SAN FRANCISCO, California – A cafeteria employee cut off one of her own fingers with a butcher’s knife in an “act of desperation” after a co-worker reminded her that 99 days had elapsed since someone had been injured in a workplace accident.
“Whenever we go 100 days without an accident, we ‘celebrate’ by having one of those stupid safety rallies,” said Haruko Anaka, explaining the reason for her drastic action in the employee cafeteria. “I just didn’t think I could make it through another one.”
Anaka said that at the last rally, there was a mannequin, and everyone had to take turns dressing him up in slip-proof galoshes, protective eyewear and rubber gloves.
The time before that, she said, everyone had to watch a taped video on how to use a pair of tongs to handle hot food safely, another video on how to lift heavy items correctly, and then they had to pair up to ask each other safety questions.
“We usually have a cake, too, but it’s always too small for everyone to get a piece,” she said. “Last time, the bakery misspelled ‘safety.'”
“When Sarah asked me if I realized that it had already been 99 days since Richard got his private parts caught in the shrimp splitter, something clicked. I thought, hey, we’re going to have a safety rally tomorrow! It was just too much, thinking about all the balloons, the cardboard stars covered in tinfoil, the cheesy safety clichés on posterboard written in glitter, the managers in silly costumes handing out gift certificates to Walgreens.
“So I told Sarah I wasn’t going to let that happen,” Anaka said. “Not again. No way.”
That’s when she took the butcher’s knife she had been using only moments before to chop vegetables and severed her left index finger, using the countertop as a chopping board.
“I only felt pain for a split second,” Anaka recalled. “It severed the nerve clean through. I wrapped up my hand in a towel and put the finger on ice right away. Before you know it, I was in shock. It was almost euphoric. Not at all like the last safety rally, when I felt like the pain would never end.”
Her employer’s insurer awarded Anaka $55,000 for the workplace accident, and skilled surgeons successfully reattached the severed finger.
They said she should be ready to return to work in about 90 days or so …