Aragon Valley Classic: “zoqueta”, the traditional agriculture´s most symbolic personal protective equipment

This post is also available in: Aragonese, Spanish

Zoqueta“ is the name given in my country to a wedge shaped hollow piece of carved wood, so that four fingers of one hand fit inside. In the past, it was used by farmers as a sickle´s accessory to cut grass manually: the grass was hold with the hand protected by the zoqueta, while the grass was cut with the other hand by means of the sickle.

If you grew up or are in contact with rural life, maybe you will have seen it before. It is all about a traditional agriculture´s symbol.

To be honest, I´ve never seen how it works in practice since heavy harvesting machinery was established in my land several decades ago, but yesterday morning my uncle Ernesto made me a demonstration of its ancient use:

IMG_1362   IMG_1360

Despite it is largely predated to the current European regulations on safety, to the manufacturing and materials durability standards, the zoqueta is a real personal protective equipment:

“[…] personal protective equipment shall mean all equipment designed to be worn or held by the worker to protect him against one or more hazards likely to endanger his safety and health at work, and any addition or accessory designed to meet this objective […]” [1]

Article 2.1 of the Directive 89/656/EEC

The case of the zoqueta brings to mind some other as trendy as the environment or the sustainability, where our own grandparents may give us some lessons. For them, thinks like rational use of resources, energy efficiency and saving, effective efforts, materials reuse and renovation were anything but innovative development models, nor communication campaigns, nor conformity certifications or manufacturing standards. It was just the way of life needed to move forward.

In the case of the zoqueta, it was all about survival instinct and pure ingenuity.

References: [1] EUR-Lex. Directive 89/656/EEC of 30 November 1989 on the minimum health and safety requirements for the use by workers of personal protective equipment at the workplace, article 2.1. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31989L0656:EN:HTML. Consulted 20.08.2014.

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