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Painter’s View: July 4th On and Off the Job

Many hotel and facility painters must work on July 4th. Particularly if they are scheduled for that day of the week. Some painters, especially with maintenance capabilities, opt to work, switching slots so that a married teammate can enjoy the holiday with his or her family.

 

I liked to work on holidays, including July 4. Such a great day: festive, informal atmosphere; light-hearted, friendly people; great food from the chef; lots of games; full occupancy; bosses more easy-going. (And the time-and-a-half pay was nice, too.)

 

Painters that work for contractors usually get off for legal holidays, including July 4. My father, for instance, worked as superintendent for a major union contractor, and also on his own. Either way, he was free to take the holiday off. And, when the 4th fell on a week-end, it was that much sweeter. “Two whole days to have Dad to ourselves.” That’s how I looked at it, as a kid.

 

And, in our family, July 4th was a big deal: a holiday celebrated together. From the time that we got up in the morning – 7 A.M. – till bedtime – 11 P.M.

 

Here’s how a typical JULY 4 played out in our family.

 

1. 7:30 A.M. – BREAKFAST

– Typical menu: Stuffed omelet, pancakes, bacon, buttered toast, orange juice, coffee (for Dad).

– Some years, we took our plates out to the patio, and ate amidst the birds, flowers and rabbits, ladybugs and deer.

2. 9:00 A.M. – GET-READY-TO-ROLL TIME.

– Pack mid-sized cooler with snacks, cans of sodas, bag of ice. Put on comfortable clothes and walking shoes. Grab four folding chairs. Stick everything into Dad’s SUV.

3. 9:30 SHARP – GET-SITUATED TIME

– Find a good parking spot in Hobart. Walk to Ridge Road or Main Street. Set up chairs and cooler at curb. Look for friends and neighbors. Wave “HI.”

4. 10:00-11:30 A.M. – HUGE JULY 4 PARADE

– Floats designed and put together by locals; school marching bands; sports teams from local schools, baton twirlers, children’s and teen gymnastic and dance groups;

– Equestrian groups, prize Arabian stallions from Wayne Pavel’s Shiloh Farms;

– Celebrities and local/state/even national politicians;

– Siren-blaring, lights-flashing police cars and fire engines. Thousands of wrapped candies and Bazooka Bubble Gum, tossed to children along the parade route.

5. 12:00 Noon – LUNCH at Nearby Park

– Watch music performers at Bandstand.

6. 1:30-4:00 P.M. – TIME TO VISIT

– Drive around and briefly visit different relatives and friends.

– Grandparents, Dad’s favorite uncle and family, more housebound relatives.

– Some years, we joined a large picnic at a family friend’s home.

7. 5:00-6:00 P.M. – HOME-AND-RECOUP-TIME

– Family pitched in and cleaned out cooler and put leftover snacks and drinks away from activities earlier in the day.

– Take our time taking care of a few chores, feeding twin puppies and Donna’s gerbil.

– Resting or playing outdoors.

8. 6:00-6:30 P.M. – LIGHT DINNER/SUPPER – often on patio.

– Featured “make-your-own” sandwiches, also tossed salad, chips, homemade cookies, and chilled ice tea (made with real spearmint leaves).

9. 6:30-7:30 P.M. – INDIVIDUAL TIME

– Family talk-fest around kitchen table, or on patio.

– Board game, game of 500 Rummy.

10. 8:00 P.M. – GET-READY-TO-GO-AGAIN TIME

– Pack snacks and drinks, change clothes and put on comfortable shoes again, grab warm jackets or sweaters. Oh yes: Also seat cushions.

– Head for Hobart High School’s Football Field.

11. 9:00-10:00 P.M. – BIG TIME AND EAR-SHATTERING FIREWORKS SHOW!

– Find good spot (? hard bleachers)  with close family friends, near old classmates and neighbors;

– Seated within seeing distance of neighbors, even co-workers, boss, local doctors and families.

–  A great, feel-good way to end a July 4th holiday at home.

12. 10:15 P.M. – HEAD for HOME

– Ringing/deafened ears, tired feet, sore hind-end and muscles, little upset stomach.

– Exhausted, sleepy.

13. 10:40 P.M. – HOME and BED!

 

OUR AWAY-FROM-HOME JULY 4 CELEBRATIONS

 

1. When my sister and I were young, we spent a few July 4 week-ends with our grandparents in southern Indiana. At 9:30 A.M. on the Fourth, we gathered at the curb. Then we watched Linton’s award-winning parade. Even big-name celebrities and politicians vied to ride in that parade.

 

2. When Donna and I entered our teen years, our family took 10-12 day vacations during July 4-time.

* Several times, we stayed on Lake Wawasee, in the great cottage of a family friend. On the 4th, we watched the huge Water/Flotilla Parade, then awesome on-the-water fireworks. There, Dad and Mom taught my sister and me to water-ski.

– Wawasee, located near Syracuse, Indiana, was the summer home of Eli Lilly, aeronautical inventor George E. Manis, insurance magnate Peter Heller, etc.

– The lake also served as location of United Methodist’s Church largest summer camp and retreat and Catholic church’s largest training center and retreat for priests and monks.

– The lake was site of famed “Chinese Pagoda Garden,” a privately-owned replica of the Royal garden.

* Several times, we vacationed at Lake Maxinkuckee. There Dad taught his two teens to handle an inboard cruiser. Note: Famed, private Culver Military Academy was located nearby.

 

Point Is: July 4th was about family. Hanging out together, and because all four of us wanted to do that. In my fifties now, and basically fatherless since 1993, I appreciate more than ever those July 4ths with our entire family. Somehow, it makes every 4th, as an adult, very valuable.

 

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MESSAGE: Do-the-Time this July 4. And, do it with family – by birth, design, or choice.

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Copyright July 1, 2018. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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Painter’s World: Preventing Painter Accidents

In most situations, painter accidents can be prevented, or at least minimized. The responsibility rests on everyone’s shoulders: property owner/management, contractor(s) and painters, as well as other workers on the site and product/materials/equipment delivery outfits.

 

A CHECKLIST OF ACCIDENT PREVENTION PRACTICES

  1. Be aware of your surroundings.
  2. Have experience in the proper use of products/materials, supplies, tools and equipment needed to complete the job.
  3. Pay attention to the details – eg. health and safety policies and practices.
  4. Keep up-to-date with your compliance certifications: OSHA, ADA, HAZMAT, HVLP, UBC.
  5. Carry a valid state-issued Class C commercial driver’s license, and Have no infractions within the last three-to-five years.
  6. Maintain certifications required in your specialty areas. Examples: highways/airfields; marine; planes; train cars; automotive; aerial; underground tanks/containers; above-ground tanks/containers; chemicals.
  7. Upgrade your skill-level certifications for working on your specific types of substrates, and using required products and materials. Note: Skills’ levels must be tested regularly.
  8. Keep up-to-date on your employer’s property and liability insurer requirements re: training.
  9. Keep up-to-date on new government standards and regulations and amendments and health and safety codes, AND required additional training and certifications.
  10. Retake advanced training to upgrade your journey-level certifications. Note: This is a requirement with a growing number for members of construction trades and union organizations.
  11. Participate in manufacturer’s product/coatings and related tool and equipment handling workshops, demonstrations, webinars, etc.

 

Following these practices may cause some inconvenience, and an outlay of cash, at the time. However, the risk of unpreparedness can be costly, and dangerous.

Bottom Line: There are no acceptable reasons for preventable accidents and injuries, damages, and fatalities to happen. None at all.

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Painters, as a group, can contribute much to workplace safety and health.

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Copyright June 13, 2018. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s World: Supporting Your Spine

A painter’s most essential physical asset is his or her spinal column. It serves as the main support for all activities. Examples: Standing, walking, climbing; lifting, carrying, loading, unloading; moving, pushing, pulling; bending, kneeling, crouching; sitting, lying.

 

Ways to protect and strengthen your “painter spine”

 

  1. At work, wear a non-roll back support under your uniform or work clothing.
  2. Wear shoes or boots that fit each foot, and leave toe-room when you’re standing, or walking; also that support every part of your feet, also your ankles and shins.
  3. Minimize use of heavy, cumbersome footwear that limits circulation, dissipation of moisture and sweating, and mobility and balance.
  4. Minimize use of shoes and slippers with little or no support for the sides and back of each foot.
  5. Use ergonomic chairs or similar seating at work, and elsewhere.
  6. Minimize use of soft/cushiony seating – work, home, vehicle, etc.
  7. Alternate your arms when grabbing, lifting, carrying, and moving 5-gallon paint buckets, or any other item requiring only one hand.
  8. Alternate legs used to lead out when stepping out, stepping up, bending at knees, etc.
  9. Vary extensions or stretches of legs when walking, carrying or moving.
  10. When climbing ladders, maintain as straight or upright posture as possible.
  11. Suck in or contract stomach muscles to help maintain spinal disc alignment in your spinal column.
  12. When bending, kneeling, crouching, etc., try not to round the shoulders, hunch over, “roll” your shoulders inward.
  13. Try to keep shoulders and cervical spine line relaxed.
  14. Stand tall when pushing or pulling things – e.g. a service cart.
  15. Maintain a straight posture when driving your golf cart.

 

Exercises that can help strengthen and support your “painter spine”

1. Exercises you can do every day.

A. Brisk 30-minute walk, wearing a soft back brace.

B. Leisure walk at a moderate pace.

C. Floor stretches, lying flat with arms at your sides or stretched outward.

D. Gentle stomach crunches, lying flat and nudging spine to floor.

E. Slow foot and leg raises, done lying on your stomach, on flat surface.

— Raising one foot and leg at a time, then lowering back to the floor.

— Later, raising both feet and legs at the same time, then lowering back to the floor. TIP: Avoid strain and force. STOP if you have any back, hip or leg pain.

F. Leg raises, done lying on floor and using slow, smooth movements.

 

2. Exercises two-three times a week.

A. Deep-lung breathing, lying flat on floor, arms at your sides, eyes on the ceiling. Note: Excellent way to relax entire spine, and body, after physically strenuous day.

B. Wall-hugs, done standing and pushing entire form against wall. Tip: do without shoes.

C. Duo-leg raises, lying flat, breathing deep. Note: Can even out breathing and relax leg muscles.

D. Rib cage-lung deep breathing, done standing straight, exhaling while pushing rib cage/lungs outward. Note: Can restore breathing rhythm after working with contaminants in poorly-ventilated area.

E. Vertical stretches, raising arms above head and breathing deeply, slowly exhaling as arms lowered to front of body.

F. Moves that promote diaphragm breathing, and also regulate breathing.

G. Moves that realign and relax upper and lower limbs simultaneously.

 

3. Exercises you can sneak in wherever you are

A. Standing in line: relaxing one leg at a time, and rotating foot at ankle.

B. Standing: rising on toes, then lowering back to floor/ground.

C. Standing: stretching one leg at a time behind you, then back to normal position.

D. Standing: switching weight back and forth from side-to-side.

 

The whole idea is to turn spinal exercises into maneuvers that stretch then relax muscles, joints and tendons. No strain, no pain.

 

If you already have spinal cord injuries and damage, you want to prevent further damage. You need to reduce the risk of more pain and damage. Yet you want to maximize the attributes your spine still has.

 

If, like mine, your spinal cord is in good shape, you want to keep it that way as long as you can.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: The above suggestions are only that. If you have any health issue, first consult with your physician before even trying these exercises. The spinal column is related, one way or another, to the rest of the body. So, cover your bases. Make certain that exercises are safe for your spine – and body as a whole.

 

Closing thought: I’d rather have a spine weakened by a strong work ethic, and years of first-rate service, than a spine that never learned its worth.

 

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Many thanks for maintaining high work standards, while protecting your spine.

 

Copyright May 29, 2018. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s World: Scaffolding Safety, and OSHA Standards

An estimated 2.3 million construction workers – 65 percent of total – work on scaffolding. And, of the 4,500 reported injuries and 50-60 deaths, 72 percent are attributed to planking or supports giving away, or to the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object.

In 2016, twenty painter fatalities were reported, and were attributed to slipping and falling. At this time, OSHA and the U. S. Department of Labor have no way of ascertaining the true figures in painter fatalities related to scaffolding. * Above statistics from the U. S. Department of Labor, and OSHA agency.

Keep in mind: Only twenty-eight of the fifty states in the U. S. have OSHA-approved state plans on board for scaffolding. This means they operate and offer state-wide OSHA programs on scaffolding system operations and management; equipment installation, set-up and take-down; repair, and maintenance; and, training, use and on-site troubleshooting.

Consider these realities: If you work for a painting contractor, licensed in one of those twenty-eight states, that contractor/company must be certified/licensed by OSHA to operate, install and use scaffolding systems on any job-site. The contractor/company must carry special liability insurance to cover every employee that will be working within 20-30 feet of that scaffolding.

Many rules must be followed, to ensure a safe and healthy work environment for the workers. And, the OSHA standards must be followed by companies that employ construction workers – painters – on a project basis, and not as part of their regular paint crews.

Note: OSHA Standard § 1926.451 also applies if you are a painting contractor, even a one-person shop in one of those twenty-eight states.

If you work as a staff painter and must, at any time, use a scaffolding system, your employer is legally responsible for that scaffolding. Here, “employer” can include the business owner(s); business/property management company, if any; top on-site manager(s); and, your supervisor(s). If your “employer” rents the scaffolding system that you must use, then, the scaffolding equipment company is also responsible.

Keep in mind: Scaffolding system safety is serious business. Literally, a life-and-death issue.

 

ATTENTION: Florida Painters and Construction Workers.

As of the beginning of 2018, the state of Florida did not have an OSHA-Approved Safety and Health Plan.

 

I. OSHA Scaffolding Safety Standards – § 1926.451

 

From: “CONSTRUCTION FATAL FOUR”

A. “Top 10 Most Frequently Cited OSHA Standards Violations in Fiscal Year FY2017. (10/01/16-09/30/17.

B. “Scaffolding, engineering requirements, Construction (29 CFR 1926.451) [Related OSHA Safety and Health Topics pgs.]

C. “OSHA is Making a Difference: Lesson Plan: Construction Training Program (10-hour), Topic: Scaffolding.”

D. “OSHA Guide to Safety Standards for Scaffolding Used in Construction Industry.” O3150, 2002 Revised. Pp. 33-90.

— “Focused Inspection Guidelines.” P. 3.

E. “OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) – Globally; Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

F. “OSHA’s New Fall Protection Standards/ (Regulations),” 2017.

 

II. U. S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

A. Office of Inspector General (DOL-OIG)

 

III. OTHER SOURCES FOR SCAFFOLDING SAFETY INFORMATION

 

A.“5 Safety Tips when Working with Scaffolding.” By Kimberly Hagerman, ConstructionPros.com, Posted March 25, 2013.

B.“12 Scaffolding Safety Tips and Handling Hints.” ConstructionPros.com.

C.“10 Important Scaffolding Safety Tips.” “Safety Scaffolding,” Contribute Industrial Products, Posted May 8, 2016.

D. “Scaffolding Safety Tips.” MSB (Morefield Speicher Bachman, LC, Overland Park, Kansas. Posted 05/30/2017.

E. “Protecting Your Business During the Cold Weather Months.” MSB, Posted 11/21/2017.

 

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Scaffolding safety is the responsibility of everyone involved, including any painter that uses the system.

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Copyright June 5, 2018. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s World: Little Acts of Appreciation

Every day, a painter’s world includes opportunities to show his or her appreciation. To someone. For something.

 

Ten Acts of Appreciation a Hotel Painter Can Try

 

  1. Thank your teammates, supervisor, and other coworkers for their help, support, etc.
  2. Go easy on the teammate that goofed, again. Even if he or she could have prevented it.
  3. Hold the door open for a hotel guest trying to get moved into his or her room.
  4. Offer to hold something so a guest can strap his or her toddler into the safety car seat.
  5. Cut your chief engineer some slack. Tell him or her, “That’s okay. I can see that you’re under a lot of extra pressure right now…”
  6. Volunteer an extra pair of hands to a teammate, or staff member in another department.
  7. Offer that grumpier or aloof co-worker a way to talk to you without any explanation.
  8. Cover for a teammate when he or she needs to make a personal call during work time.
  9. Cut your co-workers some slack, especially when the work pressure is getting to them.
  10. Discreetly offer a “listening ear” to a co-worker whose mood/behavior/attitude has changed for some reason.

 

Ten Acts of Appreciation a Commercial-Industrial Painter Can Try

 

  1. Thank your fellow crew members for their efforts to bring in a project within constraints.
  2. Offer to cover for a co-worker who needs a little longer lunch or break time.
  3. Foreman: offer the worker, who is very pressured by personal responsibilities, the option to occasionally start work a little later. Or to leave a little earlier..
  4. Give the new guy a hand, or two. Even if he or she is experienced. Remember when you started out there?
  5. Cut that apprentice some slack. He or she is new to painting, and new to your company.
  6. Periodically, thank and visit your suppliers’ stores, shops, websites, LinkedIn.com, etc.
  7. Periodically connect with both your strong and less strong connections through social media. Acknowledge their recent accomplishments, or news. Thank them for any input they’ve given.
  8. On-site crew member: Loan a better paintbrush to a newer coworker, who might not yet own the size or type of brush needed to do the task.
  9. Thank and praise both long-standing and newer crew members. Especially when things have been going rough on the project, and/or for the company
  10. Thank your company’s office staff for making your job more doable. Please thank your foreman, superintendent/boss and company owner once periodically, too.

 

FOOTNOTE: I remember every person that has helped me, as a painter, to have a good day. Their smiles or laughs.  Their joking jabs. Their choices of words. Their handshakes. Their encouragement. The hands that they lent me. Their “training.” Their advice and constructive criticism. It all mattered to me. They all mattered to me.

 

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Showing appreciation works better when it’s sincere, spontaneous, and individualized.

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Behind “Painting with Bob” is a network of dedicated painters, professionals, friends, and editor.

Copyright 2018. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter – Vietnam Veteran That Makes A Difference

In the mid-1980s, my mother interviewed over 1,000 Vietnam veterans. Most of them had been suffering with symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Other health problems as well. Fewer than 25 percent of those veterans were receiving the healthcare that they needed.

 

Within five years of being interviewed, over 60 percent of those with PTSD had died. For those still alive, life was full of ups and downs. The veterans struggled to get ongoing access to healthcare, job opportunities, and financing for education, home buying, business startups, etc.

 

Fast forward: It’s now 2017. Over forty years after the U. S. troops pulled out of South Vietnam. Over thirty years after my mother interviewed the last veteran on her list.

 

On November 6, 2017, a LinkedIn.com “Connect” request came into my home page. It was from a retired painter-painting contractor on the west coast.

 

The 72-year old man wanted to know if I was related to a “Sandra…….. Hajtovik.” (That’s my mother in case you haven’t made that connection.) If so, he asked, “Could you please put me in touch with her?… I’d appreciate it…”

 

A Vietnam veteran (U. S. Marines Green Beret), he’d been interviewed by my mother in 1984. He wanted to tell her what had happened with him in the last thirty-three years.. “How my life has been going…” he e-mailed.

 

Within a day of getting the message, my mother e-mailed the man.

 

So, how had his life been going?

 

  1. It turns out that he was the retired founder of one of the largest commercial painting companies on the west coast.

 

  1. Over the last twenty-five years, his company had given jobs to over fifty-five Vietnam veterans.

 

  1. Many of those “painters” – men and women – suffered on and off with PTSD and other medical conditions caused by toxic exposures while serving in Vietnam during the 1960s and early 1970s.

 

  1. One of the “automatic benefits” available to all of his employees, particularly the Vietnam veterans, had been financial help to go to college or trade school, rent or buy a home, lease or buy a vehicle, get emergency or surgery treatment, even bury a close relative. “Help has included for immediate family, too,” the man has e-mailed my mother.

 

  1. Special financial help has been available for any “employee painter” who wanted to start a painting contracting business of his or her own. (That’s helping to set up the competition.)

 

For Christmas of 2017, this “retired painter” is bringing all of his employees and immediate families to Central Florida, for two weeks, to visit Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.

 

He’s invited my mother and me to join the group for two days and nights. (That includes hotel accommodations inside Disney. I have other plans that can’t be changed.)

 

My mother accepted the very kind invitation. Already, she is jotting down a short list of “interview-type” questions.

 

It would have been great to meet the fellow career painter and decorator, and talk shop. Also, I’d  want to find out why, besides the obvious, he has employed and stuck by so many Vietnam veterans.

 

“Character builds character,” my Grandfather Boyd once said. “Worth builds upon worth.”

 

From what I’ve learned so far, I’d say that this retired painter/painting contractor – Vietnam vet that my mother met in 1984 – has tried to help other painters-vets build good “self-character.” I’d say that he’s also helped to build more sense of “self-worth” into their worlds – and into the larger world in which they are still trying to make it.

 

What an important legacy this war veteran is leaving behind. One person at a time.

 

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How far and how well others journey through life often has so much to do with you, and I.

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Thank you for checking into “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s World: And, That’s A Good Thing

SOME GOOD THINGS ABOUT A PAINTER’S WORLD

 

  1. Four guest passes to see The Last Jedi. (Thanks, Doc.)

 

  1. Packed cookies all in the mail, folks.

 

  1. I’d saved six of seven manuscripts and related files and setups onto flash drives. (See no. __ below.)

 

  1. Installed new hard drive. Now waiting for copy of new operating system from Microsoft.

 

  1. Old hard drive is on its way for specialist to run analysis, recover files…reactivate.

 

  1. So far, all “readers-en-field” have also written reviews. (And all are very positive.)

 

  1. Online bookseller Curtis is a first-class networker, linking only serious participants.

 

  1. Connection with amazon.com best-selling author Buddy A. is proving outstanding.

 

  1. Artist-sculptor of Neanderthal in cover photo is on board 100 percent. And, with her international connections.

 

  1. Indiana cousin made it to the altar on December 2. (Three months earlier, his spinal cord was severely damaged in a five-vehicle pile up on the interstate.)

 

  1. New outpatient neurologist at CNH/FHMG is a very sharp, wholistic health pro. Very up to date on research, therapies and clinical trials.

 

AND, A FEW NOT SO GOOD THINGS ABOUT A PAINTER’S WORLD 

 

  1. The new hard drive will not open up. Note: I’m waiting for new Windows 7 from Microsoft.

 

  1. I lost all of no. 7 manuscript and related files, when the hard drive failed. Rebooting, etc. a NO GO. Started working on this one in 2011.

 

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Sometimes, even good or not so good things encapsulate the opposite effect.

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“Painting with Bob” is a blog aimed at helping painters and decorators, including contractors.

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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