We’re continuing on the theme from last month of “boys will be boys”, and yet trying not to beat a dead horse. When it comes to the thought process of “boys being boys” there happens to be one major fatal flaw and that is the ability to justify all of their actions. It takes a strong willed, determined, stubborn man to be able to ignore all his instincts and training just too save a few minutes in his life like it’s some kind of symbolic victory even though it can just as well be the last few minutes of his life. The Stream of Conscienceness – By the time I get to the power box to LOTO the packaging machine and then back to clear the jam and back to the power box, OMG, that could take 15 – 25 minutes! Or another scenario, by the time I have properly anchored the lanyard to my harness so I won’t fall it’ll take 15 – 20 minutes out of my day!
The JUSTIFICATION – It’s not a bad jam, I bet I can clear it in between the bag fills, no problem or I can just quickly walk out and grab that sheet of plywood in seconds and be done. TRAINING – becomes irrelevant, COMMON SENSE – Over-road by the adrenalin boost from the thrill of saving 15 minutes. But, but your training!, the little voice insists. The good news is that 80% of you will avoid this process and go with your instincts and training and do a proper L.O.T.O. or properly anchor your safety lines and wear your harness. The rest of you will put your fellow workers in the position of scrambling to find YOUR fingers so they can place them on ice for the ride to the E.R. or watch you get zipped into a body bag. Aren’t your fellow workers lucky to be exposed to that trauma thanks to you and why accidents continue to be the number 3 killer of men or boys being boys? (80/20 rule – This is according to the Pareto Principle by Vilfredo Pareto a man of many talents who discovered the 80/20 rule. His birthday is coming, July 15)
As if that wasn’t enough, you also have to be aware of the deadly combination of the ability of “justification” with “the boss isn’t here”, which is a toxic and lethal mixture. It appears that the excitement that young people get from hearing their parents will be leaving them home on their own for an extended period of time just never stops for some. You remember how when mom and dad were gone for the evening or weekend, the house became your laboratory as you tried out all those awesome adult things but for some reason, our boys being boys have been able to transfer that experience to their boss not being around. The combination gives a very intoxicating feeling which is nothing more then an open invitation to doing the stupidest, most immature thing possible with a motorized industrial piece of equipment. Suddenly forklifts become multi-passenger, pallet jacks are midget racers and destruction of life and property never becomes a thought or concern, because the boss isn’t here to see it!
In days of yore when brawn was more important in a warehouse/manufacturing then brains, horseplay was pretty common as screwing around kept everyone loose and laughing during the demanding workday day. Along with the colorful language, graphic humor and crass jokes, scores were settled with a fist and the occasional medicinal nip was to keep your parts well oiled and ease the pain of the brutal working conditions. Just in the last 40 years I’ve watched leadership evolve from verbal berating on the shop floor for all to see to you’re weren’t hired to think, to verbal encouragement, taking input from workers and free thinking. The tendency for supervisors and managers, especially new ones is to be a nice guy and if the boys need to be boys, well who am I to stand in their way, except you allowing it to go on and not saying anything, in their heads condones their actions. You can be a nice guy in so many other ways and that’s when true leadership comes in as it can turn around any challenge your facility may face.
Coming in to help a facility change it’s culture, the worst thing you can do is make immediate changes in a knee jerk reaction. Yes, you’re under pressure from upper management, you’re under pressure from sales, customer service and the customers who want their orders delivered correctly. The added pressure of poor moral and high worker turnover and HR is tired of the constant recruiting and interviews. Remember, these problems didn’t develop over night and you have no idea what the root cause is. Is it their training, the process, the equipment, the recruiting or their supervision? The best way to find out is allow the operation to continue as usual, walk around and engage and listen to the people. Check over their training records and make a list of where the gaps need to be filled. I’ve always started with introducing myself to the staff backed up with doughnuts and coffee and explain to them know my position on workplace safety and that is, because I believe everyone should go home in one piece and then stick to your position treating everyone equally and fairly. Too further back up your commitment to safety begin having a 5 minute daily huddle at the beginning of the shift, a weekly tailgate/toolbox meeting and a monthly safety meeting. Going this route hopefully you should be able to eliminate the term “boys will be boys” in your workplace.
Even so every once in a while a dinosaur pops-up, like this coach who thought the best way to motivate a player was to mock him in front of all. SF school coach in hot water for alleged racially charged mocking. This was a style of management back in the day. A good deal of my High School teachers and coaches were Korean War Vets and when it came to doing what you were told to do, there was zero tolerance if you didn’t. Our electric shop teacher had a paddle he had affectionately named Bertha. He didn’t hesitate to introduce Bertha to your behind if you didn’t follow the rules. We didn’t question it. We knew and understood the consequences if we didn’t do what we were suppose too and punishment whether corporal or otherwise was deemed acceptable. When you’re leading or coaching employees there is no need to call them names or give them degrading nicknames, mock or bully their physical appearance to get the results you want, you’re actually going to build a wall and choke off all communication. The best thing to do is build a bridge by explaining your expectations and what can you do to help them be successful and achieve their goals which should mean success for you and your team.
Have you heard of the skills gap? That thing we created in 2008 when the financial crisis hit and companies kicked all the veteran high paid labor to the door with layoffs and downsizing without any thought to the future. People opted for other career paths and now, we have a skills gap. Well you and your company can take care of that and develop a sustainable supply of talented employees. Employers Have An Important Role To Play In Closing The Skills Gap. With a good training and mentoring program in addition to offering internships to high school and college students, you can develop your own intelligent workforce, greatly increase employee retention and improve safety and productivity.
Even the best leadership at times can get lost in trying to do what they think is the right thing, like some of our board of supervisors in San Francisco. San Francisco officials propose banning contractors that bid on border wall from city work. I’m not going to get into the politics of “the wall”, we all have our opinion but what I don’t like to see is politicians making matters worse for the working person. Maybe if our leaders stopped worrying about punishing who builds “the wall” and concentrated on fixing the infrastructure which is in much NEEDED REPAIR companies would be so busy they wouldn’t need the business of the wall to keep their company and employees working.
Since we’re on the bay area, an update on Oakland. Last month we covered the Ghost ship warehouse fire and the loss of 39 lives. The leadership in Oakland verbalized their fears and concerns over and over about this. As usual, it was talk, talk and more talk and now last week, guess what? Yep we had another fire. It took 2 deadly fires to make Schaaf push hard for inspectors and 4 more precious lives were lost due to being talked to death by the cities leadership. We’ll keep an eye on the body count for you readers as the talk and more talk goes on. By the way, it’s not just the lack of inspectors but the process that needs to be reviewed and improved as problems keep falling through the cracks but that will take leadership to fix so don’t hold your breath.
With the news blackout going on at OSHA, because you know, information is a dangerous thing to have go around, people may begin thinking for themselves there has been on new bright spot. Jordan Barab, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor at OSHA from 2009-2017 has started a blog called “Confined Space”. Follow it!! It’s a great source of what’s going on in workplace safety.
NEVER KEEP QUIET ABOUT SAFETY my friends, for the life you save may be your own.Until next month, be kind to each other and be safe.
Hello Baseball and the NBA playoffs. Great time of year.