I had one of those humbling moments today at work. One of the shop supervisors had been asking me for a procedure for how to puncture aerosol cans for proper disposal with our can piercing device. I knew we'd had some kind of written directions, but I couldn't find them in the computer system. Then, the safety consultant sent me a picture showing some aerosol cans in a scrap hopper that hadn't been punctured. I was kind of ticked off that the guys in the shop hadn't been puncturing the cans with the can piercer, and decided to head out that way, figure out the process, and then write up a procedure so it would get done correctly.
I headed over to where the scrap hopper was, found a few cans that hadn't been punctured, and hauled them over to the can piercer. I punctured the first couple, then loaded in one can that was about half-full. I pulled down the lever, and nothing happened. I slowly backed off the handle, and suddenly the can flew up, struck the top of the cabinet the waste barrel was in, and bounced around, all while spewing paint everywhere. My arms were covered, my glasses had spatter on them, and the buttons of my shirt were noticeably blue. I'd forgotten to put the covering lid over the end of the can before I punctured it. I pretended nothing had happened, and didn't even look around to see if anybody had noticed. I quickly went to clean up and tried to not let on that I'd been so dumb. After getting the mess under control, I headed back to my cubicle.
Back in the office, I quickly found the can piercing company's website and downloaded the operating instructions. I sent them in an email to the supervisor, along with a message that we needed to get all the cans in the scrap hopper punctured. I was a little sheepish about talking to him, since I still had some paint showing that I couldn't get removed. A couple of hours later, I had to go to the shop, so I stopped in to make sure he knew what needed to be done. He hadn't gotten the email yet, so I explained to him what had to be done. Then I told him I had a story to tell. I explained all about how ticked off I had been, and how the can piercer I thought was self-explanatory had shown me up. He told me that the same thing had happened to him. I guess this is a good example of why safety instructions have to be well-written, even when they seem to be basic common sense.