The TopTen OSHA Violations Before Christmas. On the Seventh Day

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Santa received a notice of violation(1910.147) Lockout/Tagout and this is serious enough to be #4 on OSHA’s TopTen violations for 2019.

Lockout/Tagout or LOTO as it’s also known as is a pretty important safety feature that prevents unexpected operation of a piece of equipment while you are working on it.  You see the scene played over and over on comedies, One guy is working on an electrical issue and his friend comes over and flips on the light switch leading to shock and laughter but imagine the horror on your face if a packaging machine with moving belts and rotating filler spouts suddenly started up while you were up to your elbows in the machines main compartment!

Or worse, clearing a jam on a belt in a machine and because you thought you would save time by just reaching in clearing it quickly, but as you clear it the belt suddenly lurches and takes two fingers with it.  This actually happened at a food manufacturing plant and I can assure you that no elves were injured during the writing of this post.

This is why as I’ve said before and will again and yet again training is critical to a great safety program.  It’s not enough to just turn off the power with the flip of a switch before servicing the machine, you want to make absolutely positively sure that no one but YOU can turn the power back on before your work is done.

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That’s why this year Santa will be giving his machine operators, maintenance elves, and fore-elves the gift of their own LOTO sets.  Santa wants to do the training of LOTO  correctly so he will have his machine operators do an actual LOTO demonstration for the group for each piece of equipment.

Whenever you need to do maintenance, adjustments, line changes or clear a jam you must Lockout/Tagout the equipment so it can not operate while you work on it.

  1. Determine where to cut the power and use your lock. Your tag should have your name and department on it along with what ever other information the company wants.  Some want employee number, so anyone coming by knows you are the person working on that machine and initiated the lockout.
  2. In most cases, you pull the lever of the circuit breaker down so you can lock it in the off position.  In some older facilities, you may not find circuit breakers to lockout.  Find and pull the fuses and use the special fuse lockout.  Before beginning make sure the machine is totally deenergized as some parts mid-stroke may still move.
  3. Each additional worker who needs to service the machine along with you also needs to lock out the same source of power as you. As they finish their segment they can then remove their lock until the last person responsible for the project removes their lock and returns power.
  4. Never remove your lock until the work is completed.
  5. Never give your key to your lock to anyone else.  Only YOU can unlock it.  If you have to leave have your relief lock out the power source with their lock and then you can remove yours.
  6. Never allow anyone to bully you into removing your lock before work is completed.
  7. As with all training, document it with signatures of attendees and the material covered.

Now that we know all about LOTO. Thursday: On the Eighth Day.

 

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Companies Behaving Badly-Demons

 

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Welcome back for another episode.  Hope all is going well and you’re having success with safety training, drills, and safety committees.  If you need suggestions or have questions please don’t hesitate to ask.  May I wish you all a happy groundhog day.  I do find it entertaining that with all the apps, science and technology out there we still drag poor Punxsutawney Phil out of his man cave just to see if he finds his shadow or not cause it really influences the weather.  Wink, wink.

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We all have demons of one type or another that can influence how we perceive the world as well as how the world perceives us.  Whether your demons drink, do drugs, gamble, steal, cheat, binge eat, binge-watch television, hoards or bullies other demons, how well we can control them or how well we can have them play with other people’s demons can make a difference in how life goes.  That’s easier said than done as Demons want to control it all so we battle them with conventional weapons like cleanses, portion control, no flour, no dairy, no sugar, fresh vegetables, exercise, vacation, relaxation, meditation, and medication.  

Beating Demons is not an easy task, after all, they are a part of you so they know you all too well and can anticipate how you’ll react.  The medication demons are really slick for sure as they first take away your pain and make you feel good all over and already knows all your lies to come in your attempt to get more.  What could be so wrong about feeling so good and being without any pain of any kind?  I know I can control it. Only needed a few pills to get by today.  The Demons laugh, they know when you try to stop, the pain comes back and only seems even worse and that you will say anything to keep others from coming between you and your Demon. 

 

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The Devil made me do it.

Demons want you to believe they are your friend and have your best interest at heart by allowing you to indulge, feeding your habit and listens to your endless promises how you’ll know when it’s time to quit and end the relationship, hopefully before that one toke over the line.   I can’t tell you how to best the Demons as there is no one way to accomplish this.  You just persevere, be strong and follow what the professionals tell you and embrace family, friends and their love.

Thanks to Demons, technology, and our greedy pharmaceutical companies, accidental injury has become the #3 cause of Death in the United States for the first time, ever! Accidental Injury No. 3 Cause Of Death For First Time In U.S. History.  A large part of this is due to the overdoses of opioids that are occurring on a daily basis in our communities as the Demons continue to further use up the limited resources of our already stretched out first responders.  Another chunk of this is due to another Demon, the smartphone.  People are so wrapped up in their devices and have their heads buried so deep responding to a lame post, they never see the oncoming car headed their way.  People, there is no need to rush blindly into death.  Stop, smell the roses and enjoy this life.

Demons don’t just dilly dally with people.  The cultures of some of the largest corporations are fraught with Demons especially when it comes to workplace safety.  Former train conductor says safety is virtually non-existent at Amtrak.  I am a firm believer that a companies culture is developed from the top down.  People will do or not do if they know they can get away with it.  When a corporation doesn’t care enough about safety, you wind up with a poorly trained staff and have lots of derailments.  You know these companies, I’m sure you have worked for a few as have I.  No regular safety meetings if at all, no drills on how to handle emergencies, no way to report unsafe conditions.  Apparently, this is not just a problem with U.S. railways.  In the United Kingdom, the Demons made sure the safety culture there is so poor that no one bothered to check and make sure the door to a restroom with no floor was locked and off limits to passengers.  Mum saved boy from falling to his death through this huge hole in toilet floor on a moving train.  I’m sure everyone thought that the other guy was checking it or maybe the Demon would keep it locked up.  Either way, the lack of leadership, (another Demon) by management is appalling that no one followed up.

 

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Then there are those Demons that tell you making your point at all costs, even at the expense of a primates life, is fine.  Volkswagen Suspends Executive Over Monkey Trials.  I will refrain from the easy jokes here, (fighting that Demon up to publishing time) but the fact a German car manufacturer had someone conducting experiments on living animals, well.  Are we so smug to believe that we as humans are so important we can decide to torture other living things to ensure our safety or in VW’s case, ensure that their lies about emissions could have been hiding the truth?  

Politics seems to attract all kinds of Demons but when it comes to workplace safety, do we want politics involved or common sense?  Washington State Senate Democrats Push Safety for Sanitation Workers.  It would have been so much nice to see a headline that read, State Senate Pushes.  What do Republicans have against safety?  Yea, it costs a little to have a good program in place but don’t we want to preserve all human life?  Do we want families to suffer a tragic loss?  To look at that empty seat at the table and wonder did the company and politicians do what was right for other humans and not to benefit there own bottom lines?  Must be the work of more Demons.

One thing I learned at an early age in the Bronx, don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time or in this case, pay the fine.  In New Zealand, WorkSafe fine ‘will put company under’ says owner.  I have no sympathy for any company owner who knowingly puts his hard-working employees in harm’s way to benefit from the profits only to cry poverty when caught about the fine.  Oh, Boo Hoo.  It’s happened in the U.S. as well with a large corporation caught and crying about the size of the fine.  I do believe OSHA and other agencies like it around the world should first be educators, but when a company is caught not complying on purpose or is a repeat offender, you don’t deserve the company in the first place.  Maybe it should be turned over to the workers to operate. 

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Unguarded machinery and no L.O.T.O. is a no-no.  Pallet Manufacturer Cited After Employee Injured By Machine.  It is against the law to force you to commit an unsafe act.  So when it comes to moving parts, before you attempt any maintenance, or clear a jam, do proper Lock Out Tag Out.  This is not a game of “clear the jam” or you being a non-team player.  It’s about your life, your physical well being.  Don’t let the Demons tell you that it’s o.k. to do just this one time to save a few seconds.  That’s what all the other dead workers thought before reaching in.  If you are concerned about your safety at work and no one is listening, call the OSHA hotline at 1-800-321-6742.  In California the Cal/OSHA number is 1-800-963-9424

Yes, I guess it can be all about perspective.  In the U.S. last year there were over 5,000 work-related deaths.  The highest it’s been in a while and creating quite a stir in the industry.  But in China, they are celebrating a reduction of workplace deaths in a year.  Down to 38,000!!!!  CHINA WORKPLACE DEATHS FALL TO 38,000 IN 2017: REPORT.  OMG!!  But this doesn’t take away from our numbers.  5,000 is way too high and we all need to work together to rid of the Demons and make safety a priority.  

Be a mentor to a younger worker.  Share your experiences, what’s worked what hasn’t.  Communicate those cautions and tips and keep the conversation loud and long.  Ask questions, read blogs, learn!  It’s the best way to keep demons in their place.  Until next time, please never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.

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Aunt Ida’s Recipes for Disaster – 5

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Welcome back for yet another tried and true recipe from our Chef de Catastrophe, Aunt Ida. This is a family classic she’s now sharing with all of you.
FEATURED RECIPE – LOTO Alphabet Stew. – This is comfort food at it’s best. Hot, rich, spicy and filling as well as cheap to make when you refuse to stop production by using LOTO to make clearing a machine jam or repairs safely.
Prep Time– Times vary and are directly correlated to the distance between the machine being operated and the location of the off switch for the source of power.  If not using LOTO then there is no prep time.
Cook Time– Times depend on the equipment used.
production/manufacturing equipment– You are not faster than the machine. – 30 minutes
high-speed conveyor belt– You did hear me say, high speed.  It just takes as little as the cord dangling from your sweatshirt. – 10 minutes.
exposed gears/rollers/chains/augers– Those gears don’t know any better.  They’ll grab anything, from a long sleeve to apron string to hair on your head. – 15 minutes.
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YIELD – Enough body parts to either feed a family of 12 or build a new person.  Amputated fingers including 2 left thumbs, hands, arms, torsos, toes, ankles, legs, heads and scalps. 
Perfect side dish to accompany this is a life of regret and good intentions.
Lock Out Tag Out is one of the easiest, yes, one of the easiest violations to avoid by just simply making it mandatory for locking out your machines power source and tagging it so everyone knows who’s working on the machine and can’t accidentally turn the power back on.  Yet, LOTO violations have been rising to the top over the last few years.  In FY 2012 it was #9 on the OSHA’s top ten violations list and moved into the #8 spot during FY 2013 and now it sits in the #5  spot.  This should not be the trend but people are pushed to produce and if sacrificing safety helps to obtain those goals, oh well.  No matter what you’re dealing with, if it has moving parts and you need to make adjustments, repairs or clear jams and you have to reach in or place part of your body in there, ALWAYS do a proper LOTO.  Don’t let anyone bully you to by-pass this important safety procedure.  
Just because you tried to be a “nice guy”, a “team player” you avoided shutting down the line by not doing LOTO, this time.  Now, ironically the production line IS down anyway because they have to clean out your body parts from the machine parts. 
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Lock Out Tag Out Explained

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L.O.T.O. is not your state’s lottery.  It stands for Lock Out Tag Out which means before you work on a piece of machinery, whether to clear a jam, make adjustments or replace parts you lock out the power source to the equipment in question and then tag out so people know who is working on the equipment.  For this lesson, the equipment we’re using is a kitchen mixer but the principle works for all types of machinery and equipment.

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It’s another day on the production line when, Uh Oh. Something is not working properly.  We’re not getting the RPM needed to mix batter properly.  So now we know we need to get into the mixing bowl and check it out, possibly having to make adjustments on the pastry hook as it’s noticeably not turning properly. It could be a simple fix, like loose nuts and bolts holding the hook in place or more serious, a cracked shaft.  Either way, before climbing into the mixer, find the power source and turn it off.  In this case, we just need to pull the plug.

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But is it enough just to pull the plug? NO!  What happens if while you are working in the mixer and someone in production comes upon the scene. They know the mixer is on the production schedule but see it’s not operating and notices that the mixer is unplugged.  They don’t see you in the mixer, they don’t see any signs that the mixer is down.  So with only the best of intentions this person puts the plug right back into the outlet and now the mixer is charged and ready to go while you are in there working on the pastry hook. Not good.

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However, if you had locked out the power source to the mixer no one can unintentionally turn the power back on while you are exposed to the moving parts.  The will see the lock and read the attached tag that has your name and department on it, the date and who may remove the lock and tag along with any other instructions left on the tag to inform others of what’s going on and most importantly, they now know that a person is working in the mixer.

When you have completed the task, remember to remove the LOTO from the power source and turn it back on.

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Your employer should supply you with Locks and tags needed to do a proper L.O.T.O. especially if you work in maintenance or are an approved technician to do adjustments and repairs to equipment.  They need to be red in color so they stand out.  If your employer does not furnish you with Locks and tags or discourages you in any way from using L.O.T.O. call OSHA immediately at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).  The life you save may be your own.

Witzshared is the blog for warehouseflow advisors. If you like what you’ve read here and are concerned about your businesses compliance. Give us a call. The first chat is free.

 

 

Companies Behaving Badly – June Fall Guys

Stocks fall, stars fall, space debris falls, Governments fall and you may fall apart, fallout, fall asleep, fall behind, fall flat, fall for, fall ill or fall head over heels, as you avoid the pit falls while your voice falls on deaf ears.  However you DO NOT ever want to fall to your death as what tragically happened to 2 construction workers in the San Francisco Bay in two separate incidents, within a day of each other.  Falls are the number #1 cause of injuries and deaths in all industries and what is so frustrating is this is all preventable but YOU need to be part of the solution.  Support National Safety Stand-Down For Fall Protection June 2 – 6  Use this week to focus your team on how to detect, prepare and prevent this hazard.

Why all the falls?  My theory, when you are young you believe you are invincible, indestructible and find that thrill in bending the rules a little.  These bad habits we developed in our youth carry on into our career and since we still have all our body parts, why change!  “It’ll never happen to me.”  Over the years no one bothers to intervene and teach you the correct way or if they have, you blow them off.  I’m not saying that is the case in either of these incidents but neither man was wearing fall protection gear.  My guess is, it’s not enforced since safety costs time and time is money to a company and when recovering from a bad economy, everything goes, even factoring in the cost of human life on the bottom line as part of doing business as usual, because the mis-informed still believe safety costs too much.  Hey, that sounds to me like this is, unfortunately, another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

San Mateo: Worker dies in fall at residential construction site PREVENTABLE – Elias Vera a 54 year old of Fairfield, California fell to his death on a beautiful sunny day.  He fell 9 feet from a wall while working on a townhouse and was employed by a subcontractor, Conco concrete company. Records indicate the company has been investigated by CalOSHA 8 times in the last 6 years for accidents at various sites and were cited 15 times.

Second Bay Area construction worker death – PREVENTABLE – On another beautiful bay area day Victorino Campos-Tovar a 48 year old worker was killed when he fell three stories to his death while unloading sheet rock at a construction site in San Jose, California and worked for FBM Construction.

Tucson framing contractor fined $113,500 PREVENTABLE – U.S. Carpentry-Tucson was hit with a $113,500 fine by the Industrial Commission of Arizona for willfully violating safety rules after receiving an anonymous complaint.  Two workers were found working on the roof of a 2 story house without fall protection gear in addition to no guardrails around windows and open stairwells.  Their excuse was there wasn’t enough gear to go around.  The company didn’t even bother to have a site specific fall protection plan or complete employee training records.  NEVER use the excuse “there wasn’t safety equipment available”.  It only shows you are not someone I want to employ.  No safety equipment, no job done.

OSHA Fines Lovell’s Western Sugar in Worker Death  PREVENTABLEAnfesa Galaktionoff a 28 year old worker had discovered a new passion in her life to own and breed horses but it was shattered when she fell through a missing section of floor grating into a closed water system where she was sucked through 600 feet of pipe. Western Sugar Cooperative refinery was only hit with $71,000 in fines for the 12 violations found after Anfesa’s death.  She never saw the missing section because of the debris built up that was allowed to accumulate.  Why didn’t Western Sugar bother to rope off or properly tag the area as unsafe with signage?  It would have only taken very little time to do and that’s why I believe the fine is not enough as someone should be sitting in a jail cell for their total disregard for hard working people.

Worker Struck By Forklift, Nicholson Terminal & Dock Co. Cited By OSHA – PREVENTABLE – After an employee of Nicholson Terminal & Dock Company was hit and killed by a 62,000 pound capacity forklift carrying a 40,000 pound steel coil, the OSHA investigation of this incident that followed found 2 Willful and 7 serious violations.  In case you don’t know, a willful violation means the company intentionally, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.  The willful violations were due to a forklift being modified without manufacturer approval and the second for failing to establish vehicle routes, traffic rules and signs warning of pedestrian traffic.  Sounds like it was every man and woman for themselves out there which is just an accident waiting to happen.  The company also didn’t train employees on operating instructions, warnings and precautions listed in the operator’s manual, maintain vehicles in a safe working order nor direct employees to sound the horn when visibility was obstructed. For this they were hit with a $168,700 fine but the law needs to be changed.  When it’s a willful violation there should be jail time included as well.  Larry Johnson, OSHA’s area director in Lansing said it best, “A workers life should never be the cost of doing business.”

OSHA Fines Company for Amputation Hazards – PREVENTABLE – An employee of Kobelco Stewart Bolling Inc. in Hudson, Ohio had enough and rather than keep quiet and possibly lose a body part or death filled a complaint with OSHA.  Or maybe the employee was motivated by the 3 repeat violations that were found during the inspection of inadequate LOTO procedures, exposing workers to unguarded equipment or the non labeling of chemical containers.  A total of 13 violations were found including exposing workers to caught-in and amputation hazards for a proposed fine of $139,000.  If the machine guarding is not in place don’t use the machine. Once you do it, the guards will never be put back and if you get injured who’s to say they won’t throw you to the wolves as an unsafe worker.

OSHA fines Salisbury business – PREVENTABLE – Ironic that a maker of coated fabrics and adhesives for the health care industry would expose it’s workers to being caught in or crushed by machinery.  Andover Healthcare was cited for a repeat violation for inadequately training employees to implement LOTO procedures protecting workers who serviced the dangerous machines, well after all, lost time in production is lost money and who cares about lost limbs.  The inspection was prompted as Andover is under the Site-Specific Targeting Program which focuses on facilities with a higher than average illness and injury rate and now have $93,200 in pending fines. Apparently no one in management has gotten a clue.

OSHA Fines Omaha Comp – PREVENTABLE – Baltazar’s Stone Inc. was hit with 15 violations by OSHA for exposing workers to dangerous silica dust levels after receiving an employee complaint.  Workers were found exposed up to 3 times over the allowed limits as well as didn’t bother to train workers on silica hazards which can cause irreversible lung disease and other health issues over time like exposure to asbestos.  For their effort in trying to shorten their workers life expectancy they were fined only $40,921.  Remember any job you do, if there is dust created as a by-product you need to wear some kind of PPE to prevent that dust from getting into your lungs.  You may not become ill today or tomorrow but 20 years from now it’s very possible.

I-Team: State Hiring Contractors With Extensive Safety Violations OUTRAGE – Would you hire a child molester who told you they changed their ways as your child’s teacher? Would you hire someone with a history of violence and abuse who told you they changed their ways as your nanny?  NO? Well the state of Massachusetts is more forgiving than we are as they have no problem hiring companies that are placed on OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. This should be a public outrage and these companies should be placed on NO business with us list.  If they were hired because they put in the lowest bid then alarms should be sounded as you know safety was not built into that price.  Shame on Massachusetts!! 

OSHA’s Eye and Face Protection Revisions Move Forward – UPDATE – OSHA is proceeding with proposed updating of the agency’s construction standard on eye and face protection bringing it in line with the latest consensus standards and making it consistent with the general industry standard.  Suggest you read the article to keep up.

Best Practices for Bearing Protection MAINTENANCEThe less time you have to spend on the repair or replacement of motors you should reduce the opportunities for accidents so making sure you get the most out of your machinery is critical. Wear and tear on bearings will reduce any machine’s operational life. This article addresses those issues with some great information.

Hard Hat Light Increases Visibility – NEW ITEM – This is a great new hard hat that makes you more visible.  Check it out.

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That my friends brings this episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close.  Thank you and grateful you stopped by, spending part of your hectic day here.  Please feel free to share these articles with your employees and co-workers at your next safety tailgate/toolbox meeting.  Remember to Support National Safety Stand-Down For Fall Protection June 2 – 6.  No one, not a supervisor, manager, president, CEO or chairperson can force you to commit an unsafe act.  When you give yourself that false sense of security because you got away with not doing it properly a few times, that’s when you’ll have an accident and hopefully it won’t be a permanent termination.  Wear the proper PPE, make sure all machine guarding is in place otherwise don’t use it until it’s ready and always use LOTO for clearing jams, resetting, cleaning, maintenance and repairs.  You may think you’re faster than the machine.  The life you save may be your own.  Treat each other with respect and see you here next episode, June 15th.

 

Companies Behaving Badly – January 15

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Like most kids I had a few heroes in my life that I admired and emulated.  Some were real like my Dad and some were fictitious like Superman.  A hero is defined as a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities.  As my interest changed my next big hero was Mickey Mantle and his bat.  Even without my transistor radio, I could hear the crowd roar at Yankee Stadium from my bedroom window every time he put one out of the park.  Later on as I matured and understood more about life, my heroes were fire fighters and police officers and I admired how they’d put their lives on the line in a moments notice but then minutes later get involved in a stick ball game with us neighborhood kids.  Then along came the 60’s and I was surrounded by change and as the world seemed to go to hell in a hand basket, and as I was looking for answers I heard a voice come out of the chaos and what he said along with his actions just totally put me in awe.  Not only did this man come to define for me who a hero was but further demonstrated the meaning “one who shows great courage”.  No matter how loudly the maddened crowds yelled obscenities  at him and other verbal or physical abuse, no matter the fire hoses turned on full force to push him back, or the people spitting and kicking or police dogs, this mench (Yiddish – A person of character. An individual of recognized worth because of noble values or actions.) never demonstrated anger or raised his hand in aggression to his oppressors but stood tall, smiled and kept walking and preaching his love for mankind and what he truly believed that all men are created equal.  I was riveted to every word he spoke and still get a chill down my spine to this day when ever I hear his speeches.  For preaching this simple message of love and equality for all human beings he was taken from us far too soon and this man, Martin Luther King, Jr. will always be a real HERO to me.   With that in mind, unfortunately this is another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

Potato Chip Company Cited for Over 20 Safety Violations – PREVENTABLE – Terrell’s Potato Chip Company in Syracuse, New York must be suffering a case of Deja Vu as they were fined $115,500 for 9 repeat violations that were first found in 2009.  It seems they were o.k. with exposing their employees to unguarded parts of machinery, failing to train on unintended startup of machinery, failing to secure stacked materials from collapsing, failing to remove damaged electrical parts from service and failing to keep work areas clean!  That last one scares me since you don’t want to hear that happening in a food processing plant.  On top of this they also had a locked exit door, fire extinguishers not fully charged and unlabeled containers of hazardous chemicals.  Chips anyone?

Forever 21 Fined $236K for Repeat Violations, OSHA Says – PREVENTABLE – No one is going to be forever anything working with these hazards.  This trendy retail outlet thinks it’s trendy to expose it’s employees to safety hazards in their Paramus, N.J. and Manhattan locations, four of which are repeat violations to the tune of $236,500.  Inspectors found obstructed exit routes, a fire extinguisher not mounted and accessible, stored material not secured from collapse and fluorescent lights with no covers to prevent accidental breakage.  What is amazingly stupid is all four of these issues were easy fixes and everyone would have been happy, but totally ignoring employees led them to call OSHA in.  Why would you want to do it the hard way?

Connecticut Metal-finishing Plant Fined for Serious Hazards – PREVENTABLE – Another incidence of a complaint by employees prompting an investigation by OSHA and with good cause.  Har-Conn Chrome company was exposing workers to various chemical and mechanical hazards including similar hazards cited during a 2010 inspection.  That’s right, instead of listening to their employees about conditions at the plant they left them exposed to fire, chemical burns, eye injuries and lacerations and also didn’t bother to provide eye and face protection, have adequate guarding on machinery or labeled containers of hazardous chemicals.  Nothing tells employees where they stand more than constantly putting them at risk on a daily basis.

OSHA calls for fines in fatal elevator accident at Tradewinds Resort – PREVENTABLE – Mark Allen Johnson left for work on a beautiful wednesday morning  as the company he worked for, SWS had been subcontracted to clean out the bottom of an elevator shaft at Jacaranda Beach Villas.  Mark who was not a certified elevator technician had been at it for about 40 minutes and was probably thinking about lunch when his thoughts were suddenly interrupted with horror as he was crushed to death by an elevator.  Unbelievably, the fire department that had tried to rescue Mr. Johnson noticed that NO ONE that day ensured the main power to the elevator was completely off, as employees of Tradewinds and SWS did not coordinate to make sure LOTO took place.  This was a senseless death as it could have been avoided if someone had taken a second to get their head out of their ass and use a checklist to make sure LOTO was used.

Chemical Spill Shuts Down Much Of W.Va. Capital – PREVENTABLE – A chemical, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol which is a foaming agent used in coal mining leaked from a tank at Freedom Industries and then overran a containment area and into the river.  Confusion abounds on how toxic this chemical is, as water company president Jeff McIntyre said the chemical isn’t lethal in its strongest form however according to a fact sheet from Fisher Scientific, the chemical is harmful if swallowed  and could be so if inhaled and causes eye and skin irritation.  Large gap there!  You would think that the water company would know and understand what chemicals are stored close to the river and what effects they may have on the local wildlife as well as humans if consumed.  If you rely on containment areas to stop spills from contaminating local land and water areas please inspect them on a regular basis to avoid problems and don’t wait until the day of a spill, it’s not fair to the humans who share this planet with your company.  
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I2P2 Proposed Rule Coming in September – INFO – OSHA will issue a proposed rule in September 2014 that would require employers to implement an injury and illness prevention program, I2P2.  Currently, voluntary Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines are in place and they were published in 1989 and is available on line.

OSHA Issues Guidance on Combustible Dust Hazards Under New HazCom Rule – INFO – Manufacturers and importers are responsible for considering the combustible dust hazards of the chemical in the form they’re shipped as well as those that might stem from normal use and foreseeable emergencies.  Be aware the standard’s handling of combustible dust has emerged as an area of great concern for industry, with some advocates claiming that the agency engaged in backdoor rulemaking by including combustible dust in the hazard communication rule. The regulation’s treatment of combustible dust is the subject of an ongoing legal challenge in a federal appeals court.  In the mean time check where your company falls in this to avoid problems.

Speaking of heroes.  There’s a small group of heroes that we all take for granted, the lineman.  We’re so used to just flipping on the switch and boom – light.  Or turning on the T.V, the blender, microwave and on and on.  When it doesn’t happen we get pissed.  Damn electric company!  Take a deep breath and remember there are real human beings out there, working their asses off as safely as possible without taking unnecessary risks so you can watch Duck Hunters and the Bachelor.  Yea, there are times it seems to take forever but they want to go home to their families at the end of the day too and need to operate safely and sometimes safety done right takes time.  I share this cartoon from KARK 4 News, Little Rock, AR which was shared to me by Toyota lift of Minnesota.

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That brings this episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close.  Thanks for stopping by and please don’t hesitate to share any of these stories at your next tailgate or toolbox safety meeting.  You have the right as a human being to work in a hazardous free, accident free, safe environment.  If you see a safety hazard at work, don’t assume the next guy will report it, take care of it NOW.  The life you save my be your own.  Until next month.

Companies Behaving Badly-August too

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Hi there!  Glad you could make it.  Come on over and join us by the camp fire.  We’ll sit, relax and watch the sunset and then when the stars begin to twinkle I’ll tell you some truly scary stories on workplace safety.  If you have a weak heart or prone to fainting then maybe you should go to your tent right now because this, is another episode of Companies Behaving Badly!

Honolulu refrigeration warehouse cited with 63 health, safety violationsPREVENTABLE – Apparently even living in paradise does not guarantee employee safety in the workplace and not deemed important as Unicold Corporation showed it’s love to workers with exit doors locked and sealed from the outside, exit routes blocked with stacks of product and then figured why bother with labeling and signing emergency exit routes.  Mahalo!

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Wal-Mart agrees to safety fixes at 2,857 stores / Walmart pays $190,000 fine and agrees to improve safety at 2,800 stores – PREVENTABLE – I guess to give those “low prices everyday” they had to cut back on safety and training.  I really despise companies that knowingly place workers in harms way so the company can make a few more bucks.  My favorite line from Wal-Mart spokesman Randy Hargrove,  “the company immediately addressed the problems as soon as it was made aware of them”.  What were the store managers doing all this time?  Oh yea, it costs money to train them too.

OSHA Hits Montana Refinery with Willful Violation After Arc Explosion PREVENTABLE – The wide open plains of Montana where the cattle roam, the wheat and barley wave and workers are exposed to arc-flash because someone thought it was a great idea to bypass the circuit protector switch.  Gives you a warm and cozy feeling doesn’t it?

Dallas Food Company Cited Again – PREVENTABLE – AGAIN!  Since BCW Food Products Inc. thinks it’s cheaper to get fined than train on LOTO, it’s time to raise the fines.  Before you climb into anything to work on it, lock it out and tag it yourself.  Use your lock and your key then you can have peace of mind and go home in one piece.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

OSHA Issues $1.1 Million in Fines to Republic Steel – PREVENTABLE – Not only fined over a million dollars but they’re on the OSHA’s severe violator enforcement program.  This company takes care of it’s employees by allowing them the privilege of working on a platform 20 feet above the electric arc furnace and molten steel ladle protected with missing and damaged guardrails.  When it comes to challenging your employees it should not involve a “Hunger Games” theme.

OSHA fines company $188,300 for exposing workers to lead hazards PREVENTABLE –  Spectrum Machine Inc. must be proud of earning their way into the Severe violator enforcement program because they saw no problem with exposing their workers to airborne metal particles or develop noise monitoring or lockout/tagout program or provide fire extinguisher training.  Sorry guys, you’re on your own but we’ll stay up here in the office where we can breath without fear.  Don’t understand how you can employ luck as your safety program.

Oil train safety rule delayed by 1 year – PENDING – Focus on safety is a great thing but are we always looking at the correct issue.  Is it the tanks we need to be concerned about or is it engineer training and track maintenance or all of the above?  Was putting this off for a year the correct thing to do?  What do you think about all of this?

Coventry automotive firm wins third gold award from RoSPA – WINNER – Cheers to Coventry Automotive for winning “GOLD” from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) for excellence in safety.  Now that’s a list I’d be proud to be on.

Remember, safety is just as much YOUR responsibility as it is for the company.  Follow the rules and become a safety advocate.  That’s it for this issue of Companies behaving badly and hope you all learned a little more about safety.  Until next month, be safe.

As George Bernard Shaw said, “If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.” 

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Photo credit: johninbkk from morguefile.com

Psst.  Lets begin a movement – safety awareness.  It’ll be our little secret.  Just wear a safety pin on your on your shirt, jersey, lapel, collar, uniform etc. and when you see someone else wearing one you’ll know they’ve made a commitment to safety as well.  Smile and shake their hand.  

A Complete Guide To Warehouse Safety-Volume V-Giving Good Tailgates

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I hope this journey down the Green Brick Road of Safety has been as much a pleasure for you as it has been for me and I thank you for allowing me to show you the sights.  We are all most at the end of this trip as there are only two more legs to go.  Along this road we have come to know Hazard Analysis, PPE, HouseKeeping and Emergency Ready.  You would think with all this coverage available to protect your staff how could you possibly do more?  AH, but you can by making sure you give good weekly safety tailgate meetings on a consistant basis.

A safety tailgate is an informal gathering of employees to discuss a safety issue or demonstrate a new feature on a piece of equipment or teach a new technique.  They not only allow flexibility on how you do this but safety tailgates are great for so many other reasons.  They can serve as a way to keep safety on employee’s mind in-between those monthly safety meetings.  They are 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.  You can also tailor your subject matter to target those safety behaviors you want to review and/or correct and best of all, tailgates are short, sweet and to the point.  Just as you would in a full blown monthly safety meeting you should use a sign in sheet to track who’s attended and what topic was covered.

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WHEN SHOULD YOU GIVE A TAILGATE?  You should hold a tailgate at least once a week and can do it at any time on the shift you want.  It’s just a short discussion that should last no more than 10-15 minutes.  You can make it part of your morning Huddle* before the staff begins their work day, or hold them right after lunch.  Look for what day of the week and time of day looks to be your slowest period?  That may be a good time as well.  (*Huddle-Like in American Football, the team gathers together to hear the next play to run.  It’s a great tool to begin each shift by giving a quick rundown on the days upcoming events, whether it’s the number of deliveries expected, visitors in the building or any information that will help the staff.)

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 and if you still need more inspiration, just google “Tailgate meeting topics”, you’ll wind up with many great suggestions.

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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.

BE PREPARED.  What ever topic you choose make sure you are prepared to discuss it and know what you are talking about.  There is nothing worse than giving out bad information or being contradicted by an employee.  If 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.  Tailgates are also an excellent way for you to build your own confidence when it comes to public speaking.  It’s much easier speaking in front of a small group of people you know and interact with on a daily basis than a room full of strangers.  Just be yourself and present the material clearly and straight forward and make sure to allow time for questions by the staff.

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.  Sign up to receive your very own copy of WitzShared delivered to your email box.

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Making Your Mark via Safety

When you’re the new supervisor/manager on the job, there are many things running through your mind.  Whether you’re previously experienced new to the company, promoted from within the ranks or brand spanking/wet behind the ears new, you’re excited and nervous.  Did I get that name right, where do they keep the coffee filters, will they like me?  You’ll also have many distractions as well while everyone vies for your attention.  Now that you’re first day is finished and you’re done being paraded around the office like a new species at the Zoological society you are ready to start and hit that warehouse floor running!

You are going to be innovative and think outside the box and want to employ theories you’ve learned and make your mark on the world!  HOLD ON THERE ONE MINUTE!  Take a deep breath my friend.  Have you learned the lay of the land and pecking order?  What’s the ebb and flow in the warehouse?  Have you even brought in donuts yet? This is your best time to listen and learn about the warehouse.  Listen to their safety concerns.

You really still want to make your mark?  Start by looking at the safety aspects of the warehouse.  Are there any glaring safety hazards that need immediate attention and what is the warehouse’s accident record?  Make your mark by enforcing safety standards to protect your staff, the company and their families.  Don’t try to be Mr. Nice guy and turn a blind eye to safety.  You will only be rewarded with depositions, court proceedings, lawyers and lots of regret and guilt.  You don’t have to be the Hammer of Thor either, but when they tell you, but we’ve always done it that way,  make it known in your corrective criticism that safety is seriously taken by you and this is how it’s going to be done because it’s the safe way.

Another way to make your mark, continue or start having safety meetings on a regular basis and make them interesting.  It doesn’t have to be you standing in front of a group talking all the time.  If you cover LOTO (lock out tag out), why not have one of the operators do a live demonstration for the group.  Actually show where on that piece of equipment you should do the LOTO, how to properly use the lock and write on the tag.  Reward the employee doing the demo with a breakfast or lunch.  It’ll really get safety off to a good start.

Some places I’ve found the employees think the company doesn’t really care about safety and lose their trust.  You can also see it in their apathy towards the safety meetings.  When I hear that I always ask the group for specifics and then individuals, since some people are more comfortable speaking one on one rather than in front of others.  One of the issues I found was repairs were not being made within a timely manner when reported.  Some safety related issues went un-fixed for months.  I learned how to enter work orders into the system for the repairs and I started turning them out and made sure they were worded, SAFETY ISSUE.  Then I developed a spread sheet with the repair issue reported, the work order number, and expected completion date and posted it so employees could see I was serious.  The Maintenance department hated me and I was actual told by one supervisor to lay off the work orders.  I pushed back and covered the work orders every daily production meeting and documented everything.  I was persistent, and finally broke through the wall and other people began to see the light and it snow balled from there, and we changed the culture.

     Forklifts are the number one hazard in your warehouse.  Is everyone driving a forklift certified to be on one?  Work with Human Resources and see how current there training is, since it should be done every 2 – 3 years.  Maybe a refresher course is in order to remind staff checklists need to be done at the beginning of each shift.  How do you want them to alert you there is a maintenance issue and don’t cut corners.  If the forklift is unsafe to use take the key out and LOTO the forklift.  It is NOT acceptable to use while you wait for the tech.

Another area you can make your mark is fueling of the forklifts.  If they are battery powered do they know how to safely change out the battery or recharge the battery.  Unless you have the maintenance free batteries, do they know that water goes in after the charge, not before?  If they are propane do they know to wear goggles and gloves when changing or refueling the tanks?  Again, when you do training here, have an employee actually do the change out in front of his peers.
Now that you have safety under control you’ve just sent a very powerful message to everyone.  That you are in charge and safety of your staff is priority number 1.  I’m not going to kid you, in this current environment companies are doing what they can to survive.  The challenge is going to be when you’re asked to put your ethics on hold and look the other way so an order can be completed and delivered on time.  It’s your call.  Just remember you’re going to have to look at yourself in the mirror.  Now that you’re established you can begin looking into implementing some of those other ideas.

Lock Out Tag Out & save a friend!

There’s always at least one scene a season in every sitcom where the male lead in all his infinite wisdom tries to fix a toaster with a knife while it’s plugged in. Or he’s not sure while working on a table saw blade if the power is off or not. In either case you know he’s going to give himself a severe shock or slice a finger off and everyone is going to have a good laugh. Except in real life it’s not funny! There were over 94,000 estimated saw related accidents in 2003 (1) and as little as 0.2 amps can make the heart fibrillate or beat in an uncontrolled manner which could result in death! (2)

Monica Thayer (attached article-Huffingtonpost)(3) began to clean a piece of machinery and unfortunately the equipment became active and her hair was caught and ripped off her scalp. Gross? Scare you? GOOD! Before any piece of equipment is worked on for any reason; cleaning a machine, clearing a jam, making a minor adjustment, replacing parts or making repairs if you don’t Lock Out Tag Out (LOTO) that machine you risk injured or lost fingers and/or hand, lost scalp or even death. You are not faster than the machine and the machine is an inanimate object, it can’t think and doesn’t know you’re there, it just does what it was made to do, but you are the one with the brain.

What ever time you think you’re saving by not walking to the fuse box or circuit breakers and locking it in the off position will be lost by your injury and more. Time lost by your absence while injured, time lost on machine operation while it’s cleaned of your body parts and blood and time lost for the investigation of the accident not to mention product not produced for your customers which has now become a burden on the other machine operators to make up the difference in production lost by the down unit.

Take the time and make sure everyone who operates or works on machinery and equipment is issued a Lock Out Tag Out set. You can find them in any safety equipment catalog and they make them for just about every application needed. Work with H.R. to write procedures for LOTO and then train, train and train. And I don’t mean tell them to LOTO. i mean you go to the piece of equipment and ask for a volunteer to actually demonstrate to everyone else how and where to properly LOTO that specific piece of equipment and then document all training with a sign in sheet. It could also become part of new employee packet like forklift training for new warehouse employees. Must be trained before allowed to operate any machinery.

Everybody should go home in the same condition they arrived at work, in one piece. Help a friend stay that way and insist they LOTO to stop preventable accidents.

1-  http://www.sawaccidents.com/p1.htm
2-  http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2000/JackHsu.shtml
3-  huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/26/monica-thayer-loses-scalp-ohio-accident_n_1706432.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

– Photos of hand injuries by saws.  Graphic.  It’s meant to make you think.
http://www.sawaccidents.com/table-saw-injury-pictures.htm