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Welding Safety – The Third World Version

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If there is another wonder of the world that needs to be added to the amazing things that exist on Planet Earth, I think it should be how people get things done in the third world.

That’s because these people who are born with a massive disadvantage compared to those in the first world, just do the best with what they can – which is usually nothing.

Today’s example focuses on welding safety, but I’ll get to that in a moment!

I’ve travelled to a few places and I marvel at how stuff gets built in the absence of good health and safety measures around, plus how things are transported from point A to point B on devices that should not be able to support the massive load.

Previous examples of how people improvise in the third world that I’ve featured before include the following:

There’s a great video going around called Miniature Earth which puts the first world/third world comparison into perspective.

Hans Rosling, a Swedish demographer, also puts it across well. He does an amazing job at explaining boring old statistics into a new light by making them mean something! For example, his take on poverty based on how people predominately transport themselves around the place.

‘The person who can afford a bicycle as a means of transport is 10 times richer than the person who can only afford to work. If you own a scooter, you are 10 times richer than the person with the bicycle. If you own a car you’re 10 times richer than the person with the scooter. If you are able to fly by plane, you are 10 times richer than the person who can only transport themselves by car’

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Makes sense to me!

Anyway, back to the welding safety thingy. Check out this gob-smacking photo I received via email a while back.

I actually don’t find this humourous at all – I’m quite amazed and sad at the same time.

Welding Safety in The Third World

Welding Safety Helmet

Anyone who has worked in the construction industry would obviously spot the personal protective equipment this guy should be wearing!

But I can’t see a welding mask, a pair of steel capped boots, or appropriate long sleeve clothing being issued to this guy any time soon. He’d probably be fired if he asked for it!

Like the three wise monkeys term ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ most of us turn a blind eye when we see where our stuff comes from and how it is made, because we really don’t have a choice anymore where it comes from – because the vast majority of it comes from the third world where labour is cheap.

But there is a price to pay – and it’s not paid by the consumer society we live in, that’s for certain!

A while back, I saw a documentary about the ship graveyards of Bangladesh near Chittagong. Because Bangladesh has no natural resources to make steel on it’s own, they welcome multitude so out of date ships that come in and beach themselves on the shore so that scores of workers can tear them down into tiny bits for melting to make new steel. The same also applies in Pakistan, where there world’s largest ship graveyard is located.

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There are no shortage of workers, who are desperate to make a living. Hordes of people descend on the ships, often in bare feet, and attempt to tear apart the steel with anything they can land their hands on just so they can make about a couple of dollars a day to buy a bit of rice for dinner. I’m sure it would be an amazing spectacle to watch these large ships being torn down.

Unfortunately, health and safety standards are almost zero, so there’s no shortage of workplace incidents that cause permanent disabilities and often death. Sometimes, death is a better option because being disabled suddenly cuts you off from your only source of income.

Sounds extreme, but unfortunately, this is the way in the third world.

It really makes the first world problems we deal with are so trivial in comparison.

I’m grateful I don’t have to put up with this crap just to put food on the table.


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