On the Ropes - Tom Roper

On the Ropes - Tom Roper

Always take the time to think about safety

Tom recounts a couple of close calls he has had over the years

We all know someone who has fallen off a roof or driven off the road. I have had similar experiences that could have led to more dire outcomes but fortunately I have survived up until now.

My working career has included many graveyard shifts and after a particularly difficult one, I was glad to be off work and heading home.

The trip from Houston to Telkwa is a beautiful drive that I have always enjoyed. That morning I was feeling pretty tired and should have pulled over for a catnap, but I thought I could make it to my sweet bed back on the ranch.

I made it up and over Hungry Hill and was cruising through Deep Creek area when my head started bobbing. Maybe I should pull over, maybe just a bit further, I think I can make Round Lake.

Ah, now I’m feeling a bit better coming down the stretch by Kinikinik pullout and I suddenly passed out at the wheel. Maybe it was only for two or three seconds, but I had crossed the centerline, went off the side of the road, down the bank and landed high centred on an anthill.

I awoke with a start and sat there shuddering for a few seconds thinking about what could have been. How was it possible that I did not slam into a semi as I crossed the line or how did this happen at a fairly level place on the road? I could have gone over a bank and killed myself.

Luck was on my side that day, just as it was several years later when I inadvertently put myself in a dangerous location on the job.

We had been tasked with changing out a bearing on a 6-foot spiked infeed roll on the canter. I was the tradesman and Bill was my apprentice.

We hooked up the come-along to lift the roll up and out of the bearing. The lift angle was not particularly square but it would work, or so I thought.

Bill was off to the side and I started lifting. It seemed to be coming up ok as I reached the release point and suddenly the roll pulled sharply towards me. I was in too close to the pinch point and before I could react I was caught. The roll pinned me against the frame and the weight was crushing me slowly.

Bill immediately started to panic and sweat profusely as he could see the air was being squeezed out of me. I tried to calm him down, talking evenly.

“Get your come-along, hook it up and pull this roll off of my chest, you can do it Bill.”

After a couple of slipped hooks, he was able to connect and pull the roll back off my chest. Yes, Bill did save my bacon that day.

Safety has to be paramount in our decisions. What-if scenarios are important to consider. Take a moment to think a bit longer about the task and we may live a little longer.

Any issues you want me to write about call 250-877-1806 or email me tr.ranch@hotmail.com.

Thanks, Tom.