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Knowing when to stop and reassess.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

My wife's red, '65 Mustang convertible was looking good after a fine wax job, except for one thing: It drooped slightly in the rear. "No problem," I thought; "now I have an excuse to replace those old, worn-out, rear leaf springs with some new, heavy-duty ones."

After getting the replacement springs, I cleared the garage for the removal and replacement procedure. I did my ORM, starting with making sure I had two proper-capacity jack stands to keep the rear of the car suspended. I also chocked the front tires, and I had all the tools and PPE I needed.

I first took off the front "hanger bolt" nuts so I could remove the springs' hanger bolts. The nuts came off without a problem. The first bolt, however, was stuck and wouldn't slide out of the spring eyelet, so I grabbed a hammer. After banging away with no results, I got a bigger hammer but still had no luck. I then took a hacksaw and tried to saw the bolt at the base on both sides of the spring. This method was working nicely, but there was one drawback. Based on my calculations, I would need a week to complete the task, and my hands, arms and shoulders weren't going to last that long.

My solution to this problem was to call a squadronmate--you know, the guy who has all the cool tools and ideas. I borrowed his 1,200-watt, 2,600stroke-per-minute, DeWalt reciprocating saw, then slid back under the car and resumed sawing. Metal flakes were flying, and the entire car was vibrating. "Great!" I thought. "At last, I'm making some progress."

It turned out that some of the metal dust flying around was coming from the saw blade--but not a problem. My buddy had supplied plenty of blades. While changing the blade, I noticed the jack stand on my side of the car didn't look right. The safety pin nearly had backed out of the stand. A little more sawing would have resulted in more than 2,000 pounds of Detroit metal landing on my side!

I lifted the car with a hydraulic jack, repositioned the jack-stand's safety pin, and then duct-taped the pins in both stands so they couldn't back out. I finished the job without further incident.

What did I learn from that event? Spending about 20 more dollars would have bought me jack stands that had non-backing secure safety pins. The best equipment always costs more, but where safety is concerned, it's worth every penny.

The biggest lesson from this experience was that I hadn't stopped to think how using the power saw was going to change things. My simple plan of using a wrench had been modified, but I hadn't used ORM to reassess the new hazards and risks involved. Bottom line: When your plans change, you must reevaluate the possible repercussions.

Resources:

* http://www.safetycenter.navy.mil/orm/ [Operational Risk Management (ORM)]

* http://www.safetycenter.navy.mil/orm/generalorm/introduction/ [Operational Risk Management]

* http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0IBQ/is_2000_August/ai_68535039 [ORM: Keeping Sailors Safe One Step at a Time]
COPYRIGHT 2007 U.S. Naval Safety Center
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 
Article Details
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Author:Blackmon, Randy
Publication:Sea&Shore
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2007
Words:522
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