OSHA, Can You Hear Me?

Greetings again from Lovely Laos.  This country has been wonderful.  Everything from the people, culture and weather, which I am loving right now, have been perfect.  One thing that I notice when I travel in different parts of the world is safety or lack of it.  It is definitely not up to par with the United States.  For my day job I had to take a safety class from OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration).  Taking a class with OSHA makes you so aware of safety or the lack of it.  My mom has had the training, so, we have been discussing all of the things that are done here without any thought given to safety.  If OHSA showed up, this country could be shut down.

Let’s start with our build site.  We have been working hard on the school, and I have had the opportunity to lay some brick at the lower level.  Now that  the lower bricks have been laid, the locals have started to build their own scaffolding to reach the higher levels on the school.  Here in Asia, the typical scaffolding is made of bamboo.  But our worksite does not even use that.  Instead, they use the old and unsturdy desks from the classrooms and stack them on top of each other.  Then they throw a board on  top, and volia!  They have scaffolding.

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These are the classroom tables and desks stacked in a room waiting for paint.  They are being used  by both the children and the workers as scaffolding.

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The supports for this scaffolding are the classroom tables stacked on their sides.

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Now the bricklayer has another classroom table stacked on top of the first level.

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This gives you another view of the tables on their sides.

The children are very eager to help anyway they can.  At the moment school is out of session, but there are children at the site everyday because their parents are there helping us.  The children want to help, and since we are painting all of the existing classrooms, we have to scrape off old glue that was used to hang artwork on the walls.  Children are climbing all over to get to the higher- up areas of the wall so they can reach the glue.  It almost looks like a child labor camp, but the kids are having a great time.

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Here the children are on the tables while they scrape paper and glue off of the walls to prepare them for paint.

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This little girl is hanging on to the window frame.

Coconuts are something the locals have been giving us everyday for lunch.  I guess they were running short, so,  one day  the teacher encouraged a student to climb the tree in the schoolyard to get some coconuts, and they had no problem letting him use the machete.

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This young man is climbing a tree in front of the school to retrieve some coconuts.  The bus we use for our transportation to the worksite is in the background.

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He is using a machete  to cut off the coconuts.  Then he lowers them by rope to his buddy waiting below.

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Now he is once again using the machete to trim the  coconuts and to put a hole in the top for straws.

Yesterday after a long week of working, we took time off for some rest and relaxation.  Our group decided to do a zipline and rope bridge adventure course.  The adventure started with a two- hour van ride  to the forest.  The ride was just as dangerous as anything else this week because they really don’t follow any traffic rules.  Once we got to a certain village, we had a 20-minute boat ride on the river.  When we stopped, we were where our trek to the mountain top would begin.  The boats were quite small, but they managed to get a lot of people in them.  There were no life jackets, and the only safety that was followed was when the guide asked if we could all swim.

There were two boats that we used.  One had a leak and one didn’t.  I was lucky enough to get the boat with the leak, which we were warned about before getting in.  While traveling on the river, our boat filled with water fast, and so, we had to use  two small pails that were available to constantly get the water out of the boat.    My feet were completely soaked within three minutes of the start.  It was an exciting way to get to our ziplines which were supposed to be the challenging part of the day’s tour.

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This is one of the two boats available for our 20-minute commute to the beginning of the zipline course.

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We arrive safely despite using two pails to remove water from the boat’s floor.

Finally, we made it to our destination which was also our lunch spot.  The local guides  made a wonderful lunch.  However,  we noticed that when they were cooking, they passed around a bottle of Johhny Walker alcohol to each other.  I guess that is how they get ready to take the tourist up to the ziplines.

The zipline course had six  maneuvers and nine ziplines.  Mutlitple platforms were constructed to hold us while we progressed  from activity to activity.  In the beginning they said no more than four people on a platform at one time.  After a while, that rule no longer applied as we had double the amount of people on a platform at any time.  There was definitely a language barrier because we can’t speak Lao.

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This view shows one of the platforms we used for the ziplining.  Only four people were to be on a platform at one time.

We all agreed that it was an eventful and fun day, but we were also all relieved when we arrived safely at our hotel last night.

Have you traveled and had any safety hazards that made you a little nervous?