Welcome back for another episode of Companies Behaving Badly. Is Spring being bashful where you live? Maybe if we treated the environment better, Spring wouldn’t be so self-conscience and step out sooner.
Of the blogs I enjoy reading, the latest edition of the PPM Blog – Practical Practice Management written by Tina Del Buono, “When Being The Nice Guy Backfires” hit a chord for me since it pertains just as well to safety on the job. As Tina says, “Most managers want to have good relationships with their staff and go the extra mile for them by being the “nice guy”. But not always does being a “nice guy” pay off, in fact, it can hurt your career.” This couldn’t be closer to the truth and in a distribution center or manufacturing plant being a nice guy can wind up getting an employee injured or worse and you under the spotlight of investigation and wind up in court, as a defendant, being sued for failing to enforce safety rules.
Seriously. More cities are taking a tougher stance on safety and actually prosecuting supervisors, managers, and owners. If you think for one minute that your company won’t throw you under the bus if a worker gets injured because you wanted to be a nice guy and said, oh you forgot your safety goggles, that’s o.k., get them later or it’s close to break, forget about LOTO so you can go on time, that doesn’t look like bad jam. Every day you’ll be tested, I forgot my earplugs, I forgot my LOTO locks, I forgot my brain and every day you have to enforce the rules, uniformly and consistently. The first time you back down to be a “nice guy” and make an excuse to justify your actions, you’ve lost ALL credibility. Chances are that allowing someone to not wear their safety glasses won’t lead to an injury but when the other employees see this, what do you think they’re going to expect? You tell the employee sorry they forgot their safety glasses but they can’t go to their workstation without them. I always kept a few extra pairs in my desk and just handed it to them with a reminder that all PPE is necessary, no excuses under my watch.
There was a warehouse manager who poorly scheduled and didn’t properly utilize staff so there was a lot of dead time in the morning and because he wanted to be a “nice guy” he didn’t make them sweep or clean but allowed horseplay to help the employees pass the time. One of their favorite games was racing forklifts across the warehouse, straight down aisles with assorted obstacles. One day, during a race the brakes failed on one of the forklifts and the young driver’s reflex was to instinctively put his leg out to help stop the forklift. The forklift stopped but his right foot was wedged between the lift and a steel beam supporting the roof.
This young man wound up losing half his foot and even after several surgeries and a long stint of rehab he was never going to work in a warehouse again and this plunged him into a deep depression and despair even when the state retrained him for another career but he ultimately survived. The manager was terminated for being a “nice guy” and had to live with the guilt of what happened in the warehouse for the rest of his life. Soon after the dust settled I was asked to move from customer service to take over the warehouse. That doesn’t mean nice guys always finish last. You can be a “nice guy” in so many other ways by treating workers with respect, listening to their concerns and saying thank you for a job well done. Buy them lunch for no reason at all, approve that day off they requested and please recognize their accomplishments.
Whether you’re a nice guy or not, unfortunately, DANGER lurks in every workplace and knowing and understanding them gives you an edge. The fishing industry wants to make sure their workers know, Workplace safety campaign addresses commercial fishing risks. If you are not getting any kind of training on job hazards, first think, is this a company that appreciates me and do I want to work here? Then go online and research the hazards specific for your job or read blogs like this one and learn about them and then discuss them with fellow workers, your shop steward, human resources. The more people you get involved in safety the better for all of you.
Like drilling it down makes it better for all as emergency responders train to hone farm rescue techniques https://buff.ly/2qEI4hW. It makes perfect sense in a community that has lots of family farms to be prepared to handle any emergency that may occur there. As in a community that has lots of trains passing through, their local first responders would do better to have drills on derailments. In your facility the same holds true. If you work with chemicals then you should receive training on how to handle a spill or other type of release of chemicals as well as for fires, evacuations and other emergencies that may possibly arise. Again, if you’re not getting this training then it may be time to find another job.
Nice guy or not, if you’re dumb enough to put someone in charge who doesn’t understand the dangers of the job, proper PPE to be used or knows the regulations then you’re not only an idiot in my book but still at fault per OSHA. Ignorance of OSHA standards no defense for worker’s death. “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit Court upheld OSHA’s decision to issue a willful citation in the case of a worker’s deadly fall, even though the employer claims the foreman in charge was ignorant of safety requirements that could have prevented the incident, according to a summary written by the law firm of Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP for JD Supra.” So either in my opinion, we believe the employer is actually that stupid a business person to actually put someone in charge that was ignorant of safety requirements or the employer is lying thinking they would go easy on the fine if he said the foreperson was ignorant of the rules. Never operate any machinery or perform any job without understanding the dangers and have been trained to properly operate. The truth is out there, somewhere, but not here.
Yes, accidents happen, you just never know when that’s why they’re called accidents and not planned. However, you can minimize accidents by understanding what you are working with and how to prevent the many different ways it can go sideways, but if it does, how to deal with it so you can walk away. Knowledge is power and never let anyone tell you otherwise, even if they’re just trying to be a nice guy. Never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own. Until next month.