The Company Civil War


Everyone wants to think they’re in charge.  Some sales and marketing departments think they’re in charge.  Some think manufacturing is in charge and some think purchasing and supply chain is in charge.

In the vast city known as Candy-Land (protecting the real company name) there existed but only three gangs who had divvy-up the city and totally controlled it.  All three not only ruled their territories with tyrannical deceit and ruthlessness but were often at war with each other at one time or another.  If only the feuds were about something constructive but always more personal between the gang leaders then anything else.  There was one gang known as Creations and they were ruthless but more civilized of the three in their approach.  Their mission was to make the “product” and dry it before transporting the product to the bins.


The other two gangs were constantly at each other’s throats with skirmishes popping up a few times a week not so much from the gang members hating each other, they did but the leaders despised each other.  The leader of the gang called the Wrappers was Pete the sweet a very ugly, short and vulgar man.  Across town, where the gang the DC ruled their leader, Raoul who was tall, muscular and good looking spoke softly since he was a former boxer and often let his fists carry the conversation.  As I said, the two didn’t get along at all and were constantly in full-blown shouting matches right in full view of everyone mano y mano.

The Wrappers were an interesting bunch.  They would take the dried product from the bins and get it ready for transport to the buyers by packaging it in nice colorful paper of all sizes from one pound boxes to 100 pounds bags to attract as many buyers as possible.  Pete the sweet had illusions of grandeur as he believed he could tell people in the other gangs what to do or how to do it so it wouldn’t affect his gang in their quest to meet packaging goals and his bonus.  This interference enraged the other leaders but really angered Raoul no end who may have taken a punch to many as he believed he should be in charge of all the territories.

The games afoot:


When the DC was having problems with the ASRS (read The Company Hostage) and stopped the putaway of pallets of packaged product into storage this enraged Pete the sweet as having people standing around drove him crazy.  So he decided to go to the DC and tell them how to fix the problem and get it going.  He huffed and he puffed, he threatened and he intimidated, but it all fell on deaf ears since we were already busy doing what we needed to do.  It was easy to ignore him since Raoul had told us earlier to ignore Pete and then call to update him but what really made it easy was our gang really didn’t like the Wrappers so when he went directly to the workers they took pleasure in ignoring him as well and made Pete even angrier when he heard, you’re not my boss.

On the off shifts, when Pete wasn’t around had instructed his lieutenants to climb out of their trees and confront us on what was happening in the DC every time the packaging lines stopped.  We ignored them too or just outright lied on how long it would be down just to really send them into a frenzy as they then had to call and wake Pete at home to update him and he wasn’t so sweet.  He would call the ASRS room where of course they also ignored him but more because they were busy working to get the system back up and running.


There was no team building going on here unless you want to call telling your gang to ignore the leaders of other gangs team building.  I watched as lots of walls were erected between departments as each was surrounded in its own secrecy and not daring to allow anyone else to know their plans for that day, week or month all within the same plant.  The current owners, an investment company, still searching for a buyer had no idea how to handle the situation and didn’t want to invest let alone lose any more money and sent out this one and only in edict in early October as production numbers took a dive, “work things out”.

As with a lot of other companies, the holidays, Thanksgiving thru Christmas were our biggest season for sales, so much so to keep up with the orders we had to begin to produce and stockpile inventory right after labor day in September or we’d never meet the demand and lose sales.  For some reason, each gang leader interrupted the edict from the owner as giving them the authority to be in charge to get things done which turned ugly later in the month.

The day started like any other day.  A quick huddle with my crew and we laid out several scenarios that could happen and how we would respond.  We had spent the weekend clearing out a large storage area in the back of the facility where we could stack pallets of product in the event of the ASRS going down.  The holidays were on the horizon and sales and marketing people were loudly crying about not enough product out in the stores.  We were all trying.  The Creations were having issues cooking up the product, The Wrappers had packaging machine issues and the DC had the ASRS.  We were literally holding things together with chewing gum, baling wire, and duct tape.


As fate would have it our luck and the duct tape didn’t hold out.  Something fell from a pallet jamming the conveyor in the ASRS and snapping the drive chain and taking out a license plate reader.  The DC gang began moving the product by forklift as fast as we could but the hallway that led to the makeshift storage area was narrow and we couldn’t go very fast but we were keeping the factory going.  Raoul came to assess the situation and told the palletizers to slow down so we could keep up with the product coming out and take it to storage.  Emergency repairs to the ASRS were beginning but we knew it’d be down for the day if not longer.  Raoul also knew it was going to be a long day and as he had done before and one of the reasons I liked him had pizza delivered to feed his gang as we were in constant motion to keep the other gangs happy and busy as well.

Pete the sweet was having none of it.  He didn’t care what was happening in the DC and that we were making every effort to keep the factory going.  He didn’t like the palletizers were slowed and even though the packaging was able to continue it wasn’t at the pace Pete wanted.  Pete only cared about Pete and how all this was personally directed at him.  He believed what happened was only intended to hurt him and him alone.  He didn’t care whether the company made the goal or not, he didn’t care for training or safety either and was known to order others to cut corners on safety.  If they got away with it he applauded them for their ingenuity but if they got caught he’d throw them under the bus.  Yet his gang knew in order to survive in the Wrappers you had to do what he wanted or suffer the consequences with abuse and bullying.

The showdown finally came, right there in the middle of the facility.  Pete and Raoul face to face yelling, screaming, cursing and threatening each other.  Pete loudly criticized Raoul for buying pizza, not a time to eat!  Raoul disagreed and told Pete he didn’t have to defend his actions to anyone let alone a little dictator.  The louder they got the more people from all the gangs lined the floor, the mezzanine, and the rafters until it looked and sounded like a sell-out crowd at a Golden State Warriors game with various shouts of encouragement from the crowd.  Hit him!  Don’t take that crap, Pete!  Punch him out, Raoul.  The cheers, the chants, the calls for blood, if I didn’t know better I could have been at the Colosseum in Rome watching gladiators.  We could see that Raoul was getting ready to end the conversation and let his fists speak.  There was no production going on at all.


Finally, another lieutenant from the DC and myself decided to end this and jumped between the two combatants and while Carl began trying to calm down Pete while he backed him up I was pleading with our leader, Raoul to take this discussion to an office, in private.  The adrenalin was surging through my body and my heart racing as I started to think of things to say and babbled, You’re better than this. You don’t want to hit him here there are too many witnesses.  At one point in desperation, I supposedly said to him, the pizza is getting cold, I don’t remember this with all the excitement going on but it actually made him stop, look at me and brought a smile to his face as he caught his composure.  He chuckled and said, You’re right Phil, the pizza is getting cold and we walked to his office.

It took a day and a half before the ASRS was fully operational and even then still continued with the usual ups and downs.  With the efforts and hard work of staff, we were able to meet most of the demand with some late shipments going out at discounted rates as make it up to the customers for previous short shipments.  Raoul and Pete continued their feud and that alone was more of a disruption to the plant than any equipment failures.  It even became more difficult for the Superintendents and forepeople to manage the day to day activities not knowing what would break down next.  Sick calls increased and people just didn’t want to come to work and I can’t say I blame them but now, that all didn’t matter as rumors of a new buyer for the plant began to swirl and we could all feel the change in the air.


The Company As Hostage


The company had a very old ASRS, Automated Storage and Retrieval System to store the majority of it’s finished product inventory.  We were in transition as the company had gone into receivership and was run by an investment corporation that was trying to keep overall costs as low as possible while they prayed and searched for a buyer.  The system was so old that in the era of CD drives it still used floppy disc to operate the system that was, to say the least, fragile.  It could freeze up due to trouble reading a dirty license plate or from a loud sneeze or other inexplicable reason and have to be rebooted.

The cost to upgrade was enough that our benevolent keepers felt hiding their heads in the sand and ignoring the problem would magically make it stop hurting the bottom line but it was every time the ASRS was down.  It interfered with production in that when you can’t put the product into storage you can’t keep packaging it and when you can’t retrieve product to ship you can’t invoice.  In addition, a lot of overtime was spent on having workers move and stack products anywhere they could in the facility so the packaging of the product could continue but that also led to inventory issues of lost and misplaced products which became a nightmare for our production scheduler. 

Our keepers also didn’t see how over time the leadership on-site had surrendered its authority and through attrition and neglect, there was only a handful of employees left who not only knew how to operate the ASRS but how to keep it going and no one in management noticed the pending issue or thought to make plans for rectifying the situation because they were too busy putting out fires or pointing fingers at one another. 


Things had actually been moving along pretty well during the last few weeks with only a few minor hiccups of the ASRS and word the company may have found a new owner but on this particular warm sunny afternoon, a few employees were caught smoking a joint in the back of the shipping building.  Marijuana was not yet legal in any form in any state and in accordance with the company zero-tolerance policy, they were terminated on the spot. The problem was of the five caught smoking, three were ASRS operators which was more than half the staff as well half the only people who could operate the system.  


The “IT” really hit the fan, of course, during the graveyard shift after they had forced swing shift for four hours, allowable by contract no one else showed up to operate the ASRS.  Management hadn’t realized that there was no one else available that had been trained to operate the system.  They had screwed-up royally and were behind the eight ball.  No communication or verification nothing but an all night long battle of survival as pallets of product were stacked five high down corridors, hallways any open space was fair game as production had to pack out the product already produced within a specific time frame.  The company in a word had been taken, hostage.

The ASRS operators still available were refusing over time even the forced four hours and the union was standing up for them pointing out the safety issues of working all the extra hours and demanding the return of the fired workers while not allowing the training of any additional ASRS personnel keeping the company hostage.  After a few days of keeping on their game face, and saying everything was all right the company quietly began to negotiate an end to the hostage situation along with dealing with the backlog of the finished product all over the facility.  The deal eventually worked out after hours of negotiating brought back all the terminated employees, they all had to attend drug and alcohol rehabilitation, were on a one-year probation for drug use, had to train additional employees and management as well as document procedures on the ASRS while the company promised and began the painful process of upgrading the system to twenty-first-century technology.


This is a lesson that was not cheap.  The overtime alone to count inventory and to get all the finished products into the ASRS system was ridiculous and it took weeks to get shipping and invoicing back to normal.  A binder was created with all the information needed so that even a caveman could operate the ASRS and the cost of the upgrade was hovering at $One Million.  This all could have been avoided and not an issue if upper management kept their eye on the big picture and allowed their supervisors and managers to do their job of training and documenting training but they had no experience in manufacturing and were lost in all the complexities of an aging system and ancient techniques while trying to meet the demands of today.

As I’ve said many times you reap what you sow.  You don’t have to be a boss hogs taskmaster but you must hold people accountable for their actions after a thorough explanation of the rules, expectations, and consequences.  You are in charge of your realm of the kingdom that makes up the company so RUN IT!  Be proactive, do a yearly hazard inspection, check emergency gear, create a safety committee, do your walk and be on the floor 80% of the time so you know what’s going on and what your workers are dealing with.  For more tips and ideas on leadership or if you have questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.











Companies Behaving Badly-Demons



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.


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. 



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.



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. 


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.













Companies Behaving Badly-Delusion


Welcome back for another episode of Companies Behaving Badly and the dog days of summer.

I must tell you all, I’m confused and maybe getting delusional.  It began with my very first job at 14 years old, working for my uncle who had a store in a Bronx neighborhood that sold curtains, drapes, linen, bedding, bathroom items and so on.  Until I started working for him, I had only dealt with my uncle at family gatherings, weddings, bar mitzvahs, funerals and holidays and he was a really cool and kind gentleman who never raised his voice.  However, the man I saw at work was not my uncle as he transformed into a loud, barking first Sargent and I’d cringe when he’d yell at a employee for making a mistake.  He freely used words that I had only recently learned in the school yard, they weren’t like your usual motivational words of today, but they were back then.  Nobody cared about your feelings, men didn’t cry, it was about just getting the job done right, the first time and if you couldn’t take it, then git!  Training was not part of the plan then either, you watched someone else do it, until you were deemed ready and God help you if you weren’t ready to fly, the feedback was brutal.  Are you stupid?  How many times do we have to do this?  They said you were smart?  My Grandmother got this in five minutes, I don’t know why they hired you?  I thought (insert ethnicity of choice) were smarter, stronger or faster then that?  I was lucky, my uncle took the time to personally train me how to gift wrap packages, I was family.  This is one talent that has always come in handy and still use to this day.  Bosses lead by giving you a swift kick in the ass, like that was suppose to help get your brain in gear and bawling someone out in front of their peers and calling them all kinds of names with threats of termination for their stupidity was employee feedback of the nth degree.  It was odd since socially, people were very polite to one another, said please and thank you, may I and excuse me.


Years later when I began working at a local supermarket, my training once again was watching others do something until I got it, OSHA still wasn’t established yet and where I heard the immortal words, “you’re not paid to think.”  As it does, times changed and so did management styles as leadership became more of a coach then a two fisted task master.   The bosses I have had that were yellers and screamers were successful at their jobs, they met and exceeded goals, kept a safe workplace and spun hay into gold and now I was being told that they were wrong.  I was attending supervisory training classes that were contradicting all that my mentors including my uncle had taught me.  Threats and verbal abuse is not how you treat workers after all, we no want to develop people.  Be respectful of their feelings, communication instead of dictation, listen to their feedback as we want workers who can think on their feet.

It meant I had to change as well.

I have to admit, it was hard to change at first.  I enjoyed yelling at people and telling them what to do but the classes, training and feedback really showed me that this was the way to go with people.  So much so that I became an advocate and embraced this new wave of leadership to the dismay of many other supervisors and managers.  Thanks to open communication with my staff we slowly began to out produce other shifts and not only making goals but exceeding them.  Our incidence of machine down time drastically dropped as did the number of accidents and so did the amount of those who called in sick.  After 6 months people on other shifts started bidding to to join our team.  My crew consisted of whites, blacks, latinos, indians-(sikh, hindi and buddhist) and by working together, for a common cause, getting the product packaged, we did one hell of a job and that’s because they wanted to be a very big part of the process and they were, because they were treated with respect.


Now after all these years of developing people through coaching, mentoring and leadership to improve retention, production, safety and work environment, I hear leaders going back to bully and threaten, using unflattering name calling an openly lying as well as refusing to take responsibility for their actions or pointing the finger at others just to be able to put a few dollars more their pockets!  That’s why I’m delusional right now.  No matter what one boss does, on another shift, another business or in a dumpy white house, always treat those you work with, with the greatest respect all the time and I guarantee when that other boss can’t deliver the goods because of his actions to staff, the company will jump in and they’ll eventually be fired.

When ever I think of poor leadership I always immediately think of the United States Postal Service.  USPS closes Pulaski post office citing safety reasons  What is so sad is that no one in management/leadership there had the brains to do something so a worker had to file a complaint with OSHA.  The heat in the place along with the humidity was stifling.  Now you see why I think that.  If leadership had looked at the problem and worked with employees they could have planned the shutdown better as well so as not to inconvenience the customer but that is also something they are not capable of.  At least at the New York Public Library main building, at the time I worked there, when the heat index hit a certain number, wish I could remember what it was, you were allowed to go home or keep working at time and a half.  I was very young so I would work for the extra money.  Too bad the postal union, which has been very quiet, to the point that I don’t think they exist any longer couldn’t get their workers extra money for working in those conditions.  Remember people, your employees make you look good so take care of them.

Here’s a company that has no respect at all for it’s employees. South Jersey Manufacturing Business Cited Again For Safety Violations: OSHA  Aluminum Shapes LLC. is so concerned about employee safety that after workers entered a tank to drain sludge containing dehydrated sodium hydroxide, aluminum oxide and decomposed metal and experienced chemical burns on their skin, their supervisor sent them back in, which put one worker in the hospital.   Then another employee broke his pelvis after getting caught between unguarded moving parts.  As you’d expect instead of taking responsibility for their actions they blamed OSHA and the news media.  YEA! OSHA and the news media forced their workers into the tank.  What morons.  To top it off, OSHA found a total of 51 violations and a proposed fine of $1,922,895.  Sounds more like it’s managements lack of leadership is the fault.  Never keep quiet about safety.  If you run into a company like this and they are not listening to your concerns on safety, make that anonymous call to the OSHA HOT LINE at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).  Your life is NO less valuable then your bosses.


Another company that has no respect for workers, OSHA slaps Bay Area Athletic Club with $195,000 fine  This is over an emergency eyewash and shower station.  The original violation goes back to 2015 and it’s costing $300 a day until it’s fixed so the total penalty right now is at $574,110.  The jerk who oversees this company, Mark McPeek won’t spring for the eye wash even though his employees handle hydrochloric acid, sodium hypochlorite and other extreme pH chemicals.  But not surprised since he can’t mange his way out of a paper bag.  His excuse to not having mandatory safety meetings is 1-he doesn’t want to pay people for spending time in meetings and 2-He said it’s too difficult to coordinate the meetings for the different shifts.  What a lazy man, I had no problem coordinating monthly safety meeting for 125 people over 3 shifts.  You have to want to do it an well, when you don’t care what happens to your staff, you don’t want to.  Don’t understand why they haven’t shut this business down.  

This is an issue that needs to be addressed as I suspect there are companies who are taking advantage of workers who don’t speak english well or are easy to threaten to do unsafe work.  Lawmakers call on Acosta to address Latino workplace deaths  Latino workers have a 18% higher death rate on the job then the average worker.  It’s not because they’re more careless or less intelligent, it’s because they are not treated as well as other workers by some employers.  All people matter as do their lives.  They deserve the same fall protection, PPE, safety meetings and training as any other worker.  Si ve a alguien siendo intimidado o amenazado con hacer un trabajo de manera no segura, no se quede callado. Llame a la Línea Directa de OSHA 1-800-321-6742

Training is the most critical element of safety.  People need to know how to do the job, how to respond in an emergency and a drill helps reenforce that training and help deal with when the unexpected happens.  In pictures: Laois fire crews train for farm accidents  and the city of Bowling Green Fire Department has adopted new policies addressing a variety of issues including workplace pranks.  City adopts new operating procedures for fire department  There is no place in any job for horseplay.  It’s usually all fun and games until someone gets hurt, someone gets denied workers comp, someone gets angry at someone else, lost productivity, damaged equipment and so on.  There are other ways to have fun on the job.  This is also cool since it’s great to see them reviewing and updating their policies and procedures which is something you should do annually as well.


This is troubling, EPA Decided Preventing a West, Texas-Style Accident Wasn’t a Priority. So 11 AGs Are Suing  Yes, that’s right.  If you live near a chemical plant the EPA, charged with protecting the air you breath and the water you drink has decided, well if it blows up, it’s your bad for living there.  Right now the special interest are more concerned with making profits for themselves and supporting friends to become rich and they’re hedging that with your lives.  However, there are people who care and right now 11 Attorney Generals of 11 states are suing the EPA to make it right.  Don’t sit back and wait, encourage these AGs and your politicians to fix this by writing them a nice letter that you’d like to live as long as possible.

Then in Wisconsin, they are so desperate they’re waving all environmental laws just so foxxconn can build a plant.  Wisconsin Governor Calls Special Session On Foxconn Deal and offer 3000 jobs to locals.  The intensions are good but as you know the road to hell is paved with good intensions especially when you jump without really looking.  Jobs are important but so is living.  My main concern, when we rush to fast is that there is the potential to wind up with another love canal. (google it)  Then we can ask over and over, why?  Were the tax breaks and the amount of jobs worth the mounting medical expenses generated from all the cases of cancer and other illnesses related to the poorly managed disposal of dangerous chemicals and materials.  I guess it all comes down to which side of the equation you’re on.  


It’s HOT.  Seriously, some of you are having some wicked high temperatures.  Don’t be an asshole.  Allow a few more breaks then usual so they can hydrate.  Don’t kid yourself, high temps can kill you-  How berry pickers, construction workers can beat the heat this week  Set-up rehydration stations near where the workers do their thing.  When they’re working in really hot conditions be a nice guy and get some bottles of Gatorade. Increase the flow of air, big ass fans are nice and if your doors and dock doors have screens, keep them open.  

That brings this episode to a close.  Safety is just as much your responsibility as it is your supervisor, manager and employer.  One way to stop accidents to to say NO when asked to perform a dangerous task without the proper support of PPE including fall prevention gear, retrieval gear and other safety equipment or one you have received no training to perform. Never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.



Nursing Education Consulting Inc.

Companies Behaving Badly-The Art of the Pop-In

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

RBMB-Your Medical Records Aren’t As Safe As You Think


And I’m not even talking about hacking of a computer, this is all human error.  Hopefully this article will spur most of you to double check where you’re sending personal information about an injured employee.  Get into the habit of reviewing and updating your phone and fax numbers for medical clinics and the state workers compensation board on a regular basis.

I’m still not sure why or what changed but the fax landline number that I’ve had for 32 years has been receiving for the last seven years full sets of information on employees who have been injured on the job. The last one was this week and now I have Mr Smith’s dob, home address, work address, SSN, his injury and other personal information that if I was dishonest, would also be hurting Mr. Smith financially as well as from his accident if I assumed his identity.  I called the medical office to let them know the information didn’t get to where it was suppose to go but to my home instead.  The clerk was perplexed and asked me again the patient’s name and birthdate.  Still not getting it he told me he needed to check with his office manager.  After being on hold for five minutes I hung up. Hopefully there were able to figure it out with the info I gave them.


To make it worse, The state of California doesn’t seen to care either.  When this happened last August I tried to inform workers comp I was getting personal information.  She thanked me and was ready to hang up when I said, don’t you want to know who sent it and what it was about nor did she ask if I still had the information or destroyed it?

So folks, you’re going to have to take it upon yourselves to make sure this doesn’t happen to you.  FYI, when I do get this info and after reporting it to the sender, I take the time and shred it at no charge to anyone.  You’re welcome. 


WarehouseFlow’s Tip of The Month-AUGUST


This Month’s Tip From WarehouseFlow Advisors-Jun



Companies Behaving Badly-Senseless


Welcome to the latest issue of Companies Behaving Badly.  Let’s begin with a question. Which of your 5 senses are you willing to lose?  Tough choice isn’t it?  What about sight? Would you miss looking at your family, a rose or a sunset?  Not for you, then how about hearing?   Life would be very quiet if you lost that sense.  Hopefully you answered none of them, however if you refuse to wear or don’t know to wear your PPE at work there is always the possibility of losing something you’ve become very accustomed too.  PPE is – Personal Protection Equipment.  


If you work in a area where there is a lot of dust, dirt, ash and other debris is created by machinery and in the air you should be given SAFETY GOOGLES to wear.  That is your PPE that protects your eyes and vision.  They are not forehead protectors or look really cool on top of your head, they are made to protect your eyes only.  You should not ever be charged by the company for a pair of safety googles.  To help get more people to wear their goggles, good companies work with the employees on the styles they purchase, which have become more fashionable the last few years.  If you wear prescription eyeglasses you can have a pair made with shields to the specs needed to protect your eyes.  Some companies help pay for part or all of the expense.  You should check the company policy before making any purchases.

Exposure to loud noise over a period of time will damage your hearing.  If you work in an environment where machinery and the processes create a lot of noise you should at least be wearing EAR PLUGS and if working for long periods of time in high decibel areas you should use EAR MUFFS. Again, ear plugs and muffs are the PPE to protect your hearing and you should never have to pay for this PPE either.

The bottom line on PPE is, whether goggles, ear plugs, gloves, dust masks or hazmat suits, wear it.  Protect your valuable five senses.×

warehouse1Well our good friends at the U.S. Postal Service were in the news again.  You can read it here.  OSHA delivers package of citations to Virginia post office The USPS management continues to stride at setting the bar lower with poor leadership in action and the only agency that makes TSA look like a top notch competent organization.  OSHA was originally called in to the Virginia Processing and Distribution center when employees filed a complaint.  For employees to finally get to the point where they feel the need to call OSHA means that no one in management has listened to them and when management doesn’t listen it means they don’t care about their employees.  OSHA found 4 REPEAT violations at the facility, directed by lazy leadership.  To lazy to enforce the rules and just looked the other way as long as the job got done.  To lazy to have the equipment properly serviced and to lazy to make sure employees records on certification were current if at all. When I’ve been asked what to do when faced with issues like this I usually tell employees to see their union rep or HR person and report it when management doesn’t respond.   What a double whammy here, not only does management not care about your working conditions but neither does your union.  Where is their union is all this?                          OSHA found the following conditions that lead to the violations:

– Allowed employees to operate equipment even though it had not been inspected or examined for defects after each shift

– Permitted employees to operate powered industrial vehicles without use of a seatbelt

– Allowed employees to operate fork trucks in aisles clearly marked for wheeled mail carts, exposing workers to struck-by or caught-between hazards

– Failed to provide employees with training to ensure they were competent to operate the equipment; andLet employees improperly tow wheeled carts using powered pallet jacks.

A competent supervisor would make sure that forklifts and other industrial motorized equipment are inspected and a checklist completed and signed at the beginning of each shift.   Any safety issues should be noted on the checklist so repairs can be made as soon as possible.  I highly recommend using only licensed technicians.  You should also have a procedure in place to red tag vehicles that are not safe to be used and this will ensure they are not used.  Yes, it sucks when you’re down equipment and have a job to do, I know, I’ve been there, you as a supervisor just need to be more creative.  Once you start making excuses to use unsafe equipment that first time, will it ever stop?  Oh yea, it will, when someone gets killed.   Don’t drive anything you haven’t been certified on by your current employer even if you have previously been certified at another company.  You need to know their rules of the road.  Yes, I know some smart asses that have gotten away with driving a forklift without certification and may have hit something but no one saw them but if they were to have an accident and injured or killed themselves or a pedestrian, do you think the company is going to cover their ass?  No they’re not, because their lawyers are going to throw them under the bus.  In almost an instant, everything you worked so very hard for, the house, the vacation fund, your vehicles, your retirement plans, poof, all gone. 


I also can’t stress enough the importance of wearing your seatbelt while operating your forklift.  It helps keep you within the cage and safe.  Just ask this guy, he’ll tell you that as well.

Miracle as forklift truck driver walks out of factory unhurt after being trapped under tons of CHEDDAR CHEESE for nine hours after massive shelving collapse ×


LOTO, Lock Out Tag Out is a critical aspect of workplace safety.  As seen in this article OSHA Finds Safety Failures Allowed Machine to Sever 30-Year-Old Worker’s 3 Fingertips at Nature’s Path Subsidiary in Wisconsin not doing LOTO can cost you a body part or your life.  Would you stick your hand into an alligators open mouth to retrieve a golf ball?  Would you stick a butter knife into a plugged in toaster?  So why would you stick your hand into a piece of machinery not knowing if someone will accidentally turn it back on.  You are not faster then the machine no matter how much you think you have the timing down.  So when you need to make adjustments, clear jams, do maintenance, get up, turn off the power to the machine, put your lock on it so only YOU can turn the power back on.  Make sure to release all energy, bleeding air pressure, hydraulics etc.   Your lock should have a tag with your name on it.  Don’t let anyone intimidate you into not doing LOTO.  Don’t fall for the “you’re not being a team player” speech.  You’re being a safe player.  The agency also found Nature’s Path USA II failed to:


  • Develop confined space entry procedures to issue permits, test atmospheric conditions, monitor and train workers.
  • Power down or lockout equipment to prevent unintentional operation.
  • Conduct periodic inspections of energy-control procedures.
  • Develop procedures to summon rescue and emergency services and train workers on bloodborne pathogen exposure procedures.
  • Install adequate machine guarding.
  • Correct electrical safety violations.
  • Train workers about chemical hazards used in the workplace.
  • Provide information on noise limits and provide proper fitting of, and ensure use of hearing protection.

Machinery now a days is also produced with safety in mind.  They have guards in areas where body parts can meet moving parts to prevent amputations and other serious injuries.  Older machinery that was built before current safety standards, must be retro fitted with guards to protect you from moving parts.  If guards are missing from a machine do not operate it. If you are told the guards are in maintenance for repair and will be back soon, still do not operate the machine.  I’ve had incidents where maintenance had removed machinery guards for various reasons and forgot to replace them at shift end.  I did not allow the machine to operate.  It was swing shift and no big bosses around so I called the head of maintenance at home to informed him a line was down due and why. Three hours later we were up and running.  If I had allowed it to operate and one of my staff was injured by the moving chains I would not have been able to live with the guilt. ×


One of the first lessons I give to new employees and one of the easiest to do is how to evacuate the facility in the event of an emergency.  We cover what each series of horn blasts indicate, where the emergency evacuation route is and location of the assembly area so everyone can be accounted for.  Along with this information they are also reminded that under no circumstances are they to block the emergency route or any emergency exits.  If they find this to be the case they have been deputized and permission to move and clear the area  as need be and then report it immediately to their supervisor.  Apparently some businesses don’t understand the concept and even lock exit doors which is a big NO-NO.


Warehouse’s locked exit route could cost it again, OSHA says This warehouse locked exit doors  If security or product theft is a concern by management, they have other options to deal with that and locking exit doors is not an option.  Don’t keep quiet about it if you find that to be the case.  OSHA: Pier 1 Imports store in Glendale faces $101K in fines for hazards This store’s management team obviously doesn’t care what’s going on in their facility or bother to do any training.  They’re putting employees at risk especially if there was an emergency. ×


Are you ready for HazCom?  No, it’s not a comic book convention but short for Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) and it’s all going live, TODAY!  That’s correct, if you haven’t completed training by today, you are NOT compliant and may be subject to some big fines.  Get it done!  Don’t think it applies to you?  You’d be surprised.  Need help?  Go to the OSHA website for more information or  if you’re in the local bay area contact us. ×


The sad truth is, Construction companies represent 60% of OSHA’s Severe Violators programWhat can be done?  One thing is Never Being Quiet about Safety.  Read the article.  Companies with a poor safety record should not be allowed to bid for city, county, state or federal jobs and have their licenses suspended.×


Nursing Education Consulting Inc.

Warmer weather is upon us and a great time to remind your workers, especially those that operate outdoors, to stay hydrated, wear protective clothing and know the warning signs of heat exhaustion. ×





Always keep an open dialogue on safety between you and your staff and you and upper management.  Don’t treat safety as a dirty word.  After all accidents can hurt production, kill moral and destroy the bottom line.  Don’t throw people onto the floor without proper training or use equipment in need of repair.  It’s your domain, rule it.  As of April 23rd. (the latest numbers available from OSHA), 566 people have died in industrial accidents for fy 2016.







This Month’s Tip From WarehouseFlow Advisors-MAY