Insects and other scavengers were common, but the most common was the household fly. It was the worst of the scavengers. With man came man’s garbage. Garbage provided a feast for many forms of jungle life, especially the flies. I saw a particularly impressive display of jungle life when I inspected an open-top container of soft drinks that had been off-loaded at the port and transported to the mine warehouse. This container had not been received promptly by the warehouse crew. It was left out in the hot sun and high humidity for more than a week. After about ten days exposed to the heat and the humidity, the aluminum soda cans began bursting and were being consumed by “jungle life.” The acidity of coca cola corroded more cans causing them to burst and leak. The sugar in the drinks attracted all types of jungle life. Maggots seemed to thrive on Coke!
It was hard to get the workers to change their black-tire sandals for safety boots. The heat and humidity made safety shoes very uncomfortable to wear even for a short period of time. The workers preferred sandals cut from old tires with leather straps added. The black-tire sandals were actually very comfortable. Everyone wore a hardhat at Sierra Rutile. It provided great protection against the hot sun and shaded the eyes from the sun’s glare. Safety hats were an easy “sell” to the workers.
There was very little management support—it seemed that I was on my own. Reporting to work every day seemed to be 80 percent of the job responsibility, and safety may have been the other 20 percent.
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