Companies Behaving Badly-Don’t Do That

zohandon'tdothis

Welcome back and thank you for stopping by.

I’ve gotten a lot of advise on “what not to do” over the course of my life.  Beginning with my first ever safety training, don’t touch the stove when the burners are lit.  Then it was don’t play with matches and don’t play with dad’s lighter fluid, (my sister’s doll house was made of tin which made it resilient enough to hold up to the multiple times it was set on fire with the aid of dad’s lighter fluid).  As I got older the “don’t play with” advice became more indirect, but still telling me what not to do.  “Do you know the old woman in apartment 15?  No?  Good.  Don’t go there.  She’s crazy and eats children”.  “Do you know those guys on the corner?  No?  Good, don’t hang with them.  They’re bad dudes.”  “Do you chew tobacco?  No? Good. Don’t get started, it’s a nasty habit i wish I could kick.”  “Do you smoke? No? Good. Don’t get started, it’s a nasty habit I wish I could kick.”  You want a beer? Don’t drink? Good, don’t get started it’s a nasty habit I wish I could kick.”  I had a dear friend at the time, who offered me a paper bag with airplane modeling glue inside.  I declined, “You don’t?  That’s good and don’t start, it’s a nasty habit I wish I could kick.” He did eventually kick it, but not before the damage was done. 

A lot of people concerned about what I may get started doing but not why I shouldn’t get started except that it’s a nasty habit.that’s hard to kick and of course many of these well intentioned folks were role models that affected me for life.  “Hey. You a safe worker?  No? Good, it’s a nasty habit I wish I could kick.”  I could see Stubby, one of my dad’s buddies who owned a garage/gas station saying that.  He earned his nickname while working on a car when the spinning fan blade separated him from three of his fingers.  “You don’t want to get started on this.”  He would have been right, had he said that.

.peterpushbuttonIt’s not enough just to tell people not to do something, especially since some folks will do it anyway and don’t have to wait for a dare!  It also sounds very hypocritical with “Do as I say, not as I do” if not properly explained.  You want people to learn and understand WHY they shouldn’t do it by explaining what the consequences can be, how the hazard can be mitigated, does exposure need to be limited?  So I really don’t need to lose fingers in the process of getting the job completed?  The more you teach and educate a worker, the don’t do this morphs into “what you should do” to safely complete tasks while also building their confidence and giving you a better prepared and safer worker.  

When a near miss or accident occurs you do an investigation and determine if your training needs improving, the employee needs improvement or more safeguards are needed to be put into place but don’t let those events distract you from missing the little things that indicate change is needed.  When leadership is on the shop floor, listening, observing and walking in workers steps you’ll see if there’s an area where workers keep bumping their heads on a overhead pipe or the glue machine that heats up to the point it can burn your hand.  Will bump caps or padding the pipe help best?  Should I invest in gloves or talk to the glue machine company rep about the machine?  Open and honest communication between people, making a better and safer workplace.  Wow!  What a concept.

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Sugarloaf Owners Cited by OSHA Following Employee Death  Hazards lurk everywhere and sometimes the company leadership just doesn’t see the big picture from behind their desk, blinded by the glare from their computer screen.  Don’t overlook or fail to report little safety incidents like head bumping, cut fingers, burns to management and see if PPE is required to help mitigate these issues.  At one time, baseball players didn’t wear batting helmets and  hockey players didn’t wear helmets.  Now it’s pretty much mandatory for a safe work environment.  This is also where having safety committees can help as they can review these incidents and help bring in the best solution through open discussion and employee input.

When companies go through growing pains, unfortunately sometimes so do the workers.  Amazon has had a few bumps in the road,  Two Worker Deaths in September at Different Amazon Warehouses Spawn Concern from Worker Advocates.  Amazon’s success has made them everyones favorite target but two deaths in one month does raise concerns.  Then Amazon faces $28,000 fine after Indiana warehouse worker crushed by a forklift.  They found that Amazon didn’t provide adequate training and safety procedures weren’t followed.  These are symptoms of a fast paced, fast growing company where training is rushed and can be confusing.  It also sends a bad message when you say Worker Safety is important to Amazon and then pull a double standard mixed message of when it’s convenient.  I understand jobs are tough to come by and working for Amazon can be like hitting the jackpot and finding where they keep the soylent green, but if you’re not sure about something, ASK!  If your supervisor seems bothered or put out by your question then this may not be the place you want to work.  It’s your life.  You choose.

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Then Tesla, another successful company driven by one man, to make life better for all of us, well, maybe, except for their own workers.  Tesla’s Biggest Problems.  Running behind on production goals, increased injuries and accidents on the job what’s a CEO to do?  Fire as many as you can to send a message to workers that Safety First is just a slogan and has no real meaning if we don’t get cars on the road.  CalOSHA may have to set up a field office at the plant in Milpitas.  I have a problem with companies that blame their problems on the workers.  If you don’t properly train workers, if you don’t make safety a real priority and just say how important safety is, people do eventually see through the BS.  Then when you push the poorly trained poorly disciplined workforce they get exhausted working 16 hour days and accidents as well as sick calls greatly increase and the worst thing to do in a situation like that is come down hard.  Terminating people for your faults only tell me you don’t care about anyone but yourself.  Workers respond much better when they’re part of the discussion on safety and conditions.    

Being prepared means not just having the equipment and supplies to deal with an emergency but also checking and monitoring them to make sure they’ll be action ready when needed.  Make sure fire extinguishers, emergency lights and battery backup, eye wash stations, respirators and other emergency response equipment are on a regular inspection program.  The manufacturer is a good place to find out how often.  Don’t make excuses to put it off, this is critical to safety.  Otherwise you may find yourself making excuses in front of a jury.

Thanks for stopping by and checking this episode out.  We appreciate you all.  As some of you head out to points unknown for Thanksgiving and others prepare to entertain friends and family, please be safe in your travels.  Don’t let an asshole ruin your holiday, be patient and be prepared.  If you are feeling alone, depressed or hopeless please remember you are NOT alone and you can speak to someone who doesn’t judge.  1-800-273-TALK (8255)  There is no shame asking for help.

Until next month, Happy Thanksgiving.  Never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.

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Companies Behaving Badly-Practice What You Preach

Preacher

Welcome back. Happy Day of the Dead.

Practice what you preach!  That’s what I was taught as a child growing up on the streets of the Bronx back in the dark ages, (1950’s-60’s).  You practice what you preach, lead by example, do as I do!  So when I first supervised and told workers that their safety was important, I never allowed a corner to be cut for the sake of saving time or looked the other way during horseplay under the guise of boys will be boys.  I practiced what I preached cause I had to answer to one person and one person only.  Myself.  I had to be able to deal with the guilt if someone got hurt because I didn’t do or say something and I knew that wasn’t me.  So I took the path of practicing what I preached and was bullied, ignored, harassed, threatened and fired for doing so.  But I was also rewarded, promoted, appreciated and honored for taking that path at.  The path has always been the same, just different terrains, cultures and experiences. 

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So if we are going to practice what we preach, we can no longer be allowed to use the following phrase as an excuse, “boys will be boys”.  It can no longer be tolerated, embellished, chucked at, shoulder shrugged or eye rolled.  “Boys will be boys.” is no longer an excuse when someone is found at work joy riding on powered industrial equipment or using powered industrial equipment to perform dangerous acts well beyond the safe operation of the equipment.  “Boys being boys” can not only no longer be tolerated in a workplace that wants to have a respected safety program but in ALL aspects of life as it will no longer be an acceptable excuse to explain poor behavior.  Boys will be boys can no longer explain dangerous hazing rituals, drinking initiations or paying your dues.  Boys will be boys will no longer be used to explain inappropriate touching, verbal abuse and degrading of women.  You’d think by time you get to the age of adulthood and begin working for a living the practical jokes suffered in elementary school, the bullying of JHS and the initiations of freshmen and overall silliness of high school would be done.  Yet  it never seems to end, as boys will be boys.

So we deal with this like we do with everything else.  Our leaders decide we need new laws.  Not just any new laws but new and improved laws with teeth because the old laws didn’t work as well.  But as we all know, laws or rules or regulations are only as good as they’re enforced!   While the news media covers the making of the new laws along with the names of the brilliant leaders who give us the new laws, it tells us, they must be solving our problem.  I no longer have to worry since we have such great new laws!  Soon the fanfare dies down and the new laws are treated just like the old laws, lapses in coverage, uneven enforcement, not consistent for all and then those who are rich will get around the new laws and those that are poor will do the time, but then, thats just boys being boys.

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When Police officers and firefighters see something odd in a warehouse, like people living there when they shouldn’t, electrical wires and extension cords running all over and wall to wall junk no matter what the law, if they don’t say something, nothing happens people may die and even if they do say something and nothing is done up the line, again, the laws are useless since people still die.  It’s up to all of us, Men and Women working together to help enforce them.  We are people folks.  All born the same way and no matter what our packaging is, white, black, yellow or red we are all gray in our heads and red in our arteries and blue in our veins.  We need to protect each other.

One of the good things about practicing what you preach is you could prevent yourself from being blown-up.  Foreman didn’t follow protocol before Detroit explosion, manager says.  Sounds like a rookie mistake but the foreman, Anthony Tower, 62, had decided that even though he was trained and probably trained others to use water only to wash out the bin.  He wanted to give his two workers an important lesson on, do as I say not as I do, and took a metal shovel to clear the bin wall which created a spark and the following explosion.  Surprise!  Luckily no one died but they were all sent to the hospital for treatment with one worker sustaining bad burns.  As much as the foreman didn’t follow protocol, I have found that workers are lax on safety and procedure when the culture, created by management, allows it.  I say that because this company Northeast Agricultural Sales, Inc. was fined in 2014 for 10 safety violations after a bin collapsed and injured a worker.  Do it right the first time and live a happy life with all your limbs.

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When it comes to “practice what you preach” what is the time frame?  WV DEP found problems at Parkersburg warehouse earlier this year, records show.  If you didn’t know, the Parkersburg warehouse had burned for 8 days!  Yes, over a week and the smoke was toxic and no one knows what’s really burning since the company won’t say and probably have no idea themselves.  They were inspected by the state earlier this year and they found all kinds of violations that indicated continued problems at the facility such as their unsatisfactory general housekeeping while operations, maintenance and storage were found marginal and nothing was done.  Waste and pellets were scattered around the site, a diesel spill had not been fully cleaned up, deteriorating storage drums exposed to the elements as well as not submitted required monthly progress reports and still, nothing was done.  Two local volunteer firefighters had warned nearly a decade before that this could be a potential major fire and yet nothing was done.  Just boys being boys under the poor leadership of morally bankrupt morons.

When it comes to practice what you preach I find industry groups are the best at promoting their industry but the worst at telling the truth of the safety of their product or their own preachings. They say they don’t need no government watchdog but that they can regulate and monitor themselves and not kill anyone in the process.  The American Petroleum Institute just flat out ignored the problem when they failed to respond to concerns about oil train safety even after a town was obliterated from the map when 47 of it’s residents were vaporized by a derailed oil train.  American Petroleum Institute Failed to Respond to Concerns of Oil Train Safety.  Even though they supply the railroad with their oil cars they don’t care after that, it’s in the railroads hands and their problem now.  When we hear of the horrors of mass shootings or trucks running over as many people as possible we wonder how people can be so heartless to take a life yet we sit by and allow industries to put dangerous railcars on the tracks, store chemicals in reckless fashion, pollute the air and poison our water.  Fyi, it’s still murder, just a lot more subtle about it. 

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It’s always interesting to see how a company reacts to adversity.  When Tesla began to fall behind on meeting it’s production goals and had a rash of industrial accidents, so instead of looking at their safety and training program they,  Tesla fired hundreds of employees in past week.  Sounds like the way to go and just gives workers more reason to want the union in place to protect them.

Speaking of training,  The top five workplace safety issues faced by small Aussie businesses revealed.  Australia has rolled out new workplace rules and regulations and like with any new program the literature and training is not helping much as small companies are concerned about the complexity of the rules and constant changing along with the paperwork.  Let’s hope the government offers lots of patience and tolerance as people adjust.  Maybe a better way of getting the message out is in order as well.

Building a better death trap.  OSHA Investigation Finds Hazards Remain at North Jersey Warehouse.  What began as an employee complaint, OSHA came in and found blocked exit routes, blocked electrical panels and struck by hazards so they cited the company in February.  OSHA returned recently and found that just about nothing had been fixed and workers were still being exposed to hazards so this time they’ve been hit with a potential fine of $181,280.  It would have been much cheaper just to fix things in the first place but some companies just have to do it the hard way and that’s why you should never keep quiet about safety.  If it doesn’t look right and appears dangerous, then it probably is.  Say something and if you’re ignored called the OSHA hotline 1-800-321-6742.

Back quickly to Australia.  They are doing something that is happening more in this country.  That is giving out prison sentences if a worker dies due to company negligence.  Yes,  Industrial Manslaughter – Up to 20 Years Imprisonment and Maximum AUD10 Million Fine for Corporate Offenders.

  angerissueburning dIt is amazing that the San Francisco Bay area, teeming with entrepreneurial spirit, rich in investors, and near by silicon valley that we are saddled with two of the most inept companies.  PGE has had a vacuum in leadership for years now, as profits became more important then human lives and BART, the transit company that made dummy surveillance cameras and dummy transit cops a thing.  State agency slaps BART with a nearly $220,000 fine for worker deaths  Their continued lack of leadership earned them a $220,000 fine from CalOSHA for the deaths of two maintenance workers hit by a train.  The incident exposed BART’s horrible training program for new train drivers and the lack of communication about scheduled maintenance and repairs and protecting workers.

True trickle down economics, California style.  Legal marijuana causes warehouse rent to skyrocket in Sacramento – 4 or 5 times normal

That brings this episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close.  Thanks for stopping by and taking time out of your busy day.  Please feel free to use any of these stories at your next safety tailgate/toolbox meeting.  Safety is everybody’s job, don’t be afraid to ask questions, do your own research on the web.  It’s you life.  Until next time, please never keep quiet about safety, for the life you save may be your own.

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Companies Behaving Badly-Stupid Tax

stopbeingstupid

Welcome back.

Well, it’s official people, it’s fall season, oh and it’s the beginning of autumn as well.  As the Governments fiscal year ends, OSHA has published its listing of the top 10 safety violations and yet again, falls are number one.  I don’t get it.  With all the focus on fall prevention and all the fines handed out, there are still those that believe they can defy the law of gravity for the sake of saving a few minutes if not seconds and put their life at risk.  The problem is once you begin a fall and there is nothing attached to you to prevent this, depending on the height of your fall you will have time to watch at least part of your life flash before your eyes before it is suddenly jarred by the hard ground you hit.

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Even though you were told at the morning huddle to wear your safety vest while working on the roof and late at the site reminded to anchor your lines to the building you still unhooked yourself cause the line was holding you back from reaching and freeing the air hose that got caught up.  Now, without the tether line you can reach and begin to untangle the hose. Unfortunately, your over confidence minimizes the danger and you step wrong, slip and off you go.  This is not another scary  story but has actually happened to workers who are now just a memory of family and friends.  If you die, well I think you just paid the ultimate price for your actions but if you survive, shouldn’t you be charged a stupid tax?

Yes, the company is responsible for providing you with a safe work environment as well as the PPE and tools needed to accomplish that, so then, don’t you owe it to the company to give them a stupid free employee?  In the above scenario, your stupidity will cause the company to be fined by OSHA and go through an intense examination of practices, policies, procedures and all the documentation to back that up.  The site supervisor will be interrogated and maybe sued or face criminal charges, the companies worker comp premium will increase, your fellow workers who watched your death will get counseling and your widow and children will fight it out in a court of law with your employer as lawyers from both sides go back and forth deciding the monetary value of your life.

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But no matter what I say here, or your bosses tell you, or the videos show you, one of you is still going to believe they are immortal and work at a dizzy height without any protection or forethought, cause it’ll only take a second.  You survive the ordeal and laugh about all the hype and then laugh at people like me who go on about workplace safety.  However if that one time comes up, your number is up and you slip or trip or get carried by a gust of wind at least you won’t hear me say, I told you so, because, you’ll be dead.

So with that all said, the falls continue.  OSHA investigating roofer’s fatal fall from building in Ashburn  He fell 35 feet.  Plenty of time to reflect on the way down and guess what?  There was no evidence of any fall protection equipment being used.  His employer, STA Enterprises Inc., as you expect had no comment.  It looks to me that no one at the site took the responsibility to make sure Mr. Hrdlicka wore and used fall protection gear.  Look, we’ve been around this block many, many times.  If you’re employer, boss, foreperson or supervisor tells you to repair a roof, you say, sure, no problem but where’s my gear

and continue.  Fatal fall from TV tower is deadliest such plunge investigated by feds in 5 years  Three men, 23 year old Brachton Barber, 31 year old Marcus Goffena and 35 year old Benito Rodriguez who were employed by Tower Kings II, were replacing a antenna for a local television station when their scaffolding went out from under them plugging all three to the ground.  Hopefully the investigation will determine what went wrong but it’s a good reminder that you should inspect everything before using it.  The tower, the scaffolding, the anchor points, everything.  Don’t assume that someone has done that a head of time for you.

and continue.  Danbury man in critical condition after impaling himself on metal rod  This guy was very lucky as he was on the roof checking an exhaust fan and well, it was only 10 feet off the ground (OSHA max height is 6 feet before use of fall protection), what could go wrong?  Well, the goods news is he was prevented from hitting the ground when he impaled himself on a pole, which I can tell you is not the approved method of fall protection.  The lesson here is even with what seems to be a easy task can become dangerous if the correct steps and proper attitude are not taken.

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and continue, but the following is a practice that should never be tolerated in any facility, EVER and in fact, there are only two times where I’ve terminated an employee on the spot and in both incidents it was for doing this. OSHA warns about forklift-elevated pallets  One time the excuse given to me was that they couldn’t find the cage to use to properly lift an employee, they actually didn’t look very hard and the other time a temporary employee was convinced that being raised on a pallet was a right of passage.  No matter who tells you to climb aboard a pallet to be raised, a supervisor or company owner the answer should always be a resounding NO!  You can’t be fired for refusing to do an unsafe act.

Lack of training by companies doesn’t help the situation any and a recent survey confirmed this.  17 Percent of Small Business Employees Never Get Workplace Safety Training  If you think you’re saving money by not taking the time to do training you are not only kidding yourself but also putting your workers and your customers in danger.   Training is the most critical aspect of safety.  If employees don’t know what to do in an emergency it can lead to even a larger catastrophe and more injuries and deaths.  Just like safety meetings, training is something you can arrange and make time for, if you want too, without creating over time or other issues.  You just need to be creative and yes, it’s a little more work, but then, aren’t your employees worth it?

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Which brings us to this.  12 Sickened Following Chemical Spill At Mushroom Plant  What kinds of chemicals are used in your facility?  Are there reactions you should be aware of if chemicals mix?  Does you staff know what to do if there is a chemical spill?  Those first few minutes of a spill are critical as you try to evacuate and determine what you are dealing with at the same time and without any training, well, you may be as good as dead.  In this case all 12 were able to go home after being checked out at the hospital but sometimes in these incidents people aren’t so lucky as deadly vapors are invisible and sometimes odorless.  Make sure chemicals are clearly labeled and used in a well ventilated area and that workers are using the proper respirators if needed.  Also make sure to check and verify safety equipment like respirators and ventilation is in top working condition and serviced regularly.

Until science can change this, Death is not temporary, it is forever and temporary workers are human beings trying to make a living just like everybody else and should not be treated like tissues.  The article below is some fabulous reporting as to what this person experienced, going undercover as a temporary employee.  In most cases we don’t treat them with the respect we should.  I went undercover in a Toronto factory where temp workers have died. Here’s what I found  People should always treat people with respect.  You’d be amazed as to what can be accomplished with a little encouragement.

Well folks, that brings this episode of Companies Behaving Badly to an end.  Thanks for stopping by and please plan on doing what you can to help eliminate falls at the workplace. This is an epidemic that has gone on for too long and we have the knowledge and technology to prevent it.  At least until they can come up with a vaccination to cure stupid.  Take care and remember, never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.

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Companies Behaving Badly-Ritual Killing

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Welcome back.  Hope your labor day weekend was peaceful and relaxing.

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It seems to me that when people learn about ancient civilizations and their culture, when the subject of their rituals like human sacrifices comes up our reaction is to be appalled, disgusted, horrified.  “How cruel and barbaric!”  “That would never happen in a civilized world.”  Yet here we are in the year 2017 in a civilized world and every day, like a ritual, a worker is sacrificed while on the job in the name of corporate profits and no one is appalled, disgusted or horrified, for longer then ten minutes.   

 

The same companies that constantly complain how OSHA regulations and environmental regulations, are holding them back from greatness believe that they would do a better job of self regulating their actions then the government.  Yet they pollute and poison the communities that supported them with nice fat tax breaks while making record profits for their pockets by cutting corners on safety and by doing so, sacrificing workers.  There is more public outcry for a dog locked in a hot car, “there ought to be a law” then a worker who is burned a live on the job because his company didn’t want to waste time completely emptying the tank of a hazardous substance, oh, and they didn’t even bother telling him that.  Poof!  “He was a father of 3, isn’t that, oh but look at that poor puppy.

Luckily, there are many, many companies out there that care about their workers and make sure they have a safe environment to work in and nurtured with training, drills and respect.  They have painstakingly put together a culture of positive ethics and goals. What we need to watch out for and continue to call out are the companies that have negative cultures and personalities.

Like the company with a serial killer personality for a culture. Weeks after employee died, Blue Springs firm cited for again violating safety rules.  That’s right folks!  After Donald J. Meyer died on the job by being buried a live in a trench that was not properly shored up by his employer, Blue Springs Plumbing, the morons went and did it again, trying to kill more workers, as 5 weeks later workers were found in a trench without proper shoring.  An owner who has no care for the well being of his employees.  For these two acts of stupidity, the pending fine is a whooping $714,142 for 3 Willful and 4 Serious violations.  In my opinion, the owner should be facing manslaughter charges like in Boston.

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For what ever reason, the accidental death rate has climbed in a dying industry, coal mining and people with a conscience want to know why?  Latest coal death brings renewed call for mine safety action.  The latest death, a 51 year old coal miner, Owen Mark Jones was the 6th death in West Virginia alone, this year and 12th nationwide.  Can it be morally bankrupt owners taking advantage of the perceived laxing of regulatory enforcement?  You bet it is and with the appointment of acting Chief of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration filled by a person who as no experience in mine safety.   Just based on hearing that alone tells me things should improve greatly, NOT!  Now more then ever, miners need to watch each others back along with their union.

What does an accident waiting to happen look like?  It looks very much like the Crosby, Arkema plant.  Crosby Arkema plant had 10 violations OSHA considered serious.  However the problems here didn’t begin with Hurricane Harvey, they began over a year ago when OSHA found 10 serious violations and fined them $91,714.  OSHA says all repairs needed were completed but who knows how soon they fell back into bad habits. If you are working under questionable practices you can always make a call to the OSHA Hotline 1-800-321-6742 (OSHA).  You’ll not only be protecting your life and the lives of your fellow coworkers but the lives of the surrounding community.

No matter where you work, all equipment should receive some kind of inspection.   Whether it’s a pre-shift inspection of a forklift or a visual check inspection of the outside of a jet airliner, it is necessary to make sure it is safe to operate.  Failing to maintain lifts endangers employees, risks fines.  In fact the best practice would be to have all equipment scheduled for maintenance through a master schedule that details when and what needs to be replaced and to document and record all repairs made and by whom.  The information is readily available from the manufacturer. All you have to do is make sure it gets done and avoid making silly excuses.

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Apparently in California, two wrongs don’t make a right but it does make an award. Riverside CA Security Guard Injured by Forklift Receives $16.9 M Jury Award.  Even though the security guard was wrong by his actions, the forklift driver’s lack of checking behind him before moving was considered worse and so the monetary award.  Go figure.

If you still believe that the company forces you to wear PPE just so you look dorky, then maybe this story will change your mind. 15 Reasons Why Wearing A Helmet Is Always A Good Idea  PPE is specifically designed and manufactured to protect your body parts so you can do the job safely.  There is no excuse not too.

Well folks, that brings another episode to a close.  Think about becoming a safety advocate at work.  It’s easy to do by joining and becoming an active member of the safety committee, participating in safety meetings and mentoring younger workers.  Working together we can keep each other safe.  Never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.  Until next time.

 

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Companies Behaving Badly-Delusion

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Welcome back for another episode of Companies Behaving Badly and the dog days of summer.

I must tell you all, I’m confused and maybe getting delusional.  It began with my very first job at 14 years old, working for my uncle who had a store in a Bronx neighborhood that sold curtains, drapes, linen, bedding, bathroom items and so on.  Until I started working for him, I had only dealt with my uncle at family gatherings, weddings, bar mitzvahs, funerals and holidays and he was a really cool and kind gentleman who never raised his voice.  However, the man I saw at work was not my uncle as he transformed into a loud, barking first Sargent and I’d cringe when he’d yell at a employee for making a mistake.  He freely used words that I had only recently learned in the school yard, they weren’t like your usual motivational words of today, but they were back then.  Nobody cared about your feelings, men didn’t cry, it was about just getting the job done right, the first time and if you couldn’t take it, then git!  Training was not part of the plan then either, you watched someone else do it, until you were deemed ready and God help you if you weren’t ready to fly, the feedback was brutal.  Are you stupid?  How many times do we have to do this?  They said you were smart?  My Grandmother got this in five minutes, I don’t know why they hired you?  I thought (insert ethnicity of choice) were smarter, stronger or faster then that?  I was lucky, my uncle took the time to personally train me how to gift wrap packages, I was family.  This is one talent that has always come in handy and still use to this day.  Bosses lead by giving you a swift kick in the ass, like that was suppose to help get your brain in gear and bawling someone out in front of their peers and calling them all kinds of names with threats of termination for their stupidity was employee feedback of the nth degree.  It was odd since socially, people were very polite to one another, said please and thank you, may I and excuse me.

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Years later when I began working at a local supermarket, my training once again was watching others do something until I got it, OSHA still wasn’t established yet and where I heard the immortal words, “you’re not paid to think.”  As it does, times changed and so did management styles as leadership became more of a coach then a two fisted task master.   The bosses I have had that were yellers and screamers were successful at their jobs, they met and exceeded goals, kept a safe workplace and spun hay into gold and now I was being told that they were wrong.  I was attending supervisory training classes that were contradicting all that my mentors including my uncle had taught me.  Threats and verbal abuse is not how you treat workers after all, we no want to develop people.  Be respectful of their feelings, communication instead of dictation, listen to their feedback as we want workers who can think on their feet.

It meant I had to change as well.

I have to admit, it was hard to change at first.  I enjoyed yelling at people and telling them what to do but the classes, training and feedback really showed me that this was the way to go with people.  So much so that I became an advocate and embraced this new wave of leadership to the dismay of many other supervisors and managers.  Thanks to open communication with my staff we slowly began to out produce other shifts and not only making goals but exceeding them.  Our incidence of machine down time drastically dropped as did the number of accidents and so did the amount of those who called in sick.  After 6 months people on other shifts started bidding to to join our team.  My crew consisted of whites, blacks, latinos, indians-(sikh, hindi and buddhist) and by working together, for a common cause, getting the product packaged, we did one hell of a job and that’s because they wanted to be a very big part of the process and they were, because they were treated with respect.

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Now after all these years of developing people through coaching, mentoring and leadership to improve retention, production, safety and work environment, I hear leaders going back to bully and threaten, using unflattering name calling an openly lying as well as refusing to take responsibility for their actions or pointing the finger at others just to be able to put a few dollars more their pockets!  That’s why I’m delusional right now.  No matter what one boss does, on another shift, another business or in a dumpy white house, always treat those you work with, with the greatest respect all the time and I guarantee when that other boss can’t deliver the goods because of his actions to staff, the company will jump in and they’ll eventually be fired.

When ever I think of poor leadership I always immediately think of the United States Postal Service.  USPS closes Pulaski post office citing safety reasons  What is so sad is that no one in management/leadership there had the brains to do something so a worker had to file a complaint with OSHA.  The heat in the place along with the humidity was stifling.  Now you see why I think that.  If leadership had looked at the problem and worked with employees they could have planned the shutdown better as well so as not to inconvenience the customer but that is also something they are not capable of.  At least at the New York Public Library main building, at the time I worked there, when the heat index hit a certain number, wish I could remember what it was, you were allowed to go home or keep working at time and a half.  I was very young so I would work for the extra money.  Too bad the postal union, which has been very quiet, to the point that I don’t think they exist any longer couldn’t get their workers extra money for working in those conditions.  Remember people, your employees make you look good so take care of them.

Here’s a company that has no respect at all for it’s employees. South Jersey Manufacturing Business Cited Again For Safety Violations: OSHA  Aluminum Shapes LLC. is so concerned about employee safety that after workers entered a tank to drain sludge containing dehydrated sodium hydroxide, aluminum oxide and decomposed metal and experienced chemical burns on their skin, their supervisor sent them back in, which put one worker in the hospital.   Then another employee broke his pelvis after getting caught between unguarded moving parts.  As you’d expect instead of taking responsibility for their actions they blamed OSHA and the news media.  YEA! OSHA and the news media forced their workers into the tank.  What morons.  To top it off, OSHA found a total of 51 violations and a proposed fine of $1,922,895.  Sounds more like it’s managements lack of leadership is the fault.  Never keep quiet about safety.  If you run into a company like this and they are not listening to your concerns on safety, make that anonymous call to the OSHA HOT LINE at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).  Your life is NO less valuable then your bosses.

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Another company that has no respect for workers, OSHA slaps Bay Area Athletic Club with $195,000 fine  This is over an emergency eyewash and shower station.  The original violation goes back to 2015 and it’s costing $300 a day until it’s fixed so the total penalty right now is at $574,110.  The jerk who oversees this company, Mark McPeek won’t spring for the eye wash even though his employees handle hydrochloric acid, sodium hypochlorite and other extreme pH chemicals.  But not surprised since he can’t mange his way out of a paper bag.  His excuse to not having mandatory safety meetings is 1-he doesn’t want to pay people for spending time in meetings and 2-He said it’s too difficult to coordinate the meetings for the different shifts.  What a lazy man, I had no problem coordinating monthly safety meeting for 125 people over 3 shifts.  You have to want to do it an well, when you don’t care what happens to your staff, you don’t want to.  Don’t understand why they haven’t shut this business down.  

This is an issue that needs to be addressed as I suspect there are companies who are taking advantage of workers who don’t speak english well or are easy to threaten to do unsafe work.  Lawmakers call on Acosta to address Latino workplace deaths  Latino workers have a 18% higher death rate on the job then the average worker.  It’s not because they’re more careless or less intelligent, it’s because they are not treated as well as other workers by some employers.  All people matter as do their lives.  They deserve the same fall protection, PPE, safety meetings and training as any other worker.  Si ve a alguien siendo intimidado o amenazado con hacer un trabajo de manera no segura, no se quede callado. Llame a la Línea Directa de OSHA 1-800-321-6742

Training is the most critical element of safety.  People need to know how to do the job, how to respond in an emergency and a drill helps reenforce that training and help deal with when the unexpected happens.  In pictures: Laois fire crews train for farm accidents  and the city of Bowling Green Fire Department has adopted new policies addressing a variety of issues including workplace pranks.  City adopts new operating procedures for fire department  There is no place in any job for horseplay.  It’s usually all fun and games until someone gets hurt, someone gets denied workers comp, someone gets angry at someone else, lost productivity, damaged equipment and so on.  There are other ways to have fun on the job.  This is also cool since it’s great to see them reviewing and updating their policies and procedures which is something you should do annually as well.

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This is troubling, EPA Decided Preventing a West, Texas-Style Accident Wasn’t a Priority. So 11 AGs Are Suing  Yes, that’s right.  If you live near a chemical plant the EPA, charged with protecting the air you breath and the water you drink has decided, well if it blows up, it’s your bad for living there.  Right now the special interest are more concerned with making profits for themselves and supporting friends to become rich and they’re hedging that with your lives.  However, there are people who care and right now 11 Attorney Generals of 11 states are suing the EPA to make it right.  Don’t sit back and wait, encourage these AGs and your politicians to fix this by writing them a nice letter that you’d like to live as long as possible.

Then in Wisconsin, they are so desperate they’re waving all environmental laws just so foxxconn can build a plant.  Wisconsin Governor Calls Special Session On Foxconn Deal and offer 3000 jobs to locals.  The intensions are good but as you know the road to hell is paved with good intensions especially when you jump without really looking.  Jobs are important but so is living.  My main concern, when we rush to fast is that there is the potential to wind up with another love canal. (google it)  Then we can ask over and over, why?  Were the tax breaks and the amount of jobs worth the mounting medical expenses generated from all the cases of cancer and other illnesses related to the poorly managed disposal of dangerous chemicals and materials.  I guess it all comes down to which side of the equation you’re on.  

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It’s HOT.  Seriously, some of you are having some wicked high temperatures.  Don’t be an asshole.  Allow a few more breaks then usual so they can hydrate.  Don’t kid yourself, high temps can kill you-  How berry pickers, construction workers can beat the heat this week  Set-up rehydration stations near where the workers do their thing.  When they’re working in really hot conditions be a nice guy and get some bottles of Gatorade. Increase the flow of air, big ass fans are nice and if your doors and dock doors have screens, keep them open.  

That brings this episode to a close.  Safety is just as much your responsibility as it is your supervisor, manager and employer.  One way to stop accidents to to say NO when asked to perform a dangerous task without the proper support of PPE including fall prevention gear, retrieval gear and other safety equipment or one you have received no training to perform. Never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.

KNOW THE SIGNS OF HEAT EXHAUSTION

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Nursing Education Consulting Inc.

A Complete Guide To Warehouse Safety – Volume I – Begin With Basics

 

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As Dorothy emerged from the modular office she looked around for any signs of life.  A moan, a groan any sound would be nice even the sound of Pete’s voice but where the heck did she land?  “Are you a good inspector or a bad inspector?” the voice from the bushes asked.  Dorothy was happy to hear a voice but also startled as she thought no one to be around.  Who’s that Dorothy yelled?  As she emerged from the brush she again asked, “Are you a good inspector or a bad inspector?”  I’m not an inspector at all, I’m a machinist.  “Are you sure?  You’re not here to find out why that module fell out of the sky and landed on, killing the wicked inspector of the east?”  Dorothy walked over to where she pointed and to her horror saw two legs, wearing work boots sticking out from under the module.  OMG! That’s not my fault, the tornado dropped me here.  “That may be, but when the wicked inspector of the west finds out what happened you’re sure to be in trouble.”  Trouble!  I didn’t…I don’t want trouble…I want to go home.  “Well my dear, you’ll have to go to the Emerald city and see the head of OSHA and report this incident. You only have 24 hours to do so and a long journey ahead so I suggest you don’t delay and begin right now.  First, those ruby steel toed boots will help protect and ensure a safe journey.”  Before she could blink an eye, the work boots that were on the dead inspector of the east were now on Dorothy’s feet.  But how do I get to the Emerald City?  I don’t even know where I am now.  Smiling and shaking her head, “Dorothy, it’s so easy, just follow the green brick road of safety.” 

As Dorothy will tell you the green brick road of safety is not a fairy tale, myth or urban legend. It is a real path that YOU, the staff, management, facility, outside contractors and company should be hiking along together.  To ensure a continuous and consistent safe working environment lets begin with basics.  

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You need to review your overall operation at least once a year, from the receiving dock to manufacturing to the shipping area including the outside area around your facility.  The best time to accomplish this is during your slow period or shutdown which varies for all as for some it’s after the holidays, and others during the summer or year end. The other times you should take a look at your operation is when opportunities like a accident, near miss or when new equipment, machinery or production lines present themselves.  Don’t wait, don’t put this off as it is easier to correct a problem now before it gets to far out of hand.  However, your good intentions, (which I’ve been told paves the road to hell) will mean nothing if you continuously make excuses as to why you put off doing the review. Sorry to keep stressing this but I’ve seen how procrastination can be a stumbling block to getting this done and then someone gets injured or killed.  Oh yea, we meant to fix that and now it’s too late.  OSHA is going over your records with a fine tooth comb and employees are with lawyers giving depositions who are then filling suits.  You want to avoid that.

Yes, I  know what it’s like and what’s involved and how each day can be hectic and challenging in a warehouse or manufacturing facility  but when you keep making excuses to put it off another day, you’re only kidding yourself.  That’s why, first work and develop your time management skills an give yourself a schedule with a plan with blocks of time and days you’ll work on this.  Remember, you’re in control and the one who manages your time.  It was one of the hardest things I learned to do but I was able to accomplish it.  There are books on time management that can help you but I found you have to want to do it and after 21 days it’ll become a habit.

Even though a job safety analysis is usually completed by someone trained and certified in the field of industrial safety and can be a in-house safety manager or an outside consultant, there is no reason as a manager, supervisor or employee you shouldn’t be familiar with the process and understand what a hazard is and why.  As you spend time on the shop floor, about 80% of your time, observing and being available to your staff, there’s a chance you may even spot a safety hazard and correct it long before it can become a problem.  Not all safety hazards are physical in nature like from moving parts or power source.  Lack of training is also a hazard to that employee, other employees and the company.  Review and update training records of your staff to make sure it’s current and compliant. Which employees have been trained on emergency shut off, handling liquid spills, containing hazardous spills, lock out tag out, shelter and place, forklift battery or propane tank change and maintenance and so on.  Make a list of who is lacking training in a specific area and those who may need a refresher.

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Now you can begin your walk around the facility and identify potential hazards.  The analysis starts as we watch and observe each movement and action an employee takes as they complete their assigned daily tasks looking for any source of potential damage, harm or adverse health effects on that person under the conditions at work.  Some are obvious as an open hole in the floor that someone can fall through, missing railing to prevent falls, exposed wires.  In addition are there moving machinery parts or conveyor belts in close proximity to them?  Any piece of equipment, machinery or conveyor system that is operated by or near working employees, needs to be checked for pinch points, inadequate or lack of guards from flywheels, gears, shafts, pulleys, keyways, belts, sprocket chains and any other moving parts as one can easily get a shirt sleeve or limb caught in those moving parts and pulled into the machinery. For the equipment that requires to be fed by hand, oiled, adjusted or requires maintenance, do employees know and understand LOTO procedures, (Lock Out and Tag Out) before performing any of those tasks.  As employees manually load machines with labels, cartons and tape or physically move product to a pallet, are they over reaching to grab an item (strains), are they off-balance or have incorrect posture while they lift (back strains), and exhibiting other poor ergonomics like bending, or twisting the torso for long periods of time? 

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Some hazards may not be as obvious like poor air quality, leaking gases or dust particulates in the air.  What ventilation system or PPE can help that situation?  Forklifts, the workhorse of every facility unfortunately account for a large percentage of accidents and also cause at least 100 deaths a year in this country.  So when we begin our observations in the dock area where the most action occurs as items are delivered, shipped, cross-docked and put away. the main issues here involve forklifts being driven off the loading dock, forklifts striking or pinning employees, and products falling onto employees. These incidents are related to the following hazards; slick or wet floors (rain water, other liquid spills, ice) that is not cleaned up immediately, improper use of forklifts, including excessive speeds, not honking horn coming out of trailers or at blind intersections, trailers pulling out of dock while unloading is still in process, not paying attention while driving, improper stacking or over stacking of product, use of broken wooden pallets, forks left raised in air while moving product and striking overhead fixtures or my pet peeve, horseplay.  Warehouses are just as much in need of professional behavior and the front office.  There is not room for horseplay or other immature activities as people usually wind up hurt.  If there is time for this kind of behavior in your facility, then you then you’re over staffed.  

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Which bring me to, establishing and enforcement of the rules of the road at your facility and again, the rules only work when they  are enforced so the consequences for infractions must be clearly spelled out including those for horseplay and should not only cover your employees but outsiders like truck drivers and vendors as well.

Now as you walk around the remainder of the facility be sure to check in the battery recharging room or refueling station. Do you have an operating eye wash station and/or shower to deal with acid spills on a individual?   There is always the chance of an acid spill from a battery charged immediately after refilling with water (not proper procedure). Does the battery room have a venting system to prevent vapors from accumulating and creating a possible explosion hazard. Is there a spill kit and PPE available such a goggles, face shield and gloves? PPE, (Personal Protection Equipment).  In fact, any task an employee does in the warehouse ask yourself is there any PPE that’ll make the job safer to perform? Besides goggles, gloves, ear plugs, bump cap/hard hat, face shield, dusk mask, what would offer better protection?

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Continue with your critical eye now focused on fire safety. Make sure fire extinguishers or fire hoses are accessible and are NOT blocked and overhead sprinkler heads are not being used to hand signs or are damaged.  Are the extinguishers clearly labeled at there location? If there is a label but no extinguisher either remove the label or get an extinguisher. Have the fire extinguishers and sprinkler system been inspected within the year and in working order and are the hoses properly rolled and encased?  More items to check: emergency exits not blocked with materials, exit signs light up, emergency lighting works, electrical panels not blocked, poor housekeeping habits like wood debris & trash on floor. Are storage areas full of clutter and disorganized and how are you storing those flammable liquids? They should be stored separately in a clearly marked metal cabinet. Are aerosol cans, parts and tools piling up at workstations or the window sills and floor? Are walkways free of clutter? High pressure hoses clearly marked? Is there a particular spot where you can bump your head, cut your hand or trip and fall? You see, depending on your operations, the hazards can be numerous!  Lastly but not least, are there plans for any new equipment or production lines to be installed in the upcoming year?  When installing new machinery get input from your workers, don’t just listen to the vendor?  My experience has taught me this is a big mistake as they usually don’t take your facility and hazards into consideration.  When you install new equipment or upgrade machinery or change operating procedures, make it the habit to automatically do a job safety analysis to make sure your employees can continue to work in a safe environment. Make sure it’s not blocking emergency routes or exits and is additional PPE needed and most important, training on the new equipment and procedures.   Put the procedures in writing and place in a binder and then given to each employee.  Don’t wait until someone is injured, in fact another good source would be your insurance carrier or HR department.

The Green Brick Safety Road is a long one and Dorothy has just begun her journey. Please join us next month for the next segment of this experience.  

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Companies Behaving Badly-Dust in the Wind

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Welcome back.

Life. It’s such a precious commodity.  Each one of us is an original work of art and like snowflakes no two of us are alike (with the exception of twins (triplets and so on).  We each have our own unique personality, developed deep in the gray matter, our brain which is really who we are.  What ever vessel that brain is put into, a white, brown, yellow or green one, hopefully we contribute to making this world a better place for EVERYONE!

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However, we still are our own worst enemies.  No matter the amount of training, hours of instruction, years of experience and the little voice in the back of your head that you still ignore, you go out of your way to touch that third rail.  Just this once, really, just once.  It’s close to break.  Then as if that’s not enough of a reason as to why we’re our own enemy, there are still workers to listen to their terrible bosses who don’t care about their safety and accept putting themselves in harms way.  Some just do it, cause the boss said so.  Some are threatened with termination or being outted to ICE.

A boss can’t threaten you, it is illegal and they can’t force you to commit an unsafe act.  I’ve told a supervisor no, when asked to raise a worker standing on a wooden pallet using a forklift.  I knew it was wrong and so did he.  He did realize he was wrong as well, after I mentioned it wasn’t a good example for him to set.  Sometimes it works.  I know, you have a family to feed, you have bills to pay.  I understand, I’ve been there.  You can speak to your HR department or you can make an anonymous call to the OSHA Hotline – 1-800-321-6742(OSHA)   It’s your decision but may I ask?  Who will take care of your family if you are killed on the job?  Do you think the company will say you were a company man, he went out on the roof without his fall protection gear like a real man or will they throw you under the buss and say you didn’t follow the safety rules.  

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Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We won’t go into what makes people do some of the bad things they do like cutting corners on safety, (GREED) or not having proper PPE available or even not giving any training or instruction.  Companies headed by people like that will not think twice about putting a worker in danger for the sake of a few dollars more in their pocket.  This makes no sense and I’m sure if presented to Mr. Spock he would say it’s illogical, why?  After spending all that time and money on interviewing, selection and hiring, training, developing and promotions why would you put them out like a lamb to the slaughter? Well yes, a company behaving badly wouldn’t bother with the cost of training or a proper safety program.

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Speaking of those who sell their soul for a few pieces of silver.  Don’t tell anyone about the fire risks: Safety consultant hired to inspect Grenfell Tower urged council to hide failings – and he’s an ex-firefighter  Yes, that right.  A former firefighter and current safety consultant, advised his clients to hide the truth.  I know the truth has been a very inconvenient reality to some of late with so many alternate ones to deal with.  If you want to know the name of and what a scumbag looks like you can click on the story. He had the opportunity to do the right thing but chose not too and gave other advisors and consultants a black eye in the process.  You owe it to your client and the humans you’ll never meet to do the best job you can so they can enjoy their journeys.  Life is precious but apparently not all treasure the commodity.  It would be nice if the 80 souls lost in that horrible fire would visit him for one long night.  Remember, your actions do have consequences.  Can you live with them?

So is it a culture thing?  TECO accounts for nearly half of Florida power plant deaths, data shows  This company is not on the level of above but it is apparent that they do not have a good safety program in place and are not covering the basics.  When you look at all the power plants in the state and you are one worker death shy of half of them, you have a problem and usually it’s that a safety culture is not being supported by upper management, which means they need to be replaced.  Even two power plant safety experts said that 9 deaths in 20 years is unusual.  The company in their defense offered this time tested alternate truth in a statement, “Safety is the No. 1 priority at Tampa Electric.”  

Yes Virginia, dust can explode and kill.  In fact dust can kill two ways, the lingering death of lung disease from 20 years of breathing at work or the quick death of an explosion. The Next Phase In Industrial Dust Explosion Protection  When dust is allowed to accumulate around the work area or heavy in the air a tiny spark can blow you across the room and that’s why better ways of removing dust and reducing the exploding hazard is always appreciated and much needed.  

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Why training remains critical to safety.  When dealing with confined space there is very little room for error and why it is so important to have been properly trained, use retrieval systems and have constant open lines of communication.  During this month, 3 men died in Saipan when they were over come by toxic fumes.  When the first man passed out, it was human nature to aid a friend and he jumped in and was overcome.  The same happened to the third man.  3 deaths in manhole could have been avoided.  It’s natural to jump in to help but what are you jumping into?  The same with someone being electrocuted.  Your natural instinct is to pull them off the live wire, but that is not the way to go.  You need a non-conductive pole to pull them off to protect yourself and save them.  If they had the proper training and equipment they would have known this.  But what’s so eerie is back in January of this year, 3 men died in a very similar fashion in South Florida.  OSHA: Safety Failures Led To Workers’ Death In Key Largo Manhole  The company was hit with a proposed fine of $119,507, for three lives, after 10 serious violations were found.  Six lives lost because no one bothered to check.  People, wake up, please think before you react but if you know how, you can react better.  You can go the the OSHA website and find out what to expect when working in a confined space situation.  Learn for yourself how to stay alive.

The United State Post Office continues to have no problem putting their employees in harms way.  They forced them to drive forklifts that should have been out of service, they expose them to exposed wires and blocked emergency exits, the wouldn’t even allow them to call 9-1-1 directly when a medical emergency arose, and a man died due to this. Now they forced them to work in extreme high temperatures.  Richmond post office workers walk off job after working without AC  Employees working in the sorting and loading area where working under a heat index of over 100, (The Heat Index is a measure of how hot it really feels when relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature.)  To bad their union has remained deaf, dumb and blind.

I have no problem when it comes to awarding contracts for Federal, state, local municipalities that the companies safety record come into play.  After all, don’t we want the best working on public places?  Here’s one reason why.   Oregon hired a company to paint the Ross Island Bridge without knowing its safety record. Then a worker fell.

Well I think that’s it for this issue folks.  The good news in all this is that bad bosses and bad owners that don’t care about you are only 20% that create 80% of the problems and we know that thanks to Pareto’s principle.  You can take charge of your safety as well.  Read and Learn as much as you can and don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Has an atmosphere test been taken?   Is the ventilations system working?  Watch how an old timer works, what does he do?  Find a mentor or be one.  Join the safety committee and be an advocate.  Thee is so much you can do but most of all, be kind to one another, be ethical in your dealings and always be truthful.  Never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.  Until next month.

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