A Near Tragedy

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Forum topic by Gene Howe posted 09-16-2012 01:37 PM 2712 views 0 times favorited 51 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Gene Howe

11157 posts in 3667 days

09-16-2012 01:37 PM

Gloves, long sleeves, jewelry and long hair are all verboten in my shop around operating machinery. Here is another example of why. Near Tragedy A year or so ago, another young lady was not so lucky. She was strangled when her hair was caught in a metal lathe.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

51 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4457 days

#1 posted 09-16-2012 01:39 PM

I saw that story last night. She is very lucky.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View HorizontalMike's profile


7770 posts in 3153 days

#2 posted 09-16-2012 02:08 PM

Student defies policy that requires hair ”... to be pulled back…”. Well that says it all. I have no sympathy here. Mom needs to suck it up and spend her time helping daughter to get over the traumatic event and aftermath. My 2-cents…

BTW, this very thing happened to my older sister in my father’s machine shop (on a lathe), back in the early ‘70s. Don’t remember any details since I was already overseas in USN at the time.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3397 days

#3 posted 09-16-2012 03:27 PM

Old school, Mike! I try to balance those thoughts with a little more compassion (simply because I’ve done stupid stuff to hurt myself as well) trying to jump atop a pitched roof house from the top of my pickup truck. Don’t ask…

But yeah, I’ve called myself every name in the book for my stupidity…and I think if we were a little less PC in this world, it’d probably save a lot more people. Being that we are/were both educators, I’m sure you and I would agree that if more people called things for what they were our system would be in much better shape.

-- jay,

View HorizontalMike's profile


7770 posts in 3153 days

#4 posted 09-16-2012 03:54 PM

As you well know, shop class is different, and with truly real-world consequences for those who don’t follow the rules. Beyond my sister’s example I shared above, I also had a school mate (2yr younger) who lost 2-fingers on the Jointer in Shop Class.

I am not saying “mom” is a bad person, just a bit too much distracted… Maybe this is from the sensationalism/attention from the news media, and/or an additional possibly could be because of daughter’s history as prom/homecoming queen (02:17 in video). At least HER hair will grow back, unlike my friend’s fingers.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Dez's profile


1166 posts in 4316 days

#5 posted 09-16-2012 03:57 PM

Next we might see a call for “hair detection” technology? LOL
I think maybe a better call would be for “stupidity detection” tech don’t you think?
(NOT, nature usually takes care of that just fine).
Every time I have been hurt it was because of a lapse in common sense or lack of thought for what ever reason – i.e. – it will take too long, getting just a little more done before I knock off for the day, not giving proper attention, etc.
The one good thing here is that she learned a good lesson without permanent damage and will live to continue learning if her mother and others don’t muck things up too badly with the attitude of “it is someone else’s fault” and “we need to protect everyone from their own stupidity”.
I really believe that the lessens learned best are the ones that cost us something, be it a little pain, effort or what have you.

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View stefang's profile


16214 posts in 3573 days

#6 posted 09-16-2012 04:12 PM

I don’t know all the details in this instance, but I would tend to blame the teacher anyway. The girl should not have been allowed to use the machine unless she complied with safety rules. That said, maybe it’s not so easy to keep an eye on all students at once. Or is it? My thought is that safety should be the teachers top priority. I don’t believe the teacher should be unduly punished for this oversight, but it certainly is a serious enough to be noted on the record in case something like that happens again. I assume the student also learned something.

I didn’t attend wood shop as a youth, but I have heard a lot of scary shop stories from my own kids and others who did. They all involved revolving machine tools, mostly lathes, but others as well. My personal feeling is that teaching the proper use and maintenance of hand tools would be much cheaper, more instructive and valuable, especially for first year wood shop students. Though I doubt all wood shop teachers have those skills themselves. I know hand tools can also be dangerous, but usually not life threatening like a skew chisel being slung from a lathe and stuck into a door frame just as the teacher walks through it (True story, honest).

I realize hindsight is always better than foresight, but tough safety rules are really a must in a place where serious accidents can happen very fast and without warning.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Gary's profile


9386 posts in 3672 days

#7 posted 09-16-2012 06:30 PM

Pretty hard to be real critical when we see folks here on this site getting hurt….like I did. And we all know the rules. I sure wanted to blame someone else but no one was there but me…..

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 2429 days

#8 posted 09-16-2012 08:26 PM

things happen either accidents or our own stupidity.normally our own stupidity sometimes we get to complacent in the shop which i tend to do and have to fight it when i’m out there.i’m glad she wasn’t hurt any more serious.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View Pimzedd's profile


614 posts in 4381 days

#9 posted 09-16-2012 11:30 PM

stefang, please don’t take this the wrong way, but as a retired shop teacher who currently provides training to “shop teachers” and administrators on how to provide safety instruction to students, I have a few thoughts.

You state ”I don’t know all the details in this instance, but I would tend to blame the teacher anyway. The girl should not have been allowed to use the machine unless she complied with safety rules.” You are correct in that we DON”T know all the details. We hear Mom’s impression and that of a reporter.

As a retired shop teacher of 34 years, I know from experience that the student was most likely not”allowed to use the machine” without following the safety rules. You are correct when you state ”maybe it’s not so easy to keep an eye on all students at once.” When you have a class of students all working in a shop at once, a teacher cannot see every student perform every action every time. Another news account quotes the student as saying she knew to keep her hair tied back. A shop teacher must be ever alert and on the move in the classroom, ever vigilant to unsafe actions, but students are human and it is ultimately up to them to follow the rules that they have been taught.

You write of ”teaching the proper use and maintenance of hand tools” as a alternative to machine instruction. The use of machines can be successfully and safely done at any level from middle to high school. However, the age and maturity of the students MUST be considered when deciding what machines a student will be allowed to operate.

I do have one concern from one of the news stories I read. It said the teacher did not send the student to the school nurse. He allowed her to walk to her next class. I believe that was a serious mistake. A teacher should let a trained health professional make the decision concerning the severity of the injury. It appears that the nurse did not believe the student needed emergency treatment since the student was allowed to remain at school.

Finally, I agree that ”tough safety rules are really a must in a place where serious accidents can happen very fast and without warning”. We don’t know that those rules were not in place in this class. The teacher did have 29 years of experience in teaching such a class. Some teachers are better at teaching a comprehensive and successful safety program that others. However, my experience shows that even the weakest of such teachers are concerned about student safety.

-- Bill - Mesquite, TX --- "Everything with a power cord eventually winds up in the trash.” John Sarge , timber framer and blacksmith instructor at Tillers International school

View JollyGreen67's profile


1676 posts in 3002 days

#10 posted 09-17-2012 12:30 AM

It’s also amazingly scarey to watch Woodsmith. Those guys operte all kinds of power tools – TABLESAW – with long sleeve shirts. Talk about unsafe on TV so any soul who has not operated any kind of power equipment can see that it’s ok. Gives me the willy-wobbles.

-- When I was a kid I wanted to be older . . . . . this CRAP is not what I expected ! RIP 09/08/2018

View derosa's profile


1590 posts in 3074 days

#11 posted 09-17-2012 01:20 AM

Both are at fault, the girl just has youthful stupidity and inexperience on her side, the teacher should have paid more attention to make sure everyone was at least starting off watching the safety rules. I would still place a touch more blame on the teacher then the student; he should have checked that all the students were starting off properly dressed, especially dealing with high schoolers who don’t believe that it can happen to them even if they are skirting the rules. A reprimand for him not taking enough caution and a bill to the school for a weave for her and all should be fair if our system worked properly.

-- A posse ad esse

View casual1carpenter's profile


354 posts in 2714 days

#12 posted 09-17-2012 01:31 AM

I would have to give the shop teacher the innocent until proven guilty verdict. First let me state that I remember my wood shop days and the shop teacher must have been a saint to handle our attitudes and behavior. We were exposed to the safety rules and instructed in proper use of the tools, in quite a few of our cases his instruction was irrelevant, we were not listening, we were kids. How much can one worry about what they are doing when their main goal is to try and get the teacher/instructor’s head close enough to the dust collector to suck his toupee off. In my job environment today we have a job specific safety meeting not only every day but as jobs change. We are told of the work being preformed and informed of known common issues, and ones a bit more specific to the days tasks. Some of those meetings contain valid information but some are repetitive and boring. Wait was that the little boy from wood shop, “I’ve done this a hundred times,” or “yes I know that, but” or “but I just have one hole to drill.”

I do feel sorry for the young girl who had to learn a lesson the hard way, a lesson she should never have learned in this fashion. Mistakes and misjudgements were made by all parties including the other students who also should have stopped her from using the machine and reminded her she needs to put her hair right. It might be true that the shop teacher is responsible for all that happens in his shop, but he is not his own boss in all cases. Additionally he can not see everything nor always respond across the shop before an accident might happen.

If the shop teacher had of sent the students to the office for discipline over the hair infractions etc would the mothers and the school district have been happy? How can the shop teacher properly monitor all of the students at all of the work stations while at the same time providing individual hands on instruction? I believe that safety is one area where politically correct should be outlawed. It is better to learn that ignoring safety rules will have consequences, and better those consequences be discipline than disaster.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30151 posts in 2577 days

#13 posted 09-17-2012 02:00 AM

I will blame the teacher only that they should be fairly conscious of fairly obvious safety violations. That being said, humans, especially youth, like to work on “it won’t happen to me” theory. I knew a gentleman who lost his right arm at elbow on a metal lathe. He broke a couple shop rules. Long sleeve shirt and gloves. Always complained that he was cold so they ignored him. Every person in the shop should be willing to point out safety violations to anyone. It’s simply the best thing to do.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View oldnovice's profile


7380 posts in 3607 days

#14 posted 09-17-2012 06:19 AM

I agree with Monte! The teacher is responsible for this kind of accident.

That being said, I feel truly sorry for the girl but she should also count her blessings as it could have been much, much worse. Kids are resilient and with hair transplant technology today in a couple of years no one will know what happened to her.

Back when I was in shop class, almost 50+ years ago, the teacher had a check list that was used before any shop work for all safety related issues but one student proceeded to cut off the tips of three fingers when pushing material through the TS.
He was not using the push sticks and/or pads which probably would have prevented the accident. Fortunately, this was in Rochester Minnesota, home of the Mayo Clinic, and his fingers were re-attached to the point of no disfigurement but limited functionality.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View rance's profile


4267 posts in 3399 days

#15 posted 09-17-2012 07:29 AM

Bill(who was likely my own shop teacher) said it well.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

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