Jehovah Wants You to Be “Safe and Sound”
WHEN the most dangerous event in history breaks out, Almighty God will make sure that all who have his approval “get away safe.” (Joel 2:32) But, in truth, Jehovah has always wanted to protect people from harm. Since “with [him] is the source of life,” he considers all humans as precious, worth protecting.—Ps. 36:9.
God’s faithful servants of old shared his view of life. According to Genesis 33:18, Jacob and his family completed a dangerous journey “safe and sound.” Jacob counted on Jehovah for protection, but he also took practical steps to protect all who traveled with him. (Gen. 32:7, 8; 33:14, 15) By applying Bible principles, you can enhance your safety and that of others. Let us see how this truth applies to those who work on Kingdom Halls and similar projects and provide disaster relief.
Safety Under the Mosaic Law
The Law of Moses made safety an official policy of God’s people. For example, an Israelite who was building a house had to install a parapet, a low wall or railing built at the edge of the roof. Because people were often up on the flat roofs of their homes, the parapets kept them from falling off. (1 Sam. 9:26; Matt. 24:17) If an accident took place because this safety law had not been observed, Jehovah held the householder responsible.—Deut. 22:8.
The sanctions of the Law also applied to injuries caused by domestic animals. If a bull killed a person by goring, the owner had to destroy the bull to keep other people safe. Because he could not eat the meat or sell it to others for food, killing that animal was a big loss. But suppose that after a bull had injured a person, its owner did not keep the animal under guard. What then? If that same bull later killed someone, the bull and its owner would be put to death. That law gave pause to anyone inclined to be careless with his livestock.—Ex. 21:28, 29.
The Law also encouraged the proper use of tools. Many Israelites used axes to cut firewood. If an axhead accidentally flew off its handle and killed a bystander, the woodcutter had to flee to a city of refuge. There he was required to remain until the death of the high priest, which could mean that an unintentional manslayer was separated from his family and home for years. That arrangement taught the nation that life is sacred to Jehovah. A man who shared God’s view of life kept his tools in good repair and used them safely.—Num. 35:25; Deut. 19:4-6.
With such laws, Jehovah made it clear that he wanted his people to observe safe practices inside and outside the home. Those who caused death and injury to others, even by accident, had to answer to him. Jehovah’s thinking on the matter of safety has not changed. (Mal. 3:6) He still wants people to avoid injuring themselves and others. This is especially true when we construct and maintain buildings dedicated to his true worship.
Safety at Building Projects
We view building and maintaining Kingdom Halls, Assembly Halls, and branch facilities as a great privilege. The same can be said about the work we perform at disaster-relief projects. At all times, we want to carry out our work skillfully because incompetence, even in performing simple tasks, can be damaging to us and to others. (Eccl. 10:9) Indeed, by developing the habit of working safely, we can avoid injuries.
The Bible states: “The beauty of young men is their power, and the splendor of old men is their gray-headedness.” (Prov. 20:29) Youthful power is needed to get heavy jobs done. But gray-headed workers—those seasoned in the construction trades—do detailed finish work with their hands and tools. And at one time, those who are now older used the energy of their youth to accomplish heavy work. If you are a new volunteer, watch the way that the experienced workers do their work, and follow their instructions. If you want to learn, brothers who are experienced in construction will teach you many things. These include the safe way to handle hazardous materials and lift heavy loads. Thus you will work productively, safely, and happily.
Workers on a construction site must always be alert. Conditions change quickly. Where there was once solid ground, there may now be a hole. Others on the crew may have shifted a ladder, a plank, or a bucket of paint. If you are distracted, you could easily get injured. Safety regulations usually require that workers on a site use personal protective equipment. Safety glasses, a hard hat, and appropriate shoes can protect you from many dangers on a construction site. But you are protected only if you keep such equipment in good condition and wear it.
Although many tools appear simple to use, handling them safely and skillfully requires training and practice. If you do not have experience with a tool you need, tell the brother in charge. He will arrange for you to get proper training. Modesty, or knowing your limitations, is a desirable quality. In fact, it is a requirement if you are to avoid injuring yourself and others at the construction site.—Prov. 11:2.
Falls are a major cause of injuries on construction jobs. Before climbing ladders or stepping on scaffolding, be sure that the equipment has all the safety features installed and is in good condition. If you are to work on scaffolding or on a roof, guidelines may require that you wear a safety harness or that guardrails are installed. Ask the work overseer if you have questions about working on high locations.*
As the number of those who serve Jehovah increases worldwide, so does the need for constructing Kingdom Halls and other facilities that are used to promote true worship. Those who oversee the work at Kingdom Hall construction sites and similar projects are charged with protecting Jehovah’s precious sheep who are working under their direction. (Isa. 32:1, 2) If you are privileged to direct your brothers and sisters on a building project, never forget the importance of safety. Make sure that the site is clean and uncluttered. Kindly but firmly mention safety points to those needing reminders. Do not allow young or untested workers to enter high-risk areas. Foresee the hazards that a work crew will face, and prepare them to work safely. Remember, our goal is to finish the project without injuries.
The Role of Love
Constructing Kingdom Halls and other buildings used in true worship involves work that is potentially dangerous. Therefore, those who participate in such projects must be careful. By respecting Bible principles, obeying the guidelines laid down for the work, and using good judgment, you will avoid danger and will protect your fellow workers from harm as well.
What is the principal motive behind our high regard for safety? It is love. Yes, love for Jehovah moves us to treasure life, as he does. And love for people keeps us from carelessly doing anything that could harm them. (Matt. 22:37-39) Therefore, let us do our utmost to keep those on our building projects “safe and sound.”
See the box “How to Work Safely on Ladders,” on page 30.
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How to Work Safely on Ladders
In a recent year in the United States, over 160,000 workers were injured in falls from ladders. In addition, some 150 died from such falls. Wherever you live and work, here are some guidelines that can help you avoid falling from a ladder.
◇ Do not use a ladder that is rickety or damaged, and do not repair such a ladder. Have it destroyed.
◇ All ladders have a load capacity. Make sure that your weight plus that of your tools and materials does not exceed the limit of the ladder you are to use.
◇ Place your ladder on a level, solid surface. Do not set it on an unstable base, such as a staging platform or on top of buckets and boxes.
◇ Always face the ladder when ascending or descending.
◇ Do not stand or sit on the top two rungs of any ladder.
◇ When a ladder is used to get on or off a roof or landing, the side rails of the ladder should extend at least three feet [1 m] above the roof or landing on which it rests. Prevent the feet of the ladder from slipping by tying them down or nailing a plank in front of them. If you cannot secure the ladder in those ways, have someone hold it in place while you are working on it. Tie the top of the ladder securely to keep it from slipping sideways.
◇ Do not use ladder rungs as supports for a work platform made of planks.
◇ When you extend your arms and legs while working up high, you may make the ladder unstable. Avoid such dangerous overreaching. Move the ladder as often as necessary to keep it close to your work.
◇ If you must work on a ladder that is in front of a closed door, place a warning sign on the door and lock it. If locking the door is not possible, post a guard to warn those who need to pass.
◇ Allow only one person on a ladder unless it is designed to handle two workers.*
A checklist with additional reminders for working on ladders can be found in the August 8, 1999, issue of Awake!, pages 22-24.
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The Law of Moses required that flat roofs be rimmed by a parapet