Companies Behaving Badly-Nice Guy

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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.

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Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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 googles, 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 pair 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. 

ER 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 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.  

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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.

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Secrets of the Professionals Revealed That You Can Use at Home.

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Companies spend thousands of dollars each year on sanitation and pest control along with thousands of hours on training of personnel to properly handle those tasks or spend hours screening and evaluating outside contractors.  Either way they want to provide the highest level of quality to ensure the best product produced.  The fabulous news is I’m going to share with you their secrets that you can do in your home. 

The professionals know that when the weather changes for the worse or nearby vacant fields are disturbed by construction or an idle facility comes to life, the displaced vermin will find a new place to call home and raise a family but by following these professional tips they won’t find your home a hospitable place and it all begins with the walk around.

The walk around is critical to maintain any facility.  It’s your way of being proactive, finding what needs to be repaired and getting it done in a timely manner while getting a little exercise.  Walk arounds should be conducted consistently and once a month is an excellent schedule.  Walk the entire perimeter of your home, looking for and making note of the points of entry from the vermin’s point of view.  You are looking for small openings, any small cracks or holes should be noted to be repaired as they don’t need much room to squeeze through.  A mouse can fit through a hole as small as 2 cm/.787 of an inch. while a rat only needs a whole the size of a quarter to gain access to your home.   Also make note of  any vegetation, weeds, shrubs or grass that’s abutted up to the house.   That should be cut back or removed since it’s providing cover for the critters.  Are there large gaps underneath the doors to the outside like the side door of the garage?  Is the area where your trash cans/trash bins are stored free and clear of trash, scraps and clutter and are they sealed properly keeping trash secure from critters?  Take care of repairs right away  as procrastination will set you back and create more problems.

Now you’ll do your walk around inside the home.  Again look for openings around valves and pipes under sinks, the furnace/ac and laundry room.  If they get into the garage and the walls this is how they’ll enter your living areas.  After identifying your problem areas get the needed materials and do the repairs and hole filling immediately.

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To resolve the problem of a large gap under your side doors you can purchase and install a Door Sweep.

 

 

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Trap set by garage side door.

Now, with that accomplished we’re going to add an extra level of protection by setting traps in different areas not just to trap those unwanted guest but also to alert you if the problem is remaining stable or getting out of hand and needs more attention.  I tried different traps and found some more effective then others.  There is one covered trap, to spare you from seeing the dead, that is the worst with a 40-50% kill rate.  The best trap I found that never missed a beat with a 100% kill rate was Ankace Power Rodent Killer.  I have 6 traps set up, one on each side of the garage rollup door, one by garage side door, one on the side of steps leading into the house from the garage, one under the kitchen sink and the last one in the heating/ac closet.   IMG_1818

If the idea of traps bothers you then you can buy bait traps and place those in the same locations as you would the traps and also around the outside of the house.  I have a combination of both around my house.  I also keep non-latex gloves and zip lock bags on hand for those times I have to clear a trap, which by the way hasn’t happened in quite a long time.  If you are doing everything else right you won’t be emptying traps every day and as I said before, the traps are also an alert that something has changed.  Once you have this all in place then set yourself a reminder and check the traps on a regular basis for activity, at least once a week.

The professionals use a master sanitation schedule posted for all to see so they know when, what and how often something needs to be cleaned.  Next time, how you can use that at home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Companies Behaving Badly – RESPECT

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Welcome back.  Hope all is going well.  Those of you still committed to your New Year Resolutions, bravo.  Keep it up!

Aretha said it best.

“What you want
Baby, I got it
What you need
Do you know I got it
All I’m askin’
Is for a little RESPECT when you get home (just a little bit).”

Isn’t that all we want from our boss or the company that employs you, for that matter, isn’t it something we should do for each other?  I was raised in the Bronx back in the dark ages (BI-before internet), the 1950’s – 1960’s and along with playing stoop or stick ball and watching The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin or Sargent Preston of the Yukon, I was taught the golden rule and to treat others as I wanted them to treat me.  I respected my elders, I respected my teachers, I respected the beat cop and I respected everyone who crossed my path.  There have been a few instances where people haven’t reciprocated and not respected me but gone out of their way to be rude and I don’t see how disrespecting them back would accomplish any thing so I said my expletives under my breath and still treated them the same way and moved on. 

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People are always interesting.  Some are rude and disrespectful because they are responding poorly to something that has or is happening in their life.  Some are having a bad day as a customer yelled at them, their boss dumped on them, a loved one disappointed them.  Others are reacting to stress from their job as they struggle to make deadlines in completion of  a project, worried about qualifying for a bonus or promotion, fearing the rumors of a shutdown may be true.  Still others are jealous, jealous of the way you look, the way you sound, the way you gets things done or the way you wear it better.  At least these folks you can understand where they’re coming from and cut them some slack.  Then there are those who are just plain rude and disrespectful only because you are different then them.  It has nothing to do with your personality or your job performance just your skin color, religious beliefs or the language you speak, and for a very few, some just enjoy being evil.  I just cut them a wide swarth as they may just burst into flame and burn to a cinder from all their hate.   

What’s really tough to swallow is when a company doesn’t show you any respect but still expects your undivided loyalty.  They don’t respect you enough to give you training or the tools you need to do the job they hired you to do.  One small company spent time and effort wooing me to come work for them and help turn the company around.  We need you to be part of our new team and help bring this company to the next step and make us great again.  They were losing money, losing product, missed deliveries, horrible inventory control and sending out incomplete orders making customers and our sales staff crazy.  They said it’ll be well worth your time.  First day on the job, they had no office, no desk, no computer ready for me.  There was a computer on a shelf in the general area that I’m directed too and had to use another sign on since there was none ready for me.  No privacy, no where to put confidential files and no place to hold one on ones with staff except a conference room or break room when they were empty.  Ah, but I’m assured that this will be rectified very soon.  The next day I get my sign on and password, things are looking up until I realize after signing on that I still don’t have access to the areas I need to be.  Per the IT manager, who is offsite, that’s what the boss gave him as my profile.  I was beginning to see where the real problem for this company was located.   A month goes by, still no office, no desk but have the computer on the shelf that several other workers need to access during the day to accomplish their jobs.  Two months go by and still the same but the continued excuses, apologies and promises begin to ring hallow.  Three months go by,  more excuses, more apologies, more promises.  Into the fourth month, I went bye.  A few weeks later one manager was fired as a scapegoat another one quit and two months later the doors closed for good.   

You need to respect a person enough to listen to their questions and concerns without blowing them off.  Who knows what talent and creativity has been stifled or budding careers crushed that would have changed the industry for the better over the years because you couldn’t take a moment and listen.  Companies find many different ways to show no respect to their employees.  Some are very subtle, telling you that your safety is very important to them and is always a primary concern, then put you in unsafe conditions.  Some are more open about it and just plain obstinate by not upgrading with new safety technology when they can until they make headlines by killing innocent people.

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Amtrak could have shown respect for it’s customers and avoiding all this bad press by doing the right thing in the first place but just keep talking about PTC and now this–Aaron Harris, Passenger Severely Injured in Train Derailment, Files Suit Against Amtrak, According to Luvera Law Firm  Companies that don’t respect the public by doing what they can to protect life and limb should have their board members and executives held accountable up to and including jail time.  Three people are dead and this young man if facing a life time of rehabilitation when this could have all been prevented.

There are countries where they do respect the public and workers.  They see the overall picture and understand that to have a high-speed train you have to have top notch infrastructure to protect people so they can get to their jobs in one piece.  What a novel concept.  Other Countries Have High-Speed Trains. We Have Deadly Accidents and Crumbling Infrastructure  They see safety as part of the equation to a good life, here most companies see safety as nothing more then a hassle.  Shouldn’t preserving all human life be important and wouldn’t that be easier to handle then deciding which lives are more important then the others?

Then there are companies that have no respect for their neighbors.  No respect for their property or their lives. Duke Energy Agrees To Pay $84K Penalty For Coal Ash Leaks  After years of dumping coal ash and saying they’d take care of it they let it leak into the drinking water and waterways.  Then continues to insult their neighbors by giving then bottled water and wanting to charge for it and then committing only $84,000 for clean up which is going to do nothing to help the situation.  It seems we have learned nothing after the Love Canal.  

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Of course there are those companies that show no respect to their workers by routinely exposing them to moving belts and spinning gears and no putting guards in place to protect them.  When those conveyor belts are at full speed it takes only the blink of an eye to have a sleeve of your jacket get caught and pulled in.  It happens so fast you barely have time to get out of the jacket let alone hit the emergency stop button.  Before you know it you lost your arm or worse, your life.  Woman Crushed To Death In Plastic Factory Accident  If you have to do maintenance or clear a jam there is only one way to do this and that is Lock Out Tag Out.  You will not beat the machine.  If there is no guarding on moving parts or there is no RED emergency stop button and no one at the company is respecting you and listening to your concerns, call the OSHA hotline and file a complaint. 1 – 800 – 321 – 6742 (OSHA).  

Companies that show even less respect to workers, if that’s possible are repeat offenders.  Companies that violations are found by OSHA and then promise they will fix them because their worker’s safety is important to them.  Then guess what happens next?  They have a re-inspection and those same violations are found once again because they had no intention of fixing them in the first place.  OSHA needs to triple the fines for repeat offenders and executives must attend mandatory safety class.  South Jersey Manufacturer Fined For Continued Safety Violations  
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We need to do a better job of respecting first responders, highway workers and sanitation drivers.  We’re not off to a good start.  Recently a California Highway Patrol officer lost his life when a drunk driver slammed into the rear of his patrol car that was stopped on the side of the road.  Another officer had both legs broken when he was hit by a vehicle and now 7 sanitation workers had died in the first 10 days of the year!
SWANA: 7 solid waste fatalities in first 10 days of 2018  There is nothing important enough that you have to speed to get there and put others in danger.  There is NO reason to drive drunk or stoned.  There are so many other ways to get home safely that you should use.  Stop being disrespectful to your fellow human beings. 

As you can see, safety is just as much your part as the company you work for and more then ever we need to watch each others back and respect each other.  Never keep quiet about safety, for the life you save may be your own.  Until next month, stay safe.

 

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Companies Behaving Badly – Resolution

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“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man. (person)” – Benjamin Franklin

Happy New Year and welcome back.  It’s that time of year when some of you are actually still following through on your resolution(s) for the new year and I say, bravo to you!  Some of you have already begun using creative excuses to avoid your commitment and some have just plain old completely capitulated.  I’m curious though, why do those of you waste time on making resolutions, when you’re only going to spend more time, energy and creativity on making excuses for not upholding your resolution?  Is it a form of masochistic-procrastination?  (you can comment below).  Of course there are also those of you who, like me, who don’t bother making resolutions for the new year.  It’s not that I’m perfect and don’t need improvement, far from it.  It’s not that I’m beyond help, or too old to learn a new trick or can’t change my ways.  It is just that this is what works best for me, to make course adjustments as needed through out the year and taking on different challenges or projects as they peek my interest in relation to self improvement, training, family, work, travel and play.  

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I didn’t start out with a New Year resolution to become a soccer ref that year but that spring when my daughter began to play and I watched her get bounced around with no calls I knew I could do a better job, so I took the 18 hour course, got my license and began to practice what I preached on the pitch.  With each season I worked on being a better ref because I enjoyed what I was doing.  Watching other refs at work, on the field on T.V. or on videos made be a better ref but it also slowly melded into improving my interpersonal skills as I dealt with players, parents and coaches.  Which ever way you decide to go, what ever works for you, it should be comfortable for you but please also look at all the choices and experiment, push your comfort zone a little, test one or two out or even take some from one, a little from another it’s totally up to you but you should always do what is going to work best improving YOU and not just to make someone else happy.  Over the years I’ve found one real truth, that people only change their behavior when they really want to change it, so give yourself everything you need to help you make those changes and keep in mind it then takes 21 days to turn an action into a habit.  

However, whether new year resolutions are involved or not some industries will just never get it.  Imagine if all baby strollers on the market were made in a way so that even when you set the brake and let go, the stroller would roll away on it’s own.  No matter what you did, even on a flat surface, the stroller would roll away from you and build up speed as it moved unless you grabbed it.  The cry from the public would be loud and steady, politicians would speak of the horror and push for legislation, television news to would do stories on corresponding tragedies and loss of life.  Safe to say the way strollers were made would be changed all most overnight.  We have this technology called Positive Train Control (PTC) and it’s been around for quite awhile.  Even though it could save lives it’s implementation has been constantly put off by the industry with one excuse or another and aided by the apathy of our political leaders who could have made it mandatory, but then babies aren’t dying, only commuters.  Editorial: End delay to train safety  What are we waiting for, a larger disaster?

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 So not only in our GREAT nation have we allowed trains to derail or collide but now we are falling behind on worker safety as this tale of two countries demonstrates.  Singapore had a very high rate of death of workers on the job and decided to do something about it.  They put new laws on the books and unlike our country they actually heavily enforced those laws and now, Workplace deaths fall to 13-year low while here in the U.S. worker deaths increased by 7% to over 5,000 dead.  Who’s the third world country?  Now more then ever, never keep quiet about safety.

What happens when a companies safety program is free will, you wind up killing employees.  Demolition company fined $101K in Holland Civic Center workplace death.  Upon investigation Michigan OSHA found 7 violations, 5 of which were directly related to the fatality.  One other worker was seriously injured and now X-Treme Demolition Inc. is facing fines of $101,000 for no fall protection given to workers, no inspections, nothing, cause what could go wrong.  I don’t think the fines are enough and any owner, CEO or manager who purposely puts workers in harms way and someone dies due to this should be in jail for manslaughter.  Monetary fines don’t deter companies since they budget for this.  We need to start putting people in prison.

 you'llseehumansacYou’d think by now that when it comes to working in confined spaces companies would have learned by now how dangerous they can be if not following proper guidelines.  Construction Company Cited After Fatal Gas Exposures  Before you go in ask, what was in there before and has the atmosphere been tested to see if it’s clear of any hazardous materials.  Is emergency retrieval equipment in place to get you out of there quickly?  Why this is tragic is when one guy went down the others reacted immediately to save a friend without any thought to their own safety.  Each time they were overcome by fumes in the confined space and died and the company was only fined $59,576 which works out to just under $20,000 per life.  I guess we’re all collateral damage to companies that maintain profits are more important than their worker’s well being.

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The same training, practices and prevention techniques that you receive at work you can apply just as easily to your home.  An industrial kitchen is cleaned often and kept free of debris and systems in place that will keep insects and vermin out and so can you.  At work they train employees how to use a fire extinguisher and respond to a medical or environmental emergency that may arise and so can you.  Please teach your children early and often about the dangers of fire, matches and stoves.  FDNY: Bronx Fire Caused By Child Playing With Stove.  Protect you family and your home.  If you have questions about home safety please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Thanks to the new tax laws, companies should have a lot more cash on hand.  How the company spends that extra cash will speak volumes about how they care about their employees.  Some have decided to hand out $1,000 cash bonuses to workers, which is nice but still a drop in the bucket for those barely making minimum wage.  Those companies that take the money and put it into developing and implementing safety programs and PPE to help save workers lives should be touted as companies to work at, but those that just pocket the cash for themselves and continue to allow workers to die in confined spaces, from falls, from neglect should have their names mounted in neon lights so the world can see who they are and to avoid, who to NOT do business with and who to boycott.  Never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.

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Companies Behaving Badly-Practice What You Preach

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Welcome back. Happy Day of the Dead.

Practice what you preach!  That’s what I was taught as a child growing up on the streets of the Bronx back in the dark ages, (1950’s-60’s).  You practice what you preach, lead by example, do as I do!  So when I first supervised and told workers that their safety was important, I never allowed a corner to be cut for the sake of saving time or looked the other way during horseplay under the guise of boys will be boys.  I practiced what I preached cause I had to answer to one person and one person only.  Myself.  I had to be able to deal with the guilt if someone got hurt because I didn’t do or say something and I knew that wasn’t me.  So I took the path of practicing what I preached and was bullied, ignored, harassed, threatened and fired for doing so.  But I was also rewarded, promoted, appreciated and honored for taking that path at.  The path has always been the same, just different terrains, cultures and experiences. 

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So if we are going to practice what we preach, we can no longer be allowed to use the following phrase as an excuse, “boys will be boys”.  It can no longer be tolerated, embellished, chucked at, shoulder shrugged or eye rolled.  “Boys will be boys.” is no longer an excuse when someone is found at work joy riding on powered industrial equipment or using powered industrial equipment to perform dangerous acts well beyond the safe operation of the equipment.  “Boys being boys” can not only no longer be tolerated in a workplace that wants to have a respected safety program but in ALL aspects of life as it will no longer be an acceptable excuse to explain poor behavior.  Boys will be boys can no longer explain dangerous hazing rituals, drinking initiations or paying your dues.  Boys will be boys will no longer be used to explain inappropriate touching, verbal abuse and degrading of women.  You’d think by time you get to the age of adulthood and begin working for a living the practical jokes suffered in elementary school, the bullying of JHS and the initiations of freshmen and overall silliness of high school would be done.  Yet  it never seems to end, as boys will be boys.

So we deal with this like we do with everything else.  Our leaders decide we need new laws.  Not just any new laws but new and improved laws with teeth because the old laws didn’t work as well.  But as we all know, laws or rules or regulations are only as good as they’re enforced!   While the news media covers the making of the new laws along with the names of the brilliant leaders who give us the new laws, it tells us, they must be solving our problem.  I no longer have to worry since we have such great new laws!  Soon the fanfare dies down and the new laws are treated just like the old laws, lapses in coverage, uneven enforcement, not consistent for all and then those who are rich will get around the new laws and those that are poor will do the time, but then, thats just boys being boys.

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When Police officers and firefighters see something odd in a warehouse, like people living there when they shouldn’t, electrical wires and extension cords running all over and wall to wall junk no matter what the law, if they don’t say something, nothing happens people may die and even if they do say something and nothing is done up the line, again, the laws are useless since people still die.  It’s up to all of us, Men and Women working together to help enforce them.  We are people folks.  All born the same way and no matter what our packaging is, white, black, yellow or red we are all gray in our heads and red in our arteries and blue in our veins.  We need to protect each other.

One of the good things about practicing what you preach is you could prevent yourself from being blown-up.  Foreman didn’t follow protocol before Detroit explosion, manager says.  Sounds like a rookie mistake but the foreman, Anthony Tower, 62, had decided that even though he was trained and probably trained others to use water only to wash out the bin.  He wanted to give his two workers an important lesson on, do as I say not as I do, and took a metal shovel to clear the bin wall which created a spark and the following explosion.  Surprise!  Luckily no one died but they were all sent to the hospital for treatment with one worker sustaining bad burns.  As much as the foreman didn’t follow protocol, I have found that workers are lax on safety and procedure when the culture, created by management, allows it.  I say that because this company Northeast Agricultural Sales, Inc. was fined in 2014 for 10 safety violations after a bin collapsed and injured a worker.  Do it right the first time and live a happy life with all your limbs.

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When it comes to “practice what you preach” what is the time frame?  WV DEP found problems at Parkersburg warehouse earlier this year, records show.  If you didn’t know, the Parkersburg warehouse had burned for 8 days!  Yes, over a week and the smoke was toxic and no one knows what’s really burning since the company won’t say and probably have no idea themselves.  They were inspected by the state earlier this year and they found all kinds of violations that indicated continued problems at the facility such as their unsatisfactory general housekeeping while operations, maintenance and storage were found marginal and nothing was done.  Waste and pellets were scattered around the site, a diesel spill had not been fully cleaned up, deteriorating storage drums exposed to the elements as well as not submitted required monthly progress reports and still, nothing was done.  Two local volunteer firefighters had warned nearly a decade before that this could be a potential major fire and yet nothing was done.  Just boys being boys under the poor leadership of morally bankrupt morons.

When it comes to practice what you preach I find industry groups are the best at promoting their industry but the worst at telling the truth of the safety of their product or their own preachings. They say they don’t need no government watchdog but that they can regulate and monitor themselves and not kill anyone in the process.  The American Petroleum Institute just flat out ignored the problem when they failed to respond to concerns about oil train safety even after a town was obliterated from the map when 47 of it’s residents were vaporized by a derailed oil train.  American Petroleum Institute Failed to Respond to Concerns of Oil Train Safety.  Even though they supply the railroad with their oil cars they don’t care after that, it’s in the railroads hands and their problem now.  When we hear of the horrors of mass shootings or trucks running over as many people as possible we wonder how people can be so heartless to take a life yet we sit by and allow industries to put dangerous railcars on the tracks, store chemicals in reckless fashion, pollute the air and poison our water.  Fyi, it’s still murder, just a lot more subtle about it. 

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It’s always interesting to see how a company reacts to adversity.  When Tesla began to fall behind on meeting it’s production goals and had a rash of industrial accidents, so instead of looking at their safety and training program they,  Tesla fired hundreds of employees in past week.  Sounds like the way to go and just gives workers more reason to want the union in place to protect them.

Speaking of training,  The top five workplace safety issues faced by small Aussie businesses revealed.  Australia has rolled out new workplace rules and regulations and like with any new program the literature and training is not helping much as small companies are concerned about the complexity of the rules and constant changing along with the paperwork.  Let’s hope the government offers lots of patience and tolerance as people adjust.  Maybe a better way of getting the message out is in order as well.

Building a better death trap.  OSHA Investigation Finds Hazards Remain at North Jersey Warehouse.  What began as an employee complaint, OSHA came in and found blocked exit routes, blocked electrical panels and struck by hazards so they cited the company in February.  OSHA returned recently and found that just about nothing had been fixed and workers were still being exposed to hazards so this time they’ve been hit with a potential fine of $181,280.  It would have been much cheaper just to fix things in the first place but some companies just have to do it the hard way and that’s why you should never keep quiet about safety.  If it doesn’t look right and appears dangerous, then it probably is.  Say something and if you’re ignored called the OSHA hotline 1-800-321-6742.

Back quickly to Australia.  They are doing something that is happening more in this country.  That is giving out prison sentences if a worker dies due to company negligence.  Yes,  Industrial Manslaughter – Up to 20 Years Imprisonment and Maximum AUD10 Million Fine for Corporate Offenders.

  angerissueburning dIt is amazing that the San Francisco Bay area, teeming with entrepreneurial spirit, rich in investors, and near by silicon valley that we are saddled with two of the most inept companies.  PGE has had a vacuum in leadership for years now, as profits became more important then human lives and BART, the transit company that made dummy surveillance cameras and dummy transit cops a thing.  State agency slaps BART with a nearly $220,000 fine for worker deaths  Their continued lack of leadership earned them a $220,000 fine from CalOSHA for the deaths of two maintenance workers hit by a train.  The incident exposed BART’s horrible training program for new train drivers and the lack of communication about scheduled maintenance and repairs and protecting workers.

True trickle down economics, California style.  Legal marijuana causes warehouse rent to skyrocket in Sacramento – 4 or 5 times normal

That brings this episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close.  Thanks for stopping by and taking time out of your busy day.  Please feel free to use any of these stories at your next safety tailgate/toolbox meeting.  Safety is everybody’s job, don’t be afraid to ask questions, do your own research on the web.  It’s you life.  Until next time, please never keep quiet about safety, for the life you save may be your own.

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Companies Behaving Badly-To Life

mickeymousepunchedife

Welcome back.

We all talk about how important life is.  Our religious leaders teach us how precious life is, we have 24/7 suicide hotlines to help prevent the premature ending of life, we have doctors who are sworn to do everything they can to keep life going and we respect and honor those first responders who put their lives on the line to keep our lives from expiring.  However in reality, we don’t act like we really care about life at all.

Instead we behave like Lilliputians and the Blefuscu, so desperate to be right, so desperate to win, there is no open honest discussion, there can be no consensus just hatred because you don’t like the way the other one breaks open their eggs and if they can’t crack them open like you do, they’re not worthy of life.  That would be like shooting your husband just because he hung the toilet paper in the opposite direction.  (Yes, I know you’ve thought it, but didn’t carry it out.)  We cut off other vehicles, cause we’re special and important without a thought what the end result could be, death.  We have fistfights in a metal tube cruising at 35,000 feet without thought of what the result could be, death.  We bash in someone’s brains just for cheering on the visiting team without a thought of the end result, death and prison.  We shoot at strangers on the freeway, cause, hey why the hell not and no thought what the result could be.  

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So with all that going on and all the training sessions, certifications, re-certifications, safety meetings, safety tailgates/toolboxes, drills, tests and news stories, we, in the name of expediency and under the guise of “just this time”, continue to find new ways to severely injure or kill ourselves because for that fleeting moment, we believe we’re ingenuous and immortal but for too many this reality fades too fast and in the blink of an eye, they’re dead.  No body cares that you saved 10 minutes by stacking paint containers instead of getting a ladder, you’re dead.  No one cares that you were mocking the boss right before you slipped and fell off the roof, you’re dead.  No one cares how may times you could spin the forklift, you’re dead.  They’re all in shock, stare at your dead corpse.  You no longer exist, in fact you’re now a burden.  The OSHA inspection, the internal inspection, the workers comp insurance company inspection, lawyers, courts, fines and settlements.  Meanwhile your body has be moved, cold stored, autopsied, prepped and buried/cremated.  

You’ll be remembered when the old timers are sitting around with the rookies at break and share their stories of the day you died, where they were, what they saw and over the years the story will expand and change to one of epic proportions and no where near the true story, but then, it won’t matter to you, you’re dead.

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This is a company that only cares about money and how much the owner can line his pockets with as he had the nerve to blame the large OSHA fine for Layoffs Triggered by Large OSHA Fine.  Aluminum Shapes was hit with a $1,922,895 fine for all the safety violations in the plant and this includes several workers receiving chemical burns while working in a tank that still contained corrosive material.  To add insult to injury they told them to return to work after their hospital visit.  Another worker got a broken pelvis and also was told to get back work.  Rather then offering leadership and taking responsibility for his actions, he turned and laid off workers using the large fine as to why.  He created the problem but blames OSHA for the layoffs but he may have done those workers a favor, since now they can’t get injured or killed.  What a man.  There seems to be quite a few immature, unprepared leaders around.  You do not have to put up with this kind of treatment and why would you want to die here?

Another company that believes safety is fake news, Fall hazards net roofing contractor over $1.5 million in OSHA fines.  Great White Construction Inc. was cited for 14 workplace violations, 11 of them Willful.  As I’ve told you before, a willful violation means the company knew the hazard was there and that someone could die from it but did NOTHING about it. This also earned them a spot in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program since their concern for employee safety is nonexistent.  They gave them harnesses to wear, so I guess it would look good, but didn’t tie them off to rope grabs and roof anchors.  In other words, if you fall you will probably die.  Learn what is proper fall protection suppose to look like and be.  Don’t put yourself in harms way for someone who doesn’t care.  Say no.  

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News flash, when people have to work more OT and longer hours, accidents increase. Research: Workplace Injuries Are More Common When Companies Face Earnings Pressure.  I’m guessing you already knew this.  We’ve all seen it at the factory, sales over sells and with short time lines to make it interesting,  Raw goods, packaging, parts, materials all need to be ordered, production goes into full gear.  With the Over time and extra work days, plus what’s going on at home and your world it begins to take it’s toll with fatigue, weary muscles and sore parts. Judgement becomes impaired, something gets missed and a mistake happens and you’re hurt.  It’s tough, I’ve been there.  When one of our plants went offline due to Katrina we had to help make up the difference in lost production and worked 27 straight days.  People were exhausted, we found one guy who fell asleep in his car in the parking lot after his wife called looking for him.  When we woke him he wasn’t sure if he was going home or coming to work.  One employee had a serious car crash when she fell asleep at the wheel.  We also had a sharp increase in cuts and abrasions. The schedules could have been made more employee friendly with a few more breaks thrown in, but then management’s attitude was push them until they break.  The end result was we lost a few good employees who quit or retired after that streak.  Was it worth it, I guess it depends on who you ask. 

Veterans, opportunities in construction and manufacturing are there and make for a very good career.  Check out this free, no cost 10 hour OSHA general safety course.  NO COST Osha 10 Hour General Safety Course 09/30 & 10/01/2017 @ Cal State University Fullerton

My two favorite examples of companies that lack leadership and competence were in the news again.  PGE where safety is important, sometimes, Collapsed Crane Lifted Off Campbell Home Amid PG&E, Cal/OSHA Investigation.  Can’t wait to read the final report on this one and see if lack of training was the root cause.  I’ll be sure to follow up on this one.  

And then BART was at it again showing just how incompetent their leadership really is. Anyone need a Clipper card? BART has thousands after Warriors parade blunder.  BART’s geniuses have a half million dollars tied up in Clipper cards, just sitting in boxes doing nothing but collecting dust and not interest.  They’ve demonstrated their incompetence several times and we agree, they are incompetent so let’s move on and get some new brains in there.  Maybe folks who have mass transit experience.  In fact we need to look at how the whole operation is run and eliminate the current board and bring in people who know what they’re doing, not politicians.

Well that’s it for this month.  Enjoy the last of your summer and now more then ever, treat everyone the same way, with respect.  Just because they come in different packaging doesn’t mean they are better then you, worse then you, they’re just different then you.  Vive la dif·fé·rence!!  Diversity works on so many levels by getting a different POV, different ways to solutions.  However, some people are just assholes.  They will always be that way and they will always be around with their negative energy and view points.  Don’t let assholes sour you on other people, just ignore them.  Never keep quiet about safety for the live you save may be your own.

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A Complete Guide To Warehouse Safety – Volume I – Begin With Basics

 

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As Dorothy emerged from the modular office she looked around for any signs of life.  A moan, a groan any sound would be nice even the sound of Pete’s voice but where the heck did she land?  “Are you a good inspector or a bad inspector?” the voice from the bushes asked.  Dorothy was happy to hear a voice but also startled as she thought no one to be around.  Who’s that Dorothy yelled?  As she emerged from the brush she again asked, “Are you a good inspector or a bad inspector?”  I’m not an inspector at all, I’m a machinist.  “Are you sure?  You’re not here to find out why that module fell out of the sky and landed on, killing the wicked inspector of the east?”  Dorothy walked over to where she pointed and to her horror saw two legs, wearing work boots sticking out from under the module.  OMG! That’s not my fault, the tornado dropped me here.  “That may be, but when the wicked inspector of the west finds out what happened you’re sure to be in trouble.”  Trouble!  I didn’t…I don’t want trouble…I want to go home.  “Well my dear, you’ll have to go to the Emerald city and see the head of OSHA and report this incident. You only have 24 hours to do so and a long journey ahead so I suggest you don’t delay and begin right now.  First, those ruby steel toed boots will help protect and ensure a safe journey.”  Before she could blink an eye, the work boots that were on the dead inspector of the east were now on Dorothy’s feet.  But how do I get to the Emerald City?  I don’t even know where I am now.  Smiling and shaking her head, “Dorothy, it’s so easy, just follow the green brick road of safety.” 

As Dorothy will tell you the green brick road of safety is not a fairy tale, myth or urban legend. It is a real path that YOU, the staff, management, facility, outside contractors and company should be hiking along together.  To ensure a continuous and consistent safe working environment lets begin with basics.  

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You need to review your overall operation at least once a year, from the receiving dock to manufacturing to the shipping area including the outside area around your facility.  The best time to accomplish this is during your slow period or shutdown which varies for all as for some it’s after the holidays, and others during the summer or year end. The other times you should take a look at your operation is when opportunities like a accident, near miss or when new equipment, machinery or production lines present themselves.  Don’t wait, don’t put this off as it is easier to correct a problem now before it gets to far out of hand.  However, your good intentions, (which I’ve been told paves the road to hell) will mean nothing if you continuously make excuses as to why you put off doing the review. Sorry to keep stressing this but I’ve seen how procrastination can be a stumbling block to getting this done and then someone gets injured or killed.  Oh yea, we meant to fix that and now it’s too late.  OSHA is going over your records with a fine tooth comb and employees are with lawyers giving depositions who are then filling suits.  You want to avoid that.

Yes, I  know what it’s like and what’s involved and how each day can be hectic and challenging in a warehouse or manufacturing facility  but when you keep making excuses to put it off another day, you’re only kidding yourself.  That’s why, first work and develop your time management skills an give yourself a schedule with a plan with blocks of time and days you’ll work on this.  Remember, you’re in control and the one who manages your time.  It was one of the hardest things I learned to do but I was able to accomplish it.  There are books on time management that can help you but I found you have to want to do it and after 21 days it’ll become a habit.

Even though a job safety analysis is usually completed by someone trained and certified in the field of industrial safety and can be a in-house safety manager or an outside consultant, there is no reason as a manager, supervisor or employee you shouldn’t be familiar with the process and understand what a hazard is and why.  As you spend time on the shop floor, about 80% of your time, observing and being available to your staff, there’s a chance you may even spot a safety hazard and correct it long before it can become a problem.  Not all safety hazards are physical in nature like from moving parts or power source.  Lack of training is also a hazard to that employee, other employees and the company.  Review and update training records of your staff to make sure it’s current and compliant. Which employees have been trained on emergency shut off, handling liquid spills, containing hazardous spills, lock out tag out, shelter and place, forklift battery or propane tank change and maintenance and so on.  Make a list of who is lacking training in a specific area and those who may need a refresher.

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Now you can begin your walk around the facility and identify potential hazards.  The analysis starts as we watch and observe each movement and action an employee takes as they complete their assigned daily tasks looking for any source of potential damage, harm or adverse health effects on that person under the conditions at work.  Some are obvious as an open hole in the floor that someone can fall through, missing railing to prevent falls, exposed wires.  In addition are there moving machinery parts or conveyor belts in close proximity to them?  Any piece of equipment, machinery or conveyor system that is operated by or near working employees, needs to be checked for pinch points, inadequate or lack of guards from flywheels, gears, shafts, pulleys, keyways, belts, sprocket chains and any other moving parts as one can easily get a shirt sleeve or limb caught in those moving parts and pulled into the machinery. For the equipment that requires to be fed by hand, oiled, adjusted or requires maintenance, do employees know and understand LOTO procedures, (Lock Out and Tag Out) before performing any of those tasks.  As employees manually load machines with labels, cartons and tape or physically move product to a pallet, are they over reaching to grab an item (strains), are they off-balance or have incorrect posture while they lift (back strains), and exhibiting other poor ergonomics like bending, or twisting the torso for long periods of time? 

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Some hazards may not be as obvious like poor air quality, leaking gases or dust particulates in the air.  What ventilation system or PPE can help that situation?  Forklifts, the workhorse of every facility unfortunately account for a large percentage of accidents and also cause at least 100 deaths a year in this country.  So when we begin our observations in the dock area where the most action occurs as items are delivered, shipped, cross-docked and put away. the main issues here involve forklifts being driven off the loading dock, forklifts striking or pinning employees, and products falling onto employees. These incidents are related to the following hazards; slick or wet floors (rain water, other liquid spills, ice) that is not cleaned up immediately, improper use of forklifts, including excessive speeds, not honking horn coming out of trailers or at blind intersections, trailers pulling out of dock while unloading is still in process, not paying attention while driving, improper stacking or over stacking of product, use of broken wooden pallets, forks left raised in air while moving product and striking overhead fixtures or my pet peeve, horseplay.  Warehouses are just as much in need of professional behavior and the front office.  There is not room for horseplay or other immature activities as people usually wind up hurt.  If there is time for this kind of behavior in your facility, then you then you’re over staffed.  

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Which bring me to, establishing and enforcement of the rules of the road at your facility and again, the rules only work when they  are enforced so the consequences for infractions must be clearly spelled out including those for horseplay and should not only cover your employees but outsiders like truck drivers and vendors as well.

Now as you walk around the remainder of the facility be sure to check in the battery recharging room or refueling station. Do you have an operating eye wash station and/or shower to deal with acid spills on a individual?   There is always the chance of an acid spill from a battery charged immediately after refilling with water (not proper procedure). Does the battery room have a venting system to prevent vapors from accumulating and creating a possible explosion hazard. Is there a spill kit and PPE available such a goggles, face shield and gloves? PPE, (Personal Protection Equipment).  In fact, any task an employee does in the warehouse ask yourself is there any PPE that’ll make the job safer to perform? Besides goggles, gloves, ear plugs, bump cap/hard hat, face shield, dusk mask, what would offer better protection?

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Continue with your critical eye now focused on fire safety. Make sure fire extinguishers or fire hoses are accessible and are NOT blocked and overhead sprinkler heads are not being used to hand signs or are damaged.  Are the extinguishers clearly labeled at there location? If there is a label but no extinguisher either remove the label or get an extinguisher. Have the fire extinguishers and sprinkler system been inspected within the year and in working order and are the hoses properly rolled and encased?  More items to check: emergency exits not blocked with materials, exit signs light up, emergency lighting works, electrical panels not blocked, poor housekeeping habits like wood debris & trash on floor. Are storage areas full of clutter and disorganized and how are you storing those flammable liquids? They should be stored separately in a clearly marked metal cabinet. Are aerosol cans, parts and tools piling up at workstations or the window sills and floor? Are walkways free of clutter? High pressure hoses clearly marked? Is there a particular spot where you can bump your head, cut your hand or trip and fall? You see, depending on your operations, the hazards can be numerous!  Lastly but not least, are there plans for any new equipment or production lines to be installed in the upcoming year?  When installing new machinery get input from your workers, don’t just listen to the vendor?  My experience has taught me this is a big mistake as they usually don’t take your facility and hazards into consideration.  When you install new equipment or upgrade machinery or change operating procedures, make it the habit to automatically do a job safety analysis to make sure your employees can continue to work in a safe environment. Make sure it’s not blocking emergency routes or exits and is additional PPE needed and most important, training on the new equipment and procedures.   Put the procedures in writing and place in a binder and then given to each employee.  Don’t wait until someone is injured, in fact another good source would be your insurance carrier or HR department.

The Green Brick Safety Road is a long one and Dorothy has just begun her journey. Please join us next month for the next segment of this experience.  

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