Companies Behaving Badly – It’s a Virus of Course

It must be a virus!  How else can you explain all the falls that are still going on.  As of September 6th. 2014 – 1,296 workers died due to their job this fiscal year.  In 2013 Falls were the most cited violation in the construction industry as 294 died due to falls (36.9% of all 796 deaths in construction).  It must be the virus that keeps us from leaning from past experience as fall protection is still the #1 OSHA violation as 6,143 have been issued so far.  So let’s stop the madness. It is so easy to buy fall protection gear, you can even get it online from Grainger. Stop making excuses and you workers, why do you listen to idiots that tell you it’s O.K. to work without fall protection.  You know they’re called ACCIDENTS for a reason, not on purposes.  You don’t know if a gust of wind is going to hit that sheet of plywood and push you or if you will slip on someones spilled coffee.  If you are forced to work in unsafe conditions and no one in management is listening, you can go to the OSHA website and file a complaint online or call OSHA at1-800-321-OSHA.  Well unfortunately, this sounds like another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

A continuación se presentan los pasos para ponerse en contacto con OSHA para presentar una queja. Sé que la realidad es que la mayoría de ustedes no tienen máquinas de fax para presentar una queja y lo hago encontrar este paso ridículo. Llame al número 800 – la vida es demasiado importante. No deje que los jefes se aprovechen de ti. Usted tiene los derechos para un lugar de trabajo seguro.Éstas son las opciones para presentar su queja de seguridad y salud:

1. Online – Ir a la línea Formulario de Quejas Las quejas escritas que están firmadas por los trabajadores o sus representantes y presentados a un área de OSHA o la oficina regional tienen más probabilidades de resultar en inspecciones de OSHA. Las quejas recibidas en la línea de los trabajadores en los estados de plan estatal aprobado por OSHA serán enviadas al plan estatal apropiado.
2. Descargar y Fax / Correo – Descargue el formulario de queja de OSHA * [En Espanol *] (o solicitar una copia a la oficina local de área de OSHA regional o), completarlo y enviarlo por fax o por correo de vuelta a su OSHA regional o local de servicios Oficina. Las quejas por escrito que están firmados por un trabajador o representante y presentadas a la Oficina de Área de OSHA más cercano tienen más probabilidades de resultar en inspecciones de OSHA. Por favor, incluya su nombre, dirección y número de teléfono para que podamos contactar con usted para dar seguimiento. Esta información es confidencial.
3. Teléfono – su oficina local de OSHA local o regional. Personal de OSHA puede discutir su queja y responder a cualquier pregunta que tengas. Si hay una emergencia o el peligro es potencialmente mortal, llame a su oficina local de OSHA local o regional o al 1-800-321-OSHA.

Security Guard Killed on the Set of ‘Falling Skies’ – PREVENTABLE – A horrible accident that could have been prevented as Amrik Singh Gill, a security guard on a television production site was pinned against a tree as a unattended 5-ton truck sitting on a slight slope, slide down, killing him. The truck driver should have know better than to leave his vehicle like that.  As with forklifts if you are going to be out of sight of the vehicle make sure it is correctly parked. Engine off, break on, forks down.  Do it the same way every time, make it a habit for life.

Forklift accident in Edmond leaves two dead, one injured – PREVENTABLE – Two brothers, Michael Birney, 56, and Daniel Birney, 54 were killed when the forklift supporting their elevated platform tipped over and crashed to the ground.  A third person, a 21 years old male was severely injured and is in the hospital.  They were moving decking tile when the accident occurred.  The investigation is currently in progress, but forklifts tip over when the maximum weight capacity is exceeded and/or not used on a level surface.  Always check the manufacturers plate for the weight limits at various heights before using and if there is no plate tag the vehicle out of service and report it.

Man crushed to death in forklift accident near Tampa – PREVENTABLE – Ricardo McCalop, 51, an employee of Infra-Metals owned by Reliance Steel & Aluminum, was near the end of his shift and looking forward to spending time with his family when the forklift he was driving overturned and crushed him.  He was moving a steel beam when it struck a pile of other beams causing them to shift and hit the forklift knocking it over.  Why you would allow workers to operate in an area of such tight quarters is beyond me, it’s just an accident waiting to happen.  Don’t set your employees up for failure.

Company fined $70k for forklift death – PREVENTABLE – Even in New Zealand they know a forklift in need of repairs should NOT be used as Busck Prestressed Concrete Ltd was convicted in District Court for the death of 47 year old employee, Anthony Wells.  Busck Ltd. in all their glorious stupidity allowed a modified 6.5 tonne telehandler operate in service even though the headlights, front indicators, brake lights, front hazard lights, horn, screen washers and front wipers were NOT WORKING in addition to having a missing right mirror and 4 different brands of tires, each with a different tire pressure!  As if this wasn’t enough of a recipe for disaster they also had a trainee with NO formal qualifications operate the vehicle!  Because of their arrogance in allowing this machine to operate Anthony Wells was hit and killed in the early hours of February 25th and now they were ordered to pay a fine of $70,000 and pay reparation of $60,000 for a total of $130,000.  The repairs would have been much less. Do NOT operate a forklift or any vehicle that is in need of repairs even if someone in management tells you it’s o.k.  If they threaten your job for refusal to drive a death trap call OSHA!!

OSHA investigates forklift accident at P&G distribution center PREVENTABLE – In the early afternoon of a Friday an employee of the Procter & Gamble D.C. in Pennsylvania was seriously injured when he was trapped between a forklift and a shelving unit.  OSHA is currently investigating the accident but my suspicion is that the forklift driver didn’t look before backing up and/or the worker didn’t alert the driver he was behind him.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a forklift driver just quickly slip into reverse and move without so much as a glance to see if the area is clear.  It’s like the same morons who just pull out into traffic from a parked position without first signaling and looking to see if traffic is clear. Why would you think you are the only one out there?  If your warehouse doesn’t have specific walkways for employees to use to avoid forklifts or other vehicular traffic you are just delaying the inevitable.

Cal/OSHA fines UC Berkeley $26,000 in death of custodian – PREVENTABLE – Even in the environment of a great institution of higher learning where some of the greatest minds have been taught, common sense can still be lacking.  Damon Frick, 45 was busy cleaning windows when the lift he was using collapsed under him and he fell 22 feet and later died from his injuries at Highland Hospital.  Mr. Frick had assembled the lift by himself before using and if one of his supervisors had bothered to check in with him and his work maybe he’d still be alive today but then, they even allowed him operate at that height ALONE!  The University was quick to cover their butt by showing they had documentation he was fully trained, back on March 12, 2012 on a piece of equipment that’s used once a year. There was no refresher training conducted in-between or practice and you have no idea how ironic this is since Berkeley is also the home of Continued Education where courses for Lawyers, Doctors and other professionals are offered so they can keep up to date on practices and procedures.  This is now costing UC Berkeley $26,250 for ineffective training, improperly assembled equipment, no documentation of safety inspections, maintenance records as well as no operating instructions on the lift.

OSHA cites MCM Industries Co. for serious violations – PREVENTABLE – It takes a lot to finally push an employee to make a complaint to OSHA.  Usually the final straw is when they realize the company isn’t going do anything about an obvious hazard and that’s what MCM Industries Company was doing.  In fact when OSHA conducted their inspection they found 23 violations including 1 WILLFUL which you know means they knew about the problem but couldn’t care less about fixing it.  Workers who help these owners and bosses to earn money on their sweat were exposed to amputation injuries from lack of required guards on mechanical power presses.  Hey boss, how about we put some amputation hazards under you desk.  Think you can still concentrate on your job?  They also received 17 serious violations including, surprise, surprise, no L.O.T.O. procedures and for all this a proposed fine of only $126,700.  I strongly feel that if you demonstrate indifference to human life with a willful violation we should be talking million dollar fines and/or jail time.


Condiment Maker Faces $235,000 in OSHA Fines – PREVENTABLE – Again, an inspection initiated by an employee complaint from an employee in the Brundidge, Alabama facility of Supreme Oil Company of New Jersey. This worker understood the hazards as OSHA found 8 repeat violations, having been found previously in a 2012 inspection for no guardrails on staircases and open-sided platforms, wet floors, untrained workers in L.O.T.O. In addition the company exposed workers to struck-by, amputation and electrical hazards.  A total of 14 violations for a total of $234,960 in fines. It is so sad when companies care about profits more than employee’s lives.

OSHA cites Canton aluminum plant for safety violations – PREVENTABLE – Here is a third case of an employee finally seeing enough and calling OSHA and filing a complaint and this time 2 Willful violations were found along with 1 repeat and 2 serious for a grand total of $130,200. The name of this company who couldn’t care less if an employee was maimed or killed on the job is Matalco U.S. Inc. and they had no problem exposing workers to amputation hazards and failing to remove a crane with broken safety mechanisms out of service. Can you believe that?!  They knew if there was an emergency and a worker went to shut it off it wouldn’t! They also exposed workers falls of more than 23 feet over an open pit.  The best is during their inspection, OSHA actually observed workers standing on aluminum blocks and elevated by a forklift to perform tasks on the furnace exposing them to falls at least 8 feet.  They are now in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program but again I believe larger fines and jail time sound appropriate for this owners and bosses.

Want to save over 3 Billion dollars this week?: The Importance of Workplace Safety – READ THIS – Great article in the National Law Review on how workplace safety can be done and save money while increasing pride amongst your workers.

10 easy, low-cost solutions for warehouse safety – READ THIS – has a great article on low cost solutions for improving safety.  This is awesome information for you small businesses.

OSHA Announces Final Rule On Recording Requirements – CHANGES – New recording requirements become effective January 1st. 2015. All work related fatalities must be reported including work related inpatient hospitalizations of one or more employees and all work related amputations and all work related losses of an eye. Read and see what are changes will take place.  Make sure you are compliant.

Changes to OSHA Law are Coming to California – CHANGES – Also beginning January 1st. 2015 CAL/OSHA has some significant changes putting more of the burden on the employer and reducing the ability of CAL/OSHA to make modifications to civil penalties.


That my friends brings another episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close.  As always I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy day, stopping by and reading this blog.  Please feel free to share these incidents at your next tailgate/toolbox safety meeting.  The more information your employees have the better job they can accomplish.  Be active on your company safety committee and if you don’t have one start one, it’s easy to do.  Speak to your supervisor or H.R. department.  You do not have to work in unsafe conditions and no one can force you to do an unsafe act.  Don’t wait until someone dies, report unsafe acts to OSHA.  Remember the life you save may be your own.  Until we see you again on October 15 – take care.


5 Steps For a Successful Peak Season – STEP 3

Even though this is presented as the 3rd step in the series, you should never under estimate the impact of training on your operation as it is a very critical element. Training as with communication works best when it’s delivered consistently, concise and with conviction. This goes for all types of training from forklift certification to safety meetings to emergency evacuation procedures. If you treat training as a joke, that’s how it’ll be perceived and what you’ll get. This is your opportunity to set the tone in your house.

STEP 3 – Training

You know what jobs you’re filling with the temporary workers, now gather all the written procedures, SOP, descriptions and policies that cover those jobs and any other pertinent company policies and prepare your training plan. It is extremely important to have this information on hand and readily available not to mention a great habit to develop, reviewing and/or updating job descriptions, procedures and as well as conducting a hazard analysis at least once a year to keep your workers safe, practices current and regulatory obligations filled. Get your stuff printed and assembled and rehearse giving the training. Decide what kind of handouts, videos, power-points or other media you’ll use in your presentation. Don’t forget to include checklists, PPE that’s required and how to properly wear it, what materials are recycled or tossed, procedures on reporting and handling of spills, injuries, forklift use, sanitation and even include breaks and lunch periods. This is also a great way to get your staff involved in the training by having them demonstrate how to wear PPE or do a LOTO or any thing else you want to show.

Depending on your location it may also be a big help if you had the training material translated into the predominate language of the temporary workers. Some workers may speak english much easier than they can read it and this is information you want to make sure you get across. Remember, even though these are temporary workers they are still human beings and should be treated with the same respect as anyone else. I was the day shift manager at one place where my boss the D.C. manager would send temps home for extremely minor offenses as he patrolled the time clock area like a mad hen protecting her nest. Barking out their infraction as he pulled their time card and told them to go home. I would cringe with each one, “Your a minute late, go home”, “your shirt is not tucked in, go home.” It drove me nuts trying to plan the day while losing staff even before the shift began. Needless to say as he continued his campaign for crimes that were never explained upfront let alone written down anywhere he also sabotaged our relationship with the temp agency. Don’t ever hesitate to run your operation the way you see fit but make sure to be up front with workers and explain the rules clearly including the consequences if the rules are not followed but make sure they’re reasonable and not unattainable. One last comment on respecting all temporary workers. Even if their first language isn’t english that doesn’t mean they are any less intelligent and you never know who’ll surprise you with a great idea to save time and money for the operation.

Make sure to document all training by using a sign-in sheets and make sure all employees attending sign to acknowledge their attendance, attach copies of the training material used for that meeting and keep for your records. Well trained employees do impact your bottom line and can lead to a well executing, sustainable workforce.

Next installment – STEP 4 – Safety

5 Steps For a Successful Peak Season – STEP 2


Now that you have Staffing under control, (SEE STEP 1) you can focus your attention on the next important step, storage. Seasonal items are always an interesting collection of flavors, (pumpkin, eggnog, gingerbread and peppermint), new and unusual food products, new electronics and premiere of other household goods, all making their annual appearance. The good news is many of these incoming sku are only temporary items for the season and will be moving fast over a short period of time.


Depending on the orientation of your warehouse or facility cross-docking is a great way to temporarily store product without taking up valuable storage space in the racks. Cross-docking is basically taking product coming in and instead of putting it away into storage just keep it on the loading dock for shipping that day or the next. Begin by looking at upcoming shipments a few days out and the quantities needed and then look at the receiving appointments and quantities coming in. If you’re using a WMS you should be able to flag those incoming purchase orders so the product stays on the dock after being received for immediate shipping whether you’re loading your own trucks or preparing for shipping LTL. If you’re in a strictly Manufacturing environment, most orders especially in food manufacturing are made to order. As the order is produced especially those seasonal ones and brought to shipping, place them right on the dock and ship them out. Be sure to set up locations in WMS for holding the product on the dock so everyone is aware the items are for orders shipping. It also doesn’t hurt to have pre-made labels handy to place on the pallets also alerting everyone to what they are and how they’re shipping.

Renting/leasing trailers is another storage alternative however the down side is sometimes things get lost. Don’t lose track of what you have out there and stay on top of it. Give the trailer an assigned location, (usually the trailer number so you can find it) and an accurate inventory of it’s contents. There is nothing worse then having a yard full of trailers and not knowing which one has what you’re looking for. If possible keep only one sku in a trailer and if you store 2 sku keep them on opposite sides of the trailer from each other since you don’t want to have to move product to get to other items behind them. The chance of damages greatly increases the more you move them. If you need to keep things cool, refrigerated trailers are also available for rental but don’t recommend them for extended period of time since fuel usage will add to the cost of operation.

Even if you are a small operation and can’t do either of the above another fallback to help you with storage is to place the extreme fast moving items in large bays closest to the loading dock. If need be double the number of bays used to hold more product for picking and shipping to reduce the number of replenishments needed. If you load full pallets keep them above the bay you chose as a pick location for quick retrieval. If your product is not perishable and you have good weather as well as a secured parking lot you can store product outside and remember as I said before, set up temporary locations in your WMS and don’t lose sight of inventory.

You can also pay someone else to hold and ship your product. A third party logistic (3PL) operation can store and ship orders directly to your customers from their location for cents per case per day or what ever agreement you make. You just need to make sure they have a continuous supply of your product and hope they care about it as much as you do as well as have a very good inventory control system in place.

No matter how many items you need to store and move in your warehouse, never compromise safety no matter how crowded things get. Don’t ever use pedestrian walkways for storage of product as this only forces people out of using a protective area and right into the flow of traffic and a possible accident. Don’t put product in the aisle-ways or block pick areas and storage racks with product. Why slow down your staff and make them squeeze around stacked pallets of product with their lifts or riding forks and it is more likely to lead to increased damages and make moving items off the upper racks very difficult and dangerous. Above all don’t ever block emergency exits, electrical panels and fire extinguishers even for a short period of time. Those are bad habits you never want to get into.

Next installment STEP III – Training


5 Steps For a Successful Peak Season – STEP 1

It’s the beginning of August, those lovely dog days of summer, it’s hot, it’s slow at work and folks are away on vacations. However this is not the time to kick back and relax since before you know it, the seasonal rush for goods and services will be upon you and your warehouse will be fully engaged as the home entertaining season begins with Halloween and then right on through Thanksgiving to Christmas and the New Year. Will you be ready to handle those peak season orders? Chances are if you don’t already have a plan or working on one right now you may not be prepared to keep those service levels your customers are expecting.

When business peaks you will be challenged by staffing issues, storage space limitations, increased number of orders to process, increased demands on equipment usage all while maintaining worker safety and sanitation standards. It sounds like a lot to deal with but this all can be handled expertly and professionally. First let’s break this down into steps and examine each one more closely.


This is when having established a great rapport with your sales and marketing departments comes in handy. You can always get a good idea on the projections of units to be sold or manufactured during the peak season from them. Also find out what seasonal products will be available during this period and the duration, what other pricing specials and the anticipated movement as well as any other promos or combination promos or brand new items. Some customers like and are offered to buy mixed pallets of goods for promotions. A great example for around the holidays would be a promotion with a mixed pallet of light brown, dark brown and powered sugars, or in the summer a mix of catsup, mustard and pickle relish. This is important since you’ll need to plan on labor to build the projected number of pallets needed. If you’re not on a sales/marketing distribution list just ask to be added.

Now you can begin to determine your staffing needs and whether you may be able to handle the seasonal rush by going with your current staffing level and working extra hours or shifts. This is not a bad solution but be careful not to push people to far as increased work hours can lead to fatigue and an increased number of accidents. Another issue to consider if you do go this route is the tendency to sacrifice housekeeping and sanitation when it gets busy. Don’t allow it to happen since it’ll become another thorn as again the incident of accidents can increase due to trips and falls. Also consider the increased hours of usage on the equipment and the associated maintenance and charging times. Nothing worse than people standing around because the equipment is down or charging.

However, if you decide you do need additional staffing, first determine what jobs are they going to do? Picking orders, packaging, replenishments, sweep? Speak to your regular staff and get their input on where help would be most beneficial. How much training do you want to do and how. What skill level do you want in the workers? Using a temporary employment agency to place seasonal employees will greatly help with staffing but don’t put all your eggs in one basket and work with at least 2 different agencies. Get to know your representatives at the temp agency and invite them to a tour of your facility so they can see first hand the various kinds of jobs and working conditions. Make sure to give a very thorough job description along with percentages of bending, stooping, standing, and so on in a typical 8 hour day along with the estimated weights of items that will be handled. Also supply the temp agency a copy of your safety standards that all your employees get during orientation, and other policies on attendance, tardiness and any tools or equipment including PPE like steel toe shoes that are required. Also ask to see what kind of safety training they offer their temps. Some just show a video and some a video followed by a multiple choice question test. It’s not the greatest engaging safety training but you can build on what they offer. Think what kind of previous experience would make them attractable for you and will there be opportunity to offer them regular employee status at any point? Be sure to track any issues that may arise with temporary employees, their response on issues, turnover rate, quality of employee, attendance and did they deliver on the number of people you requested and were promised? You can use these items as a report card to measure that agencies performance and justify whether you want to continue doing business or not.

You can also make training easy by putting everything together now, while it’s slow season and practice on your staff and make sure to listen to their feedback. We’ll go deeper into training in a later step.

I’ve used both methods in dealing with seasonal peaks, separately and at times little of both. Just be prepared for everything and anything when using temporary employees. Even though most agencies do a fantastic job of screening applicant’s sometimes a real pill will get by. I came in one morning and a temp worker was immediately pointed out to me since he was taking an incredible amount of time picking one order. I pulled him aside and after speaking with him realized he was very inebriated and to my surprise he admitted it. I thanked him for being honest and politely declined his offer to have a snort. Since he had no car I sent him home in a cab with his bicycle in the trunk and billed the Agency for it.

Next installment STEP II – STORAGE

Companies Behaving Badly – April Day Fool

In another time, long before the world of political correctness descended upon the land, April Fool’s Day was a day that you were pretty much given license to do whatever and to whomever you wanted in a merciless assault of pranks, hoaxes and practical jokes that was unleashed on your co-workers, friends and family.  From covering toilet tops with plastic wrap to putting food dye in the soap dispenser to listing a neighbor’s house up for rent, the hardest thing to do is keeping a straight face as your victims react.  The jokes from my childhood will always be classic to me, putting cooties or spider on a girl’s blouse, ringing door bells and running away.  There was also no caller I.D. then either, so you could ask the local grocer if they had Prince Albert in a can or go catch the refrigerator that was running.  When did this annual  embrace of immaturity and nonsense start?  No one is really sure but there are two theories that seem to have the majority of believers.  One has to do with the changing of when New Year’s was celebrated as those who now partied on January 1st, the hipsters of medieval times, poked fun of and pulled pranks on the old timers who still celebrated it on March 25-April 1st.  Sounds like society.  Another theory is it started during Constantine’s time when court jesters and fools insisted they could do a better job of running the empire. Constantine allowed one jester, Kugel to be king for a day who then passed an edict for april fools day celebration and it stuck.  What ever the origin, it appears it’s here to stay.  One classic, in 1957 the BBC broadcasted a story on the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest showing farmers harvesting the pasta from trees.  The BBC was flooded with requests on where to purchase a spaghetti plant and they finally had to come clean that it was a prank.  I myself woke up today to front page headlines proclaiming that there were no more industrial accidents occurring!  No amputations, no falls, all machines had guards in place, LOTO was practiced religiously and no employees were killed from management’s neglect while everyone was wearing the latest and greatest in PPE…April Fool!  So that must mean, unfortunately this is another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.



OSHA finds company at fault for worker’s death – PREVENTABLE – A 42 year old worker believed his employer, Jack Smiley Plaster Company would provide proper scaffolding to protect him from falling while performing his task of applying stucco to a building.  He fell about 19 feet to his death due to the scaffolding not being properly built and Jack Smiley was hit with 5 violations including one willful.  A willful violation is issued when the employer intentionally, knowingly or voluntarily disregard requirements, or have an indifference to worker safety and health.  A bureaucratic way to say they couldn’t care less and this landed them on the OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program and proposed fines of $57,000.  Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry and you can help stop this.  Notice how pilots walk around their planes before getting in and taking off.  Be a pilot.  When you arrive on the scene before you climb that scaffolding, check it out and make sure it’s put together correctly.  If it’s loose, don’t go up and look where your safety harness ties off?  Afraid the foreperson will get angry….it’s your life not his.  As far as I’m concerned, a willful act that gets a person killed, that person who committed the willful act should be in prison.

Coroner: Schuylkill Haven man died of blunt force trauma – PREVENTABLE – Terry Lee Warner, 66 of Schuylkill Haven was employed at Classtex Knitting Mills, Inc. in the receiving department where he unloaded trucks and also served as a mechanic.  When Terry Lee woke up for work on this chilly Thursday morning he had no idea or belief he wouldn’t be coming home that evening.  Indications are Terry was killed by blunt force trauma to the torso caused when he was struck by a tractor trailer that was backing into the loading dock.  He somehow found himself caught between the fence and the truck as his body was found next to a broken fence on the driver’s side of the rig.  There is NO reason to be behind a truck whether it’s idle (you don’t know when it’ll begin to move) or backing up.  If you do need to direct a backup make sure the driver knows where you are at all times.  Stop and tell him that to his face and then make sure to maintain eye contact with him at all times.  Don’t assume the driver is always paying attention and looking for you.

photo credit: BinaryApe via photopin cc

photo credit: BinaryApe via photopin cc

OSHA proposes $117,000 in penalties for ConAgra violations – PREVENTABLE – Here we are again, with a company, this time it’s ConAgra Foods, who’s expecting their workers to meet their daily production goals yet keeps putting up roadblocks to their efforts by exposing them to unnecessary hazards like machines lacking guards and exposure to falls greater than 7 feet high, which by the way both are also repeat violations.  In fact OSHA found a total of 13 violations with 3 repeat and 10 serious which then begs the question how can employees take a company seriously that they’re watching out for them when hazards to workers are tolerated and not repaired?  You can’t do a very good job when you’re having to continually dance around hazards.

Telecommunication Towers Claim More Lives: Two Workers Dead in Kansas – PREVENTABLE – How many more Tower workers have to die before something is done?  Martin Powers, a 38 year old husband and father from St. Charles, Mo. and Seth Garner, a 25 year old son and brother from St. Peters, Mo. are the two latest victims in what’s become a death toll spiraling out of control as 6 have perished so far this year in Telecommunication towers following 13 deaths last year.  This is totally unacceptable and it’s time to stop and take a serious long look at how and what we’re doing to protect workers as we fill our need for cell service across the country.

Worker Trapped in Hot Asphalt Nets OSHA Fine for Florida Company – PREVENTABLE – L.O.T.O. is one of the easiest safety rules to follow yet companies seem not to have the time for it and prefer “chance” instead.  Atlantic Coast Asphalt, a part of Hubbard Construction Company ignored permit required confined space entry and  LOTO procedures that resulted in an employee being severely burned as hot liquid began to fill the tank he was working in and then it took 8 hours to remove him.  For their lack of attention to detail and not bothering to check all hazards were identified, documented, measured and controls put in place prior to the employee entering the space, OSHA has cited Atlantic Coast Asphalt $63,360.  Don’t crawl into any confined space until you make sure that LOTO has been performed on all pipes or conveyors leading to your space.  Don’t take anyones word not to worry about it.  The life you save, will be your own.

Roofing Material Manufacturer Cited by OSHA – PREVENTABLEAt the Harvey, La. facility of  Minerals LLC. they also seem to rely on “chance” as their safety model as well as a means to save money by not training  or protecting its workers for confined spaces and L.O.T.O.  So they were hit with 11 violations total including failure to protect workers from high noise levels, forklift driver training in addition to the LOTO and confined space.  The one repeat violation was for failing to conduct annual inspections of the company’s LOTO procedures.  It’s a shame that a company would have so little regard for the health and safety of its workers because profits were more important than human life.

Man dies on rig site in Dunn County: OSHA investigated 37 workplace deaths in Oil Patch since 2010 – PREVENTABLE – Deadwood, South Dakota of the 1870’s old west was a dangerous place to be but it has nothing on the new oil fields of the Dakotas as 37 workers have died there in 4 years.  That’s right, it averages about 9 deaths per year in the one area, like a serial killer.  The latest victim, 32 year old Kristopher Barnes who leaves behind a wife and 3 children was struck by a traveling block and later died from injuries.  So you know it is one of the five most common oilfield safety hazards along with fall hazards, electrical fires and explosions.  There should be a outrageous indignation that these young men are going off the these new fields and dying because these greedy companies are putting safety and training in as an after thought, if at all.

Mine safety quietly cut in House budget bill – BAD MESSAGE With no explanation and little discussion, the House budget bill passed this month slashed Gov. Steve Beshear’s proposals for mine safety by nearly $2.3 million a year, raising concerns among safety advocates that there might not be enough money to conduct required inspections.  This is very sad news as the mining companies will take this as a sign that they can cut corners on safety.  I would love to see this politicians get up off their brains and spend a few hours in a mine shaft operating equipment and see if they still feel the same afterwards.  Write your politicians and ask why?

Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) Issues Guidance on Recordkeeping Duties for Temporary Workers – HELP FOR TEMPS OSHA has issued new guidelines on recordkeeping and other responsibilities for temporary employees which is great since many are suffering serious or fatal injuries their first days on the job.  Enforcement, outreach and training will all be key to keeping temps safe.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry Files Letter Against OSHA’s Silica Rule Proposal –   OSHA Begins Long Silica Public Hearing – DEBATE – The new debate going on now is the new levels of Silica exposure in the OSHA rule proposal.  The Governor of Texas has filed a letter against the new proposal.  Read what’s going on so you may decide for yourself.  Remember at one time asbestos was not considered a hazard either.

warehouseflow advisors

warehouseflow advisors

That my friends brings another episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close.  Thank you for stopping by and taking time out of your busy day to read.  Please feel free to share these stories at your next safety meeting or safety tailgate/toolbox gathering.  Workplace safety is just as much your responsibility as it is for management and the company.  Before you enter a confined space, perform maintenance on a piece of equipment, work on a elevated platform or drive a forklift make sure you check it out first and make sure it is safe.  Don’t assume it’s O.K.  Remember NO ONE can make your perform an unsafe act on the job.  If you feel you’re being pressured to do so, get your union representative or H.R. person and talk to them.  Become a safety advocate and be part of the safety committee.  The life you save may be your own.

Companies Behaving Badly – Presidential Trust

I was very lucky as a school child, I learned at one of the greatest educational institutions in the world, (at that time it was), the New York City Public Schools.  In addition to the great teachers I had we also got to take some great field trips;  the Bronx Zoo, Museum of Natural History, The Planetarium, Museum of Modern Art (mona lisa), Museum of the American Indian, The New York World’s Fair 1964, Polo grounds (Houston Colt 45’s vs NY Mets) and Washington, D.C.  Also back then, when February came around we knew we had two holidays that would require arts & craft activities as well as days off from school. To meet our Feb. 12th deadline, came the drawings of log cabins and honest Abe’s stovepipe hat along with a school play in the auditorium.  Then a week and a half later Feb. 22 brought drawings of cherry trees and axes titled, “I can not tell a lie” followed by another assembly where 6th graders danced the minuet as George and Martha. It was a different time and there was none of this pooling of Presidential birthdays the 3rd Monday of the month, you took your chances on what days it fell on.  I know things change, times change, thanks for the sentiment old timer but this is 2014 after all.  Change can be good or bad, but unfortunately one thing that hasn’t changed, Companies Behaving Badly and this is another edition.

   Richard C. Whitney Jr.

Richard C. Whitney Jr.

OSHA: Serious safety violations led to explosion that killed worker at Canastota wastewater plant – PREVENTABLERichard C. “Rick” Whitney Jr. a 58 year old who enjoyed sports, lingered in extreme agony for 3 days before finally succumbing to the third degree burns over most of his body.  He had trusted that his employer, Joy Process Mechanical Inc. of East Syracuse and M. Hubbard Construction Inc. of Mottville who hired them would take all precautions to ensure his safety on the job. Unfortunately they both let him down and he paid dearly for their neglect and lack of attention to safety and the wellbeing of their employees. This death did not have to happen!

OSHA Fines Company $697K in Machine Guarding Fatality – PREVENTABLE – Another young man, 32 years of age was killed on the job when he entered a wire mesh manufacturing machine to retrieve a fallen metal bar.  He did this because he trusted his employer, Wire Mesh Sales, LLC of Jacksonville, Florida to have a working light curtain that would automatically turn off the machine before he could enter.  His trust got him killed as the safety device that would have prevented this accident was disabled, and this in addition to the 8 per-instance willful violations and 22 serious were found at the company.  This has earned the company a spot on the Severe Violator Enforcement Program and $697,700 in fines.  Seeing the financial penalty this high is nice but I personally think the person who gave the O.K. to disable the safety mechanism should go to jail.  Should be routine to check that all safety features are fully operational wherever you work and if it’s not, ASK WHY?

Flavoring Company Cited After Worker Is Severely Burned – PREVENTABLE – Carol Callahan, doing business as Natural Advantage was cited for 19 serious violations found after an inspection prompted by an employee getting badly burned.  The injured employee and his fellow workers trusted the company to make sure they were able to work in a safe environment, however the company overexposed them to methylene chloride, failed to provide appropriate respirators and failed to implement a program to detect chemical leaks or ANY related training.  This may cost the company up to $91,000 in fines but you could never put a price on the lost trust of the employees.  Learn about what’s going on in your work environment and the chemicals being used.



OSHA report on Blue Rhino propane plant paints troubling picture – PREVENTABLE – Despite claims early on by Tavares city officials about how they trusted the safety program at the Blue Rhino plant, an investigation by OSHA after an explosion at the plant, shows a totally opposite culture where safety was consistently ignored and found 26 violations including 20 serious ones.  In OSHA’s opinion it was the combination of these safety infractions that caused the explosion and sent 8 workers to the hospital as Blue Rhino not only failed to prevent propane being leaked into the environment but allowed workers to vent it into the atmosphere, they were allowed to sandblast canisters that still contained small amounts of gas while forklifts operated nearby.  The company leadership not only didn’t have procedures for handling an emergency in place but didn’t bother to educate the workers on how to identify let alone deal with an emergency!  They also didn’t bother training on tank filling warnings, checking the valves or for leaks or required PPE. A place totally out of control and allowed to continue like Justin Bieber on a night on the town.  Leadership was nonexistent leadership.  To bad there weren’t any adults around.  If you begin a job and they just point you to work with NO training what so ever, find another job.  You’ll probably live longer.

OR-OSHA Cites Company for the Seventh Time – PREVENTABLE – For whatever reason, the management at Bravo’s Construction Services of Woodburn, Oregon is not getting the message from Oregon OSHA on fall protection for employees as they were cited for the 7th time since February 2013.  They also didn’t bother to hold regular safety meetings to educate workers on the dangers involved with construction.  I don’t understand how you trust a company who puts you directly into the path of danger like that and why they haven’t been shut down and cease to operate even less.

OSHA cites Thomson automotive parts manufacturer, staffing agency for safety violations – PREVENTABLEH.P. Pelzer Automotive Systems Inc along with the staffing agency, Sizemore Inc. have been hit with 22 safety violations totalling $207,100.  Apparently employees no longer trusted either company to ensure their safety at work as they called in OSHA for help.  Pelzer had no problem with continually exposing temporary workers to amputation and laceration hazards as they were also cited in 2008 and 2009 for lack of machine guarding along with 11 total violations while the temporary agency didn’t bother to train workers on handling formaldehyde.  By demonstrating this total lack of concern for employee safety they really were really trying to make employees temporary.  Temporary employees are not a disposable lower class of citizen in this country.  They are human beings just like regular workers and management and shown the same respect.

Philadelphia Macaroni cited by US Labor Department’s OSHA; fines total more than $75,000. – PREVENTABLE – Philadelphia Macaroni was inspected under OSHA’s Site-Specific Targeting Program that directs its resources to workplaces with the highest injury/illness rates, (what does that tell you) which is a good thing as they found 13 alleged violations, 5 of them being repeat.  It seems electrical hazards like improper use of electrical equipment, blocked electrical panels, deficient emergency eyewash system and other safety issues weren’t the only assorted breakdowns in trust.

Oregon OSHA releases top workplace safety violations of 2013 – Sobering Data – Sad that the #1 cited safety violation in Oregon for 2013 was also the easiest to avoid!  Safety committees and safety meeting violations, which is ridiculous since safety committee rules have been in place for more than 20 years and that Oregon OSHA provides supporting resources and training.  It takes 5 minutes to have a safety tailgate or toolbox meeting and can be done weekly using stories like these to make your point.  Just Do It.

Pa. Man Paralyzed By Tipped Toilet Prank Gets $5M – PREVENTABLE – A man left paralyzed from the shoulders down when the portable toilet he was in was tipped over has settled his lawsuit.  Now granted, this happened between family members but it serves as a good example of why HORSEPLAY should NEVER be allowed in your warehouse or facility.  Someone gets hurt from just plain good old fun and next thing you know everyone’s lawyered up!  You think you’re being a nice guy for letting it go on and will earn you something?  Their lawyer will  remember when you’re subpoenaed for a deposition or giving testimony.

Wear Your Green Safety Pin

Wear Your Green Safety Pin

That brings this episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close.  Thank you for joining me and taking the time to read this blog.  Remember to Learn of your rights to having a safe workplace.  You are never required to put you life or limb at risk and you should always ask questions especially when dealing with chemicals, machinery or any new process that is put into place.  Do I need PPE?  Do I need training?  What am I handling? If your company can’t give you answers to those questions, call OSHA.  The life you save may be your own.  Hold safety meetings regularly, be active on the safety committee, listen to feedback from everyone and treat each other with respect.  See you all next month.



Companies Behaving Badly – January 15


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

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

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

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

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

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


I2P2 Proposed Rule Coming in September – INFO – OSHA will issue a proposed rule in September 2014 that would require employers to implement an injury and illness prevention program, I2P2.  Currently, voluntary Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines are in place and they were published in 1989 and is available on line.

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

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


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

Companies Behaving Badly – December Lights


Hey there, hi there, ho there.  Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas to all.  Growing up in New York City, I have some great memories associated  with this time of year.  The cold nip in the air that turned my cheeks red while strolling down 5th Avenue checking out all the marvelously decorated storefront windows and the air was filled with the smell of roasting chestnuts while serenaded by the constant bell ringing from the Salvation Army collection posts. Then going to see the Rockettes Christmas holiday show at Radio City Music Hall, ice skating at Rockefeller Center and then eating at the automat.  It was awesome!  It’s also a time when some reflect on their lives and give thanks for what they have and what they’ve accomplished.  I want to thank all of you readers who have supported this blog throughout the year and it is so appreciated.  This has been a great learning experience for me as well as rewarding, especially being able to help and educate people in other less fortunate countries about warehouse operations and safety.   I look forward to continued growth as a person and blogger and offering you fresh new points of view on workplace safety, quality warehousing and operational best practices.

I would also like to take one moment to remember those 4000+ people who died in workplace accidents this year, who will not be around to share the holidays with loved ones.  They will forever be in the memories of Christmases past.  Don’t ever shortcut safety just to save a few minutes only to lose a lifetime of memories.  With those thoughts this unfortunately is another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

Victor-based Wordingham Machine facing new fines for alleged repeat safety hazards – PREVENTABLE  It looks like management at Wordingham Machine thought OSHA was joking about the serious safety hazards they found since they didn’t bother to do anything about them.  Apparently they were fine with employees exposed to unguarded moving machine parts, no LOTO procedures, no fire extinguisher training and a locked exit door.  Now the fine has gone up $126,000 and not in monopoly money either.  Reality is a bitch.

Forklift runs over man in NW Portland & RecycleForce worker crushed – PREVENTABLE – Both are tragic forklift related accidents with one resulting in the death of James Dozier. the sad part is that these accidents were preventable.  When operating a forklift you can’t zone out but need to always pay attention.  You never know when someone will come out of nowhere due to their ignorance on how dangerous a warehouse can be.  It always drives me nuts when I see someone on a forklift back up without first taking a moment to look behind them or come whipping around a corner at high speed where the pedestrian X-walk is.  Wear your seatbelt to prevent winding up under a tipped lift.  I know there are stupid people who back out of their driveways or pull into traffic without looking first, but that DOESN’T have to be YOU!

Nightclub owner admits safety breaches after employee crushed in lift shaft – PREVENTABLE – If you are a “do as I say, not as I do” manager be prepared for being held accountable.  There is nothing more hypocritical than telling an employee to work safe, follow the rules and wear the proper PPE and the managers don’t follow suit and set an example for all.  When Stephen Hampson rode the “products only” lift that day he was trying to do a good job for his supervisor and save a few minutes  just as he’d seen his boss do many times before. I’m sure he didn’t come to work that day thinking he would die and now the boss is going to prison.  Two lives ruined over saving a few minutes.  I know it’s one of those where you think, well if he can do it so can I but why show people you’re as stupid as the boss?

OSHA Cites Louisiana Cellular Tower Company After Worker Fatality – PREVENTABLE – Custom Tower LLC, was hit with a willful safety violation when an employee fell 125 feet (over 11 stories) to his death because they didn’t ensure workers used their fall protection gear.  My guess is there is no records of training of employees in using fall protection gear. Whether you are trained or not, you still need to use common sense when working at those heights let alone just over 6 feet high.  Your belief in your abilities that you can do it and won’t fall are nice, but then that’s why they’re called accidents and not on-purpose.  You never know if you’ll slip, faint, or trip.  Wear your PPE and come home to your family in one piece.

OSHA cites Rail Car Services for violations – PREVENTABLE – Rail Car Services of Kansas City, Kansas was hit with 11 safety violations after an inspection of their facility that was instigated by a complaint.  You think the fact that 8 of the violations were repeat offenses or the lack of fall protection, confined space training, failure to provide training on the chemicals used and respirators or a combination of all of the above could have had something to do with the complaint.  Either way it may still cost them $133,000.

Criminal Charges Follow Fatal Workplace Accidents – APPLAUSE – Company owners who have total disregard for worker safety are finally going to jail.  One owner is going to serve 10-20 years for two counts of manslaughter while another will be on trial for murder.  You ask for an honest days work from your employees give them safe working conditions and you both will do well together.

US Gypsum Celebrates OSHA Voluntary Protection Program Star AchievementDOUBLE APPLAUSE This proves that when management and labor work together on safety it can be done.  Congratulations to US Gypsum.

OSHA seeks input on revisions to safety regulations – UPDATE – This is your opportunity to have some input on revisions to safety regulations by OSHA.  Take advantage of your years of experience and share your thoughts with OSHA.  Never know what could happen.

Hazardous Area LED Light Fixture – TOOLSNew from Larson Electronics.  Check it out.

That brings this last episode of 2013 to a close.  Thank you for stopping by and sharing your time.  Become a safety advocate at your place of work and make sure everyone pledges to support the safety program.  Join the safety committee and if your company doesn’t have one, start one by speaking to your manager or H.R.  Don’t every let anyone tell you it’s o.k. to perform an unsafe act.  It’s not.  See you all again in 2014.

Wear Your Green Safety Pin

Wear Your Green Safety Pin

Recipes For Disaster!

So I’ve been busy with a new client implementing a 5S program when… o.k., I was really cleaning and organizing the garage for my longest and dearest client, my wife.   I was put into service when she asked me to practice what I get paid to preach.  My attention became focused on a stack of boxes that contained many different artifacts such as kindergarden child art and tax records of 1996 when I happened upon an old wooden box that was full of recipes.  They were all hand written on sheets of notepaper that had faded and turned yellow with age.  What I found was astounding since I thought Aunt Ida’s recipes for a disaster where long lost.  I can’t wait to share them with all of you and sharing is something I will be doing in the next coming months beginning some time this December.

Each recipe is crafted and written so they can be professionally executed by the beginner as well as the expert.  You don’t want to miss any of these classic recipes for a disaster so make sure to sign up, just click on the email box on the right, to get witzshared via email each time a new episode is available.

warehouseflow consulting

warehouseflow consulting

Companies Behaving Badly – November

November originally began as the 9th month of the year until the Romans bumped it down to 11, but this month is still dear to us as it’s full of special days and begins to take control of our social calendars as we move further into the fall season.  It’s also a month that we get to exercise our right to vote and voice our opinion on initiatives and referendums.  We also honor our heroes who have defended this great country as well as using this month to spotlight Diabetes awareness, lung cancer awareness, native american heritage and healthy skin.  Even with all that, the best thing about this month is we gain an extra hour of sleep.  So fluff up that pillow, pull your blanket up tight and please remain in the horizontal position for this is another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

Milton firm cited in grain bin death – PREVENTABLE – United Ethanol, LLC was cited for 15 violations after the death of one of their own and it earned them a spot on the OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.  The company failed to lockout conveyors used to empty the grain bins, which exposed the now-deceased worker to the engulfment hazard which is a willful violation.  It would have taken a whole 5 minutes to LOTO the belts but United Ethanol didn’t stop there in tempting fate. They also didn’t bother to guard floor chute openings, prevent exposure to moving grain hazards, prevent workers from entering bins when hazards existed and had NO observer oversee entry procedures. Surprised they didn’t blind fold them first and spin them three times first. 

Archbold firm fined $147,600 for 16 alleged safety offenses – PREVENTABLE – Apparently, Napoleon Spring Works, Inc. had no problem exposing employees to amputation hazards by failing to properly guard machinery and then didn’t bother to listen to the employees who had to finally file complaints with OSHA.  They found Napoleon Springs in willful violation, which is “committed with intentional, knowing, or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.”  Do you feel the love as well?  In addition to the monetary fines maybe the owners and management should be forced to do the job as well, hazards and all and see how they make out.  Napoleon Spring Works is a subsidiary of Lynx Industries Inc., based in Canada.

OSHA Cites Sinclair Refinery for $707,000 – PREVENTABLE – If there was a winner, (there are really no winners here) for this month’s worst company behaving badly Sinclair Refinery would take first by pulling in 22 violations and fines totaling over $700,000.  Here again, employees had to resort to calling OSHA themselves since they wanted to be able to go home at the end of their shift in one piece and uninjured. The refinery was cited for SIX willful violations and further demonstrated their concern for employees by the SIX Repeat serious violations and TEN new serious violations.  I’m sure the refinery management is scratching their heads wondering why someone called in OSHA…DAH!

Mira Loma warehouse fined for unsafe working conditions – PREVENTABLE – Olivet International is another one of those contract warehouses that Walmart and other large companies use so they can turn a blind eye to working conditions while they give you those low, low prices.  These contract warehouses are nothing more than sweatshops not unlike those found in Bangladesh and India as the 12 violations found will attest.  Blocked fire exits, falling boxes of merchandise, insufficient number of restrooms, no plan in the event of an injury on the job, no effective training on heat exposure or heat illness, blocked aisles and insufficient lighting.  Sound familiar?  The fines totaled $34,400 which I’m sure will be passed on to consumers as special service charges for the holidays.

OSHA fines Avon co. in death – PREVENTABLE – A young man was crushed to death when a concrete form he was tethered came loose and fell on him.  It was found that Diaz Construction Company failed to frequently and regularly inspect the job site and materials and equipment used there including the concrete formwork for stability prior to workers climbing on them.  They also didn’t adequately train the employee in the hazards associated with improper anchorage and installation of the formwork systems.  If you think they’ve learned from this incident don’t bet on it since they have had 19 violations since 2005.  Don’t take safety for granted.  Always inspect equipment at the beginning of your shift and don’t assume the previous shift left it in operational condition and report any unsafe conditions immediately.

Employees Feeling Less Safe at Work – INFO – Only 31% of U.S. employees polled believe their workplace is proactive about emergency preparedness.  Based on the blurbs above what I have posted in the last few months this is not at all surprising.  Remember though, safety is NOT just management’s issue, it’s yours as well.  Bring these issues up to management and get a safety committee going.  Hazards don’t go away on their own.

OSHA orders Connecticut trucking company owner to pay whistleblowers – INFO – Listen up!  This is happening more and more where companies have tried to intimidate and/or punish whistleblowers.  OSHA is making sure you don’t get away with it.  Be smart, do workplace safety correctly in the first place, listen to your employees and you won’t have to worry about being tattled on.

OSHA Recognizes Cintas Uniform Rental in Lafayette, Louisiana with Highest Safety Designation – APPLAUSE PLEASE – Wow, it can be done!  Congratulations to Cintas, Lafayette, Louisiana for demonstrating safety can be done right!

Hand Held Lights For Hazardous Environments – TOOLS  Streamlight, Inc. has added two new safety approved models to its family of  Knucklehead flashlights.  Check it out.

That concludes this episode of Companies Behaving Badly and I thank you for taking the time to read it.  Please feel free to use these stories as topics for your safety meetings/ safety tailgates or toolbox meetings and get a discussion going.  The lessons learned here are valuable for reinforcing workplace safety.  You have every right to expect to go home in the same condition as you arrived at work.  In one piece.  No one can order you to risk you life or limb just to save a few minutes or for a few dollars more.  One day human life will be the focus instead of profits. Take responsibility for safety and speak up.  Help get fellow employees and management involved and form safety committees and begin the discussion before OSHA tells you how.

Be kind to each other.