Dusty Death

April 6, 2008

I notice it all the time: a construction worker with a jackhammer or a diamond saw, cutting through concrete in a cloud of dust illuminated by the morning sun and looking like an ad for OshKosh or McDonalds.  Very seldom any breathing protection.  And then I start remembering…

Back in ‘79 I landed a pastoral internship at a small church in Western North Carolina.  One of the duties of a pastor is to visit the sick.  I remember one fellow – a former construction worker – to whom I took communion every week.  Even with an oxygen mask he wore the pallor of suffocation.  He was dying a millimeter at a time, his lungs destroyed by silicosis.  He could not speak but his eyes conveyed a continually panicked expression as he struggled for every breath.  I wondered if I was evil for wishing that his end would come sooner.  A year later, he was still going as I left the area.

Watching construction workers breathing that stuff is a helpless feeling.  Apparently I’m not alone in that observation, as Christina Morgan at The Pump Handle asks; “Everyday construction hazards; why can’t we do better?

  1. james old guy
    April 7, 2008 at 11:10 | #1

    There is no excuse in this day and age. OSHA has enough rules and fines that an employer should be scared silly to allow this to happen. Now if your self employed or doing something like this on your own, well, can’t fix stupid.

  2. April 7, 2008 at 11:35 | #2

    Now if your self employed or doing something like this on your own, well, can’t fix

    I think this is part of the problem. The questions boils down to how you change the mind of someone to stubborn to protect themselves. It’s like trying to get that one family member to go to the hospital. It’s obvious they need the medical attention, but they just won’t do it.

Comments are closed.