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Coney Christmas

I'm not much into Christmas but I did give one very important gift — the gift of safety.

The proliferation of safety cones at work has become something of a running joke among a few of my co-workers. There's virtually always some kind of maintenance or construction happening where we work, so we see a lot of safety cones to illuminate hazards or to … okay, sometimes we can't tell why they're there. And that's why they're funny. Sometimes they look like they're simply warning about the existence of another nearby cone.

Our favorite example of cone use is once when during a heavy storm some water had leaked in underneath an emergency exit door at the bottom of a stairwell. This water was not mopped up. Instead, a cone was placed near the water and the water allowed to evaporate. I think it was weeks before the cone was finally removed.

Any casual observer can see that cones make dangerous situations safe. The water is no longer a slip hazard because the cone is there, neutralizing the danger.

In this spirit I purchased a set of authentic but desktop-sized safety cones for several co-workers:

6-inch safety cone

These cones were manufactured by the Allsafe Services & Materials Company, who offer a whole series of cones in this style, from 6" (what I purchased) to 36" for those times when observability really matters. They also make several other styles of cones. I purchased them from Fastenal which, interestingly, has a storefront within walking distance of the campus where I work.

I thought about getting a "supercone" (a collapsible cone with a blinking light on top) instead, but it would be too easily mistaken for a misplaced cone and redeployed where we'd never see it again. Given the frequency of cone retrieval this probably would've have been a huge risk, but I'd rather be safe.

I briefly came into work on one of my days off, wearing a Santa hat, to distribute the cones. Loren immediately thought of the perfect thing to do with his:

I placed the safety cone on top of my DTO. All normal rules of safety are self-contradictory at this point:

  1. The cone surely weighs more than 8oz, so it is unsafe to place on the DTO.
  2. The safety cone is defined as being safe. If anyone is injured by a falling cone, I'm sure it's their fault.

I believe there is no logical resolution to this safety conundrum. I expect to find a safety monitor weeping in the fetal position on the floor of my cubicle before long.

I don't worry about the fate of the safety monitors. I worry more about how we'll prevent this from happening.

Interestingly, the process to create these cones appears to be very manual. Each had differences in the thickness of their base, how they were trimmed, and how the hole on top (for storage on a rod) was cut.

SarbOx alert: When I went to pick up my cones after they were delivered to the Fastenal outlet, I had to sign the shipping receipt. Surprised that I'd have to sign a shipping receipt for something shipped to the store (not to me), I asked why that was necessary. The guy behind the counter sounded annoyed as he told me it was for Sarbanes-Oxley compliance.

Sarbanes-Oxley: Making Christmas a little less merry.

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