Welcome back. I know I’m harping on drills and training this month but I truly believe there is nothing more critical in any industry, then training. It helps to improve employees skills, keeps them current with new trends, increases their self confidence and the added bonus of improving employee retention. It’s also a great opportunity to share information between management and employees and visa versa. As important as that is, it’s even more essential to train, drill, or practice on how to deal with an emergency and not just on how employees are to respond but that they know how to properly wear the equipment needed to be used during an emergency but that it is also fully operational as well as any backup systems.
Emergencies are a funny thing. They occur when they want too, not when it’s convenient for you and that’s why all shifts need to be trained, especially how to respond during those odd hours when most management and maintenance staff are home. When an emergency happens every second is critical in responding and can be the difference between death or survival and that makes drills important so everyone knows what to do. One of the best ways to do a drill is to make it part of one of your monthly safety meetings and plan it during your yearly slow period. Go the whole nine yards including putting on hazmat suits, using respirators and operating the pumps or vent fans. Do it all and make sure it all works. Make notes on who/what goes right and who/what goes wrong. Ask for your employees feedback on the drill, what do they think can be improved. Make changes as needed, make sure the procedures are in writing and everyone has signed off on the training. I held drills every six months for several reasons. First to keep everyone on their toes, second improve the teams response time and last but not least, purposely swapped out staff at different key responder positions since disasters also don’t know who’s on vacation or new.
Unfortunately, in this day and age, the reality is in addition to training and drilling for liquid spills, gas leaks or other mechanical issues you also need to have a plan to deal with an active shooter. It’s not a great topic or something I ever had to deal with but again you need a way to alert workers to shelter and place until law enforcement arrives. You never know if a disgruntled employee or a jilted lover will show up to settle the score. When you begin a new job, your first job, next job, internship or seasonal work for any company and you do not recieve any formal training and materials explaining on what to do in an emergency, you need to find another job cause this company cares nothing about you and that’s the last place you want to die.
Sorry, no update on the OSHA numbers. They have been slow posting new info and I’m sure between the new reporting requirements, electronic reporting and budget cuts one can understand. Don’t like it, but I understand.×
•New trend – There was a time when people actually took responsibility for their actions. Lately, it seems to be a game of “how can I get out of this and not look like a jerk.” Yes folks, say so-long to the days of apologies and repentance through slick television ads as slimy owners are now threatening to close their businesses rather then pay the fines. It’s happened in the UK –Factory boss escapes £250,000 fine over worker who was crushed to death in forklift accident – after claiming he can’t afford it because of BREXIT and here in the US – Behr sentenced to probation, $350K restitution in South Beloit plant worker’s death. Behr went so far as to kill a worker due to their lack of safety concerns and is now worried about going bankrupt. I don’t understand what they’re complaining about, they’re luck they’re not up on manslaughter charges and facing jail time. So, if you guys have to shut down, oh well, someone’s life has just been saved. Watch out if you have to work for companies like this. They only care about profits and all you are in collateral damage.×
•It has never been recommended to make modifications to any piece of equipment without first checking with the manufacturer as they know what their machine can do better than you do. Yet, there still remain many dreamers out there who believe any machine can be made to do what ever it is you want it to do as they did in Denver. Company Cited After Granite Slabs Crush Denver Warehouse Worker. They altered the counter balance and tweaked a few things and all it resulted in was someones death. Yes, there will always be someone there to reassure you that it’s fine to use it like that. We do it all the time, no ones gotten hurt yet but then you notice, that person never gets on that machine. Why? Because they got you to do it. The best way to modify equipment is go directly to the manufacturer, tell them what you need and work with them. Be sure to train your workers on the modifications made. If the manufacturer tells you it can’t be done, trust me, it can’t be done. There are always other solutions to problems, be open minded and listen. Don’t put unnecessary risks on your employees.×
•A Bad Practice that for whatever reason just seems not to want to go away is raising employees on a wooden pallet with a forklift. When I first began working in warehouses it was pretty much routine and I must admit, did have one close call and the fall would have left me seriously injured if not killed. The worker in this story, wasn’t as lucky, OSHA Fines Food Manufacturer $107K after Worker Dies. The problem is, it is to easy to do. In fact our manager held a safety meeting on using the baskets only to go up with a forklift and how to properly tether ones self. Not five minutes after the meeting ended he grabbed a staff member and forklift driver, told him to get on a pallet and check on a item. The employee looked stunned by the order and froze for a moment, then finally spoke and said, are you messing with me? You just told us not too! It took vigilance and lots of time on the floor but we finally broke the habit. At first we kept the baskets in a back area but found workers used that as an excuse to use pallets, they could never find them. So we moved them right outside the office area, near the racking. It helped a great deal. You can refuse to go up on a pallet in this manner, it is clearly an unsafe act and not worth the chance.×
•Then there are companies like this – OSHA fines Sunfield $3.4 million for safety violations. Yes, you read that right. $3.4 million dollar fine for 118 citations. 46 of which were egregious willful. Talk about trying to be number one and not caring anything about your workers×
You are just as much a part of safety at the workplace as your employer. Never keep quiet about safety. If you see something wrong, speak up. If no one at work listens to you or tries to bully you into putting yourself in danger, do what others have done and make a call to the OSHA HOTLINE – 1-800-321-6742. The life you save may be your own. Until next month, stay safe.