This was no ordinary high-wire act. Four men standing on a wire 35 feet above the ground, linked together with shoulder bars. Above them, another pair of men, also linked with shoulder bars. Above them, a woman standing on a chair!
This assemblage-known as the seven-person chair pyramid, would then inch its way across the high wire suspended above the circus floor. It was the most famous high-wire act in the circus. Do you know who achieved this feat?
None other than the Flying Wallendas.
Karl Wallenda, the patriarch of this daredevil family, was born in Germany in 1905, and by age six, he was already performing in family shows. At 17 Karl began learning high-wire walking and in 1922 he started his own high-wire act.
During one performance in Akron, Ohio, in the thirties Karl and three other performers slipped. All fell to the wire, but a local paper reported that they did it so gracefully. They seemed to be flying, thus the “Flying Wallendas” were born.
It was in 1947 when Karl Wallenda devised his seven-person chair pyramid act described above, his crowning achievement. He performed the act successfully until 1962 when a catastrophic fall left Karl’s son paralyzed.
Daredevils may grab our attention, but there are risks. It’s a lesson you should remember when you work at height. Never become comfortable there. Always think of your safety.
In the years following the catastrophic fall, Karl continued performing his solo “sky walks.” His most famous was a 1,200 foot walk on a high wire 700 feet above the Tallulah Falls Forge in Georgia.
But it was in 1978 when Karl, performing a sky walk in Puerto Rico, fell to his death at age 78. The cause? Mis-connected guy ropes along the high wire.
When you work at height, don’t take risks with your behavior or equipment. Remember…
*Use a body harness connected to a fixed anchor by a lanyard, lifeline or deceleration device. Constantly inspect this equipment for cuts, tears, broken hooks and other problems.
*When needed, strength-tested safety nets should be used.
Working at Height?
Use Proper Fall Protection For the Job
*Copyright 2005 Harkins Safety B200
Is it a car? Is it a motorcycle? Actually it’s a bit of both. One of the most popular vehicles for both families and sporting drivers, the Morgan was a revolution when it first leapt onto the automotive scene.
The Morgan Motor Company was founded in 1909. The first cars the company made were three-wheelers with two wheels in front and one in back. They were powered by motorcycle engines, with a chain driving the rear wheel and they came in two-seat and four-seat models.
Morgan’s first design, introduced at the 1911 Olympia Motor Exhibition, was a two-seater. It came with either a single-cylinder or a twin motorcycle engine, usually a British-made JAP engine.
Since the three-wheelers were classified as motorcycles by the British government, they were exempt from the tax on cars. This made them very attractive to buyers.
Could you imagine driving a three-wheeler? You might think it would be unstable compared to a four-wheeled car, but the three wheels with the two widely spaced wheels at front provided surprising stability. It’s the same idea as maintaining three points of contact when you’re climbing up or down at work.
When you’re on a ladder, stairs, the steps of a truck or other mobile equipment-anytime you’re climbing up or down-always remember that it takes three for stability. Keep three points of contact-two feet and one hand, or two hands and one foot-with the ladder or steps. That way, you can be sure to avoid any slip and fall accidents and the sometimes serious injuries they cause. Falls from ladders and steps are some of the most common accidents. That’s too bad because they’re easy to avoid, just by keeping three points of contact.
Three points of contact- not a bad idea. It certainly served Morgan well. As their success grew, new models appeared. In 1932 Morgan introduced the F-4, which used a pressed-steel chassis and a four-cylinder Ford side-valve engine.
Even though their production ceased in 1952, Morgan three-wheelers continue to delight car fans. Low-slung Morgans with hopped-up competition engines thrill crowds at vintage car races with their speed and brilliant handling.
Let the Morgan three-wheeler remind you of the stability you gain when you keep three points of contact when climbing up or down. It’s a simple thing, but one that could spare you from a potentially serious injury. Why not get revved up about safety?
IT TAKES 3 FOR STABILITY!
TO PREVENT FALLS KEEP 3 POINTS OF CONTACT WHEN YOU CLIMB UP OR DOWN
*Copyright 2006 Harkins Safety B248
After The Fall
She was a gangly, pig-tailed, 89-pound, 14-year-old when she began her international athletic career. But could she ever run. She would go on to set six world records in track events ranging from the mile to the 10,000 meters. She was named the top amateur athlete in the U.S. and Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year, among many other honors. But for Mary Decker, it all came crashing down.
It was the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and Decker was heavily favored to gold medal in her signature event, the 3,000 meters. On the starting line with her was her nemesis, South African Zola Budd, running barefoot.
As the race began, the pack settled into a quick but relaxed pace. Decker was ahead, running smoothly in her light, long stride. Budd was further back but pressing the pace. Tactically, Budd was an aggressive runner who liked a fast pace but she wasn’t a strong finisher, so she had to position herself early in the race. Decker on the other hand liked to stay relaxed and finish with a strong kick. Both runners were playing out their race strategies until mid-way, about 1,600 meters, when disaster struck.
Decker was running on the inside near the rail as Budd surged from behind, running off Decker’s right shoulder. As they rounded the final turn, Budd cut in more sharply, slightly ahead of Decker. Then Budd’s left foot grazed Decker’s right thigh. Budd wobbled to the left, and Decker’s foot struck Budd’s calf. Decker lost her balance, stumbled, and crashed down on the track infield. In a flash her race was over.
A slip, trip or fall at work can happen just as fast and with disastrous consequences. That’s why you have to prevent them. For starters, try these tips every day:
*Clean up spills immediately.
*Use ladders correctly and carefully.
*Wear skid-resistant shoes.
*Keep eyes on path.
*Exercise extra caution around loading docks, manholes, and other ledges.
A slip, trip or fall can result in a minor injury or a debilitating one. You never know. That’s why it pays to be careful. Mary Decker’s fall ended her hopes for Olympic gold in the 3,000 meters in 1984. But you can reach the gold standard for safety every day just by preventing slips, trips and falls. Remember-put your best for forward every day for safety.
It’s Your Call…
Stay alert to prevent a
SLIP, TRIP or FALL
*Copyright 2005 Harkins Safety B211
“Watch Your Step”
If there is a dream team in the sport of mountain climbing, this was it. Legendary mountaineers Peter Hillary, Peter Athans, Brent Bishop, Peter Ligate and a team of porters and support personnel had reached Camp 2 in their assault on Mt. Everest. But one of them wouldn’t make it back down.
They reached Camp 3 after days of arduous climbing at an oxygen-starved altitude of 23,700 feet. A jet stream, a flood of wind, was howling only 3,000 feet above the camp and reaching life-threatening speeds of 350 mph. The team got little sleep. Instead, they spent the night holding their tents together in the vicious wind. House-sized chunks of ice were shifting, with one large piece collapsing uncomfortably near the camp.
The team included Himalayan veteran Peter Athans, who holds a record for six Everest summits; Peter Hillary, son of famed alpinist Sir Edmund Hillary, who along with Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay became the first person to reach the world’s highest peak; Brent Bishop, who is also following in his father’s footsteps; and Peter Ligate, a 38-year-old business manager and experienced climber. They waited out the weather at Camp 3.
After three days at Camp 3, the conditions worsening, the team decided to turn back. Ligate started down a steep route to Camp 2. Suddenly, he stumbled, missing a clip into the safety line. Ligate careened down the mountain’s blue ice and fell 600 feet to his death in a crevasse.
Even an experienced mountaineer can lose concentration, with disastrous consequences. In the blink of an eye, a fall can change everything, whether you’re climbing a mountain or climbing a ladder. But here’s how you can stay safe.
*Stay Clean. Clutter and poor housekeeping lead directly to tripping hazards and falls.
*Keep walking surfaces safe. Make sure walking surfaces are inspected, cleared, marked and maintained.
*Wear proper shoes. Inspect boots regularly, especially the soles, which can become slick.
*Use ladders safely. Make sure ladders are properly secured. Don’t overreach. Inspect ladders regularly.
*Store safely. Don’t store heavy or awkward items above peoples reach.
Don’t Let a Fall…Trip Up Your Future
*Copyright 2009 Harkins Safety