Welcome to the latest issue of Companies Behaving Badly. Let’s begin with a question. Which of your 5 senses are you willing to lose? Tough choice isn’t it? What about sight? Would you miss looking at your family, a rose or a sunset? Not for you, then how about hearing? Life would be very quiet if you lost that sense. Hopefully you answered none of them, however if you refuse to wear or don’t know to wear your PPE at work there is always the possibility of losing something you’ve become very accustomed too. PPE is – Personal Protection Equipment.
If you work in a area where there is a lot of dust, dirt, ash and other debris is created by machinery and in the air you should be given SAFETY GOOGLES to wear. That is your PPE that protects your eyes and vision. They are not forehead protectors or look really cool on top of your head, they are made to protect your eyes only. You should not ever be charged by the company for a pair of safety googles. To help get more people to wear their goggles, good companies work with the employees on the styles they purchase, which have become more fashionable the last few years. If you wear prescription eyeglasses you can have a pair made with shields to the specs needed to protect your eyes. Some companies help pay for part or all of the expense. You should check the company policy before making any purchases.
Exposure to loud noise over a period of time will damage your hearing. If you work in an environment where machinery and the processes create a lot of noise you should at least be wearing EAR PLUGS and if working for long periods of time in high decibel areas you should use EAR MUFFS. Again, ear plugs and muffs are the PPE to protect your hearing and you should never have to pay for this PPE either.
The bottom line on PPE is, whether goggles, ear plugs, gloves, dust masks or hazmat suits, wear it. Protect your valuable five senses.×
•Well our good friends at the U.S. Postal Service were in the news again. You can read it here. OSHA delivers package of citations to Virginia post office The USPS management continues to stride at setting the bar lower with poor leadership in action and the only agency that makes TSA look like a top notch competent organization. OSHA was originally called in to the Virginia Processing and Distribution center when employees filed a complaint. For employees to finally get to the point where they feel the need to call OSHA means that no one in management has listened to them and when management doesn’t listen it means they don’t care about their employees. OSHA found 4 REPEAT violations at the facility, directed by lazy leadership. To lazy to enforce the rules and just looked the other way as long as the job got done. To lazy to have the equipment properly serviced and to lazy to make sure employees records on certification were current if at all. When I’ve been asked what to do when faced with issues like this I usually tell employees to see their union rep or HR person and report it when management doesn’t respond. What a double whammy here, not only does management not care about your working conditions but neither does your union. Where is their union is all this? OSHA found the following conditions that lead to the violations:
– Allowed employees to operate equipment even though it had not been inspected or examined for defects after each shift
– Permitted employees to operate powered industrial vehicles without use of a seatbelt
– Allowed employees to operate fork trucks in aisles clearly marked for wheeled mail carts, exposing workers to struck-by or caught-between hazards
– Failed to provide employees with training to ensure they were competent to operate the equipment; andLet employees improperly tow wheeled carts using powered pallet jacks.
A competent supervisor would make sure that forklifts and other industrial motorized equipment are inspected and a checklist completed and signed at the beginning of each shift. Any safety issues should be noted on the checklist so repairs can be made as soon as possible. I highly recommend using only licensed technicians. You should also have a procedure in place to red tag vehicles that are not safe to be used and this will ensure they are not used. Yes, it sucks when you’re down equipment and have a job to do, I know, I’ve been there, you as a supervisor just need to be more creative. Once you start making excuses to use unsafe equipment that first time, will it ever stop? Oh yea, it will, when someone gets killed. Don’t drive anything you haven’t been certified on by your current employer even if you have previously been certified at another company. You need to know their rules of the road. Yes, I know some smart asses that have gotten away with driving a forklift without certification and may have hit something but no one saw them but if they were to have an accident and injured or killed themselves or a pedestrian, do you think the company is going to cover their ass? No they’re not, because their lawyers are going to throw them under the bus. In almost an instant, everything you worked so very hard for, the house, the vacation fund, your vehicles, your retirement plans, poof, all gone.
I also can’t stress enough the importance of wearing your seatbelt while operating your forklift. It helps keep you within the cage and safe. Just ask this guy, he’ll tell you that as well.
•LOTO, Lock Out Tag Out is a critical aspect of workplace safety. As seen in this article OSHA Finds Safety Failures Allowed Machine to Sever 30-Year-Old Worker’s 3 Fingertips at Nature’s Path Subsidiary in Wisconsin not doing LOTO can cost you a body part or your life. Would you stick your hand into an alligators open mouth to retrieve a golf ball? Would you stick a butter knife into a plugged in toaster? So why would you stick your hand into a piece of machinery not knowing if someone will accidentally turn it back on. You are not faster then the machine no matter how much you think you have the timing down. So when you need to make adjustments, clear jams, do maintenance, get up, turn off the power to the machine, put your lock on it so only YOU can turn the power back on. Make sure to release all energy, bleeding air pressure, hydraulics etc. Your lock should have a tag with your name on it. Don’t let anyone intimidate you into not doing LOTO. Don’t fall for the “you’re not being a team player” speech. You’re being a safe player. The agency also found Nature’s Path USA II failed to:
- Develop confined space entry procedures to issue permits, test atmospheric conditions, monitor and train workers.
- Power down or lockout equipment to prevent unintentional operation.
- Conduct periodic inspections of energy-control procedures.
- Develop procedures to summon rescue and emergency services and train workers on bloodborne pathogen exposure procedures.
- Install adequate machine guarding.
- Correct electrical safety violations.
- Train workers about chemical hazards used in the workplace.
- Provide information on noise limits and provide proper fitting of, and ensure use of hearing protection.
Machinery now a days is also produced with safety in mind. They have guards in areas where body parts can meet moving parts to prevent amputations and other serious injuries. Older machinery that was built before current safety standards, must be retro fitted with guards to protect you from moving parts. If guards are missing from a machine do not operate it. If you are told the guards are in maintenance for repair and will be back soon, still do not operate the machine. I’ve had incidents where maintenance had removed machinery guards for various reasons and forgot to replace them at shift end. I did not allow the machine to operate. It was swing shift and no big bosses around so I called the head of maintenance at home to informed him a line was down due and why. Three hours later we were up and running. If I had allowed it to operate and one of my staff was injured by the moving chains I would not have been able to live with the guilt. ×
•One of the first lessons I give to new employees and one of the easiest to do is how to evacuate the facility in the event of an emergency. We cover what each series of horn blasts indicate, where the emergency evacuation route is and location of the assembly area so everyone can be accounted for. Along with this information they are also reminded that under no circumstances are they to block the emergency route or any emergency exits. If they find this to be the case they have been deputized and permission to move and clear the area as need be and then report it immediately to their supervisor. Apparently some businesses don’t understand the concept and even lock exit doors which is a big NO-NO.
Warehouse’s locked exit route could cost it again, OSHA says This warehouse locked exit doors If security or product theft is a concern by management, they have other options to deal with that and locking exit doors is not an option. Don’t keep quiet about it if you find that to be the case. OSHA: Pier 1 Imports store in Glendale faces $101K in fines for hazards This store’s management team obviously doesn’t care what’s going on in their facility or bother to do any training. They’re putting employees at risk especially if there was an emergency. ×
•Are you ready for HazCom? No, it’s not a comic book convention but short for Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) and it’s all going live, TODAY! That’s correct, if you haven’t completed training by today, you are NOT compliant and may be subject to some big fines. Get it done! Don’t think it applies to you? You’d be surprised. Need help? Go to the OSHA website for more information or if you’re in the local bay area contact us. Warehouseflow.com ×
•The sad truth is, Construction companies represent 60% of OSHA’s Severe Violators program. What can be done? One thing is Never Being Quiet about Safety. Read the article. Companies with a poor safety record should not be allowed to bid for city, county, state or federal jobs and have their licenses suspended.×
•Warmer weather is upon us and a great time to remind your workers, especially those that operate outdoors, to stay hydrated, wear protective clothing and know the warning signs of heat exhaustion. ×
Always keep an open dialogue on safety between you and your staff and you and upper management. Don’t treat safety as a dirty word. After all accidents can hurt production, kill moral and destroy the bottom line. Don’t throw people onto the floor without proper training or use equipment in need of repair. It’s your domain, rule it. As of April 23rd. (the latest numbers available from OSHA), 566 people have died in industrial accidents for fy 2016.