Stuff Your Boss Probably Hasn’t Bothered To Tell You Cause No One Told Them

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Some of you are currently working for either a supermarket chain, department store, discount store or fast food restaurant. Whether this is just a temporary gig or stepping stone to a career path within that corporation chances are your bosses haven’t told you about the hazards associated with the receiving, shipping, packaging, storage or use of chemicals.

It’s not really their fault is it?  With the constant turnover of store managers who are paid very little for long hours and massive responsibilities, they could never get around to it.  They may have handed you a leaflet, posted it in the breakroom or stapled it to your paycheck hoping you would read the information about chemicals but no one has bothered to sit you down and explain it all to you or any other training.  Unfortunately, the district/regional manager who oversees your store has many others as well so doesn’t bother to check or follow up on what safety training is being conducted if at all since their main focus and goals for a bonus are tied to coop advertising dollars, the weekly take of cash and profits but not safety.

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Back at Corporate Headquarters, everything is status quo as long as all the incoming reports stay positive with goals being achieved and money is being made and to ensure that nothing interrupts that cash flow they are prepared and ready to deal with any public relation issues that may pop with their standard “we take the safety of our employees seriously here at So & So Inc. or “We had thoroughly tested the gizmo and found no serious issues prior to approval by (insert Federal Agency here).  Again safety is not important or interesting enough and the lack of training continues and now becomes a hidden problem with the potential for a very bad ending.

This training is not only critical to your health and safety while on the job but for your customers there as well but in that effort to save money and keep costs down the training necessary to ensure you get to go home in one piece is not done.  Whatever extra time you have is directed to receiving cases and cases of goods and new SKU to sell that you must store within very little space.  To get to older items you need to move new items and since you haven’t had time for a safety meeting you think it’s fine to “temporarily” block emergency exits, fire extinguishers, and circuit boxes.  What could possibly go wrong in this store?

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One morning you’re downstairs checking inventory when you notice a strong odor in the basement and then see a puddle that has formed around the stack in the corner and upon further investigation, you see it’s leaking from the bottom case. Is it apple cider vinegar or muriatic acid?

If you had had training you would have learned about the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) and the processes and procedures that you must use in the handling, shipping or storage of chemicals as working around them you face a number of possible health hazards if they are not handled correctly and you don’t use the proper PPE when required.

The boring background history:  Back in 2012, the United States joined the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of classification and labeling of Chemicals which makes it easier for companies to do business with one another by complying with one system, globally.  As of June 1, 2016, it became mandatory for all U.S. companies under Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) or as it’s also referred to HazCom.

You would have also learned that all of the information you need about any chemical or chemical mixture in your facility is included on the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) which has a specific 16 section format and kept in a binder in your facility where it is accessible by ALL any time they need or want too while on the job.  The information offered:

  1. Identification
  2. Hazard(s) identification
  3. Composition/information on ingredients
  4. First-aid measures
  5. Fire-fighting measures
  6. Accidental release measures
  7. Handling and storage
  8. Exposure controls/personal protection
  9. Physical and chemical properties
  10. Stability and reactivity
  11. Toxicological information
  12. Ecological information
  13. Disposal considerations
  14. Transport information
  15. Regulatory information
  16. Other information

So now, back to the leaking stack of cases sitting in the corner of the basement.  If you had had training you would be looking for the SDS binder to find out what is leaking and how to deal with it but with all the overflow of stacks of palletized merchandise, you can’t immediately find the SDS binder since it’s hidden behind a stack that is also blocking an emergency route.

If you had been trained you would have found the labeling on the leaking case would help you to identify the SDS for  Chlorine bleach.   Which is classified as a hazard as well as Skin corrosion/irritation and Serious eye damage/eye irritation.  Further down in the SDS for Chlorine bleach, section 6 – ACCIDENTAL RELEASE MEASURES you’ll see the best way to handle the spill would be to absorb and containerize then wash residual down the proper drains.  But remember because it’s an irritant be sure to wear gloves, safety goggles, and respirators before using the spill kit to contain and mop up the spill.

Oh, now where did we move that spill kit too?

Did we make the point?  Have questions or Need help? That’s what we’re here for. Contact us at philmendelowitz@warehouseflow.comwhf2020

 

 

 

 

The TopTen OSHA Violations Before Christmas. On the Fifth Day

 

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Santa received a notice of violation(1926.1053) Ladders which is #6 on OSHA’s TopTen violations for 2019.

It’s looking more hopeful at the Northpole as Santa’s team spent the weekend getting all the elves caught up on much-needed training and important upgrades of equipment to fix the first four OSHA violations.  Today we work with ladders.  What?  Ladders?  Seriously? How dangerous can a ladder be?  It’s dangerous enough to become sixth on  OSHA’s TopTen list for killing 150 workers a year and injuring another 20,000.

Maybe because a ladder looks so easy and innocent to use or maybe we learned how to use a ladder incorrectly from our Dads why so many winds up visiting the E.R.  Here again, training is the most critical part of safety and learning how to properly use a ladder is a skill you’ll use pretty much the rest of your life.  Remember as with any training given, always document by having workers sign in and attach copies of the material covered.

  1. Ladder missing rungs, cracked or broken rungs, broken side rails or broken spreaders should never be used and immediately tossed into the trash.
  2. Set up the ladder on a firm flat even surface.  Using a ladder on an incline may only hasten your fall.
  3. Always open a ladder and lock the spreaders in place before using so you have a firm base to work on.
  4. Keep your hands free from holding tools, tool bag or a cup of coffee when using a ladder.  You need both hands to keep your balance and safely ascend/descend the ladder.
  5. Don’t stand on the top cap.  It’s not a step or a place to stand on.  It also makes the ladder less stable and more possible of a fall.
  6. Don’t be lazy.  Get down and move the ladder closer to what you’re working on instead of overreaching which can lead to loss of balance and a fall.
  7. NEVER use a metal ladder when working near or around power lines.

Santa still has some work to do but all the elves and everyone else seem to be responding well to the changes especially since no one wants to see the workshop shut down.  Tuesday: On the Sixth Day.

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The TopTen OSHA Violations Before Christmas. On the First Day

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Santa received a notice of violation( 1926.102) lack of PPE – Eye and Face Protection. This is #10 on OSHA’s TopTen violations for 2019.

The industrial revolution provided us with many great inventions of machinery.  Machinery is great because it helps to do the jobs of drilling, sanding, polishing, cutting, shaping, bending a lot easier and more efficiently.  However, as most machines do, they are also loud and noisy when used which creates a new set of problems.

As you can see, the elf busy drilling holes is not wearing any PPE.  In this environment, how many kinds of PPE should the elves be wearing?  At least,

  1. Safety goggles or face shield – Prevents the wood chips from the drilling entering your eye creating serious sight issues or from hitting your face.
  2. Dust mask – Prevents you from inhaling wood sawdust into your lungs.
  3. Earplugs or other hearing protection – Prevents the loud noises from damaging your ears and hearing.

Can you think of any other PPE?  Will this be enough to fix this ticket let alone save Santa’s workshop?  Find out tomorrow.  On the Second Day.

 

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A Complete Guide To Warehouse Safety-Volume 4 – Training

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After a good nights rest our three travelers were back on the Green Brick Road of Safety and headed toward Emerald City in hopes that the Head Inspector will help each one with their safety-related issues.  The road turned into a dense forest that blocked most of the sunshine.  It was dark and eerie but the three felt pretty strong walking together.  Dorothy turned to Scarecrow and Tinman and said, this reminds me of a scene from the Wizard of Oz. “What!” both Scarecrow and Tinman rang out in chorus.  Dorothy looked at them puzzled, you never heard, oh never mind.  Lions, tigers, and bears, oh my.  “Cute”, said Scarecrow and he thought and sang, “How about.  Falls, trips and amputations, oh my.”  They all chuckled.  Tinman joined in, ” Hazards, PPE and Housekeeping, oh my.”  They all laughed again.  They were bonding into a strong team, each with their own individual skill and working together as a team.  They continued, “Hazards, PPE and Housek….” their fun suddenly stopped when the road abruptly ended and a funicular stood before them as the only way to the top of the mountain to continue their journey.

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The three of them stood there, looking around trying to figure out their next move.  There was no one around they could ask, no signs, no schedules, nothing.  The cable car was in the station with the doors open, waiting to go.  Scarecrow turned and said, “Well, I guess it’s self-service. Let’s check it out.”  They walked inside the car and looked at the controls.  “How hard can this be?”, Scarecrow asked as he surveyed the control panel.  Dorothy suggested he hit the flashing green button.  Tinman felt it was the right decision and Scarecrow concurred with both of them so he hit the button.  A whirling noise started from under the cable car, lights began to flash and Scarecrow turned to Dorothy and Tinman with a proud smirk on his face.

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Their victory was short-lived as the next sound they heard was a loud roar.  HEEEEEY!  A large lion came running from the buildings towards our travelers, yelling, screaming with flailing arms and looking very menacing.  WHAAAAAT ARE YOU GUYS DOING?  ARRRR YOU CRAZY?  They backed away from the lion, they were pretty scared.  The lion ran right up to Dorothy and got in her face, WHO SAID YOU COULD TOUCH ANYTHING?  YOU DON’T KNO….(Dorothy was the first female mechanic at her plant and she has been through it all, the practical jokes, the nasty comments and put-downs, the hand gestures, gyrating hips, bullying, and the deafening silence but she never quit, she never let them see her cry,  always waiting until she got home for that luxury and over time it made her a much stronger person.  When the lion got into her face it all the past memories rushed once again through her mind and) SMACK!  She stopped the lion mid-word, and yelled, back off mister!  If you have something to say to me, say it in a constructive manner and talk to me but don’t you EVER yell at me about my performance again!  The stunned lion began to cry.  

Now, Dorothy also began to cry and as Scarecrow and Tinman started to console Dorothy they both began to cry as well.  “It’s not your fault Dorothy, said Scarecrow while Tinman added, “Yes, he deserved that.”  The lion kept bawling away.  “I shouldn’t have yelled.  It’s, it’s the stress of this job, it’s killing me.  I’m the only one here who can operate the funicular and by the time I get someone else trained, the Emerald city sends them somewhere else.  There are no training materials of any kind to help me train so 24/7 I’m the guy.”  Dorothy gave the Lion her tissue so he could wipe his eyes.  We didn’t know and only reacted to your shouting.  Scarecrow motioned Dorothy over to him and Tinman and they whispered amongst themselves.  After a short discussion Scarecrow turned to the Lion and said, “Why don’t you join us?  We’re headed to Emerald City to see the Head Inspector.  I’m going to get PPE, and Tinman going for housekeeping.  I bet he has loads of training material you can use, probably even color videos!  Lion loved the idea, they piled into the cable car and off they went to continue their journey.

(The original title for volume 4 was – Emergency Ready but while reviewing and updating the order of things I’ve decided it should be – Training.  Training is critical to a successful safety program and the key to emergency response and preparedness as well as a successful sustainable organization due to increased employee retention.  Between classroom lectures and the hands-on experience reinforced with tailgates/toolboxes make for an engaged educated safety conscience employee.)

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So here we are folks, more than halfway along the Green Brick Road of Safety and the Emerald City is in sight.  It’s been an enlightening trip for me as well and I want to thank you all for the positive responses and fabulous comments on this series.  As I’m sure you remember, we began our journey with Hazard Analysis, to find potential hazards if any, so we can determine the appropriate PPE.  We also discovered the importance of Housekeeping in preventing accidents.  All three large critical segments of workplace safety.  So, after this, are there still more ways to protect your employees?   Yes, there is and it is Training. 

Training is the most important part of safety.  Let me say it again, Training is the most important part of safety and works best when it’s delivered concisely, consistently, a little entertaining and with employee engagement and participation.  This goes for all types of training from new employee orientation to forklift certification to the operation of machinery to safety meetings to emergency evacuation procedures.  Training is not a one time deal but should be a continuous process of learning, education, recertification, development and growth for building a well trained and confident team, able to react to any situation as one, in a moments notice.  The results of a training program speak for themselves with increased productivity, reduction in accidents and sick days as well as increasing employee retention which is critical to maintaining a consistent operation especially in these days of the “skills gap”.  No different then Doctors and lawyers who have continuous education throughout their career as they learn of the latest techniques and tools available for diagnosis and cures.  If you treat training as a joke, that’s how it’ll be perceived and what you’ll get back in return so this is your opportunity to set the tone and demonstrate to your staff or company that you take it seriously. 

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After you assess what training your company offers you can begin to develop a training program to tailor your needs.  By putting a training program together now you’ll be ahead of the game if you find yourself with several new hires or seasonal temporary employees.  You know what daily tasks need to be accomplished by your team for success and you want to develop your training based on what the job entails.  Some companies already have written job descriptions handy that you can use as a template to help but I have found more often than not that many have very old out of date or incomplete job descriptions on file and you’ll probably find training material the same way.  That’s not bad, it gives you the opportunity to make it all yours. 

I would also gather company written standard operational procedures, policies and any other information that you think an employee needs to know for loading trucks or picking orders safely and efficiently.  If you work in a food processing plant or food distribution warehouse you should also include HACCP procedures.  Once you get all the information together and set up in your computer/laptop you’ll see how extremely easy it is to edit and update this information as things change.  Then a great habit to develop would be to review job descriptions, procedures and training at least once a year to keep your workers safe, practices current and regulatory obligations filled. 

Some companies are very good about giving you the talking points for the monthly safety meetings along with colorful handouts which are helpful but that may come across as just spoon-feeding safety to your employees!  Like a scene from Island of Dr. Moreau.  What is the law?  Do not put your hands into moving parts.  This would be great if you were training parrots to repeat back to you.  You want to discuss the topic with your staff.  Get their involvement by asking for feedback on what happens on the floor when they deal with a situation.  At one company during a discussion on Lock Out Tag Out I found out that the workers couldn’t LOTO one machine since the electrical box was so old (I think Edison made it himself) there was no way to put a lock on it.  The company told me it wasn’t in the budget to change it out at this time so to protect my staff and the company I made it procedure to call one of the staff electricians to remove the fuses so we could then lock the housing so no one could start the machine.  I was very surprised how soon that electrical panel replacement got moved up, approved and installed.  

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So when you get that company material don’t be afraid to make a few adjustments to encourage employee engagement.  Are there additional handouts you can use, videos, power-points or other media to aid your presentation in getting the point across.  When discussing PPE don’t forget to utilize staff in demonstrating how to properly wear and adjust, get a conversation going.  I know some companies want training rushed through and done quickly but that only trivialize the whole process.  You want people to buy into the program and if they don’t find the training interesting, they won’t listen.  When they’re part of the training, everyone listens and learns.   

If the need arises for training material to cover a new procedure or piece of equipment, you want to get it to the staff before you go live, well if you want success anyway.  We were transitioning to a new WMS.  We had one of their consultants on hand to help us with the process.  One of our jobs was to fill 2000 lb. bags with product and then produce a barcoded label that was scanned as it moved to a location in the warehouse.  There was no training material and workers on all shifts were making daily errors.  I asked the all mighty consultant when we could expect written instruction for the workers and stop the bleeding.  It’s coming.  It’s coming.  I couldn’t wait any longer, too many things were at stake, time wasted correcting inventory, loss of confidence in the staff, the stupidity of it all so I put together a two-sheet instruction manual along with barcode placards and we brought the errors to ZERO.  I asked and watched my staff about the process and what would help them.  They got exactly that and the issue disappeared.

Whatever the training you are going to give always prepare beforehand and get your materials printed, assembled and then rehearse your presentation.  Make sure you are prepared to discuss and know what you are talking about.  There is nothing worse than giving out bad information or being contradicted by an employee.  Depending on your geographical location it would be a big help if you have the training material translated into Spanish.  Some workers may understand English much easier than they can read it and this is information you want to make sure you get across.

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General Orientation – Usually given by HR to all new company employees but you can tailor a general orientation training for your department or section of the company and highlight areas other employees may not have to observe like safety glasses, lunch breaks, and sanitation.  After orientation buddy, the new employee with a worker to be mentored and help get the lay of the land.

Forklift Certification – You can do it in-house or pay a trainer to come in and handle it.  Either way works but if you have your own trainer you can do the certification any time you need to and they know the facility better and can speak about the layout and hidden dangers.  Under no circumstances should you allow any worker to operate a forklift without obtaining proper training.

Seasonal/Temporary Employee – Using the same materials for regular new employees and having materials ready will make their training a lot easier.  Even though they are temporary workers they are still human beings and should be treated with the same respect as everyone else.  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

Safety Training – Can be in the form of a monthly meeting which is most common.  Usually, only one topic is covered like avoiding arc flash or LOTO.  When you give training and you are not sure about something, it is perfectly o.k. to tell an employee you don’t know the answer but that you’ll find out and then make sure you get back to them in a timely manner.  Drop the ball once and no one will come to you for anything ever again.

Tailgate/toolbox – meetings are an excellent way to communicate to your staff as well as build your own confidence when it comes to public speaking as these gatherings are more informal to a smaller group of people that are held weekly onsite and last no more than 15 minutes.  You can utilize these meetings to discuss a safety issue that just came up or demonstrate a new feature on a piece of equipment or teach a new technique, all to keep safety on their minds and them, focused.    They are also suited for a busy work environment since you can break your staff up into smaller groups and keep everyone else working until it’s their turn.  

Huddles – Before the shift begins, gather your troops and give a quick rundown of the day, how we’re going to tackle it and any specific dangers to be aware of.  If it’s going to be very hot, remind employees to stay hydrated, if it’s raining, remind them about slick floors.  No more than 10 minutes to get everyone on board and going.

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WHAT SHOULD YOU TALK ABOUT?  The best topic is those most related to recent events in your facility that causes you to pull your hair out.  Was there a recent near-miss reported in the warehouse or did you observe an employee lifting incorrectly?  Another topic could be to discuss an accident that occurred in a sister plant or in the local area and how can we avoid a similar one.  Keep a reminder list for yourself about seasonal topics you’d like to cover throughout the year as well like staying hydrated on extremely hot days, emergency evacuation.  Need more inspiration, just google “Tailgate meeting topics”, you’ll wind up with many great suggestions or sign up to follow this blog.

HOW DO YOU GET EMPLOYEES TO LISTEN?  Well, food always seems to be a way to attract people and offering donuts once in a while is nice but the best way to get them to listen is to get employees involved by having them demonstrate and share their experience.  When I would cover LOTO, (Lock Out Tag Out) instead of me droning on about the associated hazards I would pick a piece of equipment, begin the tailgate there and have one of the top operators actually perform the lockout tag out on the unit.  The whole nine yards.   When they did an outstanding job and they always did, they were given a coupon for a free lunch at the local deli I had previously setup.  You also want to create an atmosphere where people are comfortable to learn and ask questions so they need to know upfront there is no such thing as a stupid question about safety, EVER!

Don’t ever hesitate to run your operation the way you see fit but make sure to be upfront with workers and explain the rules clearly including the consequences if the rules are not followed but make sure they’re reasonable, consistent and not unattainable. .Make sure to document all training (safety and equipment) by using a sign-in sheet 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. If you are delivering training and meetings on a consistent basis you will find that a well-trained team does impact your bottom line for the better with a sustainable knowledgeable workforce.  

The Green Brick Road of Safety is not an imaginary magical place.  You don’t need to locate any secret hidden portals or drink any potions, it has always been there before you all along.  It’s the road that leads to a safe and productive workplace.  Become a safety advocate, it costs nothing to join.  Keep your fellow employees safe and always keep the dialogue on safety moving forward.  The life you save may be your own.  Be sure to stay tuned for our next leg on this journey and don’t miss an issue.  

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A Complete Guide To Warehouse Safety-Volume 3-House Keeping

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Dorothy and Scarecrow were enjoying the beautiful day as they walked along a very pristine Green Brick road of safety.  She was very impressed by how clean it was and remarked, the bricks look like they were just polished.  I wonder how do they do it?  It helped make for a pleasant walk even in the company of Scarecrow who constantly chattered on and on, answering his own questions with excruciating detail.  Dorothy was enjoying the weather, the landscape and had temporarily forgotten all about her troubles as they hit the bend in the road she spun around like the Belle at the ball when they noticed a gradual change in the upkeep of the area.  Debris became more noticeable as piles of wood and metal scrap, paper, plastic wrap and other types garbage grew larger and filled up the path making it more difficult to walk and Scarecrow kept tripping on the discarded items.  Dorothy even had a few slips and slides while trying to keep Scarecrow upright.  It was a mess!  Streamers of toilet paper blew in the wind as it clung to the trees, heaps of rusted metals, machine parts, liquids, plastic, tools dotted the landscape like little land mines.  What’s the deal, this is ridiculous said Dorothy, it looks like our shop floor after a big project.

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Their pace slowed to a crawl yet Scarecrow still somehow managed to trip over a largely discarded water heater or so he thought, until the object yelled, “OW!”  Scarecrow stopped in his tracks and asked, “was that you Dorothy.?”  Dorothy was just as freaked and shook her head, no it wasn’t.  In a soft faint tone, they heard, “Etwasmi”   “What?” “Et was mi”  They looked and found lying on the ground a long-forgotten tin man buried in the trash that had rusted over during the years it was there.  They stood him up.  “Earlcan”, he said as he eyes rolled and darted downward.  Faced with the blank stares from Dorothy and Scarecrow he repeated, “Earlcan”.  Dorothy realized it and picked up the oil can and oiled around his mouth.  The tin man slowly moved his jaw a few times and finally was able to say, “Ahhhhh, thank you.  I thought no one would ever find me. Can you oil the rest of me please.”  They brought him back to being mobile and was ready for the barrage of questions Dorothy and Scarecrow had.  “Well you see, I was cleaning the area as I was told to do until one of the other workers asked, why are we working so hard cleaning up?  They’re only going to make it dirty again and there are no bosses around to watch what we’re doing, let’s get outta here.  So they did but I did not have the heart to stop and do nothing so I kept working but then the rain came and with no one around to oil me.  I rusted in place and have been here waiting for help so long a family of field mice moved in for a few years until the Ferrel cats took over.”  

That’s terrible, Dorothy said.  Scarecrow asked, “So you did the housekeeping here?”  “Yes, I did when I could.  The Personwhomustbeobeyed of this section of the Green Brick Road of Safety kept pulling me off housekeeping duties and reassigning me to other non-productive tasks.  So it began to pile up, but the Personwhomustbeobeyed didn’t seem to mind how it looked so other workers figured what the heck and it got worse to the point you see it now.”  Scarecrow jumped in, “Hey, I’ve got an idea!  Why don’t we take this to the head inspector in the Emerald City!?”  The tin man looked surprised, “The head inspector!  Really!”  “Yes.  He needs to know about the trip, slip and fall hazards here and Dorothy has to see him anyway to report the inspector of the East’s death and I gonna get some PPE.  You don’t mind, do you, Dorothy?”  Not at all guys but let’s get moving, I want to get out of this dangerous dump.  Off they went further down the road and closer to Emerald city.

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Since we began our journey down the Green Brick Road of Safety, we have done a Hazard Analysis to identify safety hazards.  Then further down the road, we met Scarecrow and his lack of knowledge on PPE  as to what equipment is available to protect employees.  Both important factors to workplace safety, but can we still further protect our employees from injury?  Yes, of course, we can and it’s up ahead around the bend where the poor Tin Man was left with a daunting task of Housekeeping.  Granted, it’s not a very glamorous sounding name as it brings up images of maids and hotels who are sweeping, mopping and dusting, but actually, that is a small part of Housekeeping.

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Trips, slips and falls – continues to be a leading cause of injury in the workplace and good housekeeping practices contains the usual suspects and greatly reduces the number of accidents.  Keep work areas, walkways, entryways free of clutter and obstructions at all times placing scraps, cardboard, plastic and used strapping in proper bins for bailing or trash bin.   You need to have a policy in place on drinks and containers allowed in the work area and if allowed, only containers with lids should be used.  Make sure mops, pails and wet floor warning signs are easily accessible to staff to deal with small spills and for larger liquid or chemical spills, have staff trained how to respond and handle with containment booms and absorbent materials.  Work areas kept clean and organized.  Tools, lubricants, oils, inks other items that are not needed or in use should be put away and stored in the proper cabinet.  Window sills, machine tops, and computers are not proper storage areas.  Proper footwear is very important especially if you work in a wet or cold storage environment.  You need the correct footing to keep steady and not flat on your back.  –Inclement weather, (rain, snow) and not paying attention or distraction are issues that should also be addressed to help ensure fewer accidents.

Forklifts and other industrial motorized equipment – Yes, housekeeping can keep your forklifts and other motorized equipment working longer and spending less time in repair.  When the trash is left on the floor, especially plastic and paper a forklift can suck up the trash into its gears.  Over time the plastic heats up, melts and forms a large plug of plastic causing restricted airflow internally which results in other problems.  

Sanitation Another critical part of housekeeping especially in facilities that manufacture and/or store fresh perishables or frozen food products.  Keeping the work areas clean to prevent contamination from bacteria or other foreign particles is a daily routine on a consistent basis thanks to the use of a master sanitation schedule.  The schedule breaks out exactly what areas to be cleaned and the frequency.  As part of the accountability the person assigned to the cleaning signs off that it’s done.  The cleaning and organizing of the facility also greatly reduces the chance of attracting outside visitors such as insects and vermin.

UpkeepIs also included when it comes to housekeeping.  Any part of the facility that is found to be in need of repair should be done immediately, since putting it off could lead to other problems down the road especially if it’s a hole in the floor where someone could fall into or as a gateway for the previously named insects and vermin.  Flaking paint and rusted metal are also indications that immediate repairs are needed.  Upkeep along with sanitation and other good housekeeping practices keep the facility a safe and clean place to work. 

  

Work station’s setup for maximum efficiency and ergonomics – 

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 This is not an example of that.  Cluttered workbench with spray paint not put away in the proper storage cabinet, if not tossed as empty cans, tools, and other items was strewn about which wastes time trying to locate when needed, unnecessary items also on workbench adding to clutter and all surrounded by trip hazards and poor lighting.  

 

 

 

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A workstation should be set up to allow the least amount of repetitive movements, (bending, twisting, stooping, squatting and lifting) by the employee to complete their tasks while operating machinery or working over a workbench.  Everything within reach and easy to retrieve and little time stopping to find what you need.  A great example this is something you probably use every day, the kitchen triangle.  To achieve maximum efficiency in the kitchen it is set up with a clearly defined path so the chef can easily reach the three key areas;  stove, sink and refrigerator.

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5S – This is a term you may or may not have heard in conjunction with housekeeping and productivity.  If this is new to you, please allow me to introduce you to this concept.  It is a discipline created in Japan to eliminate waste (wasted time, wasted moves, etc) in specific ways to keep your work area clean, free of debris and organized to work safely and highly productive.  The 5S are:  Seiri – Clearing up.  Seiton – Organizing.  Seiso – Cleaning.  Seiketsu – standardizing.  Shitsuke – self-discipline.  Like many other disciplines there are also variations of 5S around like 6S (Sort, Straighten, Sweep, Standardize, Self-Discipline, & Safety).  5S could be a great tool and a way to introduce if you wanted to create a new workplace culture that develops disciplines even a mother would dream of.  There is plenty of literature out there to read up on, just google it. 

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No matter what housekeeping program you decide to go with or what you call it, 5S, 6S, No S,  I think you can see now why keeping your facility organized and clean is so important.

A tip for you from my vast experience.  When your warehouse looks clean, organized and well kept, you’re offering a fabulous first impression and all visitors, whether internal inspectors or external inspectors, your boss or the bosses boss, usually don’t bother looking deeper for issues.  The only problem you may have is the influx of management and corporate visitors wanting to see your facility. 

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So as you can see cleanliness is close to safety and you can be a large part of the solution. Don’t discard trash onto the floor, use proper receptacles.  Keep your work area organized and free of clutter.  Do not use chemicals or other harsh cleaners unless specifically instructed to do so and then make sure to wear the appropriate PPE.  Thank you for joining us and hope to see you as Dorothy, Scarecrow and the Tin Man continue their journey on the Green Brick Road of Safety.  Don’t miss an episode, sign up to get every new issue of Witzshared.com delivered right to you.

 

Safety is never pointless.  If you feel that way you need to talk to someone.  If necessary call the OSHA hotline 1-800-321-6742 and file an anonymous complaint.  Never keep quiet about safety and always ask questions.

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This Month’s Tip From WarehouseFlow Advisors-Jun

 

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Just Putting It Out There – Leadership The Glue That Binds it All.

Luke Walton & Steve Kerr

Luke Walton & Steve Kerr

You do everything you can to protect your employees at the workplace.  You take all the necessary steps by beginning with a hazard analysis to identify potential dangers and eliminate them, you buy the best and latest styles in PPE so employees will wear them, you make housekeeping a priority and keep a neat and organized facility that looks professional and reduces trips and falls.  You have training classes and drills for any emergency whether medical, natural or man-made that you may encounter, keeping everyone prepared so they know what to do to survive.  You have weekly tailgate/toolbox meetings and a monthly safety meeting on a consistent basis. With all this effort and energy put into keeping your employees safe as you all try to walk down the “Green Brick Road of Safety”, is there really anything else that can be done to enhance their safety?  Yes, there is one more thing you can add that will help immensely and it’s staring right at you in the mirror.  It’s called Coaching/Leadership.  I will be using the term coach/coaching for convenience but you can just as well use leader/leadership.  After working for a company where shift managers were called coaches and workers were called players along with my love of sports, I happen to like the term “coach” much better.

The Golden State Warriors won the NBA Championship with basically the same personnel on the floor they had when they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs a year earlier.  They had assembled the talent and components needed to win and lord knows they had the fan base.  The only significant change to the team from last season was the coach and his staff.  You know the results, Steve Kerr (pictured above) earned his first NBA Championship and I’m here to say to you, you can have the greatest player in the world on your team, but without great coaching/leadership your team won’t achieve the goal. 

That’s why coaching goes well beyond training.  When training an employee you are teaching them a specific skill set, a routine or procedure like how to drive a forklift, how to properly lift a box, or how to handle a liquid spill.  However when coaching you’re building people into great employees by communicating positive feedback on performance improving their self-esteem, building confidence and increasing their knowledge so they are successful at accomplishing their assigned tasks and goals.  I believe the seasoned operator knows his machine better than anyone else, in fact some really good ones know just by the sound how well it’s running.  Some companies allow only maintenance personnel to make adjustments or change overs on machinery.  I find this can waste time as maintenance personnel can often be tied up on several planned projects while trying to put out many fires.  We were allowed to experiment on our shift since I wouldn’t shut-up about it and by allowing the machine operators to make those adjustments and change overs to their machines we experienced an increase in our production numbers and a drastic reduction in down time.  The workers were given an opportunity to have a voice and feel good about being part of the solution and that happens when the coach listens.

Bruce Bochy - S.F. Giants

Bruce Bochy – S.F. Giants

Coaching corrects behavior or performance issues without the threat of punishment which should only be used as a last resort.  A coach sets the standard of ethics and morals that everyone in the facility will be following when it comes to safety, performance, professionalism and how to treat and respond to each other.  A coach sets the level of tolerance for infractions and consequences geared to help the employee improve not just fail again. A coach does not allow employees to engage in horseplay or distracting behavior of any kind while working but gives time to talk and provides a means to blow off steam and reward their efforts.  A coach is an advocate for their employees and shows them, “Yes, they can do it” when helping them learn a new skill and improving their ability to earn more income and a coach makes sure they themselves always sets an example for all.

As in any sport or job a coach makes sure you’re prepared for the upcoming match and ready to execute the game plan with the man power, equipment and supplies required.  A coach begins each work day with a morning huddle to keep you informed, focused and motivated so you’re confident to; elevate your level of performance.   A good coach knows that they need to counsel employees in private, praise them in public, brag about them to the upper brass and to engage staff, listen to their feedback which can result in growth and continuous improvement for them as well as yourself.  Above all a great coach knows to always say thank you for a job well done.

A coach creates and sustains a culture and atmosphere that is conducive for learning and where employees can feel free to ask questions and freely engage in the exchange of ideas on workplace safety, improved equipment maintenance or in obtaining better production results without fear of ridicule.  I’ve seen the other side of the coin in one plant I worked. The department manager couldn’t figure out why we were having certain production issues and never bothered to engage the staff or listen as he would shoot down every idea as “stupid” or “that’ll never work” and then dismissed everyone by putting them down like they were idiots.  He never could see the answers because he closed off communication and began to blame others for the problems.  It was killing moral, production was dropping, sick calls increased and it made for a bad situation which led to bickering between him and other department managers that were also affected right on the production floor for everyone to watch.

A coach delivers timely tailgate/toolbox meetings, interesting monthly safety meetings that involves the staff in presentations.  The coach should almost always direct his team from the playing field itself and not issue commands entrenched in an office behind their desk. A coach knows they need to be on the floor so they can encourage, critique, answer questions as well as observe and document the good along with the bad to develop and offer obtainable goals and objectives to help you grow and retain these employees you’ve developed but even then there is no guarantee they’ll stay as great head coaches from successful NFL teams tend to spawn future head coaches for other NFL teams.  That in itself can be very satisfying.

Whether you are a manufacturer of red ruby slippers or a flying monkey pet food distributor while you lead your company down the “Green Brick Road of Safety” and the Scarecrow forgets to wear his PPE, or the Tin Man has a hazardous liquid spill or the Lion frets about training on a new piece of equipment and the accident prone Wicked Witch creates havoc on the shop floor, don’t bother looking for the man behind the screen as you can always spot the coach on the floor. They’re the one looking cool, collected, assessing the situation, reassuring and encouraging everyone and keeps things going without so much as skipping a beat.  So you see the COACH is the glue. 

Golden State Warriors - 2014-2015 NBA Champions

Golden State Warriors – 2014-2015 NBA Champions