Companies Behaving Badly – Toxic Culture



Each and every company has its own unique identity beginning with its name and logo to its style on how it conducts business, its behavior dealing with customers, vendors and especially how their own workers are treated, it’s ethics, it’s morals, it’s CULTURE.  Make no mistake about it, the culture of a company is always determined by the people in control at the very top by what they allow and accept when it comes to enforcing the rules and policy.  If upper management only accepts the commitment to excellence in the execution of daily tasks, meeting goals and maintaining high ethics while caring for the health and wellbeing of their workers, then that’s going to be the culture down to the shop floor.  Productivity is high, accidents are very low, workers enjoy their job and the company makes money.  Those who fail to maintain excellence are retrained, punished and or banished from the kingdom.  

However, if management accepts an unaccountable, below parr, a sloppy, unsafe and dangerous operation that underperforms but excels in finger-pointing and excuses with no solutions but full of contempt then that’s the culture that will prevail right down to the shop floor.  Those who try to maintain a higher standard and a commitment to excellence are branded trouble makers, punished and or banished from the kingdom.  You will see in the stories below that culture does make a difference and that a culture of uncaring a lack of safe conditions, costs more money in the long run and creates unhappy workers and high turnover.  There are also times when a distance is out of sight, out of mind.  A corporation may have a good culture going but in a remote warehouse or distant plant where the leadership is poor or lazy, the message may have gotten lost.  Sometimes all it takes is to hear a new voice with a gentle reminder to get things back on track.  Don’t sit back and watch, become part of the solution and never keep quiet about safety.


Let’s begin with the N.J. transit system.   APNewsBreak: NJ Transit tops list of accidents, safety fines  This has been an accident waiting to happen for the last 5 years.  In an atmosphere of incompetent unaccountable leadership a culture of complacency and benign neglect developed and spread throughout the system.  No one cared in upper management so no one else cared in the system. The second largest commuter railroad has been involved in 157 accidents since 2011 causing more than $6 Million in damages.  A great deal of the accidents were caused by speeding and drug impairment as 33 of the violations from OSHA included drug or alcohol use which is another red flag of a toxic culture and management never saw it or did anything about it.  OSHA has found a total of 183 violations against them and they’ve paid $519,280 in fines.  The problem is the leadership is so bad and their trust level is nil that they need to replace all of management and begin new with training, evaluations, terminations and build new trust to make sure workers and commuters are not taking potential hazards to work.  It is also sad that public tax money is being wasted. 


First we heard about the problems with employee fights and other issues at a Blue Apron facility in Richmond, California and of course they said, oh, we know and we have it under control.  Now it turns out there were very similar if not worse issues in the Blue Apron’s busy New Jersey facility a real fight club  This is a culture that was not prepared at all to hire workers or establish good relationships with temp agencies.  Someone in upper management decided they didn’t care if the workers were properly trained and selected for positions they would be successful in.  They thought just pouring bodies into the job would get it done better and faster and sounds like the supervisors they hired had no clue on leadership.  It didn’t work and blew up in their faces and who knows how many mis-shipped orders went out along with warehouse shrinkage and employee turnover this has been one valuable lesson.  Hope they learned.  When it comes to seasonal hiring or additional hiring for your expanded business you need to take the process seriously.  Give the temp agency job descriptions with as much detail as possible so they have the opportunity to find the workers that fit your needs the best.  Take the time to train them, how, what, where, when and why?  They need information to get the job right and most of all make sure safety is covered in the orientation as well.  

Yes, another US Postal Service story.  This is a totally dysfunctional culture with absolutely no leadership and won’t waste much time on it as many of you know how I feel about this organization.  I really feel for those who must work here.  OSHA Cites US Postal Service After 2 Des Moines Workers Suffer Heat Illness While Delivering the Mail  I’m not going to say anything other then you have to take care of your employees, their safety should come first since they’re the ones who make you look good as a supervisor.


There has been a lot of press lately about how difficult it has been for the construction industry to fill jobs especially the high skilled jobs.  Seems like people are not showing the interest for skilled construction jobs.  Then you read, OSHA’s 10 most common job site violations for construction which has falls as number one and then read Here Are OSHA’s Top 10 Most Cited Violations Of 2016 and falls are again #1.  Hmmm.  Could those be the reasons people are not going into the industry?  Like manufacturing, the construction industry needs to make some serious changes on how it treats people, their training for the job and take a very serious stance for safety on the job and insisting on safety PPE to attract a more diverse group of people to help reduce the labor shortage.  That also means treating women with respect as well as people of different cultural and religious backgrounds.  

Even in a galaxy far far away, it’s still not far enough to escape the long arm of the United Kingdom’s HSE (Health and Safety Executive) who fined the Star Wars production company $2 Million for Harrison Ford’s broken leg suffered on the set. ‘Star Wars’ Production Company Fined for Harrison Ford Accident  Glad to see the British government protecting Han Solo.


What’s going on in the great state of Illinois?  Workplace Deaths Increase 28 Percent Since 2013.  In 2016 alone, 36 people have died in industrial accidents and the year still has two and a half months.  Complacency is part of the problem.  Things go so well you let your guard down and then, IT happens.  It’s the end of a shift, you’re tired and in a rush to go home.  Your mind is not focused, you don’t notice the puddle of oil and you slip and fall. You think LOTO may take to long and you want to, just get this done so you do and now you’re sitting in pain in the ER with 2 of your fingers in a bag of ice as you still can’t believe how fast that happened.  You get the point.  Safety is always on.  It never takes a sick or vacation day.  It never relaxes in the break room or has a coffee and it never shows up late but it does work OT and you always want it to be there.  When workplace safety begins to get out of adjustment at work, the safety tailgate meetings stop, PPE is not always worn and people stop reporting hazards or following procedure it’s time for YOU to help get it all back on track.  You are part of the solution and you should ask for your safety meetings, insist on PPE and never keep quiet about safety.  Sometimes it just takes a friendly reminder to get even the best program back on track.

Until next month, stay safe my friends.



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