Welcome back to our July 1st issue. I think we can all agree that there is nothing positive about a bully. They’re difficult, annoying and disruptive. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors as well as male or female. You can find them in the schoolyard, the playground, in politics, across the street and even at work. Yes, even at work and that’s the bully we’re concerned about here, more specifically the bully known as unsafe bully. The unsafe bully at work is not easy to identify at first, as their approach is usually subtle however they can be your boss, your manager or a peer. Like using cheese as bait to catch a mouse you can find the unsafe bully by using L.O.T.O. at your next machine maintenance. They’ll pop in and explain that to keep production numbers up, it’s fine to cut a few corners. “Yep, that ‘s how we do things here.” Then after that time you insist on wearing your fall protection gear following safety protocol the unsafe bully will tell you, a real man doesn’t need to wear that. Finally one day, after you’ve called maintenance to repair a safety stop sensor and stopped production while waiting because you don’t want to bypass it, you’re told, “you are not a team player.” How can we trust you, trouble maker, you’re not making your numbers, why is production down?
Because you want to take the time to do it the correct and approved way this absolutely bothers the unsafe bully. It’s easy to say sticks and stones, but when the bully is a supervisor or manager, they can make your life a real hell by them constantly threatening loss of your job. Unfortunately that’s what happens in some places and because the family can’t survive if you lose that job, you give in to the bully. You see cutting corners isn’t so bad after all. Your numbers are up, the boss invited you for a beer after work, sure you’ve had a few close calls, but those were teaching moments. You’re feeling pretty good about yourself about now, comfortable, letting your guard down just a little, when you forgot you had disabled the safety stop when you backed into the conveyor and watch in horror as your arm is ripped out of it’s socket. You feel nothing at first as your body is in shock and then your life flashes as you begin to fade from the loss of blood. I was able to cut corners a hundred times before, if I had only….
If you find yourself in this scenario I always recommend that if you belong to a union, first speak to your representative about your safety concerns. If they don’t get back to you or no union, speak to your H.R. person. If you are being placed by a temporary employment agency, bring your safety concerns to them immediately. If no one is listening and you feel you are being pushed to work in an unsafe manner, call the OSHA Hotline at 1 – 800 – 321 – 6742 and make an anonymous complaint. The life you safe may be your own. One other sobering thought. As of May 14th, 2016, 648 fellow human beings have died this fiscal year in industrial accidents. That’s 2.85 a day! I wonder how many were cutting corners because they were told it’s the way we do things here?×
•Theresa Ely understands what’s it’s like to be labeled a troublemaker at work. She had complained about asbestos exposure to her employer, Dearborn Heights School District No. 7. Like other ignorant businesses they ignored her and punished her for not keeping quiet about safety, by denying her a raise in pay, drastically increased her workload and numerous reprimands. She stayed firm and has prevailed as OSHA vindicated her complaints. Read the whole story.
Many times in your life you will hit a crossroad and you have to look deep inside and decide which path to take. Do you do it the correct way or do I do it the wrong way? As the song for the old Baretta television show said, “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time” which is a good motto but I would also say, are you prepared to suffer the consequences for your actions?×
•If you don’t feel safe at work you are not alone. According to a recent report by the National Safety Council, (read more here) 33% of employees surveyed believe safety takes a backseat to productivity at their companies. When you break the numbers down it gets worse for the construction industry as 69% feel that way!! When you read on a almost daily basis of workers falling you have to believe perception is real and too many companies still cut corners to save a few bucks and the worker trying to feed and house his family is caught in the middle and usually pays the price with their life. Insist on the PPE required to do your job safely.×
It’s difficult to recruit workers into the manufacturing, construction and warehousing industries when we keep maiming and killing young workers. Even with training, the lack of finesse and experience on their part puts them in more danger on the shop floor and a good mentor program will help greatly reduce those dangers. The youthful exuberance is great but their quick reaction to “do something” can get them killed when they don’t fully understand what they’re dealing with. Here’s an example Read the whole story, of a young worker, dealing with a jam, no response from maintenance so she took matters into her own hands, trying to do the right thing and she died. Please, if you don’t know what you are dealing with, please wait. Document your down time, twiddle your thumbs, have a toolbox safety meeting, while waiting for maintenance to get to your machine.
I really don’t know why grasping the concept of Lock Out Tag Out is so hard for companies to get other then being blinded by greed. Here are three other recent incidents of where using LOTO would have saved people from pain and suffering at Wegmans Central Bakeshop , Soundwich Inc. and Dynegy Baldwin Energy . What’s even more troubling is the first two companies are also REPEAT violators of not using LOTO as in one case a worker suffered broken bones, the other had a finger surgically amputated and the third lost 4 fingers. Machines are inanimate objects. Even if we give them nick names and beg them just to finish working without a problem on your shift, they have no central nervous system, no limbs or digits to operate and no brain for thought yet they seem to keep winning the battle when we don’t use LOTO ×
•Worth repeating – is’t HOT. Make sure your workers are staying hydrated and properly dressed to protect them from the sun. Know the signs of Heat Exhaustion.
Keep the discussion on safety on going, at tailgate/toolbox meetings, monthly safety meetings and safety committee activity. Safety does not work without YOU.