Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hazards by Robert Elsen

PHS 100
Professor David Terrell
Warner Pacific College
I have experienced vulnerability to natural hazards all of my life, as I am sure most of us have. I grew up in a family where many of my immediate relatives used tobacco products, very heavily. In fact, I believe everyone they were friends with also smoked or chewed tobacco. I can recall riding in the back seat of my father’s car with the windows rolled up and watching my father smoke one cigarette after the other and never thinking twice about how hard and uncomfortable it was for me and my brother.
Yes, I know some will say, “That’s just the way it was back then” and I know it was not meant to be a malicious act by them. It still dumbfounds me how people that smoke are oblivious to people around them, especially family and children. My wife can recall growing up with the same situation in her home, with both parents smoking and most, if not all of their friends also smoking. What haunts her is her oldest brother always coughed violently most of the time, later in life he found out he had asthma. The doctors now confirm that the early years of second hand smoke can make or break how bad your asthma will be.
My wife and I have made a hard stand on smoking in our lives, I have never even smoked cigarettes once in my life and she has tried to smoke one time as a teenager. We have also seen lost relationships and family gatherings stop because of this problem. It is our belief that no one will smoke in our home and no one will smoke around our kids. So, if you invite us over to your home and you choose to smoke, then we will leave.
I feel that you should still be able to smoke in your own home, as long as you don’t have children. However, I also believe that if you invite me to your home and you know I don’t want my family to be around second hand smoke, then you should be respectful enough and wait until we leave before you decide to light-up. If you do it anyway then you are telling me you do not ever want me to come back and you do not respect me and my families health.
I recall working in environments that allowed smoking, in fact, the establishment that I have worked for today for 17 years has just in the last five years stopped employees from smoking in the workplace. I have had far greater issues with this company than that when it comes to hazards. I work for a truck manufacturing company on Swann Island in Portland, Oregon, so you can imagine all of the environmental and human dangers that have appeared over the years.
Just within the last couple of years they were nailed by the EPA for disposing hazardous material into the ground dating back to the mid 1970s. It was probably a disgruntled employee or a heavy hearted individual that turned them in. It just kind of made me feel like they could care less what they exposed us to or what they were doing to the environment, I am sure they just got fined.
Even today it seems the company still shows a lack of concern for our health and the environment. As the trucks are nearing completion they are not suppose to be started until it is time to drive them out the door; however, some mechanics still start the trucks prematurely causing them to fill the air with pollutants. As employees working nearby, we ultimately inhale these toxins posing a significant health risk to us. This all happens under the nose of management without anything really ever being done to make sure it does not happen again. It has always been obvious to me that they have really never cared too much about the employee’s health.

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