Skip links

Changing Technology – The Personal View

I started full-time work as an engineer in the spring of 1987. A lot has changed since then. My desk set-up at that time was a pad of graph paper for calculations, a Texas Instruments calculator (still on my desk), and a bunch of #3 pencils. There was one phone where four people’s desks met at a corner, and that pattern continued through most of the “drafting room” where we sat. The desks were drafting tables and I was sitting on a high stool. All of that has changed, but that’s not what I want to talk about.

Ordinary protective clothing – personal protective equipment – for field work in 1987 consisted of steel-toed boots, a hard hat, and canvas work gloves. When I went on a scaffold, I wore a belt attached to a safety line by a short “leash” rope. One by one, change has come for the PPE. Nylon gloves are both warmer and less clumsy than the canvas gloves, and safety harnesses with shock-absorbing tethers provide much better emergency support than the old belts.

The picture above shows the next change: we’re replacing hard hats with helmets. The new construction helmets are similar to those worn by people in non-construction settings (climbing, for example). The two biggest changes are (1) that they have a chinstrap integrated with the webbing inside the shell, to keep the helmet in place regardless of the position of your head and (2) they provide protection from impact on the sides, not just on top. They are simply safer. Sometimes a tech improvement is a clear win, and this is a good example.

Eagle-eyed readers might notice that the logo is not the one you’re used to seeing from us. That is a topic that will be discussed in great detail in the near future.