Companies Behaving Badly-Leadership Lost

Welcome back.

“One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.” —Arnold Glasow

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“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” —Lao Tzu

It appears of late that everyone wants to be in charge but want nothing to do with accepting the accountability that comes along with it.  Leadership is not about making the most creative excuses or formulating alternate facts.  Leadership knows that whether it’s being used in a warehouse facility, manufacturing plant or any city USA, that maintaining the facility/infrastructure and fair and consistent enforcement of regulations is critical to the continuous success of everyone involved.  Roads and bridges to keep commerce moving, mass transit to move people to their jobs and the utilities to power it all. However, over the years, the across the board robbing of Peter to pay Paul began as cities began playing a dangerous shell game of who gets what funding and attention and for how long which would prove to have fatal consequences.  Instead of dealing with big ticket items like Police accountability,  housing, fair wages, maintenance and upkeep of the infrastructure, the buck passing continued from administration to administration each promising that this is the time it will get done.

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The art of leadership was soon eroded as it deteriorated into more of a caretaker role protecting the status quo and defending your lack of action with excuses.  It’s everyone else’s fault and not mine.  Infrastructure!  The cost is enormous but we still have time before it’s critical.  Housing for the poor? Relax, we have lots of unsafe vacant warehouses available.  We’ll look the other way, wink, wink.  Fire, police, homeless. Relax, we have the community in a dialogue over how we’re busy trying to keep our baseball and football teams in town. That’ll then solve all our other ills.  Until then, just wait.  The leadership vacuum continued and now, well, we’ve all seen the headlines.  Ghost Ship Warehouse Fire, 39 die! The problem was there, they knew about it, it dropped right through the cracks.  For a little while the plight of the homeless and affordable housing was the focus as their deaths would hopefully lead to something.  The voices faded.  Oroville Dam Spillway collapses followed by the sequel, the emergency spillway is not working either!  Hundreds of thousands are evacuated!  People’s lives severely disrupted!  The Governor gave his dog and pony show on how we’ll fix it, now.  Hmmmm, it got quiet again.  The Coyote Creek in San Jose unexpectedly floods it’s banks as the Anderson reservoir that is allowed to hold only 68% of capacity due to fears it’ll collapse in an earthquake was at 104% and needed to purge.  Yea, I know, but if you think that’s stupid how about the fact the water district sat on $22 million dollars the people had approved to spend on fixing the flooding issues.  The citizens of San Jose near the creek lost everything!  Thousands of them had to be evacuated. The city  and the water district never saw them as people, just collateral damage.   Since we’re on the topic of stupid.  BART has plenty of staffers at station with no trains or riders.  That’s right!  The new station had 5 full time agents and 1 full time train dispatch supervisor standing around doing nothing for 5 months.  The hold up, the new stations computers couldn’t communicate with the much older system that operates BART.  It seems there are issues with communication between the generations no matter where you go.  The punchline is BART now telling us they’re running out of money.  Who ever said incompetence is cheap?

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When you are placed in charge, BE in charge!  Your success is in your hands so have a plan. First, get the basics.  Budget, staffing, equipment, goals.  Then plan on consistently doing a monthly walk around your facility, which can also be combined with a Pop-In once in a while.  You’re looking for what needs attention?  Does the emergency lighting work, emergency exit signs light up, fire extinguishers, potholes, lighting, racks, equipment, charging station, tin cats.  Those are just a few and you’ll come up with items that are specific for your operation.  When you find issues that need to be addressed, deal with them right away.  You saw above what happens when you put it off.  It winds up costing you more money in the long run as well as employee trust and your reputation, which I hope still means something, as you can’t keep telling them to eat cake, forever.

Even though it ended on March 10th, I wanted to mention this event in Canada,  Road Safety at Work Week kicks off.  The government is making efforts to raise awareness and the adoption of road safety practices for company drivers.  They’re on the road almost every day representing your company and whether you like it or not, they are advertisements good or bad.  Make sure to throughly explain your expectations for job performance and level of professionalism.

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In the February 20th issue of Companies Behaving Badly I mentioned the challenge of dealing with boys being boys.  Continuing on that subject of “boys will be boys” we should point out that St. Patrick’s day is this Friday, which is a good thing, bad thing.  Good since it means no sicks calls during the workweek but bad since the filters will be off as there is no worry as most don’t work on Saturday and it’s exasperated by the NCAA  tournament.  This is another semi-holiday we’ve perverted into nothing more than an excuse for a drinking frenzy along with Cinco de Mayo.  They’ve become the alcoholic version of The Purge except the only killing is not to ones own brain cells, but from head on collisions in cars.  If you’re going to drink, keep your car at home, take public transit in and back.  There are also real Taxi cabs available out there as well as those internet alternatives.  You don’t really want to spend the weekend in lock up and most definitely want to come back on Monday.  St. Patrick’s day was a great holiday to be a cab driver in NYC, which I did for 2 years while in college.  It’s not just the many runs you get taking people from one bar to another but the riches to be found in the form of small change that gets lost in the back seat. Intoxicated people tend to fumble around and inadvertently drop things and they tip well too.  Thank you to those who jumped into my cab and helped put me through college as I listened to and helped you solve your life’s problems within a 15 minute ride.

Important information you Welders should know about. Washington University study raises questions about current welding safety standards.  The study examined the long-term effects of airborne manganese on welders and found that symptoms associated with parkinsonism — a neurological condition that causes tremors, muscle stiffness and other movement abnormalities — increased over time.  It may be a great time to upgrade your equipment.

Cone Of Silence On Enforcement News From U.S. Labor Department – Apparently there are those out there in charge who fear the exchange of ideas and information.  Some countries like North Korea, Russia and Iran control what information goes out to the public masses because they fear that information may cause independent thought, discussion and then lead to change.  Change scares narrow minded people.  The U.S. Department of Labor, including OSHA has become silent.  No news on companies behaving badly and their violations and fines.  I personally don’t understand the silence and fear and am very disappointed as one of the best things in this country is the freedom to speak your mind. But just because OSHA has become deaf and dumb doesn’t mean you do too!  Keep treating your workers with respect and give them a safe place to work.  It will benefit you in the long run.  NEVER KEEP QUIET ABOUT SAFETY for the life you save may be your own.

Until next month, be kind to each other and be safe.

 

Hey, did you do it? Come on you can tell me.  Did you really change the batteries in your smoke/carbon monoxide detectors this past Sunday?  No!  What are you waiting for?  

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RBMB-What’s Wrong With Having Fun?

 

 

It was finally shut down day.  After 10 days straight of production on graveyard, it was over and the only thing standing between me and some much needed sleep and family time was the morning production meeting. This rotation, I would be in the first group out the door, smiling and waving on my way out the door to those who still had to deal with finishing the plant shut down.  As the meeting ended and handed the operation off to day shift it was full speed out the door when my boss uttered those words you don’t want to hear, stay back a minute.  Ugh!  I was so close.  The lead superintendent, myself and our boss  were the only ones left when he said.  “Your crew produced some exceptional numbers this rotation and after last night, really put us in excellent position for a smooth shutdown.  You did a great job this shift.”  I smiled, thanked him for the complement, and then added, and they had fun doing it!  As soon as the word fun left my mouth the lead superintendent exploded with, “There it goes again!  What is all this fun nonsense?  They’re not paid to have fun, they’re paid to do a job!”  

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For the record, I never did like this man at all, ever.  He was old school, he told off color jokes, he bullied workers, he was mean just for the sake of being mean.  He was very disruptive to the whole operation at times but had been with the company for a long time and knew where all the skeletons were buried which worked to his benefit, that is until we were bought out by another company.  He didn’t last long, but I digress.  The lead continued, “I heard you also bought them pizza last night?” Yes, I did, they earned it and turned to our boss and said, do you have a problem with our production numbers and pizza?  He smiled back, put his feet up on his desk and answered, “Have a great shutdown and have some fun, you earned it.”

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There is nothing wrong with having fun at work. The manufacturing and food processing industries don’t have to be depressing and stifling.  If your employees really enjoy not only what they are doing, but are also appreciated for what they contribute within a positive environment, confidence in themselves grows and safety and productivity soars.  You should know that fun doesn’t mean having forklift races or burning rubber in the warehouse but it does mean you can have a yearly forklift rodeo to recognize and reward the safest operators in your facility.  Fun can take the form of handing employees a token each time they’re observed doing a safe act or wearing all their proper PPE.  Workers can later redeem the tokens collected for snacks, lunch or favorite team’s hat or shirts.  Fun doesn’t involve micromanaging staff to the point where no one cares anymore about what’s going on but you can have fun listening to employee ideas, improved productivity suggestions and safety improvement recommendations.  Fun can also include a monthly potluck meal and recognition of workers for their contributions on all shifts.  These are just a few simple ideas to keep fun in your workplace.  What are some things you do?

Never keep quiet about safety, for the life you save may be your own.

 

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Companies Behaving Badly – Backup Failed

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There has been an alarming rash of workplace accidents recently, involving vehicles backing up resulting in the deaths of workers.  Even though poor weather conditions were partially to blame, complacency also has a hand in this.  We’re all guilty of rushing around and under constant pressure to get the job done so we tend to make assumptions that unfortunately can prove to be fatal.  These accidents could have been prevented with a little communication between the driver and the area around him instead of assuming it was clear to proceed. 
Let me put this as simply as possible for you all!  Whether you’re operating a bus, truck, car, forklift or a X-34 landspeeder, after you jump behind the wheel, before you slap it into gear, take that one lousy second out of your life and possibly save someone else by LOOKING behind you before backing up!!  Can I be any clearer!?  I’ve pulled drivers off of forklifts if I observed them backup without looking.  Immediately suspended their forklift license until they completed their re-certification via video tape, instruction and road test.  Why?  Because it’s a skilled job and a privilege earned to be a forklift driver.  
It is all not on the driver though.  Back-up injuries are like a tango, it takes two to dance and it only takes a spit second for either of you to be distracted, be complacent, drop your guard and boom.  Don’t ever assume the driver knows you are there.  Don’t stand behind a vehicle especially if the motor is running.  That should be a clue it could sudden move at any time. Drivers, if you’ve been idling for a while or you have poor visibility get off your ass and make sure no one is behind you or honk your horn and yell, backing up!  But for you to assume that no one is behind you is just asking for an accident.
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 Don’t ever put yourself between a rock and a hard place.  Maintain eye contact with the driver at all times so you each know where you are and avoid a life time of regrets.  Here are some recent stories.
Highway 17 mudslide worker killed in construction truck accident –  A horrible accident that occurred on Highway 17 in Northern California.  They were working on clearing a mudslide caused by the rains deluging California.  
 Sheriff’s deputy hit by bus at East Bay jail dies – Another horrible incident.
Hurricane city worker dies after being crushed at construction site – Driver spun backhoe around but didn’t look first and now worker is dead. 
I think you get the point. Always be aware of your surroundings and what’s going on.  If you’re a driver working in an area where a lot of workers are on foot, slow down.  Use your horn and let everyone know you’re there.  If you’re a pedestrian working in the same area where there’s traffic and people, don’t become complacent and tune out.  You need to watch for moving vehicles and stay off your cell phone, it’s a deadly distraction .  Wear bright colors and stop and wait if you don’t make eye contact with the driver.  By working together you can get the job done and no one gets hurt.  
It’s that time again boys and girls.  That pain in the butt time change.  The biggest issue is the disruption to your sleeping cycle which may cause you not to be as alert as you usually are. This is demonstrated by the increase in the number of accidents the Monday after the time change.  So plan according, get more sleep Sunday if you can and you also might want to have a huddle Monday morning reminding your staff to be careful.  Also put off any new projects or training that day as well.  Please don’t gamble with the the lives of your family and also change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, especially if you didn’t do it last time.  With fresh batteries you know your alarms will work when needed and why wait for that annoying beep, in the middle of the night, to remind you?  Be a hero.  DO IT!
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Thanks for stopping by.  Never keep quiet about safety, for the life you save may be your own.

Companies Behaving Badly-The Art of the Pop-In

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The art of the Pop In –
One of the most valuable things I learned as an employee through years of observation is that boys will be boys at any age, so when I joined the ranks of management I made sure to implement another concept I learned, the Pop-In.  You may have heard this referred to in other terms like Gemba walk,  Genchi genbutsu,  walk about, safety walk, walk or a stroll.  Whether your warehouse is a multi-shift operation or you oversee several different sites, the pop-in, what ever you want to call it is a great tool to use.
My experience has been that companies are very cavalier about their graveyard shifts.  It’s a time when the workers have free run of the place since 99.9% of management is not on the premise.  No nosey executives poking around, no office people getting in the way, no sales/marketing staff with inane questions about products, usually just one supervisor or manager with maybe a lead and a crew entrusted with millions of dollars in equipment and inventory.  The challenge of keeping everyone focused through the night on the job and not wandering off on tangents is rigorous. 
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I perfected my Pop-In technique as a supervisor.  I would constantly show up on the shop floor but always from different entrances and directions.  I would do what ever it was I had to do at my desk for 15-20 minutes and then go for a Pop-In from the office door. Sometimes I’d Pop-In from the break room and sometimes from the dock entrance, not keeping to any set walking routine.  You get to see the whole operation from different points of view which give you the opportunity to see if there are repairs or other things that need to addressed as well as being available to employees for a chance to bend your ear and of course, it keeps everyone on their toes.
When I was hired to manage my first three-shift distribution center the Pop-In became even more critical of a tool.  I always knew what was going on during  day shift since I was always there so several times during the month I would tweak my schedule so I could Pop-In on other shifts.  Sometimes I’d stay over to be with swing shift or come back in the middle and the same on graveyard shift.  Except for my assistant, no one else knew when or where Phil was going to pop-in.  As a DC manager, when you’re always on days you don’t get to bond with other shifts supervisors or their staffs like you do on days. and that can make them feel left out of the loop or worse, that no one cares but you can alter that perception by seeing what they go through on their shift and listening.  When I would pop-in, like any good visitor, I’d never show up empty handed when I did the Pop-In. Sometimes I’d bring dinner, snacks, a safety meeting or an impromptu evacuation drill.
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Now I’m going to share a personal Pop-In story that should hopefully demonstrate how important a tool it is.  As with any new job you spend the first few days learning the lay of the land as well as being trotted around in a marathon dog and pony show.  Everyone wants to speak with you and share their opinions and air their grievances on the operation you’ve just inherited.  Your staff good or bad,  your operation dependable or not, the long history and so on and so on.  Most of it you just take in with a smile, an occasional head shake and a thank you.  A few weeks into it as things settled down, the day shift warehouse lead came to me and said, you told us you have an open door policy, can I speak with you?  Of course you can.  He started with, I know I can get fired for going over my supervisor’s head.  He then told me he had pointed out an issue of discrepancies on what graveyard shift said they picked and staged and what was actually being done to the previous DC manager, but he didn’t seem to care about it.  I asked him if he had spoken to his supervisor.  Yes, he was about to stop and suddenly got emotional but he just puts up with it and doesn’t want to rock the boat and I’m tired of watching him work his ass off and not getting the credit for what’s getting done!  I thanked him for his concern and passion, reassured he wasn’t going to get fired and promised that I would get back to him within two weeks.  
After I had finally settled in to my routine for day to day activities I turned my attention to those daily shift reports and alleged discrepancies.  The reports were simple, number of orders completed, number of cases picked, number orders shipped, staffing, equipment issues and any other problems that occurred.  According to the supervisor’s report, graveyard was picking an astronomical numbers of cases and completing orders in record times!  Wow!  I was impressed.  Is there a problem?   However, one thing I also noticed was something that was missing from the report.  There were never any equipment issues noted on graveyard shift but day shift had them almost daily and their reports showed just slightly more cases picked over the course the whole shift.  Now what did our WMS have to say about what was being done?
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The numbers told me that graveyard was doing about half of what their reports indicated and that day shift was doing the bulk of the work as well as dealing with repairs and cleaning.  I spoke with my day shift supervisor on how things were going and that’s when I was told that he knew the lead had come to me and that his crew could be even more productive if they didn’t have to spend an hour each morning cleaning up after graveyard which surprised me since per graveyards report they should have had plenty of time to do this.  I kept all this info to myself and knew it was time to do a Pop-In.
They exceeded my expectations.  I entered the building through the offices, since they should have been locked preventing warehouse entry, arriving an hour after the shift had started figuring things should be in full swing and they were.  The first two I ran into was the shift lead and he was half dressed along with a female employee.  I can still remember vividly the expression on their faces.  I had to stifle myself from laughing.  Told them to either go home now or wait for me in the lunchroom.  As they got themselves together I went to the lunchroom and found employees smoking pot, playing cards, reading a newspaper and a whole lot of nothing else.  Morning all.  Why don’t you all wait here until I get back and then entered the warehouse.
The quiet was deafening, well except for the loud boom box, there wasn’t the usual noise of a functioning warehouse.  The first section I came upon was the small package processing and the lead of that area was enjoying greatly whatever he was listening too on his cd player.  As I gave him a few moments to finish his air guitar solo I noticed the naked young woman on his computer screensaver.  It looked very much like the young lady I found with the shift lead in the office.  In fact, it turned out it was.  Finally we made contact with each other and got another priceless expression.  I asked, where’s your shift supervisor?  He stalled, there was a long pause and I began to ask again but was suddenly interrupted by the sound of hoots and hollers and loud screeching as a worker on an electric pallet jack was doing a full speed spin as fast as he could go on the loading dock. He looked at me and shook his head and finally pointed to the shipping office.  I invited the lead to wait for me along with the stunt drivers and others in the lunchroom.  I headed for the office as word must have started to spread that I was here as people began to emerge from the nooks and crannies and the sound of forklifts grew.  The small shipping office had all the shades down and was dark inside as I opened the door.  There was my shift supervisor, soundly asleep in the fetal position on the couch.  Flipped on the lights and before I could say anything, with his back to me he shouted, this better be important!
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I responded, oh I think it’s pretty damn important.  He slowly rolled over and saw my happy face.  I remember being thoroughly impressed with the list of excuses that flowed as he defended how it looked in between justification of his actions.  I had enough by the fourth one and simply told him, give me your keys, go home and wait for H.R. to call you. Then I called everyone to the lunchroom so I could face my merry band of workers with a choice.  You can stay and get back to the job you were hired to do and I’ll stay for the remainder of the shift to help or you can go home.  All those I had previously left in the lunchroom had already left the building and the others  did go back to work as each and everyone of them apologized at one point during the rest of the shift
When the HR manager arrived and found me waiting for her, she knew something was up but even she was not prepared for this scenario.  After the HR investigation some workers were terminated, some suspended and or put on probation and everyone else went back to work all having learned a valuable lesson.  The eager and determined day shift lead was promoted and given the graveyard supervisor position and it’s nice having all the numbers line up correctly.  So if you haven’t done it in the past, get up off that butt, grab your 3×5 pad and go pop-in.  The exercise is great, you get your blood to flow faster and you get to see things your WMS will never show you.  
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 Thank you for stopping by and taking the time out of your busy day.  Until next month my friends, stay safe and never keep quiet about safety, for the life you save may be your own.
 

RBMB-Exceeded Limitations

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We all deal with limitations of one sort or another and at times we have depended on machinery of some type to help us compensate for those limitations.  However, we tend to become enamored by their speed and strength and forget that those pieces of industrial powered machinery have limits themselves as we take them for granted and push them beyond the tasks they’ve been designed for.  That means it falls upon us humans to protect the machinery and make sure they don’t exceed their capabilities so they can keep us safe at the same time.

It really burns my butt that workers are being injured and killed due to mis-information or lack of communication on what task their machine can do safely or the weight capacities of equipment.  By following the steps below, you can protect yourself, prevent accidents or serious injuries at work if YOU know what to look for when it comes to equipment limitations .

Step 1 – Certification:  When you were hired and your job involves the operating of any kind of industrial powered trucks/equipment you should have first received a general safety orientation and then been trained and certified by the company to operate that piece of equipment.  If you were certified on a powered pallet jack and you need to operate a forklift, you need to be certified again for the operation of that forklift as well.  

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Step 2 – Data Plate:  During the certification process you were introduced to the “data plate”.  This plate is very important since it’s an I.D. the manufacturer has put together to tell you how much weight you can move safely in the facility without having to worry about tip over.  It will also come in handy and help you for those times you may have to operate a different type of forklift.  The weight you can move with a diesel powered forklift is more then an electric and you would learn this by reading the data plate.  In fact, the data plate is so important that it is a OSHA violation to operate any powered vehicle without a date plate.  So if your industrial powered truck is missing the plate, immediately inform your supervisor via the daily checklist and verbally.  

Step 3 – Seatbelt:  Always wear a seatbelt when operating your forklift.  The manufacturer has designed your forklift to protect you within it’s cage, so if you do unfortunately experience a tip over, the seat belt will keep you within that cage and safe so you don’t wind up under a 8,000 pound forklift.

Step 4 – Modifications to any piece of equipment should be approved and done by the manufacturer of the equipment only!  They know how to safely add any modifications so the equipment will continue to operate properly.  As soon as the modifications are completed it is critical to have retraining of operators so they know how the modifications affect operation.

Step 5 – New Equipment:  When ever you get any new piece of equipment, before anyone is allowed to touch it, training needs to be given.  Why?  Where is the emergency shut off, what are the weight limitations, are there exposed moving parts?  I always reccommend that the manufacturers representative do the initial training to management and staff so questions can be asked by all on the equipment and then later you can develop your own training for in-house use.  

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Step 6 – Quick huddle:  When you find that your crew has to operate equipment that hasn’t been used in a while, like seasonal equipment such as a snow plow or large industrial vehicles like a boom lift, take the few minutes and have a quick huddle to go over and remind everyone on proper operation, it’s limitations and any safety reminders related to operation of the equipment.  Those few minutes taken to explain and remind can avoid hours of accident investigation and/or a trip to the E.R.

Don’t let anyone ever push you to operate equipment beyond it capabilities, limitations and safety limits.  Don’t let anyone ever push you to operate equipment in need of repair and unsafe to operate even if it’s “only this once”.  If it doesn’t sound right to you, ask questions and if you don’t get answers and still being bullied to do the wrong thing, call the OSHA hotline at 1-800-321-6742 (OSHA).  Never keep quiet about safety, for the life you save may be your own.

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Companies Behaving Badly-Don’t AssUMe

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Surprise Quiz!  How many outside vendors and contractors are in your facility right now and what are they doing?  Do they know and understand your “rules of the road”?  Have they been told if food and drink is allowed, where they can eat, where they can take breaks, how and who to contact in an emergency, what PPE they need to where and where they’re not allowed to go?  If you are allowing outsiders to wonder your warehouse, plant, facility without any kind of safety orientation you are just looking for trouble.  Don’t assume (make an Ass of U an Me) that the contractors know and understand the safety policies in your company.  Take the time to cover with the workers themselves, the subtle differences and idiosyncrasies of your facility and understand the consequences that will result if they violate those rules and that will include being banished from the premises.
 As you will see in some of the stories below, very bad things happen when you don’t take the time to give onsite contract workers a safety orientation before working in your facility.  Let’s begin with an experience I had in this matter.  This one particular company had man-lifts through out the facility to move people between floors.  However if you had bulky items, toolboxes or other equipment you had to take the elevator, which took much longer to use since you had to usually wait a while for it.  We had some contractors come in to do repairs on a storage tank.  It was assumed by the powers that be that the workers knew how to use the man-lift and of course, murphy’s law reared it’s ugly head and one of the contract workers wound up falling the equivalent distance of two stories.  He suffered multiple injuries including but not limited to, broken ankles, wrists, arm and shoulder as well as a serious head injury.  The knee jerk reaction by the company, which had to be completed in one day, was that we had to retrain each and everyone of our shift by explaining how to use a man-lift, watching them complete one trip a floor up and one trip back down, then documenting this with signatures of affirmation.  The half hour or so of training given to the contract workers up front  would have avoided the many hours of a day taken away from production for covering asses.
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 Contractor dies in fall from power plant roof – A man died after falling from the roof of the NRG Indian River Power Plant in Dagsboro on Tuesday morning.

Preliminary investigation from Delaware State Police said the incident occurred around 8:11 a.m., Tuesday Jan. 31. Police said a male subject fell from a roof of the power plant on 29416 Power Plant Road and died as a result of the fall.  Was he wearing fall protection gear, was it properly tethered or did he think nah, I don’t need to waste time with all that gear for a quick job?  Make sure they follow your safety rules.

 

The same safety orientation needs to be offered to Temporary workers as well.  The safety of temporary workers is a shared responsibility.  To assume that these workers know how to respond to an emergency, or how to LOTO “that” machine or know how to ride a man-lift is irresponsible.  Don’t assume the agency has given them the necessary safety orientation as well especially those specific items that apply to only your facility.  Give them a chance to succeed and survive.

Safety orientation and training is also critical for your regular employees as this company found out. OSHA cites Marathon Galveston Bay Refinery on training.  The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a citation in January alleging Marathon Petroleum Corp’s Galveston Bay Refinery in Texas City, Texas, failed in 2016 to train workers in changes in the operation of a coking unit.  Really!  They apparently didn’t think it was worth the time and effort to make sure their own employees wouldn’t die if something went wrong, because, after all, what could go wrong?  OSHA also alleges Marathon failed to document training of the workers, according to a second citation.  The first thought that should go through your head whenever you put in a new piece of equipment, modify a piece of equipment, change a procedure or anything that chances the current practice, is the training you need to give before anyone begins operating it.  Your workers deserve to have a chance to survive any emergencies that may occur at work.

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Poor or lack of training is a great indicator of poor leadership which in turn gives you a company behaving badly.  When you begin to look closer beyond the lack of training you’ll see poor housekeeping, expired or damaged inventory, equipment in need of repair but still used at the risk of employee injury.  What’s even more disturbing is when those companies basic business is transporting people to and from their jobs like the Metro in Washington, D.C.  Union: D.C. Metro transit system has long record of putting safety last and BART in the San Francisco bay area, BART hits record low in survey of its riders It’s not enough to worry about safety at work, now you have to worry if you’ll get to work in one piece which brings me to the incident where two railroad maintenance workers were killed on the job when hit by another train.  We all figured it was just poor communication within the Amtrak but it seems to go even deeper and is very troubling.  The autopsies revealed that one maintenance worker was had cocaine in his system and the other tested positive for morphine, codeine and oxycodone.  To add to this mess, the engineer operating the train that hit and killed the workers tested positive for marijuana.  This is also an indication of poor leadership as it seems everyone needs some kind of drug to get through the day.  Read for yourself, Tests: Maintenance Workers Killed By Train Were On Drugs.  

Relatives criticize PG&E for 2010 pipeline blast that killed 8 and Iowa Spill Is The Largest Of Diesel Fuel In US Since 2010  Just two of the many reasons why we DO need regulations.  Also why not ask the over 4,000 humans who died last year in industrial accidents.  We can’t depend on companies self regulating themselves.  Look at PGE.  The asked for a rate increase so they could track and upgrade the buried gas lines in Northern California and instead they gave themselves bonuses with the money and then 8 people were murdered due to their indifference to human life.  You should also read this article as well,  Commentary: Regulation saves lives  by Jim Weygand.

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I’m sure you’re like me and am always looking for new and more interesting ways to train and bring safety to the forefront.  Here’s a great one and I love this. Lorry drivers trained on bikes in bid to cut cycling deaths in London.  Getting employees to see things from another point of view.  Maybe having forklift drivers walk around the warehouse and  working forklifts?  Call it what what you want, thinking outside the box or being a dreamer, anything that helps get the point across with a different twist is fantastic.

That’s it for this episode folks.  Training is the most critical aspect of safety.  You need to know how and what to do so you can go home the same way you arrived.  Thanks for stopping by and please, don’t ever keep quiet about safety, for the life you save may be your own.

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Companies Behaving Badly-YEAR END

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Welcome back, Happy Holidays, thank you for stopping by.  As you may know, OSHA recently released it’s annual top 10 violations for 2016 which quickly made the rounds. People offered their opinions about it,  criticized and pointed wagging fingers as those for more regulation and those for less regulation stood their ground on principle refusing to compromise while people continued to die.  So without further ado, may I present to you OSHA’s top 10 violations for 2016.
#1 – FALLS
#2 – HAZARD COMMUNICATION
#3 – SCAFFOLDING
#4 – RESPIRATORY PROTECTION
#5 – LOCK OUT TAG OUT
#6 – POWERED INDUSTRIAL TRUCKS
#7 – LADDERS
#8 – MACHINE GUARDING
#9 – ELECTRCAL WIRING METHODS
#10 – ELECTRICAL GENERAL REQUIREMENTS
NOW A MESSAGE FROM THE GRIM REAPER.   FALLS #1, 6 years in a row!!!
THANK YOU!
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This information is nice so we know how we stack up against others in the country and where resources and training may need to be directed but is it really useful information? What does it tell us besides giving us reason to be thankful and feel superior since we were lucky enough to have experienced none of the violations on the list?  So instead of the OSHA top ten I would like to offer my Top 5 violations for 2016.
#1 – GREED.  The love of profits over the love of humanity. No money spent of safety, in fact the word isn’t even allowed to be spoken but if safety generated income for a business, it’d never be an issue.  Ever.
#2 – STUPIDITY.  You can’t coach stupid nor can you manage stupid but people seem somehow to still do so by putting people in danger, over riding safety shut off mechanisms to keep production going at all costs, adjusting machinery without using LOTO or blocking emergency exits with merchandise and equipment. That’s half of stupid, the other half are those who refuse to wear PPE or use fall protection gear and consistently put themselves in harms way.
#3 – LACK OF TRAINING.  Why waste time and energy in training employees on how to respond to an emergency whether fire, chemical or natural, it’ll never happen here, right?  Or how to properly use and wear PPE or how to properly operate a forklift.  Too much information in too little time.  They’ll learn as they go.  What could go wrong?
#4 – LACK OF RESPECT – for your workforce.  Don’t treat them as idiots, give them the materials and training they need to be successful and do their job with confidence. Explain what the expectations are and the consequences for non compliance and say Thank You for a job well done.
#5 – COMMUNICATION – This includes listening to your employees concerns about working conditions and process improvement and then answering those concerns with feedback and developing an on going conversation of respect to solve issues and make your operation stronger.

Hope you appreciate my top 5.  Now lets finish the year looking at other disturbing trends from 2016 that’ll continue into 2017.

The continued lack of leadership that prevails at the US Postal Service.  Blood incidents prompt OSHA to fine Brooklyn Postal Service location $342,000 – How stupid is the leadership?  Pretty damn stupid and the workers know it since they filed a complaint with OSHA that found 2 WILLFUL and 3 REPEAT violations.  3 Repeat!!!  Which means they never bothered to fix the problem of not having written instructions or training for workers responsible for handling and cleaning up biohazard packages that are stained or leaking. Managers also did not offer hepatitis B vaccines to affected employees.  It’s a wonder that your junk mail even gets to you!  I predict you’ll be reading more stories of violations at the USPS next year since management has proven it’s incapable of finding it’s own way out of a paper bag.

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Continued lapses of safety on our railroads and ignoring the fixes needed for infrastructure to ensure protection of civilian lives. N.J. Transit Safety Jobs Vacant as Christie Allies Hired at Top – Some politicians, actually only the clueless ones bent on personal power think the way to fix a problem is to hire their friends to top management positions or by making new and “better” laws when all that is needed is to fill the open positions with employees who do the job at hand and not brown nose their way through.  While accidents continue on one of the worst transit systems in the world the Governor thinks it’s better not to fill the safety positions since they’ll ask for money to fix it while his buddies will keep the status quo and let constituents continue to die.  I guess the transit system isn’t as easy to take care of as the George Washington bridge.   Look for continued lack of a plan and leadership into the next year and beyond.

Continue to poison ourselves, our water supply and the environment because we are too cavalier on chemical safety.  New Martinsville chemical plant cited for workplace-safety violations – We need chemicals for food production, building materials, cars, planes, homes and just about anything you can think of but why are we so sloppy and careless about handling it?  Could it be that it maybe takes 20 years for the exposure to show up as a health problem?  Could it be that we truly believe the planet can handle all those chemicals in the air, land, streams, rivers and oceans to dilute and render them to harmless?  Could it be that chemical companies find it a needless expense to make all the needed safety measures and training to prevent chemical injury and death?  Either way, YOU as a employer, whether a supermarket or chemical plant are responsible to train your workers on what they are working with, it’s potential hazards, the proper PPE needed and how to handle in a spill or other emergency.  However I predict this also will continue to be ignored since we never learned anything after the 1984 Bhopal, India gas leak that killed 4,000 humans immediately and residual effects claiming a total of 15,000 human lives!!!  If you think it can’t happen here, you’re just in denial or brain dead.  

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Continued deaths of civilians due to budget cuts and lack of leadership at all major and small cities. Operator accused of ignoring safety in deadly Oakland warehouse fire and Fire Chief: We were not aware what was going on in Ghost Ship – What happened in Oakland, California at the Ghost Ship Warehouse is just the canary in the mine warning f0r all cities.  Due to the competition by city departments for that little slice of the budget pie, things are not getting done and the leadership instead of thinking outside the box and developing solutions to working with what they have are just crying about it and doing NOTHING!  Between all the departments within the city, Ghost ship slipped through the cracks and now people are dead.  The mayor of Oakland at one point stated we need better laws but this is just rhetoric since all you had to do was enforce the current laws and better leadership developing communication between the departments instead of every man or woman for themselves.  If you think this can’t happen in your town, then think again.  When you city is more hell bent on saving the baseball team or football team from leaving, the safety of it’s citizens is a moot point.  Time to wake up Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and Vallejo.  Sure there’s a knee jerk reaction happening now and everyone is aware but over time this will fade, things won’t get done and we’ll all be horrified again when it happens again.

That does it for now.  I greatly appreciate your support over the year and wish you all a Happy Hanukkah and a very Merry Christmas.  After the interesting year we’ve had it’s nice to see the show of solidarity by Hanukkah and Christmas as they begin back to back. As you visit family and friends remember to please not drink and drive or drive distracted. Be your own fire marshall and safety inspector to protect your home and family from fire, accidents or visits to the ER.  If you’re into making resolutions for the new year, resolve to be a better person to you fellow human beings, treat them with respect, be polite and especially be kind to those less fortunate then you.  There is a lot of love out there and we can obliterate the hate with it.  Until next year, never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.

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