Safety Is Never Having To Say You’re Sorry.

This blog is dedicated to the front line employees out there who work hard every day and follow the rules to make their bosses look good and sustain their company’s success.

If someone in management tells you to do something that is unsafe, you should and can legally refuse to do it.  No supervisor, manager, boss or company owner can force you do something unsafe.  I know, sometimes management can be its own worst enemy.  I had a Boss, who right after a company safety meeting ordered an employee to elevate another employee with his forklift to the top rack while they stood on a wood pallet to retrieve something the Boss needed because he didn’t want to wait to get the cage and do it properly.  (Actually for the record, this was a continual problem that they could never find the cage, as important a piece of safety equipment it was, since they never kept track of its location.  Lesson to be learned here, keep track of the cage and other safety equipment.)  The employee did the right thing and politely refused then reminded the Boss it was a safety infraction and didn’t want the Boss to get in trouble.  It was a great line!  After the smoke cleared from Boss’ ears he realized he was wrong and backed off.

Never let anyone bully you into unsafe work practices either with words and terms like:                            You’re not a team player.   – Another term for this is would be Co-defendant.                                                           It’ll take longer if I get the right equipment  = life time of disability.                                                          – Tom’s crew doesn’t have to do it that way = Your welcome for me saving your life.                                     Remember that sticks, stones and heavy machinery break bones but words will never harm you.

What is the condition of the equipment you operate on a daily basis.  Are all the safety guards and covers in place?  Are all the safety switches, emergency overrides and shutoffs properly functioning?  Do you see exposed and frayed wires or puddles of fluid?  Does your company use a checklist so you can see if there were equipment issues on the previous shift?  Before you operate any piece of equipment you should do an inspection whether you have a checklist or not to make sure you can work safely and efficiently.   When you do find and need to report a safety issue immediately lock out and tag out the equipment so no one else can inadvertently use it and report it to your supervisor.   If you do LOTO a piece of machinery due to safety issues don’t go for any lines from management that it’s fine to drive or use this time as long as you go slow.  Don’t use it!  I’d put money on the fact that if you did continue to operate as instructed and you got injured the company would throw you under the bus in a nano second.  Think about it, If they are that unscrupulous to let you work under those dangerous conditions why do you think they would go to bat for you if you got hurt?

Don’t believe me?  A female employee at one company was operating a high speed conveyor belt that had no emergency shut off available in her area and the drive chain was exposed because the maintenance crew that did repairs that night left the job of putting the guard back on to the next shift.  It was a chilly morning and she had on a co-workers wind breaker that was a large on her but it kept her warm while she worked.  Unfortunately the sleeve from her windbreaker got caught in the exposed chains and pulled her into the conveyor severely injuring her arm to the point that she is permanently disabled.  It was only her screams for help heard by the palletizing operator, who stopped the conveyor.  Her supervisor and the maintenance department had no repercussions from this incident but she was reprimanded for wearing the loose fitting windbreaker.

No matter what signs, posters or catchy slogans your company devises to increase safety awareness, YOU are the person who has control over your safety in the workplace.  Always ask for the proper  PPE to perform a job, always check your equipment before use and become an advocate to ensure everyone goes home as they arrived to work….in one piece!  Your efforts can help form safety committees, discuss the issues, and develop safe SOPs.  Safety should be never having to say you’re sorry.

Your Drivers are Ads. Good or Bad.

My inspiration for this blog came to me in the car while sitting at a red light.  Yes, it is true, the topic hit me the moment my car windows began to vibrate due to the loud music emanating from the van that had just pulled up along side of me at the traffic light.  As usual I was dying of curiosity to check out the driver so I glanced over and saw the young man, who was oblivious to his surroundings, busy drumming on the steering wheel and grooving to the music.  Then my eyes caught and wondered over to the vehicle’s logo and it was a Dish TV van!  Now maybe he was detoxing on his way to his next appointment after a bout with a very difficult customer.  Who knows, but my first thought was “do I want this bozo in my house?”  That’s why I find the Fiber One commercial very funny.  The delivery driver with the Fiber One logo on his truck, is interrogated by a woman who pulls up next to him about the product.  I love his line, “I just drive the truck mam.”  Not true.  Whether you like it or not, your drivers whether they’re delivering goods or services are roving advertisements for your business.  After all they are moving products or equipment from your warehouse or distribution center with the company logo right there for the world to see.

Their actions can also give a poor lasting perception about your company whether justified or not.  It speaks of your selection process when hiring and the level of training you provide. I recently had 4 cartons of various sizes and weights shipped to my home and the UPS driver who arrived was pure entertainment.  First,  he didn’t check to see if anyone was home, and had carried one of the heavy boxes to the front door.  I told him he could bring the rest to the garage since it was a much less distance for him to travel.  He proceeded to carry the second and third box, all heavy up the drive way to the garage and I could see him sweating and was getting exhausted.  He then disappeared into his brown van and I could hear him rummage around and emerge with a hand truck.  Apparently he decided to use it for the fourth box which he first tried to get out through the drivers entrance but couldn’t fit it so he had to move it the length of the vehicle to the back.  It would have taken much less time to complete the delivery had he used the hand-truck in the first place saving so many wasted steps.  So is this an issue of poor training or poor hire?  How long would he last with this technique he was using during the holiday rush?

Then there are drivers of businesses like heavy equipment transportation who don’t get hired by many everyday people and have a smaller circle of users.  They have drivers like Mr. Rude who couldn’t care less what people think of his driving or the company he drives for because he knows his boss needs him too much.  Now I’m sure the Bullet Transport driver didn’t think that way, but more likely had, had a long and hard day and was just rushing to get back to the yard when he actually gave one full blink of his turn signal to let the poor approaching Camry driver know he was pulling into traffic.  Good thing the Camry driver already had white hair.  It was a clear near miss and then as a good measure to keep anyone from getting in front of him he stopped and totally blocked an intersection while waiting for the light to change at.  I’m also sure he was thinking of the over time he was costing his boss when he cut off two more cars making for the freeway on-ramp.

Now in all fairness I don’t know what kind of day he had, but the reality is company drivers have to deal with freeway traffic, irate customers, crowded intersections, bad weather, double parked cars, all types of unexpected obstacles and commuters who drive distracted and treat trucks with no respect.  Folks, I’m here to tell you trucks can’t stop or maneuver like a car.  With that said the driver also has to deal with the reality of perception by those who can observe their actions.  Yes, it is no doubt a tough job but like any other  job you have to keep your wits about you and do the job properly and professionally.

There are ways to help alleviate the daily stress on delivery drivers.  They are already the first line of customer service.  Other than the sales rep the only other face the customer knows is the delivery driver so they’re the ones who hear customer complaints first, especially if it’s the wrong item or a no ship.  So naturally stocking pick locations with correct items and picking orders correctly would be one big help.  How about looking at the stop times on delivery routes.  Are they truly realistic?  It’s very easy to look at things on a map and come up with delivery goals from behind a desk as to actually doing the job.  That’s why I highly recommend that you travel with your drivers at least once a year on their routes as see it from their prospective.  I would also suggest to the drivers that if something drastic was to change on their routes to ask the boss to go on a ride along.  It’s a great excuse for the boss to get out to clear the head and buy your driver lunch.

To further ensure you drivers succeed there are situations you should try to avoid putting them into.   All policies and procedures on returns, C.O.D.s and deliveries should be covered with your customers and then followed through consistently on the company end.  Drivers shouldn’t have to deal with a customer telling them Mr. Sonso said it was o.k. to return when the driver knows that’s not the procedure.  And then in turn don’t beat up the driver when he does take it to make the customer happy because the approval has taken over several weeks on the company end and no one has contacted the customer.  Be consistent.

Other aspects affecting your moving ads, drivers should be aware of their appearance.  Should always dress neat and clean and your company should have a written policy on appropriate dress and be sure to cover all four seasons.  If your company supplies uniforms make sure they’re comfortable and can stand up to the rigors of the job.  I suggest drivers wear an ID badge with their picture especially in this security conscience era.  The delivery vehicle should be washed on a regular basis, free of damage on the outside and properly maintained.  It’s appearance is a reflection on your company and you don’t want to lose time with vehicle breakdowns.  I would also have a policy of NO bumper stickers of any kind.  If you happen to deliver food products or other perishables make sure to regularly clean the inside to keep it free of odors and use those curtains to keep frozen and cooler items separated.  Make sure drivers have the proper equipment to make their deliveries quickly and safely and emergency equipment to safely deal with breakdowns.

Lastly,  as I’ve stated, drivers are you first line of customer service so you want them to deal with customers in a pleasant and helpful means, but that means not wearing out your welcome by staying to long.  You always need to conduct yourself in a professional manner because you’re the commercial, good or bad.

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