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.

TIPS

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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Secrets of the Professionals Revealed That You Can Use at Home.

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Companies spend thousands of dollars each year on sanitation and pest control along with thousands of hours on the training of personnel to properly handle those tasks or spend hours screening and evaluating outside contractors.  Either way, they want to provide the highest level of quality to ensure the best product produced.  The fabulous news is I’m going to share with you their secrets that you can do in your home. 

The professionals know that when the weather changes for the worse or nearby vacant fields are disturbed by construction or an idle facility comes to life, the displaced vermin will find a new place to call home and raise a family but by following these professional tips they won’t find your home a hospitable place and it all begins with the walk around.

The walk around is critical to maintaining any facility.  It’s your way of being proactive, finding what needs to be repaired and getting it done in a timely manner while getting a little exercise.  Walkarounds should be conducted consistently and once a month is an excellent schedule.  Walk the entire perimeter of your home, looking for and making note of the points of entry from the vermin’s point of view.  You are looking for small openings, any small cracks or holes should be noted to be repaired as they don’t need much room to squeeze through.  A mouse can fit through a hole as small as 2 cm/.787 of an inch. while a rat only needs a hole the size of a quarter to gain access to your home.   Also make note of any vegetation, weeds, shrubs or grass that’s abutted up to the house.   That should be cut back or removed since it’s providing cover for the critters.  Are there large gaps underneath the doors to the outside like the side door of the garage?  Is the area where your trash cans/trash bins are stored free and clear of trash, scraps, and clutter and are they sealed properly keeping trash secure from critters?  Take care of repairs right away as procrastination will set you back and create more problems.

Now you’ll do your walk around inside the home.  Again look for openings around valves and pipes under sinks, the furnace/ac, and laundry room.  If they get into the garage and the walls this is how they’ll enter your living areas.  After identifying your problem areas get the needed materials and do the repairs and hole filling immediately.

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To resolve the problem of a large gap under your side doors you can purchase and install a Door Sweep.

 

 

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Trap set by garage side door.

Now, with that accomplished, we’re going to add an extra level of protection by setting traps in different areas not just to trap those unwanted guests but also to alert you if the problem is remaining stable or getting out of hand and needs more attention.  I tried different traps and found some more effective than others.  There is one covered trap, to spare you from seeing the dead, that is the worst with a 40-50% kill rate.  The best trap I found that never missed a beat with a 100% kill rate was Ankace Power Rodent Killer.  I have 6 traps set up, one on each side of the garage roll-up door, one by the garage side door, one on the side of steps leading into the house from the garage, one under the kitchen sink and the last one in the heating/ac closet.   IMG_1818

If the idea of traps bothers you then you can buy bait traps and place those in the same locations as you would the traps and also around the outside of the house.  I have a combination of both around my house.  I also keep non-latex gloves and zip lock bags on hand for those times I have to clear a trap, which by the way hasn’t happened in quite a long time.  If you are doing everything else right you won’t be emptying traps every day and as I said before, the traps are also an alert that something has changed.  Once you have this all in place then set yourself a reminder and check the traps on a regular basis for activity, at least once a week.

Ever wonder how the professionals remember when to clean and how often?  They use a master sanitation schedule that is posted for all to see so they know when what and how.  Next time, we’ll show you how you can use that at home too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Companies Behaving Badly-Man Made

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This month Witzshared is featuring a guest blogger, Amanda from Shop Floor Automation.  If you scroll down you will find it right after this one!  Enjoy

Welcome back.  Hope your Thanksgiving holiday was magnificent

After 65 years of observation and information gathering while enjoying my ride on this beautiful world I have come to the conclusion that most of the problems we have are man made.  I don’t mean man in the sense of mankind, but the gender, male.  For over thousands of years, man has assumed the leadership roll apparently due to a dangling digit and have been making life decisions for everyone since then and as we’ve all seen they’ve done a pretty poor job.  Yea, I know, men were the hunters and had to deal with the dangers of mastodons and other wild animals but who do you think took care of cave security while the men were out on the town? 

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Even after women demonstrated they had the abilities to lead countries and great armies, like Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth I, Katherine the Great and Queen Daenerys Targaryen, (just wanted to see if you’re paying attention) man still kept power close to the vest and wouldn’t give women the credit they deserved and kept them from owning property, from voting and from being in a bar unescorted.  Then WWII came along and women stepped up and did a hell of a lot more then USO shows and handing out cups of hot joe and donuts.  They once again demonstrated their abilities by keeping the factories churning out munitions, tanks and planes.  They filled in as bus drivers, messengers, welders and pilots.  Then after a day at the factory they had to make due with rationed supplies of everyday food items.  The war ended and man expected everything to return to as it was but women wouldn’t forget about their taste of freedom.  The embers continued to smolder until the late 60’s and early 1970’s women burned their bras and demanded to be equal and why not?

We’ve been taught that one of the rallying cries at the beginning of American’s revolution was “taxation without representation”.  We dumped tea over it and then fought a war.  Women now account for 51% of the population and yet they are represented in the house and senate by only 19% women.  That’s “sexation without representation”, another good reason for a revolution.

Two of the best bosses I’ve ever had during my career were both women.  They were nurturing, understanding, communicated clearly, gave clear goals and the tools needed to achieve them and never micromanaged or blindsided me with bull crap.  They allowed me to grow and develop with their input, unthreatening approach and evaluations.  In all those years working with them not once, was I inappropriately touched, offered a promotion for sexual favors or saw them in a towel let alone invited to their home alone.  They never made comments about how I looked in jeans or how my hair smelt, they never once expressed how they wanted to pound the guy on the forklift, they never wondered out loud how a worker would be in bed or if they wore boxers or briefs.  They respected me for me and what I could do for the company, not what favor I could do for them because they understood if I succeeded it made them look good.  I can’t say the same for most of my male bosses since they would usually get tangled in their egos or too busy marking their territory to listen and usually sizing me up not as a potential collaborator as my female bosses did but as potential competition.

'What took you so long?'

‘What took you so long?’

I’ve had some good man bosses but I can’t tell you how many times male supervisors or managers felt the need to discuss their hypothetical situations that involved women whether they be employees, vendors, delivery drivers or neighbors.  At one company, it was within days of working there I was told all kinds of rumors from several sources about one specific manager who was taking advantage of female workers.  Everyone knew about it but little was being done to stop it, just like in Hollywood, because he had power and was getting the job done and making money for the company, even though he was a pig and managed with intimidation, back stabbing and lying.  The company dragged their heels on doing something even with the few complaints filed for his behavior, his off color jokes, his use of words that always reflected evil and hate.  Finally a manager from another department had had enough and waited for the right time and purposely barged into his office to find him in a compromising situation.  However, we were shocked, as true to their form the company terminated her but only reprimanded him, since for some reason they deemed this dirtbag necessary to keep the company going, which he wasn’t.  Then the dam broke and the internal uproar finally came as other folks in management positions in the company, workers and the union complained and threatened strikes and bad publicity.  The company finally had to do the right thing, terminated him and brought her back. 

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Later on in my career another man boss of mine would enjoy his morning cup of coffee in my office soon after the end of each quarter because he loved to brag about how his wife didn’t know he was getting bonuses and how he kept it in a secret account.  Not only did he not want to share it with her, but his bonuses were also a result of the work my staff and I were getting done and he never once bought us lunch or said thanks, but constantly micromanaged.  I don’t understand people who brag about being assholes but then he probably thought I was being one when I asked his wife at the company Christmas Party if they were going to travel with the bonus money.

I have been a very lucky person and have had some great experiences along with the bad ones over my life but my best friend has always been there to get me through them.  She also happens to be my partner and wife.  We’ve been together for 45 years and married for 41.  We compliment each other very well so if she sees the glass half empty and I see it as half full we smile since we know we have a full glass between us.  Even when we’ve disagreed or had a heated argument we’ve always respected each other and never stopped loving.  Through her I’ve learned to look at things from all sides before judging.  When something bothers her to the point it’s the size of a boulder (I love this analogy) but could mean very little to me like a pebble, it would be easy for me to dismiss her feelings.  That would not work well and kill any further communication and my relationship.  So instead I’ve learned to look at it as an obstacle (of various size and shape) and listen, allowing her to express her feelings and concerns and vent, then we can discuss and move on to the appropriate level of fear, concern or paranoia or if it’s part of the overall un-named conspiracy.

There is a funny scene from the movie “No Time for Sergeants” when Pvt. Will Stockdale (Andy Griffith) sees a female officer for the first time and Pvt. Whitledge (Nick Adams) tells him you don’t worry if it’s a woman, you just see a captain.  Maybe that is something we can all try.  No matter who you work with just respect them for who they are because the packaging on the outside is not as important or valuable as what’s inside.  So be it man or woman, black or white, straight or lgbtq, atheist or Islamic, they are all people, unique individuals eking out an existence just like you and me.

But, if you do see something at the workplace, safety hazard, sexual harassment or bullying, don’t keep quiet because its not boys being boys, it’s much more serious then that.  NEVER keep quiet and say something!  Unfortunately however there are still companies that just don’t respect anything. 

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Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Like at this Wisconsin company hit with $1.8 million fine for ‘egregious’ blast that killed five.  I don’t understand why no one in charge is facing some serious prison time since there were 14 Willful violations found and as we know willful means the company braintrust knew how they were doing things was dangerous and could get someone killed but they couldn’t care less and now FIVE men are dead and leaving one young man, 21, with the loss of both his legs.  Sounds like manslaughter to me.  What disgusts me most is that 8 of the willful violations were repeat.  So they not only knew it was dangerous but were told to fix it and still didn’t bother.  Dust accumulation is not like the dust bunnies under your bed.  When there is enough particles in the air within a confined space, all it takes is a little spark.  Gunpowder is a great example.  A small pile of gunpowder in an open field when lit will only burn and smoke, it doesn’t explode but when you take that gunpowder and cram a space with it like a shell casing or a fire cracker when it’s lit, BOOM!  Dust explosions was also a risk at sugar refineries and that’s why they take special precautions to make sure there is not threat of an explosion.  You should also be wearing dusk masks and eye protection within that environment as well.

Dad’s death highlights gap between how OSHA polices government vs. private sectorI find this very upsetting and don’t understand why we can’t have universal safety program across the board.  Not so we can fine these companies and tell them how bad they are but to also educate companies about safety and review accidents so we can learn from them and do a better job of prevention.  When Tom Wooten a 56 year old was trapped between a tractor and the trailer and killed working for the Highway Department, instead of being investigated by OSHA the accident was looked into by the State Department of Labor who only visited the site and closed the case because municipalities don’t have to have OSHA come in.  What makes this stupid, is the fact that the state doesn’t seem to want to make safety a priority for their employees.  Wouldn’t you want to know how to prevent an accident from occurring again?  I know I would and most intelligent folks do.

Now for something new – This month Witzshared is featuring a guest blog from the cool folks at Shop Floor Automation.

Twitter Account @SFA_inc               shopfloor

Shop Floor Automations, Inc.
(619) 461-4000
www.shopfloorautomations.com

Byline: Amanda Rosenblatt, Marketing Coordinator at Shop Floor Automations

Safety, Productivity & Automation Go Hand-in-Hand

Our priorities in manufacturing often come down to money. Profits are important. ROI is crucial. Reducing downtime also helps to cut down on wasted raw material. But what about the safety of our employees?

The sad fact is that there are some employees who won’t make it home for the holidays this year, or will be having a rough holiday season, because of work place accidents that could have been avoided. It’s not something we like to think about, but it’s a harsh reality.

Employee Wiring Hardware

The manufacturing field is suffering from a skills gap, which is why protecting our skilled workers is of the utmost importance. We can also use automation to help fill in productivity holes while new employees with crucial skills come down the workforce pipeline.

When we mention automation, we don’t mean putting robots on the shop floor to replace anyone’s job. There are easy-to-use hardware and software solutions that can be implemented to help address certain safety issues on the shop floor.

We have handpicked some of OSHA’s Top Workplace Safety Violations from 2017 and suggest 3 automation solutions to help with these issues:

Height: Ladders were the Number 6 OSHA issue in 2017 with 2200+ citations, as well as the related issues of fall protection training (Number 9, 1500+ citations) and fall protection general requirements (Number 1, 6000+ citations).

Solution: One big reason employees may be getting up into high spots in an unsafe manner is due to cabling. It is likely a tangled mess, with an example being this photo we took from a customer visit. Not only is the fall from the height a problem, but what about the dust, dirt, contaminants, and animals that could potentially be hiding in here? Replacing all this cabling with a wireless program transfer system is one solution to help keep employees on the ground.

Make Sure Lockout Tagout is Implemented

Lockout/Tagout: OSHA reported 2800+ citations pertaining to improper lockout/tagout procedures, making it their Number 5 issue in 2017. When a machine is turned on while undergoing maintenance, it can lead to horrible accidents on the shop floor, including death.

Solution: With machine monitoring software implemented along with shop floor monitors, an operator can input a universal note stating a particular machine is to be left undisturbed. This note can be updated in real-time and is available across the whole shop floor, which helps not only with safety, but with machine utilization. This means other operators can find another machine to move a job to until further notice or update the customer on changes in order status.

Bad Cabling for Shop Floor

Electrical Wiring Methods: OSHA stated electrical wiring methods was their Number 10 issue in 2017 at 1400+ violations. This covers a wide range of issues, so consulting with an expert is your best chance at avoiding an electricity-related accident.

Solution: Have a manufacturing integrator evaluate how your machines are connected. A properly trained technician will be able to correctly configure surge-suppressed hardware, for example. These experts can often help you save more energy while pointing out potential hazards you may have overlooked. They can also provide you with cables that are properly shielded and can stand up to caustic environments.

About SFA: Shop Floor Automations is a manufacturing integrator based in San Diego established in 1998. We service all of the USA plus parts of Mexico and Canada. We are on social media on Twitter @SFA_inc, as well as on Facebook, YouTube, & Instagram under our company name. Call for more info at (877) 611-5825 or Email info@shopfloorautomations.com

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Thanks for taking time out of your busy day to stop by and check us out. As you prepare for the holidays, it’ll be busy and hectic so please don’t drive distracted or with a buzz.  You want to get to and from Grandma’s house.

Never keep quiet about safety for the life you safe may be your own.  Until the next issue.

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A Surefire way to improve your chances of survival – Emergency Kit

 

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It’s a wake-up call.  One humungous wet, windy wake-up call.  When hurricane Harvey blasted into southwest Texas leaving extensive damage and flooding, the scale of which is all most beyond comprehension.  Then hurricane Irma took the spotlight unleashing her fury on the Caribbean and Florida.  This is very sad and horrible on so many levels of loss and human suffering and now people who decided to ride out the storm in the keys are stranded, cut off from the world without food, water or power.  I’m sure when most of you heard that, you said to yourself, “Really need to put that survival kit together.”  A fabulous thought that will unfortunately fade along with the coverage of the epic catastrophes until it becomes “Texas, Florida a year later” and then again you’ll say, “Really need to put that survival kit together.” and then one day, the dam breaks, the fires burn rampant, the earth shakes, rattles and rolls.  No kit!!  Now, did you have a plan B?

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Did you notice how fast conditions on the ground changed, from dry to chest high water and did you also notice how with a slight change in direction, Irma hit areas that thought there were originally safe?  That’s how natural disasters work.  No warning, no how do you do, no pleased to meet you, just HERE!  If you think I’m going to use these disasters to motivate you to prepare and give yourself the advantage to survive something like this, well, you would be correct!  You never know when an earthquake is going to hit, you don’t know how bad it’ll flood, you don’t know where the twister will touch down, you just don’t know.  That’s why we buy insurance, hoping to never need it, but very happy that it’s there and by preparing an emergency chest/barrel/kit will give you insurance to be able to survive the first week of an event, but hope you’ll never need it.

A lot of cities, of all sizes, struggle daily with their budgets and the cost of firefighters, police, infrastructure repair & maintenance, parks, and recreation, public transit, administrative staffing, courts, pensions, and lawsuits.  The level of city services are not what they once were and that includes the number of police and fire on duty at any given time and in the event of a natural disaster they would be immediately tied up responding to the hundreds of calls they would receive in the first few hours, (In Houston area alone they had over 75,000 emergency calls in the first four days).  They will triage the calls and handle the most serious including bleeding and severe trauma first, those with minor injuries will have to wait or treat themselves.  Depending on the conditions of the roads in and out of town, additional off duty first responders could be greatly delayed if at all able to report to work in the city or town they serve. 

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That’s why a survival kit comes in handy especially if you are able to stay in your home after the event.  After checking on those in the household the first thing you’ll do is a walk around your property and check to make sure it is still structurally safe to stay in and there is no smell of gas.  Now you can stay put and you have supplies to wait the few days until power and water come back online and life come back to normal.  Putting your survival kit together can be a fun family project and learning experience.  It’s also a great opportunity for a team building exercise for a company or safety committee.

My Survival Chest – This is what I used and put together for our home of two adults and one dog.  I was able to purchase just about everything on Amazon.com.  Use your imagination when it comes to the container and what you want to stash for an emergency. 

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A Rubbermaid 50 gallon capacity container, waterproof and made of sturdy plastic, it’s durable and on wheels, in case you have to move. Yellow so it can easily be seen.

 

 

 

Now, what items and how much of each do you need to put into your survival chest? Base the amounts to store on a worst-case scenario for your location and take into consideration how isolated is your location, are you within city limits and are there bridges and or tunnels to cross?  Next, how many people and pets are you planning for?  ie: Two adults and one dog?  Plan on 5 – 7 days of supplies since that’s about how long it may take before all utilities and services are restored. 

 

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WATER – Plan on 2 gallons per person per day. One gallon for drinking and one gallon for hygiene, sanitation and other.  Multiply 2 gallons with the number of people in the home and don’t forget to include water for your pets.  I have a mixture of bottled water and packaged sterilized water.  I would also add one or two of the straw water filter tools just in case things don’t get back to normal right away and you begin to run low on bottled water.  You can also boil water to sterilize it and if a fire isn’t possible, keep a small bottle of bleach in your kit.  It can be used for purifying water for drinking, 8 drops for a gallon of water, shake and wait thirty minutes.  

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FOOD – Any combination of what you enjoy of prepared camping meals, fruits and canned goods (make sure to include a can opener) as well as some of your favorite snacks, power bars and chocolate which will come in handy to help with the stress.  Don’t forget to store emergency food for your pets as well.

 

 

 

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RADIO/CHARGER/BATTERIES – There are several radio choices but the ones that come with a hand crank/battery/solar powered are fabulous.  You can leave it in the sun all day to charge or use the hand crank.  It also can be used to charge your phone.  The radio is both AM and FM as well as shortwave.

 

 

 

 

Flashlights/batteries/Candles and matches/fire starter – With no electricity, you’ll have to rely on flashlights, candles, and lanterns to illuminate the area.  This is very important for everyone’s safety especially if there is debris on the ground.  Never leave candles unattended.  Check the battery size requirements of all your items and store extra batteries in your kit.   

First aid kit/nonlatex gloves – A first aid kit can help you greatly for treating minor injuries.  If you need to treat a neighbor or stranger, the non-latex gloves will help protect you.

Sleeping bags/tents – If your home is not safe to stay in but you have a large yard in the front or back you may want to set up tents for protection from the elements.  Even if you can stay in your home, to help get the kids through this, set the tents up and pretend you’re on a family camping trip.  Also keep a tarp in your kit as well to help protect from rain or use to keep you off the ground or help move someone who can’t get around on their own.

Blankets/warm clothes – Natural disasters don’t care what time of year it is so be prepared and keep some extra sweatshirts, jackets in the kit along with blankets to those chilly nights.

Make sure to keep an inventory of what’s in your emergency kit along with the expiration dates of those items so you can replace them when needed.  Also, designate a meet area so you know everyone who was in the house or apartment is out.  In the event of an emergency, phone traffic will be crazy as people call 911 for assistance, family members calling to say they’re fine and family members calling to find out if loved ones are fine not to mention the possibility of downed cell towers.  I suggest you designate a family member who lives in another state as the contact person you can call to say you are fine and then let them contact everyone else about your status.  

You can get more information about how to prepare for a natural disaster or other emergencies by going to the FEMA web site at fema.gov and get stuff like an Earthquake Safety Checklist and other great information.  Check it out but don’t wait too long as it’ll be hard to research and prepare when you’re in the middle of a disaster.  Really, do it now!

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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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Companies Behaving Badly-Don’t AssUMe

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Surprise Quiz!  How many outside vendors and contractors are in your facility right now and what are they doing?  Do they know and understand your “rules of the road”?  Have they been told if food and drink is allowed, where they can eat, where they can take breaks, how and who to contact in an emergency, what PPE they need to where and where they’re not allowed to go?  If you are allowing outsiders to wonder your warehouse, plant, facility without any kind of safety orientation you are just looking for trouble.  Don’t assume (make an Ass of U an Me) that the contractors know and understand the safety policies in your company.  Take the time to cover with the workers themselves, the subtle differences and idiosyncrasies of your facility and understand the consequences that will result if they violate those rules and that will include being banished from the premises.
 As you will see in some of the stories below, very bad things happen when you don’t take the time to give onsite contract workers a safety orientation before working in your facility.  Let’s begin with an experience I had in this matter.  This one particular company had man-lifts through out the facility to move people between floors.  However if you had bulky items, toolboxes or other equipment you had to take the elevator, which took much longer to use since you had to usually wait a while for it.  We had some contractors come in to do repairs on a storage tank.  It was assumed by the powers that be that the workers knew how to use the man-lift and of course, murphy’s law reared it’s ugly head and one of the contract workers wound up falling the equivalent distance of two stories.  He suffered multiple injuries including but not limited to, broken ankles, wrists, arm and shoulder as well as a serious head injury.  The knee jerk reaction by the company, which had to be completed in one day, was that we had to retrain each and everyone of our shift by explaining how to use a man-lift, watching them complete one trip a floor up and one trip back down, then documenting this with signatures of affirmation.  The half hour or so of training given to the contract workers up front  would have avoided the many hours of a day taken away from production for covering asses.
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 Contractor dies in fall from power plant roof – A man died after falling from the roof of the NRG Indian River Power Plant in Dagsboro on Tuesday morning.

Preliminary investigation from Delaware State Police said the incident occurred around 8:11 a.m., Tuesday Jan. 31. Police said a male subject fell from a roof of the power plant on 29416 Power Plant Road and died as a result of the fall.  Was he wearing fall protection gear, was it properly tethered or did he think nah, I don’t need to waste time with all that gear for a quick job?  Make sure they follow your safety rules.

 

The same safety orientation needs to be offered to Temporary workers as well.  The safety of temporary workers is a shared responsibility.  To assume that these workers know how to respond to an emergency, or how to LOTO “that” machine or know how to ride a man-lift is irresponsible.  Don’t assume the agency has given them the necessary safety orientation as well especially those specific items that apply to only your facility.  Give them a chance to succeed and survive.

Safety orientation and training is also critical for your regular employees as this company found out. OSHA cites Marathon Galveston Bay Refinery on training.  The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a citation in January alleging Marathon Petroleum Corp’s Galveston Bay Refinery in Texas City, Texas, failed in 2016 to train workers in changes in the operation of a coking unit.  Really!  They apparently didn’t think it was worth the time and effort to make sure their own employees wouldn’t die if something went wrong, because, after all, what could go wrong?  OSHA also alleges Marathon failed to document training of the workers, according to a second citation.  The first thought that should go through your head whenever you put in a new piece of equipment, modify a piece of equipment, change a procedure or anything that chances the current practice, is the training you need to give before anyone begins operating it.  Your workers deserve to have a chance to survive any emergencies that may occur at work.

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Poor or lack of training is a great indicator of poor leadership which in turn gives you a company behaving badly.  When you begin to look closer beyond the lack of training you’ll see poor housekeeping, expired or damaged inventory, equipment in need of repair but still used at the risk of employee injury.  What’s even more disturbing is when those companies basic business is transporting people to and from their jobs like the Metro in Washington, D.C.  Union: D.C. Metro transit system has long record of putting safety last and BART in the San Francisco bay area, BART hits record low in survey of its riders It’s not enough to worry about safety at work, now you have to worry if you’ll get to work in one piece which brings me to the incident where two railroad maintenance workers were killed on the job when hit by another train.  We all figured it was just poor communication within the Amtrak but it seems to go even deeper and is very troubling.  The autopsies revealed that one maintenance worker was had cocaine in his system and the other tested positive for morphine, codeine and oxycodone.  To add to this mess, the engineer operating the train that hit and killed the workers tested positive for marijuana.  This is also an indication of poor leadership as it seems everyone needs some kind of drug to get through the day.  Read for yourself, Tests: Maintenance Workers Killed By Train Were On Drugs.  

Relatives criticize PG&E for 2010 pipeline blast that killed 8 and Iowa Spill Is The Largest Of Diesel Fuel In US Since 2010  Just two of the many reasons why we DO need regulations.  Also why not ask the over 4,000 humans who died last year in industrial accidents.  We can’t depend on companies self regulating themselves.  Look at PGE.  The asked for a rate increase so they could track and upgrade the buried gas lines in Northern California and instead they gave themselves bonuses with the money and then 8 people were murdered due to their indifference to human life.  You should also read this article as well,  Commentary: Regulation saves lives  by Jim Weygand.

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I’m sure you’re like me and am always looking for new and more interesting ways to train and bring safety to the forefront.  Here’s a great one and I love this. Lorry drivers trained on bikes in bid to cut cycling deaths in London.  Getting employees to see things from another point of view.  Maybe having forklift drivers walk around the warehouse and  working forklifts?  Call it what what you want, thinking outside the box or being a dreamer, anything that helps get the point across with a different twist is fantastic.

That’s it for this episode folks.  Training is the most critical aspect of safety.  You need to know how and what to do so you can go home the same way you arrived.  Thanks for stopping by and please, don’t ever keep quiet about safety, for the life you save may be your own.

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

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

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

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

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