activity

* Inappropriate lifting techniques.

* Driving on motorways without a secure load.

Really is proving to be a show of what not to do.  Especially the complete disregard for hearing protection, and only rare use of dust protection.  It’s always interesting that what we protect most are those items where the cause and effect are the most obvious, and immediate.  I’m guilty of this as well, so this is not preaching from the pulpit.

Eye protection is worn most regularly, because not to do so can result in immediately apparent injury, but unless you are welding, there is little to no chance of long term injury from a cumulative effect.

Hearing protection is next: high levels of noise can leave the ringing feeling, so there is some immediate noticeable effect, but how that accumulates is less immediately obvious, so is more abused.

Lung protection is the least considered – other than a bit of a cough at the end of the day, perhaps a bit more snoring after a long session, there is seemingly no real impact of not wearing the dust mask, or turning on the dust extractor/air filter. Lung cancer and other lung-based diseases are far from the mind during the activity.  Even smokers have a filter between them and what they inhale, as ineffective as it may be (and how obvious that is by how stained the filter gets).

The Renovators was quite a bit better – the opening scene showed a so-called “professional” on his own worksite, using a nailgun without eye or ear protection, and a drop saw without eye, ear or lung protection.  However, when they jumped into the first actual challenge, everyone seemed to be running around with eye glasses and dust masks, and quite a few with workgloves.  Angle grinding with full face shield.  Drop saw with eye, ear and lung protection. There was obviously someone off-camera consistently pushing the safety aspect, which was excellent to see.

Quite a contrast between shows to be honest.  The problem in general is, how do people learn habits?  By observing and emulating role models.  If you see renovations on TV and there is no safety equipment, what do you learn, what habits do you acquire?

So thumbs-down for safety to The Block, and surprisingly that there is such a contrast, quite a thumbs-up (at least from the first episode), to The Renovators.


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