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As an employer I am tasked with a multitude of responsibilities; providing  full-time employment for our employees, ensuring our customers needs are met, delivering service with value, appraising the competition and economy in an attempt to stay relevant in our nano-scaled market…..but the single biggest responsibility I have is to provide our employees with a safe working environment.

In the acute sense this means preventing fall injuries, electrocution hazards, etc.  This requires training, vigilance, enforcement of safe practices, hiring the right employee – one who places equal value on their personal safety as I do.  We review safe work procedures monthly and take real life examples from the media to reinforce our message.  Sadly, there are all too many examples of workplace injuries to discuss.

In the chronic sense, long-term exposure to chemicals and respiratory irritants is of concern.  We supply gloves because the skin is an organ and shouldn’t be absorbing paint based chemicals into the bloodstream all day long; we supply dust masks for nuisance dust, N100 masks for lead dust environments, 3M respirators for exposure to chemical saturated environments, for example when applying oil based paint.

Walking the strip two weeks ago while in Las Vegas attending our industry’s annual conference I came across this sidewalk artist who worked with aerosol paints – the smell of solvents was obvious approaching his ‘studio’; his fingers were covered in paint, and you can see the obvious lack of respiratory protection.  I suppose in the context of Las Vegas this is less shocking; the casinos are dens of iniquity after all, filled with cigarette smoke, alcohol and sleep deprived gamblers spending their retirement on games of chance.  But to the responsible painting contractor, this artist’s casual disregard for his health was saddening.

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