Welcome back. Yep, unfortunately there are still companies behaving badly out there.
It’s not an easy or a glamorous job being a production/warehouse supervisor but it is interesting and challenging. You are the filter between the company brain trust (upper management) and the employees as you move and match their abilities in order to achieve the corporate daily and long term goals. Somehow you make it all work, on top of the production reports, the maintenance reports, exception reports, attendance reports, safety meetings, training, coaching and troubleshooting issues each and every shift. Some days are much worse than others but when you’re this tied up sometimes you just find it convenient to overlook safety rule infractions, “this time only”, you tell yourself. After all, when you let safety rules slide because you want to be a nice guy or you’re too tired to deal with it, who am I really hurting?
You’re hurting your credibility an letting down the team. Once you begin that path of justifying ignoring minor safety rules, you find it becomes easier and easier to make excuses and before you know it safety is on the back burner. You’re now seen as wishy washy by your staff as you pick and choose wish rules are not important enough. I have enough to do today without worrying about the horn that doesn’t work on a forklift. You have 10,000 cases to pull this shift and don’t want to deal with the bosses, “WHY ISN’T IT DONE” so you let it slide, this time. Your staff will pick up on this fast, and some will be very disappointed in what they see as YOU letting them down and not caring about their safety. Some will take advantage and not bother doing forklift check lists and drive unsafe forklifts you would have red tagged before. The signs are there as you see workers wearing ear plugs draped around their necks and safety glasses protecting foreheads, while no one bothers with LOTO. Do the few near misses that occur wake you up from your non compliance fog? Or does it take the injury or death of a good worker you know well to bring you back.
It’s a tough job but it all can be done by managing your time which takes practice and self control and learning to be patient. If you can’t get the safety meeting done today because the auger cracked in the screw conveyor, just do it tomorrow but don’t wait much longer then that or it won’t get done. Don’t want to deal with a minor safety infraction right this moment, make a note in your 3×5 pad of who, what, where and mention it to them a day later and not as a reprimand but as a informational observation about safety. There are times you feel like the juggler in the center ring of a grand 3-ring circus but remember, you’re just the ring master for this challenge.
CA jury awards $16M to family of construction worker killed on job site – CBBs (Companies Behaving Badly) don’t believe they have to be compliant and spend money on safety. They see no return on the investment and it cuts into the profits. You may get away with it, for a little while and with the low fines it was worth the risk. However, beginning today the OSHA fines greatly increase and well maybe it’s not so attractive now but the fines may be the least of your problems as juries are getting tired of companies killing their employees and awarding large settlements. In this case they awarded a total of $27 million, of which, 16 million from a construction company. Earlier this year a jury in Texas $54 million to a family for the death of a worker. Is it still worth the risk of non-compliance? Think about this first, many cities and states have increased the criminal prosecutions of company owners over lack of safety especially when it leads to the death of a worker. Several have already resulted in substantial prison time. So why not use that creativity to find ways to keep your workers safe and cut costs in other areas of production. Safety is a great investment and works very well when you involve your workers.
Local plant workers file OSHA complaint – If you really want to involve your workers this means listening to them, which CBB’s don’t do otherwise they are going to go elsewhere with their concerns and you won’t like what happens when they do. Why would you want to call more attention to your business then is necessary? When workers bring a safety concern to your attention, get back to them on what’s going on. These plant workers had serious concerns about safety and I’m willing to bet no one listened to them or intended on doing anything about their safety concerns and that’s why they made the decision to go to OSHA. They probably began with reporting the issue to their immediate supervisor. That’s who you should bring safety issues to first. If you don’t hear back in a reasonable time, if you belong to a union, bring the issue to their attention. If you still don’t get a response continue up the chain of command and ask to speak to the department head or go to Human Resources. If you still hear nothing or nothing has been addressed or you’re still getting BS excuses what taking so long, then you have to decide how important your life is as the above workers did and go to OSHA and file a complaint. Of course this could have all been avoided by listening to your workers in the first place but you’d rather have OSHA come in and go through every nook and cranny of your facility.
Safety gone wild? Safety box cutter called ‘health and safety gone mad’ Taking safety to a new level so future workers can avoid what I went through. My first and by the grace of God, my only industrial accident during my career was with a box cutter. As a teenage stock-boy working in a supermarket I committed the cardinal sin of opening a case of toilet paper by cutting towards me with the box cutter. As I reached the end of the case top my hand slipped and the box cutter sliced across my left thigh. At first I was angry I ruined a new pair of jeans but that concern was soon forgotten as I suddenly could feel warm liquid trickling down my leg. To make it worse, when I couldn’t find our assistant manager who was in charge at the time, he was sleeping it off in the basement which he did often, so I left to go to my doctor. The next day, after getting three stitches and a tetanus shot, I had to endure a rambling lecture on my actions from the assistant manager even though I had received no training on how to properly use the box cutter or how to report an industrial injury. Even with all the new devices out there now, making life safer at work, it still doesn’t replace the importance of training.
Are you ready to take charge and operate your part of the company with your employees safety in mind? Excellent. Remember the life you safe may be your own. Until next time, be safe.