Odd way to change a light bulb

Photo credit: Armistead Booker on Flickr

Here’s a story that reminds me of one of those jokes: How many [insert group of people] does it take to change a lightbulb?

In this case, it took one manager, two employees, and some fall protection gear – used innovatively. A worker told me about it via Facebook, after I posted a request for people’s stories about the most dangerous things they’d done at work.

“A light bulb burnt out on the underside of a catwalk approximately two stories up. We didn’t have a ladder, scaffolding, or a lift that was high enough to change the bulb, so my boss puts on a harness, we tie a rope to the D-ring, and two of us lower him down to change the bulb,” he wrote.

How dangerous is that?

I asked if his boss’s request seemed too dangerous at the time.

“It was sketchy, especially since my boss had a good 50 pounds more weight than I,” he wrote. “The two of us had to hold him in mid-air, below the catwalk, for the repair and replacement to be completed. Afterward, we lifted him back to the catwalk.

“It was a fall protection harness, but the rope was only being held by the two of us, not tied off. There was enough rope to reach the ground, about 30 feet down, but if we lost our grip, nothing would have helped. The rope was over-spec for the unusual demand and the railing was up to the task.”

Unusual indeed. I wonder what part of the WorkSafeBC Reg would be in violation if a worker were injured in this situation. Could someone please check for me? The details would not sound good on an incident report – that’s for sure!


2 thoughts on “Odd way to change a light bulb

  1. Mike Benz

    LOL!! Thank you for sharing this story! I have a picture of a worker in Calgary Alberta the used polypropylene rope, wrapped it twice under his groin area, to resemble leg straps I guess, then around his body about ten times. That was his harness. The live end of the rope was his lanyard and lifeline.

    So I believe you entirely. I teach an 8 hour fall protection course and I would like to share your experience if I may. Please advise.

    Great story Susan and I’m glad the hangman can still walk.

    I do too many investigations where the worker can’t tell his story even.


    Mike Benz

  2. susan Post author

    Hi Mike. Thanks for your kind words. Yes please do share the story as you wish. Wow that certainly is an “innovative” harness you describe – might be tough on the circulation!


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