Welcome back and thank you for stopping by. In most companies, you as an employee are held accountable for your actions at work, whether it’s following safety rules, operational procedures, meeting daily production goals or how you respond to others. You understand that repeatedly violating those “rules”, will be documented by your employer until enough is enough and you are terminated from the company. However, when an organization doesn’t bother to follow the rules and is poorly run to the point where it puts employees and customers in danger, why isn’t the leadership held as accountable? The corporation is the one who pays the fines not the individuals.
So what do you do if you have the misfortune to work for one of those companies that behave badly like Dollar Stores or the US Postal Service, (both have been in the news a lot this year for doing everything possible to try and kill their workers)? As I see it, you have three choices. You can quit and find another job some where else, but that’s always easier said then done and the grass isn’t always greener. You can make an anonymous call to the OSHA Hotline, 1-800-321-6742 and report it however it may close the plant for awhile during the investigation. Or you can stay, take your chances, and possibly die on the job. In that case, also make sure your life insurance is paid up. I would usually say, go to your union representative but the union at the US Postal Service has become deaf, dumb and blind and have continued to allow their rank and file to be exposed to hazards on a daily bases while they try and do their jobs.
If you do stay and try to become part of the solution even though there is no union to go to, I wish you all the best. It’ll be tough, long road especially if no one in management cares and Human Resources gives only lip service. Expect to be harassed, threatened and abused verbally. Document everything, dates, times, situations, safety issues, results, complaints, anything pertinent. Try to get as many other workers involved as possible so you can also watch each others back. Stay strong. You’ll know when the time is right to go to the local newspaper, local radio and lawyers to help you obtain that safe workplace you deserve. Never keep quiet about safety.
When I read that a US Postal facility didn’t have working fire extinguishers, Investigating grease fire at maintenance facility, OSHA finds US Postal facility failed to maintain working fire extinguisher I wondered is this management neglect or stupidity? No one in management there had the brains to check that in a maintenance area, if the fire extinguishers worked? Sounds to me, the individual responsible for the facility is not capable of doing their job and has no problem putting employees in danger. So you know, you should have your fire extinguishers checked annually and there are plenty of reliable companies out there that can do this and recharge them as needed. At home you should check your fire extinguishers along with changing your smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries with the time change on November 6th. Don’t think for one minute that the USPS doesn’t have the money to take care of their extinguishers as they have become a cash cow for many companies feeding off their carcass. Last year the USPS paid Federal Express over a billion dollars to fly their mail as well as giving lucrative contracts of hundreds of thousands of dollars to consultants and advisors which doesn’t appear to be working at all as poor service and incompetence continues to rule not to mention the poor safety conditions like un-usable fire extinguishers, forklifts being used that are in need of repair and unsafe, blocking emergency exits and evacuation routes. Someone is being taken for a ride and it’s USPS.
Another corporation that has repeatedly demonstrated its lack of concern for it’s employees is Dollar General stores, Dollar General in trouble with OSHA, faces $156,772 for safety issues at Ohio store. All most monthly, another Dollar store is found to be full of hazards like blocked exits, blocked electrical panels, improper storage of chemicals and little if any training. The brain trust at Dollar could have easily ended this problem by communicating to store managers the importance of safety policies and procedures and then follow up with a surprise inspections and terminate a few managers but an executive at Dollar must have figured out that it is cheaper to just pay the fines, if and when found, then to spend the money to train and inform all the store managers on proper safety procedures. This is not a company to begin your career as working here may soon end your life. It’ll be interesting to see all the finger pointing that’ll occur if an employee or customer is killed due to the companies neglect.
Then there are the few construction companies that believe men can fly. You know the repeat offenders who keep putting workers at risk, working at great heights without any fall protection and the industry wonders why they can’t find workers. Roofer’s first-day injury costs FL contractor $152K OSHA fine. This contractor tried to kill someone on their first day on the job!! Without any training or fall protection gear, a worker was carrying a sheet of plywood that became a sail when it caught a gust of wind and sent him over the edge, falling 14 feet only to be broken by a fence that he became partially impaled on. What a nice first day. Falls continues to be the number ONE problem in the industry and folks, I’m here to tell you it’s also the easiest problem to fix. As a worker, just say NO if you are not given proper fall protection gear when working on a roof or over 6 feet off the ground. If enough say no, the practice of putting people in danger will end.
Then there are the politicians. Senate delayed train safety rule days before Hoboken accident. The people we vote for and put into office hoping they have our best interest at heart and not their own and yet delay safety features that could save lives. There is no excuse for not having the latest in technology available in use. However, we have allowed our infrastructure to deteriorate to the point where on the road, on a bridge or on a train you can actually be taking your life in your hands. It’s time someone stands up and says, we need to fix it now, because there may be no more tomorrows.
Workplace safety is a team effort that begins at the top and works all the way down to the shop floor. Even if your company doesn’t take safety seriously, you can always control what happens in your little part of the world. Google workplace safety and read as much as you can on your industry. Read blogs like this on safety and learn all you can. Go to the OSHA.gov website. Talk to your fellow workers and begin a safety committee and make all the noise about it you can. Never keep quiet about safety, since the life you save may be your own.