Companies Behaving Badly-Don’t AssUMe

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.
 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.


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.


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.












Companies Behaving Badly-Execution of Excuses

“In the military, as in any organization, giving the order might be the easiest part. Execution is the real game.” – Russel Honore

Happy New Year and welcome back to the first episode of 2017.  You know, you can have all the laws in the world on the books, you can have well written procedures laminated and posted all over the office, you can have a fantastic game plan drawn out and ready for game day but it all means nothing if you can’t EXECUTE it.  We’ve seen this a lot in 2016 especially in our cities, in mass transit and on the job, where laws and rules are clearly spelled out but no one bothers to enforce them or follow up and when things go south, then comes the litany of excuses, WHY!   We didn’t have the budget, we didn’t have the man power, we didn’t follow up soon enough, we need tougher laws but you don’t hear-we didn’t execute our job.  Unfortunately this trend is going to continue and probably get worse while you Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public will be the collateral damage to all of this. People will continue to die due to poor execution of duties and the excuses will continue to flow.  How much more are you willing to put up with, how many lives before you say enough?  Will it take the death of a loved one? 


I’m sure you’ve all heard about the horrific warehouse fire in Oakland, California that killed 36 and the initial knee jerk reaction was, we need to make new laws but if the current laws, rules, regulations had been executed in the first place, the fire and deaths may never have happened.  Your supervisor sees a worker on the job not wearing their PPE and they give you an excuse as to why not, they forgot, they left it in their locker or the dog ate it, you know the answer is bull shit but you want to be a nice guy, so this time you let it slide.  Well now the next guy or gal does it and don’t you have to let it slide again or you’re perceived as discriminating, picking and choosing who to protect?  You need to protect them all!!  Then later in the week, month or year when that worker is injured because you wanted to be a nice guy, who do you think is going to get tossed to the wolves by their lawyer?  YOU, Mr. Nice guy.  Now you know why Nice guys finish last.

As you will see in the stories below, without proper execution, people can get hurt and die so keep your employees and customers safe by executing the plan, uniformly enforcing safety procedures, policies, laws and rules then you don’t have to waste time making up excuses.  


First the bad news.  Workplace Fatalities Up Slightly Last Year – 4,836 human beings died in 2015 in industrial related accidents.  That’s moms and dads, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters.  Loved ones who were missed this holiday season.  This is the largest number since 2008 as fabricated metal product manufacturing as well as building and grounds cleaning and maintenance deaths jumped up the most.  That’s a clue people, we’re not executing properly!  NEVER KEEP QUIET ABOUT SAFETY.

Families of 2 Oakland warehouse fire victims file 1st lawsuits – So it begins.  The first lawsuits resulting from the Oakland warehouse fire are on the books.  The warehouse owner as well as the main renter and the city are on the hook and this is only the beginning.  More lawsuits to follow along with trials, editorials and hell of a lot of finger pointing.  Is it worth all this just to be a nice guy?  Who are you really helping with offering people space to live and work when you have overloaded outlets, over crowding, poor heating and ventilation and NO emergency exits?  Sure you feel good about yourself when you see their smiling faces while they paint and sculpt but how do you feel when you see their charred bodies burned beyond recognition?  Still worth it?  Enforce the current laws and stop making excuses as to why you can’t.  There is always a solution if you want to find it.

Rules are in black and white but enforcement of the rules has to have some common sense. Viral video sparks Indiana OSHA investigation – When I interview potential employees, I hire workers who can size up a situation, think for themselves and make adjustments accordingly and not quote why they can’t.  When it comes to safety you want to follow the rules but sometimes that is not enough as some rules are written by people who sit behind a desk all day and have never done the job or task themselves.  You want your workers to have the freedom to do what is required and then some if needed as in this situation.  Instead of thinking this may not be safe enough, the Comcast employee said he was following standard procedure: at least one cone for every ten miles per hour in the speed limit.  Workers like this will get someone else killed by their lack of awareness.  Based on my dealings with Comcast customer service, this incident didn’t surprise me as I find Comcast doesn’t do enough training of their employees and their hiring process needs to be vastly improved to weed out the morons.  If you find yourself in this situation, call your supervisor and tell them what’s going on so the procedures can get fixed before someone dies and leads to lawsuits and bad press.  


WA mining company fined for workplace safety breach – Here is another company that poorly executed and almost killed several workers because of it.  Their excuse was, the company was aware of the need to carry out regular inspections and repairs of the tanks, but they failed to carry it out!  They knew it but didn’t bother to do it, how stupid is that?How long do you think Coach Belichick would put up with a lineman who kept missing his blocking assignments and caused Brady to be injured and out of the game?  People this is easy.  You make a schedule of inspections, you execute that schedule without excuses and on days it gets missed due to unforeseen circumstances you make sure it’s resumed the next day and not forgotten.  Leadership has a big role in this as well.  If you know that management isn’t following up to make sure it’s happening, you won’t rush to do it. 

Ever wonder why it’s so hard to recruit workers for manufacturing?  This may enlighten you.  OSHA cites Wisconsin factory for safety failures after teen worker dies from injuries – A 17 year old boy, on the job for only 2 weeks died because his idiot employer couldn’t be bothered to train this young man how to execute proper L.O.T.O.  Would you put a soldier on the battlefield without weeks of basic training?  Do you think other 17 year olds believe this is a great way to make a living?  This young man could have developed into a fantastic employee and who knows what he would have contributed to make the company great but they thought it would be better suited for themselves just to kill him now.  You can’t execute a job without training and you can’t have a career without safety. If you are new to a company and don’t receive any safety training for your job call the OSHA hotline and make an anonymous complaint – 1-800-321-6742.  You life is more important then your bosses profit margin.

Kerry Inc. Cited After 2 Workers Suffer Severe Injuries At Bread Factory – Another failure to execute proper L.O.T.O and now two workers have amputations.  Well, LOTO can slow down the production line and hey, we can’t have someone wanting for a loaf of bread. When something goes wrong, that is an indication you may need to review your procedures but many bosses are just too lazy to do that.  It’s tough as it means more work, reviewing the job, rewriting procedures, retraining workers and follow up.  Very tough, NOT!  If you don’t care enough to protect your workers maybe you are more suited to be a grave digger.  How can you mess that up, they’re already dead!

This employee knew it wasn’t right and called OSHA.  Michigan auto supplier tops $400K in fines after state safety inspections – My guess is the issues were brought up to management and they either totally ignored him or just told him to shut up but he did the right thing and called and they found 19 violations!  This company didn’t execute a safety plan just tried to execute workers.  Again, never keep quiet about safety.

If you are not sure about a safety procedure, or you feel you didn’t get the proper training or you want to know what a safety hazard is begin with your union representative and ask, unless you work for the US Postal Service, who’s union has forsaken it’s workers, in that case you are SOL.  You can also speak with your supervisor, manager or Human Resources representative.  If your company has a safety committee you can bring issues to their attention and become part of the group.  If your company doesn’t have a safety committee, ask and maybe you can begin one.  However, if you don’t get answers, or you are bullied or threatened into unsafe acts at work then it’s time to put your safety into your own hands and call the OSHA hotline at 1-800-321-6742 (OSHA).  Never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.



Reduce Home Holiday Risk – Your Stove is a Diva

Your stove is very much like a Diva. When it’s on, it needs lots of attention to be happy but can become vexed in the blink of an eye.

You’ll be working with your Diva often during the holiday gauntlet, (the time period between Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day) and keeping focused and avoiding distractions while cooking and baking is key to a problem free relationship.  

Still, being prepared and ready for any flare ups and you’ve won half the battle if not more.  Also check and then keep the filters and collectors in your stove hood clean and free of dirt and grease as it builds up quickly with all the holiday cooking.  Highly recommend that you set a schedule of cleaning them every two weeks, like the pros do and you can set a reminder on your calendar.  Same for the stove top and oven, keep them clean and free of debris.  

Then of course you should also know the 3 ways to put out a grease fire.

– NEVER use water on a grease fire.

1 – Put a lid on it.  Place a lid over the pan on fire and remove the heat source. This smothers the flames by cutting off it’s oxygen.

2 – Pour baking soda on it.  Yes, that handy versatile box of baking soda can also add firefighting to it’s long list of uses.  It also smothers the flames. 

3 – Use your fire extinguisher.  Focus the stream on the center of the fire and sweep the area left to right and back until fire is out.  Sure you’ll ruin what ever was cooking but it’s much easier to replace a menu item then your house.  If at any point the fire begins to get out of control leave immediately,  close the door behind you as you exit and call 9-1-1










Reduce Home Holiday Risk

The time between Thanksgiving and New Year Day are fun and joyous but they can be dangerous as well.  As people are gathering, visiting, traveling, cooking and eating, make sure your home is a safe haven for everyone during the holidays and not a house of horrors.


RBMB – Safety Gap

While doing errands this afternoon, came across this accident waiting to happen which Really Burn my Butt.  Two parked delivery vehicles blocking a portion of the main lane in front of Safeway, creating a safety hazard, not just for the drivers loading their vehicles but for pedestrians and other drivers as well.


First, as you can see, there are no cones, signs or other barriers around the vehicles alerting other car drivers in the small crowded area that there are people working around the delivery vehicles which places those drivers at a higher risk of being hit by a moving  vehicle.  Without the safety cones or signage there is also no reminder to the delivery driver he’s in a dangerous area and just one little distraction, like worrying about the score of the Raider game or a sick child makes it easy to forget where you are and walk into a moving vehicle.  In addition to putting the delivery drivers in danger the parked vehicles are also creating several other safety hazards as they drastically reduce the normal space available for the two way traffic to flow down the main lane as well as for cars trying to turn into the main lane from the parking lot.  The parked trucks also created several dangerous blindspots for drivers making it difficult to see pedestrians suddenly appearing from the side of the parked trucks as they try to cross to the supermarket from the parking lot while also creating blindspots for pedestrians to see traffic.



These vehicles were not just in and out of the way, they were parked there for at least a half hour.  Safeway has been in transition with new ownership and while it searches for it’s identity during the process of rebranding their stores with organic produce and food products, looking more like Whole foods, profit margins may not be where they once were and companies unfortunately believe that cutting safety training programs is where to save money.  It appears that safety may not have a place for it’s workers or customers at the new Safeway.

Aunt Ida’s Recipes for Disaster – 6


Welcome back folks for another exciting recipe from our Chef de Catastrophe, Aunt Ida. She knows that busy people don’t have much time these days and created this one pot dish  exclusively for them.  Since it’s Aunt Ida, you know it’s gotta be good.

SEPTEMBER FEATURED RECIPE   Confined Space One Pot – Nothing helps save more cooking time and reduces cleanup time, like a delicious and noxious, one pot confined space dish.

Prep Time –  This is a quick dish taking only minutes to prep and saves time by not using a retrieval system for quick extraction, not employing a spotter to keep constant eye contact with confined space entrant, or not conducting atmosphere test before entry into a confined space. 
Cook Time Done in 5 minutes or less but keep an eye on it since any noxious vapors left   in the confined space, affects people differently depending on their physical makeup. However there is one instant quick fire technique that we don’t recommend for the beginner chef.  It involves using a torch or other ignition source in a confined space that had contained a flammable liquid and not bothering to test the atmosphere.  POOF!  It’s done! 
YIELD Can be as little as 1,  if you allow someone to climb into a confined space on their own but can be as high as 3 or 4, especially when the second one tries to save the first one and the third one tries to save the first two and so on.  Because you decided to climb in to a confined space and didn’t tell anyone, then pass out from lack of oxygen or overcome by fumes you and others could stew in there for days before anyone comes upon your bodies.   
Confined space entry is serious business.  You should always be aware of what’s been in that bin, vat or tank before it got to you.  Before you climb in and weld a repair or replace a valve or dislodge a clog has the atmosphere been tested?  The information you should be given is what if any is the level of residual fumes, are they combustable, do I need to be on an external oxygen supply while in there?  Do I need to wear a full hazmat suit?  You should also be given a vest as part of the emergency retrieval system so you can be pulled out immediately if any trouble comes along like if you were to pass out, this avoids others having to enter the space and risk the same hazards to extract you.  Never let anyone tell you that confined space is a one person job.  You always need to have a spotter (attendant) outside the confined space that you communicate with and has eyes on you every minute.  The spotter never leaves you alone, not to take a break or have a quick smoke or to use the restroom. They stay with you while you’re inside!  
If you still don’t believe that confined space entry can be a dangerous recipe and in this case it only took the fumes of old olive oil to cause two deaths. read this story:  In Greece, Olive Oil Factory Owner And Worker Die In Vat Mishap.  When we see someone down our first instinct is to get to them immediately to render aid.  However when it comes to confined space this can be a very  costly move.  Even if you’re aware there are fumes present and you take a deep breath before jumping in, the exertion of getting to them, picking up a limp body and trying to climb out will catch up and a very good chance that two corpses will be found.  Keep your head in emergencies, use the proper equipment and you may have a chance to save that life, but if you follow proper procedure to begin with you won’t have to worry.

Companies Behaving Badly-Surprise!


Welcome back and thank you for stopping by.  When the long standing family owned and operated company I was working for was bought by a large corporation, needless to say there were many different employee responses to the sale.  Reactions ran from pure panic to the philosophical, it’ll be what it’ll be while as some just up and quit rather then face an unknown future.  In the blink of an eye we also became top heavy as we went from the two brothers who lead the company for decades to a leadership posse that consisted of a President and 5 VP’s.  Naturally they brought in more of their people since our people were apparently not ready to operate the place even though we had operated the place long before their arrival.  We had to demonstrate we were fit in body and mind to do so.  They brought and introduced us to their culture, their customs, their policies, their procedures during hours of indoctrination in classroom settings and at the end we got new, thick, really cool looking employee manuals.  Then they observed us and soon passed judgement on us as on a dark rainy Friday, the cleansing began, early, quick and after lots of tears and goodbyes, folks were escorted off and then that following Monday,  we all began our new  journey.

One of the things they brought over from their culture that I really liked besides the twenty new choices of tea and latte machine was their surprise inspection team.  They had a corporate team who’s job was to travel and inspect all the plants across the country. What made it so unique at the time was they weren’t the usual, hey we’ll be there this Monday at 10 so you have a day or two to spruce up and get ready.  This team was HEY, good morning, we’re here!  Like a relative showing up at your door first thing in the morning, unannounced, they saw your plant as it really was and plant and department managers were graded on the results and it went on your permanent record.  Those scores were important since one of their policies had plant managers rotate plants every two years and your high scores could get you that juicy assignment to a state of the art plant to operate.


I always thought it ridiculous to be told that we’re being inspected next week or having high ranking corporate visitors so get your departments clean and ready and usually what followed was nothing more then a dog and pony show with no one actually looking at the plant.  That’s why I came to enjoy the concept of surprise inspections, you had to do the job the right way, every day.  Surprise inspections are a great way to not only keep people on their toes but to ensure that the corporate policies, practices and procedures, as well as all the hours of training are being followed.  As you will see in the stories below this is especially critical when it comes to safety and operation of a clean and healthy facility.  

You can always conduct your own surprise inspections no matter your situation.  As a warehouse manager I only touched base with the night picking supervisor when I arrived at 6 a.m.  However, at least once a month I would show up at 3:45 a.m. or 2 a.m. just to see how the operation was going and ensure all safety procedures were being used.  It was also a great opportunity to bring snacks and coffee and spend some time listening to the staff.  It’s easy to get into a set routine and each day is like every other day but that’s when complacency can rear it’s ugly head.  Make life and your job interesting, don’t be predictable and bring a little surprise to your life.

Michigan plans surprise inspections of demolition sites – Now granted, this surprise inspection program was not proactive but spurred by a Detroit Free Press newspaper investigation that pretty much exposed Michigan’s workplace safety agency as a joke and not protecting workers from exposure to hazards like asbestos.  This article actually woke up the agency and they vowed to do surprise unannounced inspections at demolition sites for the next month and assigned 6 inspectors to the program.  Whether this is just another dog and pony show, time will tell but this would be a fantastic tool to use at all construction sites to make sure fall protection gear is being used.  With falls still the number 1 killer it’s time we become proactive instead of reactive.


Another reason surprise inspections are good is to make sure all your plants are handling safety the proper way.  In this case, one company  Cedarburg company cited by OSHA in March death of lathe operator thought it was a great idea to increase productivity by programming the computer to bypass the safety interlocks that prevent workers from coming into contact with moving parts.  As a result of this brilliance a worker was pulled into the operating spindle and died two day later from his injuries.  I’m sure they were shut down during the investigation and were handed a proposed fine of $125,000 so what ever they saved is gone.  Hopefully Carlson Tool and Manufacturing Corporation will properly reward the genius that came up with this idea with a termination from employment.  However I still contend, that anyone who bypasses safety protocol on a machine that results in an employee death should be put on trial for manslaughter and sit in a jail cell to contemplate that profit is not more important than human life.

Then there are corporations that not only don’t believe in surprise inspections but don’t believe in communicating or training their store managers on workplace safety and expose their employees and customers to unnecessary hazards.  Southeast MO Dollar General facing nearly $98,000 fine by OSHA   Dollar General stores all over the country have been inspected and fined for their totally lack of concern for safety as some have been reported to OSHA by employees.  From blocked emergency exits to poorly labeled and stored chemicals this company must have OSHA listed as a vendor as they pay out just about monthly as another store is fined day after day.  If the company really cared about the safety of their employees the corporation not only would have strongly communicated this to it’s stores but would have put together a surprise inspection team to hit each store and then educate the managers and workers on what needs to be changed.  I’m available Dollar Stores, just call me for pricing.


One last time why surprise inspections are beneficial.  When you walk around and observe a plant in action you can tell what kind of training, if any, workers have had.  Everyone knows how dangerous a busy loading dock can be with forklifts, trucks and people in constant action.  It’s not a place to lose your concentration and you need to be aware of your surroundings as in  OSHA investigating worker’s death at Omaha meatpacking plant .  A worker was pinned between two trailers and died because a simple procedure wasn’t followed.  The accident is currently under OSHA investigation and I will report their findings as soon as they’re available.

Whether you’re a worker, supervisor, manager or chairperson of the board, OSHA would like your input on OSHA Wants Input on Shipyard Fall Protection Rules.  Please don’t think your opinion doesn’t matter because it does!  Especially you people who work in the shipyards day in and day out.  You see it all and know more than any of your bosses, so this is your chance to speak up.

This Labor Day – Make Safety a Priority in Your Workplace – Good article and great thought but I say, Make Safety a priority EVERYDAY, not just labor day and the life you save may be your own.

Safety is not complicated but it does have many parts to it.  Training is critical to ensure people know what to do and how to handle emergency situations.  Surprise drills and inspections are a tool to see how effective your training is and the quality of your hiring practices.  Life doesn’t have to be boring and mundane, make it interesting and keep people focused and on their toes.  Until next month, stay safe.


Coming soon – another recipe for disaster.