Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Real World Wednesday

With all of the time spent on making the technological advances that bring us such world-changing (said in the most sarcastic tone possible) gadgets like the iPhone and the Wii and any number of other, let's face it, fun but unnecessary additions to our lives, why can't someone come up with better ways to do the jobs that are still injuring or killing people after hundreds of years?

In Utah today, there are six miners trapped in a coal mine. They're trapped as the result of an earthquake in the mine, and it seems that something, somewhere could have been done.

Are we just supposed to accept that there are some jobs that will always be dangerous? Will coal miners simply have to acknowledge that their lives are not that much safer than they were back when my great-great grandfather first came to this country from Poland and worked as a miner (and his experiences in the mines are perhaps why my great-grandfather became a trumpet player instead of a miner, but that's another story for another time).

Where are the researchers on that?

And even in the Wine Industry, those working in the vineyards are subject to breathing in mass quantities of the sulfur used to protect the vines against infestation. The EPA deems sulfur a "natural" substance, so vineyard owners can use it freely on their crops. Once inside the cellar floor, there are even more caustic chemicals. The air is stripped of carbon-dioxide and is low in oxygen to prevent the wine from turning undrinkable, but the workers deal with unpleasant working conditions and possible longterm effects.

Last winter, WG worked in a wine cellar. He came home tired, which is fine, but he also had a few chemical burns on his feet where the chemicals seeped through his workboots and socks.

I know that people today have a little more choice in where they go to work, but it seems that there should be more precautions taken to ensure that workers in mines, in factories, in any industry that involves chemicals, should not have to face detrimental long-term health effects. And with mines, it seems that seismologists, geologists and engineers should be able to work together to make sure that in the twenty-first century miners aren't getting trapped underground.

I would be perfectly willing to sacrfice the advances in technology that have given me an iPod and distant dreams of a Wii in favor of time, money and energy spent on creating better, safer working environments.


brandy said...

I'm with you on all your points, I just wonder if that is ever going to be possible. I think the problem is, we will always have jobs that include significant risk- and there will always be people who WANT them. I speak from experience (my brother not me). He has the chance to work in many safe jobs, but that's not appealing to him. there's a sense of excitement, obligation (to family), novelty... of doing something completly different, that involves risk. It would be nice if it wasn't there, but then, I suspect some people, (my brother included) would look for a job where they could find a 'thrill' again.

Parchemina said...

Let me first say that I also have an iPod. And the people who make them don't have the greatest working conditions either. Unfortunately, there are many many industries where the workers are subject to nasty and/or dangerous conditions without having chosen a job that gives them a thrill.
I wish I could make myself resist more products that involve bad working conditions. :(

Sarah said...

I agree with both of you. There will ALWAYS be dangerous jobs, and if there aren't, then people will still go out and try to climb Mt. Everest.

The people who made my iPod probably don't have good working conditions...and the issues of world labor are plenty enough for another post on another Wednesday.