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Thread: Unsolicited Shop Advice?

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    Unsolicited Shop Advice?

    We've all had that moment in someone else's shop where they're about to do something that we just know isn't right. It might be dangerous or merely inefficient, but we're sure there's a better way.

    When is it OK to offer unsolicited shop advice?

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    Content Editor DIYer's Avatar
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    Though I believe in letting people learn from their mistakes, I'm not afraid to speak my mind when what they're doing or about to do is unsafe or dangerous.

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    For me, it really depends on context. With a friend, I'm never shy about pointing out a better way to do things. With someone I don't know well (or at all), I'm much more inclined to assume an 'eyes/ears open, mouth shut' posture; one never knows what one might learn, even from the most seemingly unlikely sources.

    That said, if I see a safety issue, I'm always going to say something. Always. I've seen the consequences of poor safety-related decision-making up close and personal, both in the shop and out in the world. Nobody's getting hurt on my watch - and I'm always watching!

    Ken

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    Not sure what to say here because I usually open my mouth then proceed to insert a foot, but the thread invokes a lot of thought! To me it brings to mind several quotes from Voltare and Alfred North Whitehead about tolerance. Voltare said; "What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly - that is the first law of nature." Whitehead had some great stuff in his "Adventures in Ideas" about tolerance being the social lubrication for society, but can't remember it exactly without digging out the book. One of my favorite All Time is Maya Angelou about interactions; "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

    Overall I'm with you Ken on people close to you and those not as close. I do think that if we approach advice with an open mind to learning and favor the congeniality of the moment in our interactions with people it can be a pleasant experience for all parties.

    As for safety, it's a moral imperative I feel, but still needs to be handled with tolerance and congeniality. One of my many hats back in the day was a safety mgr. for the company (when OSHA was having a field day) and I caught our Ops Mgr. standing on a roll around swivel chair changing a fluorescent bulb in his office. I went in, didn't say a word, and he said, "I Know, I know". I said, "hold on" and steadied the chair to help him down. Went and got a ladder, helped him put it in, still not saying much, gathered up the ladder and as I was walking out the door, I said, "No At-A-Boys, for 2 weeks!" He busted up out loud. From then on he was a model of safety for himself and his people...which made my job much easier! A pleasant experience for all parties, I think.

    Another Great Thread Ken! Thanks!

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    I draw the line when loss of life or limb is on the line ( or internal organs). There are seemingly no end to diyers painting their own cars on message boards I come across. Its a good learning experience in my opinion and well worth the investment of time and tools. The problem that also comes along with the situation is the hardeners the paint. Most if not all auto paint suppliers add isocyanide to the mix. My understanding is the "cyanide" without supplied air respirators can cause organ failure and or death.

    On the other hand if someone has some rattle can paint they can huff those fumes until they get dizzy. That can be a self taught lesson that would hopeless to push on some.

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    Very true on the isocyanate dangers. Years ago, when I was interviewing paint shops toward the end of my homebuilt airplane project, I went to see a guy who'd been highly recommended. I found him at work in his shop (shooting urethane paint) without so much as a cartridge respirator, nevermind a proper hooded fresh-air rig.

    His excuse was that his brain was already "Swiss cheese" (he had speech difficulties and other symptoms to prove it) and there wasn't any point in using the proper equipment at that late date. Someone with so little regard for their personal safety (don't even get me started on the environmental effects of painting without a proper downdraft (or similar) booth) is, IMHO, likely disguising all sorts of other deficiencies.

    Despite his obvious artistic talents, I moved right along to the next guy; I'd seen everything I needed to see from him.

    Ken

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    A bit off topic of this thread but it needs to be said.
    I do feel obligated to add to the cautions stated in the post above regarding spray painting and isocyanate dangers.

    Isocyanates are a particularly nasty and deadly chemical to inhale. Many years ago, circa the mid 80's, as a working stiff, new to spray painting, I was totally uninformed by my employer regarding the extreme dangers regarding spray painting with paints containing isocyanates without a properly working, hooded fresh air supply setup.
    A respirator with dual cartridges was better than nothing at the time, but when one doesn't know any better and the default, prevailing business attitude in the 80's was "do as you're told or hit the road," you do as you're told.
    As a result, even 30 years later, I still suffer the effects of, in my opinion, what was a low exposure over 6 weeks of spray painting, to the isocyanates in the paint. My respiratory efficiency has never been the same.

    In particular I was spraying the excellent Sherwin Williams paint, "Sunfire 421" onto "AlucaBond" structural panels fabricated for the roof lines, facades and support columns for a large, local shopping center in Raleigh, NC.
    "Sunfire 421" is a 3 part paint mixed in a ratio of 4 parts paint, 2 parts reducer and 1 part hardener, hence the "421" in the name.

    All one needs to know about the dangers of breathing in even small amounts of isocyanates is to recall the Bhopal, India disaster in December 1984 involving a Union Carbide pesticide plant. Check it out on Wikipedia if you feel like it as it a very sobering article to read.
    Over 500,000 people were exposed to methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other trace chemicals as they slept. The toxic substance made its way into and around the numerous shanty towns located near the plant.
    There were 3,787 "official" deaths confirmed by the government related to the gas release and the leak caused 558,125 injuries, including 38,478 temporary partial injuries and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries. Others estimate that 8,000 died within two weeks, and another 8,000 or more have since died from gas-related diseases.
    Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten!

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    Good memory re: Bhopal, Bumjelly. I recalled that it was a cyanide release, but not that it was MIC. Scary stuff.

    Excellent point, too, regarding the possibility of long-term consequences from brief exposure to certain respiratory toxins. My grandfather worked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard early in the war spraying asbestos insulation in the engine rooms of ships under construction. He came down with such a hacking cough at the time that he was sent home after three months and dismissed from further wartime service. While he recovered from the initial cough, he eventually died (43 years later) of asbestosis.

    Can't be too careful…

    Ken

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    Safety draws multitudinous reactions from me. Having entered the work force well before initiation of OSHA, safety was an OJT or subject introduced by trade classes. Those were of a general nature to start, with specifics about the process at hand. I recall never missing a single test question about safety. So the background established logic which continues to prove advantageous with no damaged appendages.
    Mechanical safety is simple, really easy, when you get down to it. Electrical and chemical safety are a way different deal, with myriad invisible actions. I'd never hesitate to inform, warn, or reprimand as fits the situation.
    Then OSHA popped up. Safety now, seems to be administrators form of paranoia. My belief, inexperienced administrators inject personal fears to a workforce that did not benefit from trade school; or especially the mentor-ship of old shop hands.
    Thus, I've probably attacked (verbally) 10x quantity of those white-collar knuckleheads compared to assisting shop-hands. Shop-hands will know and respect that input; which I believe is a good balance.
    And for each wave of apprentices that show up it will be the same, until their second offense. Will likely have to make an example of one or two. My tools, my machines, my building, my insurance.
    Sincerely,
    Toolmaker51
    ...we'll learn more by wandering than searching...

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    Just like many others I too entered the workforce well before the intervention of many of what many now call the safety natzis'
    I was fortunate in several regards though, First growing up on a farm I was exposed to extremely hazardous and very large equipment every day of my life second when I was 11 I started my apprenticeship at a Blacksmith / welding / Machine shop my Mentor was in his 70s at the time. One of the first things he told me was BOY if you want to hang around here you better learn that everything in this shop can KILL you even me if I happen not to see you when I am doing something.
    You can bet that if I walk into anyone's shop and see something about to be done that I feel is dangerous, I don't care if I know the person very well or not I am going to question their methods.
    Housekeeping around a work area is one of the worst places on earth for a waiting accident, and I admit that I am all too often guilty of bad house keeping at times. I also know there is no excuse for this, even for those little "OH" it will only take me a second to do this but I must get that cleaned up before I do anything else times. I may step over or around something once but not twice I don't care how busy I am what ever it is that needs tending to is going to receive attention. I expect this to be done wherever I may visit.
    On the subject of METHYL-ETHEL-BAD-STUFF and electricity there is no excuse for even the once. You don't often get a second opportunity. I am going to make my opinion well known as I explain to the person that I'm not even sure I know how to dial 911 on my phone so take care of whatever it is before we have to find out if I can remember the number for 911 services
    Never try to tell me it can't be done
    When I have to paint I use http://kbs.justoldtrucks.com/

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