A Tale of Two Ships

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During a recent vacation, I was unexpectedly presented with a unique opportunity to observe first hand how a company benefits from a solid hiring/recruiting strategy that’s reinforced by a thorough training program and tied together with strong leadership.  I have not been paid to write this article for or to endorse Viking River Cruises.  This is the second river cruise my wife and I have taken with Viking and have enjoyed them immensely and wanted to give the fantastic crews of the Bragi and the Skadi a shout out!   You are all amazing!

The chance came up quickly but not unexpected as we were warned well before the trip that due to the lack of rain during the summer the river water levels in a few spots were low and may not allow for safe passage so there existed a possibility of exchanging ships.  Exchanging ships!?  Really?  Sure enough, halfway through we couldn’t continue but Viking had their plan in place and ready to go.  The day we left Budapest up the Danube on Ship A, Ship B was leaving Amsterdam and traveling Southeast.  The ships were exactly the same so at the designated point we packed and left Room 233 on Ship A, took a three an a half hour bus ride got on board Ship B to Room 233.  Meanwhile like an alternate universe, the folks on Ship B were doing the exact same thing.  It was seamless as we gained a new captain, new waiters, new bartenders, new housekeepers, and new crew with only one exception and the one constant in our experiment, we kept the same social director.  All said and done I spent one week with Ship A’s team and one week with Ship B’s team and two weeks with Joey.

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My first thought was this was going to be more difficult for the service crew on both ships to adjust and handle as they had already established relationships with the various passengers and cliques which had formed over the first 3 nights during a speed dating like process aboard ship, which is considered a sacred ritual on all cruise ships. It’s interesting to watch the groups slowly develop like cultures in a Petrie dish as the open auditions have now ended and the “who they want to spend the rest of the cruise hanging with” is decided and the crew now quickly re-learns all the new preferences and idiosyncrasies.  The selection of folks to choose from on this cruise was tantalizing as just about every state was represented including California, Washington, Oregon, Michigan, Alaska, Virginia, Texas, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Illinois, Connecticut, Tennessee, and Florida as well as a few Canadians and Australians tossed in for good measure. 

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Now, before we continue, let’s get this out of the way right now.  The rooms were not “identical” as we were lead to believe.  We noticed almost immediately one glaring difference between Ship A room #233 (on the right) and Ship B room #233 (on the left). The paintings were not the same!  So now we know the truth, the rooms are just very similar.

When you look at the overall operation of both ships, which was equal, you see the benefits of the recruiting and screening process of applicants, (finding the talent) and a great training program (sharpening skills) to ensure consistent uniform perfection in service, actually, it’s more what you don’t see as they all work seamlessly.  The level of thoughtfulness, professionalism, attention to detail and passenger safety provided by both ships crews was second to none as every wish one could have, was immediately handled with grace and flair, all accomplished by a diverse workforce of Hungarians, Slovakians, Bulgarians, Romanians, Filipinos, Serbs, Germans, Dutch, Italians, French all working together as one team. No issues of borders or politics, just one focus, one goal in mind, service extraordinaire. 

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As uniform, as the two ships were in performance, there were also lovely expressions of individuality by the staff in their flair and presentation. The way they greeted you, the way they poured, the way they took orders, the way they joked and the way they smiled and the longer you spend time with them they open up more as who they are.  However, there were some glaring differences in individual performances.  The breakfast omelet maker on one ship was the best of them all.  His technique was absolutely entertaining and fun to watch.  As he listened to your request he placed butter in the pan and as it melted he then placed the ingredients you ordered in as well.  He knew exactly when to flip and fold it which he did with one quick jerk of the pan and it came out perfect every time.  You can tell he really enjoyed what he was doing as he was always upbeat and had an infectious smile which was awesome to begin the day.  On the other ship, the breakfast omelet maker was nowhere near as good.  He always looked like he was having a bad day and unceremoniously tossed the ingredients into the pan, letting it get too hot and always over browning the bottom of the omelet and he had absolutely no zip in his flip.  The experience was such a put off I had cereal.

While in the lounge/bar area on one ship, we never had anyone in our group or overheard anyone complain about their drinks but on the other ship, we not only heard someone at the bar complain about how their old fashion tasted but later one in our group was having the same issue with their old fashion.  By all accounts, it seems someone was leaving out an ingredient.  I’m sure in both instances through the feedback received from guests, steps were taken in the manner of a refresher training for those individuals.  I did mention that the operation and service of both ships were equal but in my opinion, the food overall, especially the dinners were much better on one ship than the other.  It was more flavorful, seasoned well and better prepared.

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There was some outstanding service as well.  A server on one of the ships was very bright and caught on right away that I always had coffee after dinner, every night without skipping a beat.  As soon as the dessert orders began rolling out he was ready with coffee in hand and a smile on his face.  Then there is the “my phone” story that is a great tale of Going That Extra Mile.  I had left my phone on one of the tour buses.  In my defense, I was dazed and confused having just woken up after nodding out during the bus ride from a tour of the town.  When we arrived back at the ship I totally ditzed and forgot to check the seat pocket.  As soon as I stepped back on to the ship I realized I didn’t have it!  What must have looked like a crazy man on the lam I ran off the boat but the tour bus had just left.  I went to the concierge desk and Joey was there so I explained what had happened.  Joey told me he understood and would reach out to the bus company but the ship had to leave on schedule and couldn’t wait for the bus to return.  I told him I understood and thanked him on whatever they could do and went back to my room.  Having given up on ever seeing my phone again and enjoyed an extra drink to help ease the pain. After the evening presentation for the next day’s tours, we were walking from the bar area to the dining room when the concierge called to me.  As I turned around he stopped, smiled and handed me my phone.  I wanted to kiss the entire bus company and everybody on board.

But the glue that bound it all together, the training, screening, and service was Joey.  He was our social director who had established a rapport with everyone even before we boarded the ship as he introduced himself as we checked in.  He was the voice we would come to trust through his nightly presentations that were not to be missed as they were always delivered stand-up comedic style, upbeat and full of energy with a dry sense of humor.  After we had a cocktail or two he’d make his entrance into the lounge and quickly review and critique that days highlights followed by the weather report for tomorrow and then the introduction of the chef who’d give us the menu rundown followed up with Joey covering the next day’s cities and tours and other planned activities.  Joey became the voice of the ship, he was the voice of Viking as he was the one who had to deliver the bad news that we had to switch ships but did it so it sounded more positive than negative.  He was always around making sure everything went like clockwork.  He was there as the tour groups formed and boarded buses, boarded bicycles or walked to town.  He checked in and up on the guides, always interested in feedback.  In addition to our entertainment, he was just as responsible for the safety of all the guests on their land tours as the captain is aboard ship.  What I admired most was no matter how many fires he was putting out, finding passengers lost in the local town, listening to unhappy guests, answering questions about local stores, reuniting lost belongings including phones to guests you never saw it in his face, you never heard it in his voice, there was always a smile and he always had time to listen.  The last day aboard ship as we were waiting for our transportation, I got to watch Joey in action as he was in constant motion, saying goodbye to his leaving flock while simultaneously welcoming new busloads of guests to their journey.  Still full of positive energy.  

My high school football coach used to tell us to give 110 percent or you weren’t committed.  I used to think that was a ridiculous statement since you can’t really give more than 100% but if anyone could give 110% that would be Viking river cruises.  What I have learned from this experience is more a confirmation of what I have always believed that when talent gets the proper consistent training and nurturing leadership you can accomplish any goal. 

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Companies Behaving Badly-The Hole

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Welcome back and thank you for joining us in another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.  Hope all is going well.

I  hate to always reference my old childhood days and how things were growing up back then but it is my baseline and even though comparing anything to today’s world is not really fair as it’s more apples/oranges kind of thing, seriously, who thought there would come a time when ethics, morals, accountability, and responsibility would fade out of style?  Who knew that the more debilitating problem for companies today is not the ever-widening “skills gap” but is actually the “leadership hole”!

We are in desperate need of leadership as a large vacant hole has developed.  Leaders that listen to every voice and understand their needs in developing consensus with all groups and that it is more important than just winning at all cost for your side.  Unfortunately, there is no short supply of examples out there of the existence of the leadership hole and by all accounts, it’s only getting wider, deeper and we’re all sinking into it.  Leaders who believed that they should be in charge worked hard to get good returns on investment, enough to keep the people happy and enough happy people to drown out the little voices, like wisps of smoke that would rise time to time of abuse and corruption which were really driving the ROI as ethical and moral behavior became profit stoppers.  As long as things were good, a deaf ear was more than the latest corporate fashion.  Luckily the same time as the voices got louder, these honorable men running corporations avoiding responsibility and accountability, believing ethics and morals are weaknesses rather than strengths finally had it all explode in their faces. 

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A gas pipeline blew up murdering 8, a bank caught creating fraudulent accounts, a social media company sold us all out.  They accepted reality television accountability as PGE, Wells Fargo Bank, Uber and FaceBook to mention a few now spend millions of dollars on ad campaigns telling us how sorry they are that they lied and let the green glow of cash and power blind them rendering their moral compass useless and the reason why they didn’t think twice about ripping us off.  “We’re sorry”  “We went astray” “Lost the path”  “We’ll do better”.  All things men caught cheating on their wives say.  By all accounts, not one of them has gone to jail and the ones who did lose their jobs, don’t waste your time feeling sorry for them, they landed on their feet with the ability to go astray again at any time.  Cause “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” and they love us, or our greenbacks actually.

Those corporations were only the tip of the iceberg.  Now the leaders of the largest colleges and universities who are entrusted with the task of teaching, training and preparing our future leaders have let us all down, giving the lesson that listening is not important especially if it’s something you don’t want to hear about the “good ole boys.”  First hand demonstrating to future leaders how to ignore the voices of young women who only want an education and career but had to work twice as hard to get there due to the constant body shaming, abuse, and rape!  Michigan State and U.S.C. , great schools now saying how sorry they are.  Even the city of Berkeley, California where many a mind has been enlightened over the years has sent the message to women of you are not important enough to listen too, as rape kits sat on shelves only collecting dust instead of collecting evidence.

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Look I get it.  When you accept responsibility it takes work, lots of work.  Following up on work-related issues, reviewing your process, talking to employees and listening, finding and filling the cracks in the process, budgets, competition, employee retention, and your bonus. When you’re responsible you also need to be proactive as well, guessing what the future will bring and how to deal with it.  That’s also hard work.   That’s why so many of our leaders just keep the status quo, you don’t have to work as hard and listen to or care about all those whiny people and still collect all your bonuses even if they don’t make the goal.  Life is wonderful when you can shed all your morals and ethics for a few dollars more.

Will there be a new we’re sorry ad campaign in the future for–Bumble Bee CEO Indicted On Charge He Fixed Canned Tuna Price.  Smart and lazy CEO decided hey, we don’t need to compete against each other and fight for a market share when we can all just share the wealth by pricing our product exactly the same.  We all win!  When you shed your morals it is so easy to do and if you think they’re the only ones doing this…..

Then there is ethics I can never understand and seems both ironic and hypocritical to me at the same time.  Human life is a human life, right?  If I believe that human life needs to protected at all costs wouldn’t you want to protect them just as much from dying on the job as from the hands of terrorists? Despite wave of fatal building accidents in Israel, safety is rarely enforced.   Over 100 have died on the job since 2016 but they are still not taking workplace safety seriously letting many of these corrupt construction companies to operate freely and keep killing workers.  If the PLO had taken 100 Israeli lives there would be an uproar for blood, revenge, and retaliation but I guess when you kill your own building, that’s o.k.  It seems to me if you protect human live all lives should matter equally.

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We all rely on and love our local Firefighters.  They do so many wonderful things like put out large and small fires, work in burning buildings to save people, rescue small animals from trees or sewers and make a fabulous calendar but one thing they are not is expendable.  State fines Camas $4800 over firefighter safety violations.  The city of Camas should be ashamed to put two firefighters in danger the way they did.  The job is difficult enough as it is and the key to firefighting is working as a team to make sure everyone is safe while accomplishing their assignments during a fire.  As I have said in previous blogs, my city of Vallejo, a population of 121,000 has only 21 firefighters on each shift and we still have to ask for mutual assistance several times a week between freeway accidents, house fires, chemical spills, and other emergency calls.  

Why be complicit in your own death?  Wichita roofing contractor cited by OSHA.  What kind of moron sends employees out on a roof without fall protection?  Well, Jose Barrientos for one, who was cited by OSHA for exposing employees to falls and other safety hazards and now faces proposed penalties of up to $191,071.  To make it worse 2 of the violations were WILLFUL which means he knew it was wrong and dangerous to not provide fall protection and that someone could be killed but he DIDN’T CARE which is obvious since he’s been cited 5 times in the last 10 years.  Time to shut him down!  This is why falls continue to be the OSHA number 1 violation and killer.  Don’t put your life at risk and if you are bullied or threatened to be fired for doing an unsafe act call the OSHA hotline 1 – 800 – 321 – 6742

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Every job, heck everything you do has its own set of inheriting dangers and how we mitigate those dangers and awareness of those dangers helps keep us safe but you still never know.  These gentlemen were doing their job, covering a story to keep others safe. Thoughts go out to the families of  TV News Anchor, Photographer Die When Tree Crushes Their Vehicle.  This is why you hug, smile and say I love you every day to loved ones, for you don’t know how long that enjoyment will last.  

Until next month my friends, (yes, there will be no issue on June 21, summer hours folks) stay safe and never keep quiet about safety, for the life you save may be your own.

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Companies Behaving Badly-Nice Guy

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Welcome back for another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.  Is Spring being bashful where you live?  Maybe if we treated the environment better, Spring wouldn’t be so self-conscience and step out sooner.  

Of the blogs I enjoy reading, the latest edition of the PPM Blog – Practical Practice Management written by Tina Del Buono, When Being The Nice Guy Backfires”  hit a chord for me since it pertains just as well to safety on the job.  As Tina says, “Most managers want to have good relationships with their staff and go the extra mile for them by being the “nice guy”.  But not always does being a “nice guy” pay off, in fact, it can hurt your career.”  This couldn’t be closer to the truth and in a distribution center or manufacturing plant being a nice guy can wind up getting an employee injured or worse and you under the spotlight of investigation and wind up in court, as a defendant, being sued for failing to enforce safety rules.

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Seriously.  More cities are taking a tougher stance on safety and actually prosecuting supervisors, managers, and owners.  If you think for one minute that your company won’t throw you under the bus if a worker gets injured because you wanted to be a nice guy and said, oh you forgot your safety goggles, that’s o.k., get them later or it’s close to break, forget about LOTO so you can go on time, that doesn’t look like bad jam.  Every day you’ll be tested, I forgot my earplugs, I forgot my LOTO locks, I forgot my brain and every day you have to enforce the rules, uniformly and consistently.  The first time you back down to be a “nice guy” and make an excuse to justify your actions, you’ve lost ALL credibility.  Chances are that allowing someone to not wear their safety glasses won’t lead to an injury but when the other employees see this, what do you think they’re going to expect?  You tell the employee sorry they forgot their safety glasses but they can’t go to their workstation without them.  I always kept a few extra pairs in my desk and just handed it to them with a reminder that all PPE is necessary, no excuses under my watch.

There was a warehouse manager who poorly scheduled and didn’t properly utilize staff so there was a lot of dead time in the morning and because he wanted to be a “nice guy” he didn’t make them sweep or clean but allowed horseplay to help the employees pass the time.  One of their favorite games was racing forklifts across the warehouse, straight down aisles with assorted obstacles.  One day, during a race the brakes failed on one of the forklifts and the young driver’s reflex was to instinctively put his leg out to help stop the forklift.  The forklift stopped but his right foot was wedged between the lift and a steel beam supporting the roof. 

ER This young man wound up losing half his foot and even after several surgeries and a long stint of rehab he was never going to work in a warehouse again and this plunged him into a deep depression and despair even when the state retrained him for another career but he ultimately survived.  The manager was terminated for being a “nice guy” and had to live with the guilt of what happened in the warehouse for the rest of his life.  Soon after the dust settled I was asked to move from customer service to take over the warehouse.  That doesn’t mean nice guys always finish last.  You can be a “nice guy” in so many other ways by treating workers with respect, listening to their concerns and saying thank you for a job well done.  Buy them lunch for no reason at all, approve that day off they requested and please recognize their accomplishments.  

Whether you’re a nice guy or not, unfortunately, DANGER lurks in every workplace and knowing and understanding them gives you an edge.  The fishing industry wants to make sure their workers know, Workplace safety campaign addresses commercial fishing risks.  If you are not getting any kind of training on job hazards, first think, is this a company that appreciates me and do I want to work here?  Then go online and research the hazards specific for your job or read blogs like this one and learn about them and then discuss them with fellow workers, your shop steward, human resources.  The more people you get involved in safety the better for all of you.  

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Like drilling it down makes it better for all as emergency responders train to hone farm rescue techniques https://buff.ly/2qEI4hW.  It makes perfect sense in a community that has lots of family farms to be prepared to handle any emergency that may occur there.  As in a community that has lots of trains passing through, their local first responders would do better to have drills on derailments.  In your facility the same holds true.  If you work with chemicals then you should receive training on how to handle a spill or other type of release of chemicals as well as for fires, evacuations and other emergencies that may possibly arise.  Again, if you’re not getting this training then it may be time to find another job.

Nice guy or not, if you’re dumb enough to put someone in charge who doesn’t understand the dangers of the job, proper PPE to be used or knows the regulations then you’re not only an idiot in my book but still at fault per OSHA.  Ignorance of OSHA standards no defense for worker’s death.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit Court upheld OSHA’s decision to issue a willful citation in the case of a worker’s deadly fall, even though the employer claims the foreman in charge was ignorant of safety requirements that could have prevented the incident, according to a summary written by the law firm of Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP for JD Supra.”  So either in my opinion, we believe the employer is actually that stupid a business person to actually put someone in charge that was ignorant of safety requirements or the employer is lying thinking they would go easy on the fine if he said the foreperson was ignorant of the rules.  Never operate any machinery or perform any job without understanding the dangers and have been trained to properly operate.  The truth is out there, somewhere, but not here.  

Yes, accidents happen, you just never know when that’s why they’re called accidents and not planned.  However, you can minimize accidents by understanding what you are working with and how to prevent the many different ways it can go sideways, but if it does, how to deal with it so you can walk away.  Knowledge is power and never let anyone tell you otherwise, even if they’re just trying to be a nice guy.  Never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.  Until next month.

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Companies Behaving Badly-Training

 

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Welcome back and thanks for stopping by.  Hope your April Fools Day wasn’t too brutal.

There is no doubt in my mind that TRAINING is the most important aspect of any safety program.  Having employees who know what to do and how to do it without losing fingers, limbs or their lives makes for a fabulously productive shift.  However training is not a one time deal but a continuous process, assembling the many layers over time such as first day safety orientation, monthly safety meetings, weekly tailgate/toolbox meetings, daily huddles, emergency drills, PPE, LOTO, operating different or new machinery, forklift certification and refreshers.  The more opportunities to have open discussion on safety along with input from everyone involved makes it all the better.

To be successful at training, means you got the point you wanted to make across to the group while being focused and with a little entertaining in your message that is geared to your audience.  When you tell your fable of safety to the group and end with the moral of the story  you want to sound real, you want to sound credible so use situations that have occurred on other shifts or as sister plants or in trade magazines.  When speaking to a group of young new workers you don’t want to sound like a lecturing dad, they’ll just tune you out and they’ll never hear the message.  It helps to get them involved in the training.  What’s their experience with this piece of machinery.  What are their concerns and how would they handle an emergency shut off or LOTO on the packaging machine you’re featuring in this weeks tailgate/toolbox meeting.  Also use hand outs, videos and demonstrations to help your presentation.

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It does take work to ensure all the training.  When I had 64 employees working at 10 different stations on a shift, to get the weekly toolbox/tailgate completed you need to stagger the meeting.  Went to the first station and spoke with the 5 workers there about the topic and got feed back, then continued down the hall to the next station and spoke with the 7 workers there and continued through out the shift until I had made contact with all.  If there were no fires to put out that shift I might get to all 64 but sometimes it takes two days to get it done.  To accomplish a monthly safety meeting I’d split the shift in half to keep production going, limited but at least not stopped and do one group early in the shift and the second half after first breaks.  There are always ways to get it done, don’t be afraid to be creative.  Even though these meetings are critical you can’t help but take some time away from production and that’s where some companies go crazy.

Thirty minutes for a safety meeting!? Did you guys have a party last night?  Those are just a few of the comments I would get but didn’t care since wasn’t about to discourage people from asking questions or interrupting them while they discuss a serious safety concern.  But this too is solvable by making friends with the head production scheduler.  We sat down and had coffee and learned about each other’s goals and for those days he could give us light nights I would get safety meetings done and still make our daily production goals.  Win, win.

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However, there are still those companies that believe spending money on training is a waste.  Like our friends at, Dollar Tree stores cited again and fined maximum for putting workers at risk This has become an annual event finding the same safety violations occurring again and again and now the state of Washington is fining them $306,000 for willful violations.  Willful means the company knew they were putting workers in danger but didn’t bother to do anything about it.  It’s kind of hard not to block emergency exits or electrical panels when you’re not trained on safety hazards.  It’s hard to work safely with chemicals when your employer doesn’t train you how to properly use chemicals and how to safely and properly clean up a spill.  The problem is not just putting employees in danger but any customer entering the store to do business.  I would think twice if it were me.  Corporate could easily fix this, but then that would require thought, carrying out a plan and spending money which are all things I don’t think this company’s executives are capable of doing.

It’s nice to enjoy your job, that’s fabulous but if you get stoned on the job, what if an emergency arises?  Too Many Cannabis Industry Employees Impaired At Work.  This is a serious problem and a big liability to the owners.  Bar tenders are not allowed to drink on the job and I know a lot of Cannabis clubs forbid smoking by employees on the premises since in the case of an emergency someone needs to be in charge and alert!  Needless to say I’m sure their training covered this and it’s up to the club to enforce the rules or they lose their credibility.  It’s a shame that it’s always a few the ruin it for the rest of us due to their ignorance. 

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The Welsh government understands the importance of refresher safety training and are offering workshops to local farmers so they can avoid being part of the rise in farm related accidents.  Farmers urged to kick-start health and safety training.  Nice to see they are not looking for reasons to fine them but working with them so they can continue to be productive and in one piece.  As it should be.

This professor says the workplace is the fifth leading cause of #death in the U.S.  Did you hear that?  5th leading cause.  This professor says the workplace is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S..  You can spend less time dead.  Know where emergency exits are located, listen for alarms, avoid working with distractions and most of all use all PPE that is available and use common sense.

Mark your calendars it’s Stand Down 2018–Preventing Falls in Construction : Fifth Annual Stand-Down Set for May 7-11  BE PART OF THE SOLUTION

That’s  it for this episode.  If you begin a new job and there is no safety training or use of PPE then it may be time to find another job.  Never keep quiet about safety, for the life you save, may be you own.

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Companies Behaving Badly-Boob Tube

boob tube
ˈbo͞ob ˌt(y)o͞ob/
informal
noun
NORTH AMERICAN
television or a television set.
“librarians are scrambling for ways to compete with the boob tube”

 

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Welcome back.  Hope all is well and thank you for stopping by.  How are those New Year Resolutions going?  Still on track or trackless?  Benjamin Franklin once said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”  What a wise man he was since he knew even before they were invented, that people would slack off and forget to change the batteries in their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.  Please don’t forget to check them along with your fire extinguisher.  Give yourself every chance to keep your home and family protected.

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The boob tube was an endearing term for the television.  It was believed, that much like Rock and Roll music, it would rot our brains out.  Considering all the events of late it is quite possible that the fears were well-founded.  During an episode of “The Americans”, Nina Sergeevna Krilova is brought to a room and told that due to her actions she was sentenced to death that would be carried out soon.  She drops to her knees in horror and before it all could sink in for her or me for that matter a soldier pulled out his gun and shot her in the back of the head.  It was sudden, it was brutal.  It left an uneasy feeling.  I felt bad for her and thought what a waste of human life. Did it make me less sensitive to killing?  I don’t think so, but the scene is still haunting me.  However, if I was to watch graphic homicidal acts over and over, day after day I guess I would finally get used to it to the point it becomes the norm.

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Also appearing on the boob tube is a very lovely couple, Chip and Joanna Gaines.  She is a beautiful person with a beautiful spirit and Chip has to be one of the luckiest guys in the world so it’s confusing when he goes out of his way to make Joanna a beautiful widow.  On one episode of their show, Chip, in an enclosed area with a well-sized cement saw is determined to cut out a section of the wall.  With only a t-shirt wrapped around his nose and mouth for PPE, sawing enclosed by a cloud of dust filled with silica, brick, and cement that you can barely see him, with NO safety glasses, no dust mask, no ear protection.  There was enough dust that a spark may have caused a minor flash.  Chip, true to form made jokes about his experience.  Was I desensitized to safety on a construction site by this?  No, I got angry because there are many, many DIYers watching Chip, laughing along with him, that don’t understand how important PPE is to protecting and keeping you from winding up in the ER or worse.  It’s very hard to stop horseplay on the job when so many DIY shows glorify this childish behavior.

It’s not just Chip.  The Property Brothers, Drew and Jonathan are just as bad, demonstrating bad behavior on a job site and I’m sure the horseplay is to make the shows entertaining instead of a boring production pointing out and demonstrating the proper safety procedures to follow on demolition day.  That’s the problem, it makes horseplay and dangerous behavior look like fun, and it is until someone gets hurt.  In fact, the DIY Network and HGTV don’t see to care what bad behavior their stars portray on the boob tube.  I’ve never once seen a “safety minute” or a disclaimer before the episode, that the behavior is contrary to all safety laws.  The closest that comes to that is the show “First Time Flippers”, where they will insert comments pointing out dangerous behavior but only to make fun of it, not to take it seriously.

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On some shows on the boob tube, you’ll see people cut wires, remove fixtures or rip down ceiling fans without checking to make sure electricity or water are turned off.  It’s a funny moment when the person is electrically shocked or sprayed with water.  However, there is one person who does not find L.O.T.O. funny or comedic element.  Man loses legs in workplace accident at Alhambra Foundry, company fined nearly $300K  2 workers at the foundry were cleaning and unblocking a 38-feet-long auger screw conveyor at the bottom hopper without effectively de-energizing or locking out the equipment.  One of the workers re-entered the 20-inch square opening after the cleaning was done to retrieve a work light from inside the confined space when a maintenance worker 45 feet away from energized the equipment to perform a test. The moving auger screw pulled the worker into the screw conveyor. Both his legs had to be amputated to free him, regulators said.  The most infuriating part is Cal/OSHA cited the company, Alhambra Foundry, for similar violations eight years ago. They probably thought it funny and would make for good television to hear someone scrambling and screaming in panic and pain.  It was so funny that Cal/OSHA fined them $282,390.  This is why you need a comprehensive Lock Out Tag Out program and ENFORCE it!!  Under a proper program, there would be 2 lockouts, one for each person entering the area.  The last man out removes his lock, that way no one can inadvertently turn the machine on.  One other thing, the worker re-entering the hopper was not monitored by a confined space attendant, so no one had a clue he was in there.  Use LOTO and save lives.

Ignoring Safety at the workplace can cost you so much more.  Construction Worker Left Paralyzed Settles For $8.225 Million in Essex   The worker was rendered paraplegic after falling off a scaffold at a construction site.  That must have been knee slapping funny to be over 6 feet in the air without fall protection.  Hey, they get away with it on television.  Jose Criollo, then 46, was employed by Empire Home Improvements when he was working at a job site in Clark on Nov. 15, 2013. Criollo was working on a scaffolding tower when dust and debris from above fell into his eyes, causing him to take a step backward and fall to the ground below.  He was diagnosed with a fractured spine at T12-T13, with a complete spinal cord injury. He underwent emergency surgery and remained hospitalized for more than a month, followed by four months in a rehabilitation facility.  Whether you’re working high up for work or around the home, remember, accidents are not planned but they are created.

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Slapstick comedy with lots of pratfalls is always entertaining especially when a worker falls through a skylight.  Napa area winery appealing fines recommended after Vallejo man’s deadly fall last year.  Daniel Mario Colombo, 56, was working at Sutter’s St. Helena winery in May 2017, making repairs to the cooling system on its roof, when he fell 16 feet through a skylight and died as he wasn’t wearing a safety harness.  During their investigation Cal/OSHA also reportedly found that the steel roofing covering the area where Colombo was working looked too much like the dirty fiberglass panels covering the skylight he fell through.  The accident may have been avoided if guard rails and other safety measures had been in place around the skylight but to make things more entertaining they weren’t and why FALLS continue to be #1 killer on the job.

Thorough training is and will always be key to any successful workplace safety program.  It greatly helps when people know what they are working with and what is expected daily.  There is no room for horseplay on the job, there is only room for professionals carrying out their tasks safely and productively without fear of dying.  If you allow workers to horseplay on the job because they need to let off steam or boys will be boys, however you justify it, will you still feel the same after you are hit with a massive repair bill for a forklift or section of the warehouse or hit with a lawsuit by the widow of an employee killed because you run a day care rather then a business.

When you begin a new job, ask lots of questions.  Do research on the internet about PPE, chemicals, labeling requirements and good practices.  Ask professionals when you get a chance but please don’t blindly follow without any knowledge, for the life you save may be your own.  Until next time, please stay safe.

Always learn from mistakes of the past.  It’s why history is so important. Be sure to begin collecting all Disasters of the World Trading Cards.  Trade disasters with your family and friends, makes for a great dinner time discussion.  After reading a few you’ll wonder how the planet is still even here.