Companies Behaving Badly-Delusion


Welcome back for another episode of Companies Behaving Badly and the dog days of summer.

I must tell you all, I’m confused and maybe getting delusional.  It began with my very first job at 14 years old, working for my uncle who had a store in a Bronx neighborhood that sold curtains, drapes, linen, bedding, bathroom items and so on.  Until I started working for him, I had only dealt with my uncle at family gatherings, weddings, bar mitzvahs, funerals and holidays and he was a really cool and kind gentleman who never raised his voice.  However, the man I saw at work was not my uncle as he transformed into a loud, barking first Sargent and I’d cringe when he’d yell at a employee for making a mistake.  He freely used words that I had only recently learned in the school yard, they weren’t like your usual motivational words of today, but they were back then.  Nobody cared about your feelings, men didn’t cry, it was about just getting the job done right, the first time and if you couldn’t take it, then git!  Training was not part of the plan then either, you watched someone else do it, until you were deemed ready and God help you if you weren’t ready to fly, the feedback was brutal.  Are you stupid?  How many times do we have to do this?  They said you were smart?  My Grandmother got this in five minutes, I don’t know why they hired you?  I thought (insert ethnicity of choice) were smarter, stronger or faster then that?  I was lucky, my uncle took the time to personally train me how to gift wrap packages, I was family.  This is one talent that has always come in handy and still use to this day.  Bosses lead by giving you a swift kick in the ass, like that was suppose to help get your brain in gear and bawling someone out in front of their peers and calling them all kinds of names with threats of termination for their stupidity was employee feedback of the nth degree.  It was odd since socially, people were very polite to one another, said please and thank you, may I and excuse me.


Years later when I began working at a local supermarket, my training once again was watching others do something until I got it, OSHA still wasn’t established yet and where I heard the immortal words, “you’re not paid to think.”  As it does, times changed and so did management styles as leadership became more of a coach then a two fisted task master.   The bosses I have had that were yellers and screamers were successful at their jobs, they met and exceeded goals, kept a safe workplace and spun hay into gold and now I was being told that they were wrong.  I was attending supervisory training classes that were contradicting all that my mentors including my uncle had taught me.  Threats and verbal abuse is not how you treat workers after all, we no want to develop people.  Be respectful of their feelings, communication instead of dictation, listen to their feedback as we want workers who can think on their feet.

It meant I had to change as well.

I have to admit, it was hard to change at first.  I enjoyed yelling at people and telling them what to do but the classes, training and feedback really showed me that this was the way to go with people.  So much so that I became an advocate and embraced this new wave of leadership to the dismay of many other supervisors and managers.  Thanks to open communication with my staff we slowly began to out produce other shifts and not only making goals but exceeding them.  Our incidence of machine down time drastically dropped as did the number of accidents and so did the amount of those who called in sick.  After 6 months people on other shifts started bidding to to join our team.  My crew consisted of whites, blacks, latinos, indians-(sikh, hindi and buddhist) and by working together, for a common cause, getting the product packaged, we did one hell of a job and that’s because they wanted to be a very big part of the process and they were, because they were treated with respect.


Now after all these years of developing people through coaching, mentoring and leadership to improve retention, production, safety and work environment, I hear leaders going back to bully and threaten, using unflattering name calling an openly lying as well as refusing to take responsibility for their actions or pointing the finger at others just to be able to put a few dollars more their pockets!  That’s why I’m delusional right now.  No matter what one boss does, on another shift, another business or in a dumpy white house, always treat those you work with, with the greatest respect all the time and I guarantee when that other boss can’t deliver the goods because of his actions to staff, the company will jump in and they’ll eventually be fired.

When ever I think of poor leadership I always immediately think of the United States Postal Service.  USPS closes Pulaski post office citing safety reasons  What is so sad is that no one in management/leadership there had the brains to do something so a worker had to file a complaint with OSHA.  The heat in the place along with the humidity was stifling.  Now you see why I think that.  If leadership had looked at the problem and worked with employees they could have planned the shutdown better as well so as not to inconvenience the customer but that is also something they are not capable of.  At least at the New York Public Library main building, at the time I worked there, when the heat index hit a certain number, wish I could remember what it was, you were allowed to go home or keep working at time and a half.  I was very young so I would work for the extra money.  Too bad the postal union, which has been very quiet, to the point that I don’t think they exist any longer couldn’t get their workers extra money for working in those conditions.  Remember people, your employees make you look good so take care of them.

Here’s a company that has no respect at all for it’s employees. South Jersey Manufacturing Business Cited Again For Safety Violations: OSHA  Aluminum Shapes LLC. is so concerned about employee safety that after workers entered a tank to drain sludge containing dehydrated sodium hydroxide, aluminum oxide and decomposed metal and experienced chemical burns on their skin, their supervisor sent them back in, which put one worker in the hospital.   Then another employee broke his pelvis after getting caught between unguarded moving parts.  As you’d expect instead of taking responsibility for their actions they blamed OSHA and the news media.  YEA! OSHA and the news media forced their workers into the tank.  What morons.  To top it off, OSHA found a total of 51 violations and a proposed fine of $1,922,895.  Sounds more like it’s managements lack of leadership is the fault.  Never keep quiet about safety.  If you run into a company like this and they are not listening to your concerns on safety, make that anonymous call to the OSHA HOT LINE at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).  Your life is NO less valuable then your bosses.


Another company that has no respect for workers, OSHA slaps Bay Area Athletic Club with $195,000 fine  This is over an emergency eyewash and shower station.  The original violation goes back to 2015 and it’s costing $300 a day until it’s fixed so the total penalty right now is at $574,110.  The jerk who oversees this company, Mark McPeek won’t spring for the eye wash even though his employees handle hydrochloric acid, sodium hypochlorite and other extreme pH chemicals.  But not surprised since he can’t mange his way out of a paper bag.  His excuse to not having mandatory safety meetings is 1-he doesn’t want to pay people for spending time in meetings and 2-He said it’s too difficult to coordinate the meetings for the different shifts.  What a lazy man, I had no problem coordinating monthly safety meeting for 125 people over 3 shifts.  You have to want to do it an well, when you don’t care what happens to your staff, you don’t want to.  Don’t understand why they haven’t shut this business down.  

This is an issue that needs to be addressed as I suspect there are companies who are taking advantage of workers who don’t speak english well or are easy to threaten to do unsafe work.  Lawmakers call on Acosta to address Latino workplace deaths  Latino workers have a 18% higher death rate on the job then the average worker.  It’s not because they’re more careless or less intelligent, it’s because they are not treated as well as other workers by some employers.  All people matter as do their lives.  They deserve the same fall protection, PPE, safety meetings and training as any other worker.  Si ve a alguien siendo intimidado o amenazado con hacer un trabajo de manera no segura, no se quede callado. Llame a la Línea Directa de OSHA 1-800-321-6742

Training is the most critical element of safety.  People need to know how to do the job, how to respond in an emergency and a drill helps reenforce that training and help deal with when the unexpected happens.  In pictures: Laois fire crews train for farm accidents  and the city of Bowling Green Fire Department has adopted new policies addressing a variety of issues including workplace pranks.  City adopts new operating procedures for fire department  There is no place in any job for horseplay.  It’s usually all fun and games until someone gets hurt, someone gets denied workers comp, someone gets angry at someone else, lost productivity, damaged equipment and so on.  There are other ways to have fun on the job.  This is also cool since it’s great to see them reviewing and updating their policies and procedures which is something you should do annually as well.


This is troubling, EPA Decided Preventing a West, Texas-Style Accident Wasn’t a Priority. So 11 AGs Are Suing  Yes, that’s right.  If you live near a chemical plant the EPA, charged with protecting the air you breath and the water you drink has decided, well if it blows up, it’s your bad for living there.  Right now the special interest are more concerned with making profits for themselves and supporting friends to become rich and they’re hedging that with your lives.  However, there are people who care and right now 11 Attorney Generals of 11 states are suing the EPA to make it right.  Don’t sit back and wait, encourage these AGs and your politicians to fix this by writing them a nice letter that you’d like to live as long as possible.

Then in Wisconsin, they are so desperate they’re waving all environmental laws just so foxxconn can build a plant.  Wisconsin Governor Calls Special Session On Foxconn Deal and offer 3000 jobs to locals.  The intensions are good but as you know the road to hell is paved with good intensions especially when you jump without really looking.  Jobs are important but so is living.  My main concern, when we rush to fast is that there is the potential to wind up with another love canal. (google it)  Then we can ask over and over, why?  Were the tax breaks and the amount of jobs worth the mounting medical expenses generated from all the cases of cancer and other illnesses related to the poorly managed disposal of dangerous chemicals and materials.  I guess it all comes down to which side of the equation you’re on.  


It’s HOT.  Seriously, some of you are having some wicked high temperatures.  Don’t be an asshole.  Allow a few more breaks then usual so they can hydrate.  Don’t kid yourself, high temps can kill you-  How berry pickers, construction workers can beat the heat this week  Set-up rehydration stations near where the workers do their thing.  When they’re working in really hot conditions be a nice guy and get some bottles of Gatorade. Increase the flow of air, big ass fans are nice and if your doors and dock doors have screens, keep them open.  

That brings this episode to a close.  Safety is just as much your responsibility as it is your supervisor, manager and employer.  One way to stop accidents to to say NO when asked to perform a dangerous task without the proper support of PPE including fall prevention gear, retrieval gear and other safety equipment or one you have received no training to perform. Never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.


Nursing Education Consulting Inc.

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