A Complete Guide To Warehouse Safety-Volume 4 – Training


After a good nights rest our three travelers were back on the Green Brick Road of Safety  and headed toward Emerald City in hopes that the Head Inspector will help each one with their safety related issues.  The road turned into a dense forrest that blocked most of the sunshine.  It was dark and eerie but the three felt pretty strong walking together.  Dorothy turned to Scarecrow and Tinman and said, this reminds me of a scene from the Wizard of Oz. “What!” both Scarecrow and Tinman rang out in chorus.  Dorothy looked at them puzzled, you never heard, oh never mind.  Lions, tigers and bears, oh my.  “Cute”, said Scarecrow and he thought and sang, “How about.  Falls, trips and amputations, oh my.”  They all chuckled.  Tinman joined in, ” Hazards, PPE and Housekeeping, oh my.”  They all laughed again.  They were bonding into a strong team, each with their own individual skill and working together as a team.  They continued, “Hazards, PPE and Housek….” their fun suddenly stopped when the road abruptly ended and a funiculaire stood before them as the only way to the top of the mountain to continue their journey.


The three of them stood there, looking around trying to figure out their next move.  There was no one around they could ask, no signs, no schedules, nothing.  The cable car was in station with the doors  open, waiting to go.  Scarecrow turned and said, “Well, I guess it’s self service. Let’s check it out.”  They walked inside the car and looked at the controls.  “How hard can this be?”, Scarecrow asked as he surveyed the control panel.  Dorothy suggested he hit the flashing green button.  Tinman felt it was the right decision and Scarecrow concurred with both of them so he hit the button.  A whirling noise started from under the cable car, lights began to flash and Scarecrow turned to Dorothy and Tinman with a proud smirk on his face.


Their victory was short lived as the next sound they heard was a loud roar.  HEEEEEY!  A large lion came running from the buildings towards our travelers, yelling, screaming with flailing arms and looking very menacing.  WHAAAAAT ARE YOU GUYS DOING?  ARRRR YOU CRAZY?  They backed away from the lion, they were pretty scared.  The lion ran right up to Dorothy and got in her face, WHO SAID YOU COULD TOUCH ANYTHING?  YOU DON’T KNO….(Dorothy was the first female mechanic at her plant and she has been through it all, the practical jokes, the nasty comments and put downs, the hand gestures, gyrating hips, bullying and the deafening silence but she never quit, she never let them see her cry,  always waiting until she got home for that luxury and over time it made her a much stronger person.  When the lion got into her face it all the past memories rushed once again through her mind and) SMACK!  She stopped the lion mid word, and yelled, back off mister!  If you have something to say to me, say it in a constructive manner and talk to me but don’t you EVER yell at me about my performance again!  The stunned lion began to cry.  

Now, Dorothy also began to cry and as Scarecrow and Tinman started to console Dorothy they both began to cry as well.  “It’s not your fault Dorothy, said Scarecrow while Tinman added, “Yes, he deserved that.”  The lion kept bawling away.  “I shouldn’t have yelled.  It’s , it’s the stress of this job, it’s killing me.  I’m the only one here who can operate the funiculaire and by time I get someone else trained, the Emerald city sends them somewhere else.  There are no training materials of any kind to help me train so 24/7 I’m the guy.”  Dorothy gave the Lion her tissue so he could wipe his eyes.  We didn’t know and only reacted to your shouting.  Scarecrow motioned Dorothy over to him and Tinman and they whispered amongst themselves.  After a short discussion Scarecrow turned to the Lion and said, “Why don’t you join us?  We’re headed to Emerald City to see the Head Inspector.  I’m going to get PPE, and Tinman going for housekeeping.  I bet he has loads of training material you can use, probably even color videos!  Lion loved the idea, they piled into the cable car and off they went to continue their journey.

(The originally title for volume 4 was – Emergency Ready but while reviewing and updating the order of things I’ve decided it should be – Training.  Training is critical to a successful safety program and key to emergency response and preparedness as well as successful sustainable organization due to increased employee retention.  Between classroom lectures and hands-on experience reinforced with tailgates/toolboxes make for a engaged educated safety conscience employee.)


So here we are folks, more than half way along the Green Brick Road of Safety and the Emerald City is in sight.  It’s been an enlightening trip for me as well and I want to thank you all for the positive responses and fabulous comments on this series.  As I’m sure you remember, we began our journey with Hazard Analysis, to find potential hazards if any, so we can determine the appropriate PPE.  We also discovered the importance of Housekeeping in preventing accidents.  All three large critical segments of workplace safety.  So, after this, are there still more ways to protect your employees?   Yes there is and it is Training. 

Training is the most important part of safety.  Let me say it again, Training is the most important part of safety and works best when it’s delivered concisely, consistently, a little entertaining and with employee engagement and participation.  This goes for all types of training from new employee orientation to forklift certification to operation of machinery to safety meetings to emergency evacuation procedures.  Training is not a one time deal but should be a continuous process of learning, education, recertification, development and growth for building a well trained and confident team, able to react to any situation as one, in a moments notice.  The results of a training program speak for themselves with increased productivity, reduction in accidents and sick days as well as increasing employee retention which is critical to maintain a consistent operation especially in these days of the “skills gap”.  No different then Doctors and lawyers who have continuous education throughout their career as they learn of the latest techniques and tools available for diagnosis and cures.  If you treat training as a joke, that’s how it’ll be perceived and what you’ll get back in return so this is your opportunity to set the tone and demonstrate to your staff or company that you take it seriously. 


After you assess what training your company offers you can begin to develop a training program to tailor your needs.  By putting a training program together now you’ll be ahead of the game if you find yourself with several new hires or seasonal temporary employees.  You know what daily tasks need to be accomplished by your team for success and you want to develop your training based on what the job entails.  Some companies already have written job descriptions handy that you can use as a template to help but I have found more often than not that many have very old out of date or incomplete job descriptions on file and you’ll probably find training material the same way.  That’s not bad, it gives you the opportunity to make it all yours. 

I would also gather company written standard operational procedures, policies and any other information that you think an employee needs to know for loading trucks or picking orders safely and efficiently.  If you work in a food processing plant or food distribution warehouse you should also include HACCP procedures.  Once you get all the information together and set up in your computer/laptop you’ll see how extremely easy it is to edit and update this information as things change.  Then a great habit to develop would be to review job descriptions, procedures and training at least once a year to keep your workers safe, practices current and regulatory obligations filled. 

Some companies are very good about giving you the talking points for the monthly safety meetings along with colorful handouts which is helpful but that may come across as just spoon-feeding safety to your employees!  Like a scene from Island of Dr. Moreau.  What is the law?  Do not put your hands into moving parts.  This would be great if you were training parrots to repeat back to you.  You want to discuss the topic with you staff.  Get their involvement by asking for feedback on what happens on the floor when they deal with a situation.  At one company during a discussion on Lock Out Tag Out I found out that the workers couldn’t LOTO one machine since the electrical box was so old (I think Edison made it himself) there was no way to put a lock on it.  The company told me it wasn’t in the budget to change it out at this time so to protect my staff and the company I made it procedure to call one of the staff electricians to remove the fuses so we could then lock the housing so no one could start the machine.  I was very surprised how soon that electrical panel replacement got moved up, approved and installed.  


So when you get that company material don’t be afraid to make a few adjustments to encourage employee engagement.  Are there additional handouts you can use, videos, power-points or other media to aid your presentation in getting the point across.  When discussing PPE don’t forget to utilize staff in demonstrating how to properly wear and adjust, get a conversation going.  I know some companies want training rushed through and done quick but that only trivialize the whole process.  You want people to buy in to the program and if they don’t find the training interesting, they won’t listen.  When they’re part of the training, everyone listens and learns.   

If the need arises for training material to cover a new procedure or piece of equipment, you want to get it to the staff before you go live, well if you want success anyway.  We were transitioning to a new WMS.  We had one of their consultants on hand to help us with the process.  One of our jobs was to fill 2000 lb. bags with product and then produce a barcoded label that was scanned as it moved to a location in the warehouse.  There was no training material and workers on all shifts were making daily errors.  I asked the all mighty consultant when we could expect written instruction for the workers and stop the bleeding.  It’s coming.  It’s coming.  I couldn’t wait any longer, too many things were at stake, time wasted correcting inventory, loss of confidence in the staff, the stupidity of it all so I put together a two sheet instruction manual along with barcode placards and we brought the errors to ZERO.  I asked and watched my staff about the process and what would help them.  They got exactly that and the issue disappeared.

What ever the training you are going to give always prepare beforehand and get your materials printed, assembled and then rehearse your presentation.  Make sure you are prepared to discuss and know what you are talking about.  There is nothing worse than giving out bad information or being contradicted by an employee.  Depending on your geographical location it would be a big help if you have the training material translated into Spanish.  Some workers may understand english much easier than they can read it and this is information you want to make sure you get across.


General Orientation – Usually given by HR to all new company employees but you can tailor a general orientation training for your department or section of the company  and highlight areas other employees may not have to observe like safety glasses, lunch breaks an sanitation.  After orientation buddy the new employee with a worker to be mentored and help get the lay of the land.

Forklift Certification – You can do it in-house or pay an trainer to come in and handle it.  Either way works but if you have your own trainer you can do the certification any time you need to and they know the facility better and can speak about the layout and hidden dangers.  Under no circumstances should you allow any worker to operate a forklift without obtaining proper training.

Seasonal/Temporary Employee – Using the same materials for regular new employees and  having materials ready will make their training a lot easier.  Even though they are temporary workers they are still human beings and should be treated with the same respect as everyone else.  Even if their first language isn’t english that doesn’t mean they are any less intelligent and you never know who’ll surprise you with a great idea to save time and money for the operation

Safety Training – Can be in the form of a monthly meeting which is most common.  Usually only one topic is covered like avoiding arc flash or LOTO.  When you give training and you are not sure about something, it is perfectly o.k. to tell an employee you don’t know the answer but that you’ll find out and then make sure you get back to them in a timely manner.  Drop the ball once and no one will come to you for anything ever again.

Tailgate/toolbox – meetings are an excellent way to communicate to your staff  as well as  build your own confidence when it comes to public speaking as these gatherings are more informal to a smaller group of people that are held weekly onsite and last no more then 15 minutes.  You can utilize these meetings to discuss a safety issue that just came up or demonstrate a new feature on a piece of equipment or teach a new technique, all to keep safety on their minds and them focused.    They are also suited for a busy work environment since you can break your staff up into smaller groups and keep everyone else working until it’s their turn.  

Huddles – Before the shift begins gather your troops and give a quick run down of the day, how we’re going to tackle it and any specific dangers to be aware of.  If it’s going to be very hot, remind employees to stay hydrated, if it’s raining, remind them about slick floors.  No more then 10 minutes to get everyone on board and going.


WHAT SHOULD YOU TALK ABOUT?  The best topic are those most related to recent events in your facility that causes you to pull your hair out.  Was there a recent near miss reported in the warehouse or did you observe an employee lifting incorrectly.  Another topic could be to discuss an accident that occurred in a sister plant or in the local area and how can we avoid a similar one.  Keep a reminder list for yourself about seasonal topics you’d like to cover through out the year as well like staying hydrated on extremely hot days, emergency evacuation.  Need more inspiration, just google “Tailgate meeting topics”, you’ll wind up with many great suggestions or sign up to follow this blog.

HOW DO YOU GET EMPLOYEES TO LISTEN?  Well food always seems to be a way to attract people and offering donuts once in awhile is nice but the best way to get them to listen is to get employees involved by having them demonstrate and share their experience.  When I would cover LOTO, (Lock Out Tag Out) instead of me droning on about the associated hazards I would pick a piece of equipment, begin the tailgate there and have one of the top operators actually perform the lock out tag out on the unit.  The whole nine yards.   When they did an outstanding job and they always did, they were given a coupon for a free lunch at the local deli I had previously setup.  You also want to create an atmosphere where people are comfortable to learn and ask questions so they need to know up front there is no such thing as a stupid question about safety, EVER!

Don’t ever hesitate to run your operation the way you see fit but make sure to be up front with workers and explain the rules clearly including the consequences if the rules are not followed but make sure they’re reasonable, consistent and not unattainable. .Make sure to document all training (safety and equipment) by using a sign-in sheets and make sure all employees attending sign to acknowledge their attendance, attach copies of the training material used for that meeting and keep for your records. If you are delivering training and meetings on a consistent basis you will find that a well trained team does impact your bottom line for the better with a sustainable knowledgeable workforce.  

The Green Brick Road of Safety is not an imaginary magical place.  You don’t need to locate any secret hidden portals or drink any potions, it has always been there, before you all along.  It’s the road that leads to a safe and productive work place.  Become a safety advocate, it costs nothing to join.  Keep your fellow employees safe and always keep the dialogue on safety moving forward.  The life you save may be your own.  Be sure to stay tuned for our next leg on this journey and don’t miss an issue.  







A Surefire way to improve your chances of survival – Emergency Kit



It’s a wake-up call.  One humungous wet, windy wake-up call.  When hurricane Harvey blasted into southwest Texas leaving extensive damage and flooding, the scale of which is all most beyond comprehension.  Then hurricane Irma took the spotlight unleashing her fury on the Caribbean and Florida.  This is very sad and horrible on so many levels of loss and human suffering and now people who decided to ride out the storm in the keys are stranded, cut off from the world without food, water or power.  I’m sure when most of you heard that, you said to yourself, “Really need to put that survival kit together.”  A fabulous thought that will unfortunately fade along with the coverage of the epic catastrophes until it becomes “Texas, Florida a year later” and then again you’ll say, “Really need to put that survival kit together.” and then one day, the dam breaks, the fires burn rampant, the earth shakes, rattles and rolls.  No kit!!  Now, did you have a plan B?


Did you notice how fast conditions on the ground changed, from dry to chest high water and did you also notice how with a slight change in direction, Irma hit areas that thought there were originally safe?  That’s how natural disasters work.  No warning, no how do you do, no pleased to meet you, just HERE!  If you think I’m going to use these disasters to motivate you to prepare and give yourself the advantage to survive something like this, well, you would be correct!  You never know when an earthquake is going to hit, you don’t know how bad it’ll flood, you don’t know where the twister will touch down, you just don’t know.  That’s why we buy insurance, hoping to never need it, but very happy that it’s there and by preparing an emergency chest/barrel/kit will give you insurance to be able to survive the first week of an event, but hope you’ll never need it.

A lot of cities, of all sizes, struggle daily with their budgets and the cost of firefighters, police, infrastructure repair & maintenance, parks, and recreation, public transit, administrative staffing, courts, pensions, and lawsuits.  The level of city services are not what they once were and that includes the number of police and fire on duty at any given time and in the event of a natural disaster they would be immediately tied up responding to the hundreds of calls they would receive in the first few hours, (In Houston area alone they had over 75,000 emergency calls in the first four days).  They will triage the calls and handle the most serious including bleeding and severe trauma first, those with minor injuries will have to wait or treat themselves.  Depending on the conditions of the roads in and out of town, additional off duty first responders could be greatly delayed if at all able to report to work in the city or town they serve. 


That’s why a survival kit comes in handy especially if you are able to stay in your home after the event.  After checking on those in the household the first thing you’ll do is a walk around your property and check to make sure it is still structurally safe to stay in and there is no smell of gas.  Now you can stay put and you have supplies to wait the few days until power and water come back online and life come back to normal.  Putting your survival kit together can be a fun family project and learning experience.  It’s also a great opportunity for a team building exercise for a company or safety committee.

My Survival Chest – This is what I used and put together for our home of two adults and one dog.  I was able to purchase just about everything on Amazon.com.  Use your imagination when it comes to the container and what you want to stash for an emergency. 




A Rubbermaid 50 gallon capacity container, waterproof and made of sturdy plastic, it’s durable and on wheels, in case you have to move. Yellow so it can easily be seen.




Now, what items and how much of each do you need to put into your survival chest? Base the amounts to store on a worst-case scenario for your location and take into consideration how isolated is your location, are you within city limits and are there bridges and or tunnels to cross?  Next, how many people and pets are you planning for?  ie: Two adults and one dog?  Plan on 5 – 7 days of supplies since that’s about how long it may take before all utilities and services are restored. 



WATER – Plan on 2 gallons per person per day. One gallon for drinking and one gallon for hygiene, sanitation and other.  Multiply 2 gallons with the number of people in the home and don’t forget to include water for your pets.  I have a mixture of bottled water and packaged sterilized water.  I would also add one or two of the straw water filter tools just in case things don’t get back to normal right away and you begin to run low on bottled water.  You can also boil water to sterilize it and if a fire isn’t possible, keep a small bottle of bleach in your kit.  It can be used for purifying water for drinking, 8 drops for a gallon of water, shake and wait thirty minutes.  



FOOD – Any combination of what you enjoy of prepared camping meals, fruits and canned goods (make sure to include a can opener) as well as some of your favorite snacks, power bars and chocolate which will come in handy to help with the stress.  Don’t forget to store emergency food for your pets as well.





RADIO/CHARGER/BATTERIES – There are several radio choices but the ones that come with a hand crank/battery/solar powered are fabulous.  You can leave it in the sun all day to charge or use the hand crank.  It also can be used to charge your phone.  The radio is both AM and FM as well as shortwave.





Flashlights/batteries/Candles and matches/fire starter – With no electricity, you’ll have to rely on flashlights, candles, and lanterns to illuminate the area.  This is very important for everyone’s safety especially if there is debris on the ground.  Never leave candles unattended.  Check the battery size requirements of all your items and store extra batteries in your kit.   

First aid kit/nonlatex gloves – A first aid kit can help you greatly for treating minor injuries.  If you need to treat a neighbor or stranger, the non-latex gloves will help protect you.

Sleeping bags/tents – If your home is not safe to stay in but you have a large yard in the front or back you may want to set up tents for protection from the elements.  Even if you can stay in your home, to help get the kids through this, set the tents up and pretend you’re on a family camping trip.  Also keep a tarp in your kit as well to help protect from rain or use to keep you off the ground or help move someone who can’t get around on their own.

Blankets/warm clothes – Natural disasters don’t care what time of year it is so be prepared and keep some extra sweatshirts, jackets in the kit along with blankets to those chilly nights.

Make sure to keep an inventory of what’s in your emergency kit along with the expiration dates of those items so you can replace them when needed.  Also, designate a meet area so you know everyone who was in the house or apartment is out.  In the event of an emergency, phone traffic will be crazy as people call 911 for assistance, family members calling to say they’re fine and family members calling to find out if loved ones are fine not to mention the possibility of downed cell towers.  I suggest you designate a family member who lives in another state as the contact person you can call to say you are fine and then let them contact everyone else about your status.  

You can get more information about how to prepare for a natural disaster or other emergencies by going to the FEMA web site at fema.gov and get stuff like an Earthquake Safety Checklist and other great information.  Check it out but don’t wait too long as it’ll be hard to research and prepare when you’re in the middle of a disaster.  Really, do it now!


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
NOW A MESSAGE FROM THE GRIM REAPER.   FALLS #1, 6 years in a row!!!
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.


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.  


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.


The CERT Experience


I recently had the pleasure to complete a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team ) class offered by the Vallejo Fire Department.  After 6 weeks of class every Tuesday evening which totaled 28 hours of instruction, demonstration and practice, that all came to completion on a beautiful Saturday morning on Mare Island with a final written exam, practical/drill and the breaking of bread between us new team members and our firefighter instructors.  

The instructors were fantastic, all of them seasoned veterans sharing their years of experience and knowledge.  The CERT program coordinator for Vallejo is Captain Eric Strom who is an excellent instructor, very good speaker who’s easy to listen too with a great sense of humor.  Not once did I feel bored or lulled into a nap, but that also could have been due to the robust firehouse coffee.  Captain Strom had a fantastic support group of fellow first responders as instructors; Battalion Chief Cliff Campbell, Captains Morty Culverwell and Art Gonzales and Engineer Ben Hill were all just as captivating and that’s what makes the course so worthwhile.  You are not only learning the materials in the course guidebook on what to do, which is pretty much black and white but you’re getting first hand accounts of actual real life incidents from first responders and what their thought process was on how they handled a situation.  You learn a lot including about our city fire department and you develop even more respect for what they deal with on a daily basis.  You also can network with other Vallejoans taking the course and build bridges.

godzilla I highly recommend the course.  Why should you take it?  The reality is cities of all sizes struggle daily with their budgets and the cost of firefighters, police, infrastructure repair & maintenance, parks and recreation, public transit, administrative staffing, courts, pensions and lawsuits.  The level of city services are not what they once were and that includes the number of police and fire on duty.  That means for those of you who live in areas where natural disasters can occur, like tornadoes in Oklahoma, hurricanes in Florida or earthquakes in California, when they happen, you and your family could be on your own for a few days if not weeks waiting for gas, water and electricity to return along with other services.  In Vallejo there are only 21 firefighters on duty each shift, that means in the event of a severe quake, they would be tied up responding to the hundreds of calls they would receive after.  Depending on the conditions of the roads in and out of town, additional off duty first responders could be greatly delayed if at all able to get here. The hospitals will be flooded with all kinds of injuries from walking wounded to severe trauma.  This mean you will have to shut off your own gas and water if needed as the fire department responds to the areas hardest hit and/or where fires may be happening.  It means that the fire department will use their resources the most efficient way possible to save the most lives.  So your son’s broken arm may be an immediate priority to you, but the burning seniors center will be the priority to them.



“Main Street, USA” Where search and rescue drills are conducted.

We were lucky in this town for the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 but we sure got a wake up call from the 2014 Napa quake and this program teaches you how to be prepared by putting together a disaster kit, emergency supplies and how you can take care of yourself, family and then neighbors, like a broken arm, after a disaster, allowing firefighters to concentrate on the higher priority calls.  It’s like car insurance.  You hope you never have to use it but if you are in an accident or it’s stolen, you have piece of mind.  Same with the disaster kit.   You hope you never need it but nice to know it’s there.

You can take what you want out of the class.  Self preservation after the big one, doomsday preparation but I think the intent is to help develop a sense of community.  All to often you don’t know a neighbor until something bad like a disaster comes along.  Sure you nod or wave at each other but how well do you know them?  Are they frail, do they have physical limitations or other factors that limit their mobility.  Do they live alone and will they need assistance in an emergency or do they have skills that can help everyone in the neighborhood?   Don’t wait for the next disaster to meet them, get to know them now before you’re thrown together into a blender cause the anonymity happens.  My wife and I had lived in our first apartment together for 8 months before I was transferred to the bay area.  The day we were moving,  the woman who lived in the apartment next door came out and asked if we were moving in.  Never did get her name.

Don’t know when the next class is scheduled to happen but if you’re interested it may be a good idea to email secretary, City of Vallejo, Fire Department, Fire Prevention Division: Shirley.Herbert@city of vallejo.net  and let her know you’re interested in taking the next class. 

Next installment we’ll take a look at putting together an emergency supply chest.
















Companies Behaving Badly-Gone Wild


Welcome back.  Yep, unfortunately there are still companies behaving badly out there.

 It’s not an easy or a glamorous job being a production/warehouse supervisor but it is interesting and challenging.  You are the filter between the company brain trust (upper management) and the employees as you move and match their abilities in order to achieve the corporate daily and long term goals.  Somehow you make it all work, on top of the production reports, the maintenance reports, exception reports, attendance reports, safety meetings, training, coaching and troubleshooting issues each and every shift.  Some days are much worse than others but when you’re this tied up sometimes you just find it convenient to overlook safety rule infractions, “this time only”, you tell yourself.  After all, when you let safety rules slide because you want to be a nice guy or you’re too tired to deal with it, who am I really hurting?  

You’re hurting your credibility an letting down the team.  Once you begin that path of justifying ignoring minor safety rules, you find it becomes easier and easier to make excuses and before you know it safety is on the back burner.  You’re now seen as wishy washy by your staff as you pick and choose wish rules are not important enough.  I have enough to do today without worrying about the horn that doesn’t work on a forklift.  You have 10,000 cases to pull this shift and don’t want to deal with the bosses, “WHY ISN’T IT DONE” so you let it slide, this time.  Your staff will pick up on this fast, and some will be very disappointed in what they see as YOU letting them down and not caring about their safety. Some will take advantage and not bother doing forklift check lists and drive unsafe forklifts you would have red tagged before.  The signs are there as you see workers wearing ear plugs draped around their necks and safety glasses protecting foreheads, while no one bothers with LOTO.  Do the few near misses that occur wake you up from your non compliance fog?  Or does it take the injury or death of a good worker you know well to bring you back.


It’s a tough job but it all can be done by managing your time which takes practice and self control and learning to be patient.  If you can’t get the safety meeting done today because the auger cracked in the screw conveyor, just do it tomorrow but don’t wait much longer then that or it won’t get done.  Don’t want to deal with a minor safety infraction right this moment, make a note in your 3×5 pad of who, what, where and mention it to them a day later and not as a reprimand but as a informational observation about safety.  There are times you feel like the juggler in the center ring of a grand 3-ring circus but remember, you’re just the ring master for this challenge.

CA jury awards $16M to family of construction worker killed on job site – CBBs (Companies Behaving Badly) don’t believe they have to be compliant and spend money on safety. They see no return on the investment and it cuts into the profits.  You may get away with it, for a little while and with the low fines it was worth the risk. However, beginning today the OSHA fines greatly increase and well maybe it’s not so attractive now but the fines may be the least of your problems as juries are getting tired of companies killing their employees and awarding large settlements.  In this case they awarded a total of $27 million, of which, 16 million from a construction company.  Earlier this year a jury in Texas $54 million to a family for the death of a worker.  Is it still worth the risk of non-compliance?  Think about this first, many cities and states have increased the criminal prosecutions of company owners over lack of safety especially when it leads to the death of a worker.  Several have already resulted in substantial prison time.  So why not use that creativity to find ways to keep your workers safe and cut costs in other areas of production.  Safety is a great investment and works very well when you involve your workers.


Local plant workers file OSHA complaint – If you really want to involve your workers this means listening to them, which CBB’s don’t do otherwise they are going to go elsewhere with their concerns and you won’t like what happens when they do.  Why would you want to call more attention to your business then is necessary?  When workers bring a safety concern to your attention, get back to them on what’s going on.  These plant workers had serious concerns about safety and I’m willing to bet no one listened to them or intended on doing anything about their safety concerns and that’s why they made the decision to go to OSHA.  They probably  began with reporting the issue to their immediate supervisor. That’s who you should bring safety issues to first.  If you don’t hear back in a reasonable time, if you belong to a union, bring the issue to their attention.  If you still don’t get a response continue up the chain of command and ask to speak to the department head or go to Human Resources.  If you still hear nothing or nothing has been addressed or you’re still getting BS excuses what taking so long, then you have to decide how important your life is as the above workers did and go to OSHA and file a complaint.  Of course this could have all been avoided by listening to your workers in the first place but you’d rather have OSHA come in and go through every nook and cranny of your facility.


Safety gone wild?  Safety box cutter called ‘health and safety gone mad’  Taking safety to a new level so future workers can avoid what I went through.  My first and by the grace of God, my only industrial accident during my career was with a box cutter.  As a teenage stock-boy working in a supermarket I committed the cardinal sin of opening a case of toilet paper by cutting towards me with the box cutter.  As I reached the end of the case top my hand slipped and the box cutter sliced across my left thigh.  At first I was angry I ruined a new pair of jeans but that concern was soon forgotten as I suddenly could feel warm liquid trickling down my leg.  To make it worse, when I couldn’t find our assistant manager who was in charge at the time, he was sleeping it off in the basement which he did often, so I left to go to my doctor.  The next day, after getting three stitches and a tetanus shot, I had to endure a rambling lecture on my actions from the assistant manager even though I had received no training on how to properly use the box cutter or how to report an industrial injury.  Even with all the new devices out there now, making life safer at work, it still doesn’t replace the importance of training.

Are you ready to take charge and operate your part of the company with your employees safety in mind?  Excellent.  Remember the life you safe may be your own.  Until next time, be safe.











This Month’s Tip From WarehouseFlow Advisors-Jul


Companies Behaving Badly – Turkey!

My thoughts and prayers are with the brave people of France. I had visited Paris in October and found a vibrant and beautiful metropolitan city full of life and energy, that I instantly fell in love with.  Wish Paris a speedy recovery.       #standwithFrance    #standwithParis



What ever the reason, fatigue, carelessness, poor judgement or lack of concentration, mistakes happen.  Mistakes are also a very persuasive tool in learning a lesson but unfortunately not everyone has the fortune to get a second chance after making a mistake.  One little innocent slip, trip or unexpected gust of wind and you’re sailing to a life time of handicap or worse, your death.  Each death has a story and with that a lesson we can all learn from.  40 new stories have begun in FY2016 as that many people have already lost their lives in industrial accidents.  Don’t let their deaths be in vain and learn from their mistakes. The attitude “it won’t happen to me” will come to haunt you.  Take advantage of all safety equipment and/or practices available.  Fall safety gear, hard hats, goggles/safety glasses, LOTO.  You are just as responsible for your safety as your company.  Don’t let them ever put you in a unsafe position.  If you have expressed safety concerns to your supervisor or management and no one is addressing it contact HR or your union representative.  If no one is getting back to you  Call the OSHA Hotline -1 (800) 321-6742 (OSHA).


Penalties in Dallas Fatality Top $400,000 – PREVENTABLE – Jorge Carrion Torres a 44 year old worker, on the job for one month didn’t get a second chance and fell to his death.  His employer Design Plastering Inc. and Design Plastering West LLC didn’t think it necessary to protect Jorge while he applied stucco underlayment from a third story balcony and had not installed scaffolding or provided any fall protection which would have saved his life.  His daughter will spend her first Thanksgiving without him.  OSHA found 8 Egregious Willful and 4 Serious violations and issued a proposed fine of $407,400.  Design Plastering had no regard for the lives of their employees as Arizona OSHA had previously cited them 7 times for fall related hazards.  A man died due to willful neglect by this company and why the owner is not on trial is beyond me.

OSHA slaps ND contractor with $105K fine for fall protection violations – PREVENTABLE – Another day, another fall, the absurd continues.  When a worker injured his back and legs because the forklift platform he was on tipped over, the OSHA investigation found that his employer, Lorz Construction allowed workers on scaffolds up to 3 stories without guardrails or fall protection equipment and failed to ensure forklifts supporting scaffold platforms were not moved while occupied and construct scaffolds correctly. No second chances there.  OSHA issued 3 Willful violations along with a fine of $105,000.  They were also cited in 2014 for similar safety violations.  No matter where you work, you should not be on a platform of any type while it is moving unless you are in a cage and properly tethered.  Don’t let anyone put you into an unsafe situation.  Don’t keep quiet about safety.  Be loud!

Toyota lift of Minnesota

Toyota lift of Minnesota

OSHA fines Kinzers contractor $61,600 for ‘serious’ safety violations – PREVENTABLE – Deja Vu.  Rockvale Construction couldn’t care less about the safety of their workers on the job as they received 2 Willful violations along with a proposed fine of $61,600 for exposing workers to forklift and fall hazards up to 26 feet.  Get this, they also failed to properly attach the forklift platform and this is the third time since 2013 workers have been exposed to dangers and appears their safety program is based on luck and hoping not to get caught as they paid their own pockets with the blood money they save putting their employees in harms way.

TimkenSteel worker injured in crane accident, factory fined for 2nd time in a year: OSHA – PREVENTABLE – A failed safety latch on a crane caused 1000 pounds of equipment to fall on a worker who suffered a fractured left foot and several broken bones.  He got a second chance and the lesson is don’t stand directly under suspended heavy objects, ever.  The following investigation found 1 Willful, 1 Repeat and 2 Serious safety violations and the second serious violations within a year for TimkenSteel along with a proposed fine of $393,500.  Days earlier, OSHA had inspected their other plant and issued 8 Repeat and 8 Serious violations for fall hazards, lack of guardrails, slippery surfaces, PPE, no LOTO in place or use of guards or locking devices, damaged equipment, electrical hazards and didn’t bother to report injuries and illnesses as required.

 After Amputation at Austin Manufacturing Plant, OSHA Cites Employer and Temp Agency – PREVENTABLE – When you toss temporary employees into a new and unfamiliar environment and then expose them to hazards you have a recipe for disaster.  Genesis Today Inc. did just that as a temporary worker had his hand caught in a unguarded auger conveyor and watched it amputated from his arm.  For this lapse in judgement they were cited 1 Willful safety violation and a fine of $56,000 for not having guarding in place. The agency that supplied the temp worker, Texas Management Division Inc, doing business as TMD Temporaries was also cited by OSHA for 1 Serious violation and fine of $7,000 for failing to inspect the work site before sending workers there and making sure the machine was properly guarded.
Large companies could face £20m fines for corporate manslaughter – ENGLANDAs a tougher stance on safety by the government, under new sentencing guidelines major companies convicted of corporate manslaughter will face fine of up to £20 million. Check out the story.
UCH Logistics fined after forklift accident – ENGLAND – UCH Logistics has been ordered to pay £20,940.40 in fines and costs following a forklift truck accident that left a worker with head injuries after being hit by a reversing forklift.
Emterra under investigation after worker injury complaints – CANADA – After 19 complaints from both workers and residents the City of Winnipeg is investigating the city’s trash removal company for unsafe working conditions.

New OSHA Rescue Requirements for Confined Space Retrieval: What You Should Know – READING – Whether you are in management, foreperson or worker you should read this article about the new rules for confined space retrieval and know what’s expected to protect you.

$1.8 Million in OSHA Charges Assessed Against Illinois Businessman – JERK of the Month – This person took advantage of other human beings who were trying to feed their families and have shelter.  He promised these immigrants work and then willfully exposed them to asbestos without any warnings or knowledge of the environment and the possible affects from the exposure.  This person exposed human beings to a life of disabilities just to fill his own pockets with money.  Read the article and see how morally bankrupt one person can be.

Well, that unfortunately brings yet another episode of companies behaving badly to a close.  As always, thank you all for stopping by and taking time out of your busy schedules to read the blog.  Please feel free to use any or all of these stories at your next safety tailgate/toolbox meeting. There are so many types of equipment and devices to provide you with a safe working experience.  Why wouldn’t you want to give yourself a second chance and learn from a mistake.  Use all safety equipment.  Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s o.k. this one time.  You have the right to go home the same way you arrived at work, in one piece.  Never stay quiet about safety.  BE LOUD!  Until next month, take care.