February 12, 2009

You couldn't pay me enough

Building construction, San Pedro Sula, HondurasBuilding construction, San Pedro Sula, Honduras

Construction workers in Honduras are expected to take incredible risks. There is no OSHA here to protect workers from hazardous materials or work conditions. If one worker won't do something, another one will.

I couldn't help but wonder if the workers on the above building get any sort of hazard pay. Probably not, but they definitely deserve it. Take a closer look:

Building construction, San Pedro Sula, Honduras
You can click these photos to see the workers closer. I was queasy just taking the photos.

Building construction, San Pedro Sula, HondurasThis building is about 12 stories tall. The workers are walking around on stacked up boards (probably 2" x 12") with no safety lines, no nothing. A lot of good those hard hats will do if the worker falls 10 stories!

It does appear that there is some sort of flimsy wire about waist level. That may be the constructor's flimsy attempt at workplace safety or it may serve some other purpose entirely.

Building construction, San Pedro Sula, HondurasThe workers are doing the concrete finishing work which involves throwing a coat of rough concrete (repello) against the concrete blocks and then putting on a layer of thin concrete (like stucco) and finishing it smoothly by hand (pulir). The throwing action is what makes concrete stick to the rough blocks. That work requires a lot of body action.

Hey, I've walked around on boards like that during our home construction! It is SCARY! The boards sag with each step and when someone takes a step on the other end, the boards bounce like a trampoline! And I was only two stories up, or maybe the equivalent of three if you count the time we had to go up and measure the square footage of the roof. Actually, I'll tell the truth. I was so scared on the roof, that I crawled, not walked around. I was more worried about falling off than preserving my pride.

clay tile roof constructionWe were shocked when a worker was electrocuted to death at another of our constructor's projects. We were even more shocked when one of workers whispered to us that someone died at every one of our constructor's projects! I hope he was exaggerating. By the way, the owner, not the constructor, is the one who is responsible for burial expenses and compensation to the family. It may or may not be law, but it is custom. Thankfully, there were no deaths during our construction, though I did do my share of doctoring booboos and we paid for medical expenses a couple of times.

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