Companies Behaving Badly-Don’t Do That

zohandon'tdothis

Welcome back and thank you for stopping by.

I’ve gotten a lot of advise on “what not to do” over the course of my life.  Beginning with my first ever safety training, don’t touch the stove when the burners are lit.  Then it was don’t play with matches and don’t play with dad’s lighter fluid, (my sister’s doll house was made of tin which made it resilient enough to hold up to the multiple times it was set on fire with the aid of dad’s lighter fluid).  As I got older the “don’t play with” advice became more indirect, but still telling me what not to do.  “Do you know the old woman in apartment 15?  No?  Good.  Don’t go there.  She’s crazy and eats children”.  “Do you know those guys on the corner?  No?  Good, don’t hang with them.  They’re bad dudes.”  “Do you chew tobacco?  No? Good. Don’t get started, it’s a nasty habit i wish I could kick.”  “Do you smoke? No? Good. Don’t get started, it’s a nasty habit I wish I could kick.”  You want a beer? Don’t drink? Good, don’t get started it’s a nasty habit I wish I could kick.”  I had a dear friend at the time, who offered me a paper bag with airplane modeling glue inside.  I declined, “You don’t?  That’s good and don’t start, it’s a nasty habit I wish I could kick.” He did eventually kick it, but not before the damage was done. 

A lot of people concerned about what I may get started doing but not why I shouldn’t get started except that it’s a nasty habit.that’s hard to kick and of course many of these well intentioned folks were role models that affected me for life.  “Hey. You a safe worker?  No? Good, it’s a nasty habit I wish I could kick.”  I could see Stubby, one of my dad’s buddies who owned a garage/gas station saying that.  He earned his nickname while working on a car when the spinning fan blade separated him from three of his fingers.  “You don’t want to get started on this.”  He would have been right, had he said that.

.peterpushbuttonIt’s not enough just to tell people not to do something, especially since some folks will do it anyway and don’t have to wait for a dare!  It also sounds very hypocritical with “Do as I say, not as I do” if not properly explained.  You want people to learn and understand WHY they shouldn’t do it by explaining what the consequences can be, how the hazard can be mitigated, does exposure need to be limited?  So I really don’t need to lose fingers in the process of getting the job completed?  The more you teach and educate a worker, the don’t do this morphs into “what you should do” to safely complete tasks while also building their confidence and giving you a better prepared and safer worker.  

When a near miss or accident occurs you do an investigation and determine if your training needs improving, the employee needs improvement or more safeguards are needed to be put into place but don’t let those events distract you from missing the little things that indicate change is needed.  When leadership is on the shop floor, listening, observing and walking in workers steps you’ll see if there’s an area where workers keep bumping their heads on a overhead pipe or the glue machine that heats up to the point it can burn your hand.  Will bump caps or padding the pipe help best?  Should I invest in gloves or talk to the glue machine company rep about the machine?  Open and honest communication between people, making a better and safer workplace.  Wow!  What a concept.

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Sugarloaf Owners Cited by OSHA Following Employee Death  Hazards lurk everywhere and sometimes the company leadership just doesn’t see the big picture from behind their desk, blinded by the glare from their computer screen.  Don’t overlook or fail to report little safety incidents like head bumping, cut fingers, burns to management and see if PPE is required to help mitigate these issues.  At one time, baseball players didn’t wear batting helmets and  hockey players didn’t wear helmets.  Now it’s pretty much mandatory for a safe work environment.  This is also where having safety committees can help as they can review these incidents and help bring in the best solution through open discussion and employee input.

When companies go through growing pains, unfortunately sometimes so do the workers.  Amazon has had a few bumps in the road,  Two Worker Deaths in September at Different Amazon Warehouses Spawn Concern from Worker Advocates.  Amazon’s success has made them everyones favorite target but two deaths in one month does raise concerns.  Then Amazon faces $28,000 fine after Indiana warehouse worker crushed by a forklift.  They found that Amazon didn’t provide adequate training and safety procedures weren’t followed.  These are symptoms of a fast paced, fast growing company where training is rushed and can be confusing.  It also sends a bad message when you say Worker Safety is important to Amazon and then pull a double standard mixed message of when it’s convenient.  I understand jobs are tough to come by and working for Amazon can be like hitting the jackpot and finding where they keep the soylent green, but if you’re not sure about something, ASK!  If your supervisor seems bothered or put out by your question then this may not be the place you want to work.  It’s your life.  You choose.

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Then Tesla, another successful company driven by one man, to make life better for all of us, well, maybe, except for their own workers.  Tesla’s Biggest Problems.  Running behind on production goals, increased injuries and accidents on the job what’s a CEO to do?  Fire as many as you can to send a message to workers that Safety First is just a slogan and has no real meaning if we don’t get cars on the road.  CalOSHA may have to set up a field office at the plant in Milpitas.  I have a problem with companies that blame their problems on the workers.  If you don’t properly train workers, if you don’t make safety a real priority and just say how important safety is, people do eventually see through the BS.  Then when you push the poorly trained poorly disciplined workforce they get exhausted working 16 hour days and accidents as well as sick calls greatly increase and the worst thing to do in a situation like that is come down hard.  Terminating people for your faults only tell me you don’t care about anyone but yourself.  Workers respond much better when they’re part of the discussion on safety and conditions.    

Being prepared means not just having the equipment and supplies to deal with an emergency but also checking and monitoring them to make sure they’ll be action ready when needed.  Make sure fire extinguishers, emergency lights and battery backup, eye wash stations, respirators and other emergency response equipment are on a regular inspection program.  The manufacturer is a good place to find out how often.  Don’t make excuses to put it off, this is critical to safety.  Otherwise you may find yourself making excuses in front of a jury.

Thanks for stopping by and checking this episode out.  We appreciate you all.  As some of you head out to points unknown for Thanksgiving and others prepare to entertain friends and family, please be safe in your travels.  Don’t let an asshole ruin your holiday, be patient and be prepared.  If you are feeling alone, depressed or hopeless please remember you are NOT alone and you can speak to someone who doesn’t judge.  1-800-273-TALK (8255)  There is no shame asking for help.

Until next month, Happy Thanksgiving.  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

Preacher

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-Stupid Tax

stopbeingstupid

Welcome back.

Well, it’s official people, it’s fall season, oh and it’s the beginning of autumn as well.  As the Governments fiscal year ends, OSHA has published its listing of the top 10 safety violations and yet again, falls are number one.  I don’t get it.  With all the focus on fall prevention and all the fines handed out, there are still those that believe they can defy the law of gravity for the sake of saving a few minutes if not seconds and put their life at risk.  The problem is once you begin a fall and there is nothing attached to you to prevent this, depending on the height of your fall you will have time to watch at least part of your life flash before your eyes before it is suddenly jarred by the hard ground you hit.

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Even though you were told at the morning huddle to wear your safety vest while working on the roof and late at the site reminded to anchor your lines to the building you still unhooked yourself cause the line was holding you back from reaching and freeing the air hose that got caught up.  Now, without the tether line you can reach and begin to untangle the hose. Unfortunately, your over confidence minimizes the danger and you step wrong, slip and off you go.  This is not another scary  story but has actually happened to workers who are now just a memory of family and friends.  If you die, well I think you just paid the ultimate price for your actions but if you survive, shouldn’t you be charged a stupid tax?

Yes, the company is responsible for providing you with a safe work environment as well as the PPE and tools needed to accomplish that, so then, don’t you owe it to the company to give them a stupid free employee?  In the above scenario, your stupidity will cause the company to be fined by OSHA and go through an intense examination of practices, policies, procedures and all the documentation to back that up.  The site supervisor will be interrogated and maybe sued or face criminal charges, the companies worker comp premium will increase, your fellow workers who watched your death will get counseling and your widow and children will fight it out in a court of law with your employer as lawyers from both sides go back and forth deciding the monetary value of your life.

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But no matter what I say here, or your bosses tell you, or the videos show you, one of you is still going to believe they are immortal and work at a dizzy height without any protection or forethought, cause it’ll only take a second.  You survive the ordeal and laugh about all the hype and then laugh at people like me who go on about workplace safety.  However if that one time comes up, your number is up and you slip or trip or get carried by a gust of wind at least you won’t hear me say, I told you so, because, you’ll be dead.

So with that all said, the falls continue.  OSHA investigating roofer’s fatal fall from building in Ashburn  He fell 35 feet.  Plenty of time to reflect on the way down and guess what?  There was no evidence of any fall protection equipment being used.  His employer, STA Enterprises Inc., as you expect had no comment.  It looks to me that no one at the site took the responsibility to make sure Mr. Hrdlicka wore and used fall protection gear.  Look, we’ve been around this block many, many times.  If you’re employer, boss, foreperson or supervisor tells you to repair a roof, you say, sure, no problem but where’s my gear

and continue.  Fatal fall from TV tower is deadliest such plunge investigated by feds in 5 years  Three men, 23 year old Brachton Barber, 31 year old Marcus Goffena and 35 year old Benito Rodriguez who were employed by Tower Kings II, were replacing a antenna for a local television station when their scaffolding went out from under them plugging all three to the ground.  Hopefully the investigation will determine what went wrong but it’s a good reminder that you should inspect everything before using it.  The tower, the scaffolding, the anchor points, everything.  Don’t assume that someone has done that a head of time for you.

and continue.  Danbury man in critical condition after impaling himself on metal rod  This guy was very lucky as he was on the roof checking an exhaust fan and well, it was only 10 feet off the ground (OSHA max height is 6 feet before use of fall protection), what could go wrong?  Well, the goods news is he was prevented from hitting the ground when he impaled himself on a pole, which I can tell you is not the approved method of fall protection.  The lesson here is even with what seems to be a easy task can become dangerous if the correct steps and proper attitude are not taken.

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and continue, but the following is a practice that should never be tolerated in any facility, EVER and in fact, there are only two times where I’ve terminated an employee on the spot and in both incidents it was for doing this. OSHA warns about forklift-elevated pallets  One time the excuse given to me was that they couldn’t find the cage to use to properly lift an employee, they actually didn’t look very hard and the other time a temporary employee was convinced that being raised on a pallet was a right of passage.  No matter who tells you to climb aboard a pallet to be raised, a supervisor or company owner the answer should always be a resounding NO!  You can’t be fired for refusing to do an unsafe act.

Lack of training by companies doesn’t help the situation any and a recent survey confirmed this.  17 Percent of Small Business Employees Never Get Workplace Safety Training  If you think you’re saving money by not taking the time to do training you are not only kidding yourself but also putting your workers and your customers in danger.   Training is the most critical aspect of safety.  If employees don’t know what to do in an emergency it can lead to even a larger catastrophe and more injuries and deaths.  Just like safety meetings, training is something you can arrange and make time for, if you want too, without creating over time or other issues.  You just need to be creative and yes, it’s a little more work, but then, aren’t your employees worth it?

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Which brings us to this.  12 Sickened Following Chemical Spill At Mushroom Plant  What kinds of chemicals are used in your facility?  Are there reactions you should be aware of if chemicals mix?  Does you staff know what to do if there is a chemical spill?  Those first few minutes of a spill are critical as you try to evacuate and determine what you are dealing with at the same time and without any training, well, you may be as good as dead.  In this case all 12 were able to go home after being checked out at the hospital but sometimes in these incidents people aren’t so lucky as deadly vapors are invisible and sometimes odorless.  Make sure chemicals are clearly labeled and used in a well ventilated area and that workers are using the proper respirators if needed.  Also make sure to check and verify safety equipment like respirators and ventilation is in top working condition and serviced regularly.

Until science can change this, Death is not temporary, it is forever and temporary workers are human beings trying to make a living just like everybody else and should not be treated like tissues.  The article below is some fabulous reporting as to what this person experienced, going undercover as a temporary employee.  In most cases we don’t treat them with the respect we should.  I went undercover in a Toronto factory where temp workers have died. Here’s what I found  People should always treat people with respect.  You’d be amazed as to what can be accomplished with a little encouragement.

Well folks, that brings this episode of Companies Behaving Badly to an end.  Thanks for stopping by and please plan on doing what you can to help eliminate falls at the workplace. This is an epidemic that has gone on for too long and we have the knowledge and technology to prevent it.  At least until they can come up with a vaccination to cure stupid.  Take care and remember, never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.

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

 

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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?

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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 and 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. 

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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 you imagination when it comes to the container and what you want to stash for an emergency. 

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

 

 

 

Now, what and how much to put in your survival chest.  Base the amounts to store on a worse case scenario for your location.  How isolated are you?  Are you in city limits?  Are there bridges?  How many people and pets are you planning for?  You should also plan on 72 – 96 hours before all utilities and services are restored so a 3 – 5 day supply of food and water should be adequate.  

 

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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 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.  

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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.

 

 

 

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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 if you don’t have a portable charger.  The radio is both AM and FM as well as _________  

 

 

 

 

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 everyones 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/non latex 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 a 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!

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Companies Behaving Badly-Ritual Killing

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Welcome back.  Hope your labor day weekend was peaceful and relaxing.

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It seems to me that when people learn about ancient civilizations and their culture, when the subject of their rituals like human sacrifices comes up our reaction is to be appalled, disgusted, horrified.  “How cruel and barbaric!”  “That would never happen in a civilized world.”  Yet here we are in the year 2017 in a civilized world and every day, like a ritual, a worker is sacrificed while on the job in the name of corporate profits and no one is appalled, disgusted or horrified, for longer then ten minutes.   

 

The same companies that constantly complain how OSHA regulations and environmental regulations, are holding them back from greatness believe that they would do a better job of self regulating their actions then the government.  Yet they pollute and poison the communities that supported them with nice fat tax breaks while making record profits for their pockets by cutting corners on safety and by doing so, sacrificing workers.  There is more public outcry for a dog locked in a hot car, “there ought to be a law” then a worker who is burned a live on the job because his company didn’t want to waste time completely emptying the tank of a hazardous substance, oh, and they didn’t even bother telling him that.  Poof!  “He was a father of 3, isn’t that, oh but look at that poor puppy.

Luckily, there are many, many companies out there that care about their workers and make sure they have a safe environment to work in and nurtured with training, drills and respect.  They have painstakingly put together a culture of positive ethics and goals. What we need to watch out for and continue to call out are the companies that have negative cultures and personalities.

Like the company with a serial killer personality for a culture. Weeks after employee died, Blue Springs firm cited for again violating safety rules.  That’s right folks!  After Donald J. Meyer died on the job by being buried a live in a trench that was not properly shored up by his employer, Blue Springs Plumbing, the morons went and did it again, trying to kill more workers, as 5 weeks later workers were found in a trench without proper shoring.  An owner who has no care for the well being of his employees.  For these two acts of stupidity, the pending fine is a whooping $714,142 for 3 Willful and 4 Serious violations.  In my opinion, the owner should be facing manslaughter charges like in Boston.

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For what ever reason, the accidental death rate has climbed in a dying industry, coal mining and people with a conscience want to know why?  Latest coal death brings renewed call for mine safety action.  The latest death, a 51 year old coal miner, Owen Mark Jones was the 6th death in West Virginia alone, this year and 12th nationwide.  Can it be morally bankrupt owners taking advantage of the perceived laxing of regulatory enforcement?  You bet it is and with the appointment of acting Chief of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration filled by a person who as no experience in mine safety.   Just based on hearing that alone tells me things should improve greatly, NOT!  Now more then ever, miners need to watch each others back along with their union.

What does an accident waiting to happen look like?  It looks very much like the Crosby, Arkema plant.  Crosby Arkema plant had 10 violations OSHA considered serious.  However the problems here didn’t begin with Hurricane Harvey, they began over a year ago when OSHA found 10 serious violations and fined them $91,714.  OSHA says all repairs needed were completed but who knows how soon they fell back into bad habits. If you are working under questionable practices you can always make a call to the OSHA Hotline 1-800-321-6742 (OSHA).  You’ll not only be protecting your life and the lives of your fellow coworkers but the lives of the surrounding community.

No matter where you work, all equipment should receive some kind of inspection.   Whether it’s a pre-shift inspection of a forklift or a visual check inspection of the outside of a jet airliner, it is necessary to make sure it is safe to operate.  Failing to maintain lifts endangers employees, risks fines.  In fact the best practice would be to have all equipment scheduled for maintenance through a master schedule that details when and what needs to be replaced and to document and record all repairs made and by whom.  The information is readily available from the manufacturer. All you have to do is make sure it gets done and avoid making silly excuses.

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Apparently in California, two wrongs don’t make a right but it does make an award. Riverside CA Security Guard Injured by Forklift Receives $16.9 M Jury Award.  Even though the security guard was wrong by his actions, the forklift driver’s lack of checking behind him before moving was considered worse and so the monetary award.  Go figure.

If you still believe that the company forces you to wear PPE just so you look dorky, then maybe this story will change your mind. 15 Reasons Why Wearing A Helmet Is Always A Good Idea  PPE is specifically designed and manufactured to protect your body parts so you can do the job safely.  There is no excuse not too.

Well folks, that brings another episode to a close.  Think about becoming a safety advocate at work.  It’s easy to do by joining and becoming an active member of the safety committee, participating in safety meetings and mentoring younger workers.  Working together we can keep each other safe.  Never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.  Until next time.

 

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Companies Behaving Badly-To Life

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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 Warehouse Safety Guide-Volume 2 – PPE

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Dorothy was still not sure what had just happened or any clue about the dead inspector but she knew she wanted out of this nightmare and to be back home so finding this head of OSHA sounded like the best way right now. So she set out on the green brick road hoping to make it to the Emerald city.  After walking along the road for what seemed like hours she was beginning to regret not paying more attention at the safety meetings at work.  If only I had listened maybe I wouldn’t be in this predicament, but maybe I’ll wake up soon and this will be over but the pain coming from her feet because the ruby steel toed boots were rubbing convinced her this was, oh my, could this, could this be for real?

She saw a large boulder on the side of the road and decided to take a break from walking and to feel sorry for herself.  I can’t believe this?  Why didn’t I listen?  I could have been in the shelter and done but no, I had to be, Ms. oh that will never happen to me. “Go figure, huh.”  Dorothy jumped right up and turned around, who was that?  The voice echoed back, “it’s me.”  Who? I can’t see you, come out of the bushes.  “I would if I could but I’m done here in a hole.”  Dorothy peeked over the boulder and could see a fairly good sized hole in the ground.  How’d you get in there?  “I’m not really sure. We were suppose to do some confined space work for the Emerald city public works, somewhere I blacked out and woke up, in here all alone.”  “I know I was suppose to wear a harness with a cable attached so they could pull me out quickly if they had too.  But they didn’t have one and they said that was o.k. this time.  Then I was suppose to wear a respirator before I climbed in, just in case there were any hazardous gases or vapors present, but they didn’t have one and they said that was o.k. this time.  I was suppose to wear a bump camp to protect my head just in case rocks and debris feel in, but they didn’t have one and they said that o.k. this time.”  O.k. I get it, Dorothy responded, you didn’t get any PPE to wear.  “PPE?  No, they didn’t have a bump cap.”  O.K!  What”s your name  “They call me Scarecrow because of my blonde hair and I’m kind of scatterbrained.  I know the right thing to do but tend to lose focus and veer off track and forget.”  Dorothy finally worked up the courage to get closer to the hole in the ground to get a view of Scarecrow.

She peered in, my name is Dorothy.  “Hi”, he said as he waved up to her.  “What are you doing way out here.”  I’m on my way to see the head of OSHA in the Emerald city.  I heard he may be able to help get me home.  “Oh, are you far from home?”  Yes, yes I am, very far from home.  Hey, maybe the head guy can get you the PPE you need so you don’t wind up in a hole alone again?  Do you want to go?  “That sounds great Dorothy, but first I think I need to get out of this hole so I can accompany you.”  Great idea.  She looked around and found what looked like an old ladder that was pretty busted up but should help the Scarecrow climb out of the hole.  When he finally emerged, Dorothy noticed that he was a mess.  He had fingers missing, scars all over and his clothes were ripped and disheveled.  He had been in the hole for such a long time he had trouble standing up and would flop but the two of them were determined to continue their journey on the Green Brick Road of Safety to find the head of OSHA so Dorothy could go home and Scarecrow could get some much needed PPE.

In Volume 1-Begin With Basics, Dorothy began her trip down the Green Brick Road with a job safety analysis, which showed us the types of hazard present and where they’re located.  With this information you can determine what kind of PPE is needed to give further protection to employees as they carry out their daily routines.  

PPE stands for Personal Protection Equipment (Designed to protect workers from serious workplace injuries or illnesses resulting from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical or other workplace hazards).

 

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A Knight’s armor can be considered PPE since the job description includes protecting his King and the realm from enemies which usually included a battle and hand to hand fighting.  His PPE had to help protect him from swords, lances and arrows the best it could so he could continue doing his job and save the kingdom.  However you must make sure the PPE is a appropriate for the conditions where the work is to be performed.  One of the problems with armor was the weight and if a knight was knocked off his horse in a river or lake, they usually drowned.  PPE is to protect you and in no way should be the death of you.  The same would also apply to an athlete getting ready for a football game whether American Football or Soccer.  The equipment worn, shin guards, shoulder pads and helmets are a type of PPE as they give protection needed to play the game but as we’ve seen and heard of late, current helmets are giving inadequate protection and need to be greatly improved to protect players brains.

Apply this thinking to those hazards you located and intersect with the employee.  What added protection will keep them from injury or long term disability.  Usually a safety professional would handle this like the hazard analysis however knowledge is for everyone and all employees, whether management or worker should be aware of why or what PPE may be needed.  You can begin with the five senses, protecting sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste.

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EYES/SAFETY GLASSES – Sight is a critical sense that needs to be protected at all times in a manufacturing environment especially if employees work in areas where machinery can create flying debris, hot sparks, saw dust and metal shavings.  Safety glasses with side shields or goggles are a good choice.  When corrosive liquids or other chemicals are involved you want to avoid splashes to the face, a face shield would help greatly.  Of late safety eye ware has become a lot more stylish, with colors and shapes.  Remember you want employees to use these items so encourage them and allow a few different choices as long as they are properly rated for the job.

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EARS/HEARING PROTECTION – Hearing is another crucial sense to protect, especially since hearing loss can be gradual over time and not as immediately noticeable like loss of sight.  If you’re working an 8 hour shift in an environment where the noise level is 85dB or higher and you are not consistently wearing ear plugs or ear muffs, you will suffer irreversible damage to your hearing.  Ear plugs are available as daily disposable types that conform to the shape of your ear canal but before you roll them with your fingers to insert make sure your hands are clean or you could inadvertently give yourself an ear infection.  Permanent ear plugs specifically molded for your ears by a professional are also a great way to go. Some very high noise areas, over 100dB require a combination of ear plugs and muffs and also limit the amount of exposure time in that environment. When you take decibel readings to see what PPE is required, make sure to have all machinery running as well as other necessary equipment to get a true sense of the level of noise.  

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HANDS/GLOVESThere are many types of gloves available for just about any application you can think of, made of non-latex, rubber, plastic, leather and synthetic materials.  Moving and handling cartons or wooden pallets you want gloves that fit well an that give you a very good grip as well as protect from splinters.  If your job includes using sharp blades, cutting instruments or other tools there are gloves made from kevlar that prevent lacerations to your hand.  There are gloves that protect you from acid & chemical burns and other corrosive materials as well as thermal gloves for use in extreme temperatures.  Just make sure the glove you issue is rated for the task at hand, are comfortable and flexible to easy digit manipulation.  Gloves can be expensive so make sure you establish a policy of always exchanging a worn pair for new and how many pairs a month you’ll issue to employees who just can’t seem to hold on to a pair for very long.

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LUNGS/DUST MASKS & RESPIRATORS – Areas of the facility where heavy dust, smoke, gas vapors, paint fumes or other harsh toxins are a result of or part of the production process are completed, employees will need some sort of protection.  Whether you’ll only need to use a simple dust mask, respirator or fully contained system depends on the amount of contaminant particles in the air and their toxicity.  In any case the protection will not be sufficient if the item does not fit flush on your face with no gaps around the mask.  With respirators and other systems make sure to place them on a maintenance schedule to ensure they’ll fully operate when needed, especially if they are stored and used for emergency purposes only.

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HEAD/BUMP-CAP -Sometimes employees have to work in cramped spaces or under low hanging obstacles like pipes to make repairs or adjustments to machinery.  To prevent scalp lacerations, concussions and head penetration injuries a bump cap is a good choice. A good way to get workers to wear them consistently is to allow caps with different sports team logos.  A tip for those working around moving machine parts and belts with long hair, it is highly recommended that staff tie up and cover to protect it to prevent hair being caught and you pulled into the machinery.  

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FEET/LEG PROTECTION – You’re probably on you feet during most of the shift so you want shoes that not only protect your feet but offer support and are comfortable. Again as with other PPE the type of footwear you use depends on the environment you’re working in.  On the loading dock where there is forklift traffic, pallets, tailgates, dock levelers, dock workers wear steel tipped shoes to prevent crushed toes and broken bones.  If you work in a cold warehouse you want shoes that keep your feet warm and help prevent slips and falls.  If you work with chemicals, corrosive liquids and acids you want long boots that protect your feet if those items happen to spill.

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ADVERSE CONDITIONS & OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS – Imagine putting yourself inside a washer machine that’s in the middle of a hot warehouse and then having to make repairs to the washer while inside.  That’s what working inside a confined space can feel like. You’re totally enclosed except for a tiny portal. There is not much air movement, it’s hot and dark and there may be lingering toxic gases trapped inside.  Part of PPE are the apparatus, in this case a vest and tether attached to a winch,   that can get you out of that confined space if an emergency was to present itself.   The same goes for fall protection with a vest and safety line that is anchored to a solid fixture so you don’t plummet to the ground.  

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Whether you stand near by and get a blast of heat and fumes as molten metals are poured into molds or picking customer orders for hours at sub zero temperatures inside a giant freezer.  In every case, make sure you do the job using only the proper PPE. It can be a matter of life or death.  Remember, PPE will not work if proper training isn’t given as an accompaniment and you should always be shown how to use and how to wear it properly and understand its limitations and how to maintain it. Training is the key for any successful safe workplace and there is never an excuse for not holding at least a monthly safety meeting as well as encourage the participation of staff on safety committees. Thank you for joining Dorothy on this journey down the Green Brick Road of Safety.  There is still some distance to go. 

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