LT. COL. SCOTT A. REDMAN
Michigan Army National Guard
I have heard it said several times, “Real men don’t read directions.” Apparently, some people think the idea of actually paying attention to all the papers (directions, manuals, safety notices) included with a new purchase is unnecessary to fully understand how that item works. As a safety professional, I could not disagree more. I almost always go to the opposite extreme. Notice I said, “Almost.”
Whenever I buy a new item, one of the first things I do is read the owner’s manual. Over the years, I believe this practice has served me well. Recently, though, I bought a used drill press at auction, and it didn’t come with an instruction manual. Eager to try it out, I immediately went home, unloaded the drill press and plugged it in. I figured if it worked, I got a good deal.
Unfortunately, all the drill press did was make a humming noise — as if it wanted to start but needed some help. Noticing the drive belt on top of the machine, I thought, “I bet all I need to do is give the belt a tug to free it up.” It freed up all right. In fact, it spun so fast that it pulled my finger into the pulley! After I stopped the bleeding, I visited a medical clinic, swallowed a couple of pain pills and endured a great deal of embarrassment.
I learned two things that day I want to pass along. First, if you ever purchase a used item like I did, search online for the operator’s manual. It will contain useful safety information (like making you aware of missing parts such as a drive belt and pulley guard!). Second, always inspect your used purchases to identify any signs of modification or breakage by the previous owner. As a friend said to me after seeing my bandaged finger, “You know they were probably selling it for a reason.” You can bet I won’t make the same mistake again.
Did You Know?
Many manufacturers place their products’ operator’s manuals, installation instructions and safety notices on their websites for easy downloading and printing.