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I truly believe that safety is and individuals perceptive frame of mind. Why? Would you stick your hand in a freshly brewed pot of coffee to see if it’s done? Of course not, no sooner than you would go bobbing for apples in a vat of hot grease, because you know that in either case there is an immediate guaranty that you will get burnt, there will be pain, and you may end up with a nasty scar. In general, I think that everyone has been burnt by coffee and has more than likely been spattered with hot grease while cooking. That is actual physical knowledge that plays a strong part in not wanting to do either of these previously mentioned tasks. Long term organ damage related to solvents and solvent based materials is not something that can be readily grasp, because we can’t see it, or feel it, and its not immediate. Then there are those old schoolers that have endured through the ages using all kinds of nasty stuff that are healthy and vibrant as can be. So is safety just a big crapshoot, or a spin at the roulette table…maybe that’s a factor, but then again there’s no guaranty.
Safety is also a matter of personal comfort, which is also related to perception. When you climb on that wooden pallet, being hoisted in the air by a forklift, there is a certain amount of comfort and trust that you assume, or you would never think of doing such a thing. A quick check of the pallet to see if its sturdy enough to hold you, and a lot of trust in the forklift operator that he or she knows what they are doing and won’t make any sudden actions that may cause you to loose balance and fall off your lofty perch. Things like this are done every day in our big world. Not everyone has the money or resources for a certified bucket truck with all the associated safety gear, so they use what they have at hand to get the job done. Doesn’t mean that safety is not on their mind, just means they are comfortable in their own abilities and believe they can get the task done in a safe manner with what they have.
If you are comfortable around paints and their solvents without using gloves and other related safety equipment, it’s a pretty good bet that you have a perception that the risk you are taking is minimal. Just go to a meet and observe people. Some us gloves, some don’t and some use them for certain tasks like airbrushing but then take them off when hand painting or pin striping. It’s interesting to see how many folks still pallet the paint between their fingers, but if they’re comfortable with that it’s their choice.
Finally, one area that should not be forgotten is a safe frame of mind when teaching our children. They are at a much higher risk from toxic exposure because they are still growing, they have a much higher metabolism which means their bodies will absorb and process toxic materials much faster than adults. Their body weight and mass is much smaller which means the toxic material is much more concentrated when processed in their system, and their lungs are much smaller as well which makes them much more susceptible to inhalation hazards. If you think it is hard explaining the need for safety measures to an adult, try explaining these principles to a child. In any event, keep teaching them and make sure they’re having fun, just keep them safe until they are old enough to make their own choices.
To all you folks that I’ve met at various meets, thank you for the kind words and the acknowledgement that you actually read my words…it makes it all worth it! Robin
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