Companies Behaving Badly-Customer Service?

 

Welcome back.

“When you blame, you open up a world of excuses, because as long as you’re looking outside, you miss the opportunity to look inside, and you continue to suffer.” ― Donna Quesada, Buddha in the Classroom: Zen Wisdom to Inspire Teachers

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Well folks, a lot has happened since last month.   It seems that the cost of a safety program is just too much for American businesses to bare as they believe it cuts into their ability to compete in the market place as well as profits and bonuses.  Then those damn EPA laws also have kept many a CEO, COO and other top executives from maxing profit goals and has forced them to live in a lesser luxury life style.  I am very glad to see that the sight of worker’s amputated limbs and other extremities, their blood, guts and corpses has not interfered with these execs ability to operate at all.   What is even more exciting and hypocritical, is that the U.S. Government is actively protecting me from those illegal bad hombres and other assorted terrorist groups but seem to have no problem if the company I work for tries to kill me.   I have always believed in American manufacturing and ingenuity and to buy American first, the quality and workmanship meant something.  But there is NO reason what so ever that makes it O.K. to sacrifice American workers by exposing them to hazards that have been proven to be needlessly dangerous and can be mitigated except under the delusional belief the money saved not protecting human life, our air, land and water will go to hire and expand the business when we all know it’s not going into the pockets of the hard working employees who do the day to day tasks but into the pockets of executives who sit behind a desk all day and only think, how can I make more money?

Which leads me to this observation made over the last few years.  The more computerized, internet savvy, social media conscience or cloudy we get, companies are losing the human touch and forgetting what customer service is really all about.  It’s not just about resolving problems that arise during or after the sale but ensuring that the entire customer experience is a seamless, smooth event.  This is not the fault of those on the front lines like customer service people, manufacturing workers, distribution drivers or pilots or clerks or other workers but is a result of the lack of planning and foresight by their leadership.  It should be no surprise about the incident that occurred on a United Airlines flight in Chicago when a passenger was pulverized and dragged off a plane for the simple crime of just wanting to get home.  It was just a matter of time.  Even though no crime was committed and the flight wasn’t over booked, the Airline decided it was perfectly fine to displace people by offering an arbitrary set fee for their inconvenience and disruption to their lives due to the airlines incompetence in planning.  What do you mean you won’t take the fee?  Everybody takes the fee!  Your life is inconsequential to us, you’re just a commodity we move.  

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Thats where leadership has failed the most and not just in the airline industry.  Instead of putting efforts into reviewing procedures and policies to improving the customer experience they’ve been looking through green tinted $$ signs and focused on finding ways to make even more money, with less staff and equipment while keeping the status quo in tact, because we don’t need to improve, we’re perfect.  So, again, how can we make more money?  What is the next thing we can attach a fee too where the trade off will be worth it?  Will the number of customers we lose be offset by the money we make for charging for luggage?  We know how that worked out.  To avoid the fee people carry on as much as possible to the point that overhead space is a luxury.  The irony here is when the airline knows a flight is overbooked and overhead will fill up, they wind up checking in your carry on for free.  

Then our friends at Well Fargo decided to enhance the customer experience by opening accounts for customers even though those customers never wanted, asked for or in some cases didn’t even know they had these accounts.  Did the workers begin this practice? NO!  Again it was the corrupt, greedy leadership that had run out of ethical ideas to bring in more money, so they found other ways to justify the means.  Over 5000 workers were fired for this, even though they were told by their bosses, wink wink, nudge nudge, it was fine.  By firing a handful of execs does not change the culture either.  Just as Fox News.  It however sends the message, if you do something to bring in more money, just please don’t get caught.

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The eroding of the customer experience can also be found in many retail establishments as well as they try to do more with less staffing to save money.  Now in my local supermarket you can find workers with large carts going around the aisles.  I’m not totally sure what they’re doing but it could be price and code checking on food items which is a good thing but they are so intent on getting their work done they are always in the way.  Mindlessly blocking aisles or a product you need to get too.  On top of this, add the vendors coming in to set up displays or restock soda, potato chips, bread and other assorted items who are not being supervised by Supermarket staff and who knows what the supermarket’s policy is or if it’s been explained to the vendors but the other day a potato chip guy was setting up and stocking a display at one end of an aisle, blocking access and then a soda guy on the other end restocking.  A person trying to make a purchase could not get through without having to ask one of them to move which gets you a dirty look for being so bold to interrupt them from their busy schedule as they forget YOU’RE THE CUSTOMER!!

Let’s face it, leadership is not always right and especially when it comes to safety or ethical behavior you have every right to question it.  If the company ignores your concerns then it is time to either quit and find another job with a company that appreciates you or stand up and fight.  The choice is yours but when authority is not questioned that’s when the true atrocities come about.  Never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.

STAND DOWN FOR SAFETY

 

 

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Companies Behaving Badly-Justified

Welcome back.
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We’re continuing on the theme from last month of “boys will be boys”, and yet trying not to beat a dead horse.  When it comes to the thought process of “boys being boys” there happens to be one major fatal flaw and that is the ability to justify all of their actions.  It takes a strong willed, determined, stubborn man to be able to ignore all his instincts and training just too save a few minutes in his life like it’s some kind of symbolic victory even though it can just as well be the last few minutes of his life.  The Stream of Conscienceness – By the time I get to the power box to LOTO the packaging machine and then back to clear the jam and back to the power box, OMG, that could take 15 – 25 minutes!  Or another scenario, by the time I have properly anchored the lanyard to my harness so I won’t fall it’ll take 15 – 20 minutes out of my day! 
The JUSTIFICATION – It’s not a bad jam, I bet I can clear it in between the bag fills, no problem or I can just quickly walk out and grab that sheet of plywood in seconds and be done.    TRAINING – becomes irrelevant, COMMON SENSE – Over-road by the adrenalin boost from the thrill of saving 15 minutes.  But, but your training!, the little voice insists. The good news is that 80% of you will avoid this process and go with your instincts and training and do a proper L.O.T.O. or properly anchor your safety lines and wear your harness.  The rest of you will put your fellow workers in the position of scrambling to find YOUR fingers so they can place them on ice for the ride to the E.R. or watch you get zipped into a body bag.  Aren’t your fellow workers lucky to be exposed to that trauma thanks to you and why accidents continue to be the number 3 killer of men or boys being boys?  (80/20 rule – This is according to the Pareto Principle by Vilfredo Pareto a man of many talents who discovered the 80/20 rule.  His birthday is coming, July 15) 
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As if that wasn’t enough, you also have to be aware of the deadly combination of the ability of “justification” with “the boss isn’t here”, which is a toxic and lethal mixture.  It appears that the excitement that young people get from hearing their parents will be leaving them home on their own for an extended period of time just never stops for some.  You remember how when mom and dad were gone for the evening or weekend, the house became your laboratory as you tried out all those awesome adult things but for some reason, our boys being boys have been able to transfer that experience to their boss not being around.  The combination gives a very intoxicating feeling which is nothing more then an open invitation to doing the stupidest, most immature thing possible with a motorized industrial piece of equipment.  Suddenly forklifts become multi-passenger, pallet jacks are midget racers and destruction of life and property never becomes a thought or concern, because the boss isn’t here to see it!
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In days of yore when brawn was more important in a warehouse/manufacturing then brains, horseplay was pretty common as screwing around kept everyone loose and laughing during the demanding workday day.  Along with the colorful language, graphic humor and crass jokes, scores were settled with a fist and the occasional medicinal nip was to keep your parts well oiled and ease the pain of the brutal working conditions.  Just in the last 40 years I’ve watched leadership evolve from verbal berating on the shop floor for all to see to you’re weren’t hired to think, to verbal encouragement, taking input from workers and free thinking.  The tendency for supervisors and managers, especially new ones is to be a nice guy and if the boys need to be boys, well who am I to stand in their way, except you allowing it to go on and not saying anything, in their heads condones their actions.  You can be a nice guy in so many other ways and that’s when true leadership comes in as it can turn around any challenge your facility may face. 
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Coming in to help a facility change it’s culture, the worst thing you can do is make immediate changes in a knee jerk reaction.  Yes, you’re under pressure from upper management, you’re under pressure from sales, customer service and the customers who want their orders delivered correctly.  The added pressure of poor moral and high worker turnover and HR is tired of the constant recruiting and interviews.  Remember, these problems didn’t develop over night and you have no idea what the root cause is. Is it their training, the process, the equipment, the recruiting or their supervision?  The best way to find out is allow the operation to continue as usual, walk around and engage and listen to the people.  Check over their training records and make a list of where the gaps need to be filled.  I’ve always started with introducing myself to the staff backed up with doughnuts and coffee and explain to them know my position on workplace safety and that is, because I believe everyone should go home in one piece and then stick to your position treating everyone equally and fairly.  Too further back up your commitment to safety begin having a 5 minute daily huddle at the beginning of the shift, a weekly tailgate/toolbox meeting and a monthly safety meeting.  Going this route hopefully you should be able to eliminate the term “boys will be boys” in your workplace.
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Even so every once in a while a dinosaur pops-up, like this coach who thought the best way to motivate a player was to mock him in front of all.   SF school coach in hot water for alleged racially charged mocking.  This was a style of management back in the day.  A good deal of my High School teachers and coaches were Korean War Vets and when it came to doing what you were told to do, there was zero tolerance if you didn’t.  Our electric shop teacher had a paddle he had affectionately named Bertha.  He didn’t hesitate to introduce Bertha to your behind if you didn’t follow the rules.  We didn’t question it.  We knew and understood the consequences if we didn’t do what we were suppose too and punishment whether corporal or otherwise was deemed acceptable.  When you’re leading or coaching employees there is no need to call them names or give them degrading nicknames, mock or bully their physical appearance to get the results you want, you’re actually going to build a wall and choke off all communication.  The best thing to do is build a bridge by explaining your expectations and what can you do to help them be successful and achieve their goals which should mean success for you and your team.
Have you heard of the skills gap?  That thing we created in 2008 when the financial crisis hit and companies kicked all the veteran high paid labor to the door with layoffs and downsizing without any thought to the future.  People opted for other career paths and now, we have a skills gap.  Well you and your company can take care of that and develop a sustainable supply of talented employees.  Employers Have An Important Role To Play In Closing The Skills Gap.  With a good training and mentoring program in addition to offering internships to high school and college students, you can develop your own intelligent workforce, greatly increase employee retention and improve safety and productivity.  
Even the best leadership at times can get lost in trying to do what they think is the right thing, like some of our board of supervisors in San Francisco.  San Francisco officials propose banning contractors that bid on border wall from city work I’m not going to get into the politics of “the wall”, we all have our opinion but what I don’t like to see is politicians making matters worse for the working person.  Maybe if our leaders stopped worrying about punishing who builds “the wall” and concentrated on fixing the infrastructure which is in much NEEDED REPAIR companies would be so busy they wouldn’t need the business of the wall to keep their company and employees working.
Since we’re on the bay area, an update on Oakland.  Last month we covered the Ghost ship warehouse fire and the loss of 39 lives.  The leadership in Oakland verbalized their fears and concerns over and over about this.  As usual, it was talk, talk and more talk and now last week, guess what?  Yep we had another fire.  It took 2 deadly fires to make Schaaf push hard for inspectors and 4 more precious lives were lost due to being talked to death by the cities leadership.  We’ll keep an eye on the body count for you readers as the talk and more talk goes on.  By the way, it’s not just the lack of inspectors but the process that needs to be reviewed and improved as problems keep falling through the cracks but that will take leadership to fix so don’t hold your breath.
With the news blackout going on at OSHA, because you know, information is a dangerous thing to have go around, people may begin thinking for themselves there has been on new bright spot.  Jordan Barab, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor at OSHA from 2009-2017 has started a blog called “Confined Space”.   Follow it!!  It’s a great source of what’s going on in workplace safety.

NEVER KEEP QUIET ABOUT SAFETY my friends, for the life you save may be your own.Until next month, be kind to each other and be safe.

Hello Baseball and the NBA playoffs.  Great time of year.

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Companies Behaving Badly-Leadership Lost

Welcome back.

“One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.” —Arnold Glasow

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“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” —Lao Tzu

It appears of late that everyone wants to be in charge but want nothing to do with accepting the accountability that comes along with it.  Leadership is not about making the most creative excuses or formulating alternate facts.  Leadership knows that whether it’s being used in a warehouse facility, manufacturing plant or any city USA, that maintaining the facility/infrastructure and fair and consistent enforcement of regulations is critical to the continuous success of everyone involved.  Roads and bridges to keep commerce moving, mass transit to move people to their jobs and the utilities to power it all. However, over the years, the across the board robbing of Peter to pay Paul began as cities began playing a dangerous shell game of who gets what funding and attention and for how long which would prove to have fatal consequences.  Instead of dealing with big ticket items like Police accountability,  housing, fair wages, maintenance and upkeep of the infrastructure, the buck passing continued from administration to administration each promising that this is the time it will get done.

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The art of leadership was soon eroded as it deteriorated into more of a caretaker role protecting the status quo and defending your lack of action with excuses.  It’s everyone else’s fault and not mine.  Infrastructure!  The cost is enormous but we still have time before it’s critical.  Housing for the poor? Relax, we have lots of unsafe vacant warehouses available.  We’ll look the other way, wink, wink.  Fire, police, homeless. Relax, we have the community in a dialogue over how we’re busy trying to keep our baseball and football teams in town. That’ll then solve all our other ills.  Until then, just wait.  The leadership vacuum continued and now, well, we’ve all seen the headlines.  Ghost Ship Warehouse Fire, 39 die! The problem was there, they knew about it, it dropped right through the cracks.  For a little while the plight of the homeless and affordable housing was the focus as their deaths would hopefully lead to something.  The voices faded.  Oroville Dam Spillway collapses followed by the sequel, the emergency spillway is not working either!  Hundreds of thousands are evacuated!  People’s lives severely disrupted!  The Governor gave his dog and pony show on how we’ll fix it, now.  Hmmmm, it got quiet again.  The Coyote Creek in San Jose unexpectedly floods it’s banks as the Anderson reservoir that is allowed to hold only 68% of capacity due to fears it’ll collapse in an earthquake was at 104% and needed to purge.  Yea, I know, but if you think that’s stupid how about the fact the water district sat on $22 million dollars the people had approved to spend on fixing the flooding issues.  The citizens of San Jose near the creek lost everything!  Thousands of them had to be evacuated. The city  and the water district never saw them as people, just collateral damage.   Since we’re on the topic of stupid.  BART has plenty of staffers at station with no trains or riders.  That’s right!  The new station had 5 full time agents and 1 full time train dispatch supervisor standing around doing nothing for 5 months.  The hold up, the new stations computers couldn’t communicate with the much older system that operates BART.  It seems there are issues with communication between the generations no matter where you go.  The punchline is BART now telling us they’re running out of money.  Who ever said incompetence is cheap?

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When you are placed in charge, BE in charge!  Your success is in your hands so have a plan. First, get the basics.  Budget, staffing, equipment, goals.  Then plan on consistently doing a monthly walk around your facility, which can also be combined with a Pop-In once in a while.  You’re looking for what needs attention?  Does the emergency lighting work, emergency exit signs light up, fire extinguishers, potholes, lighting, racks, equipment, charging station, tin cats.  Those are just a few and you’ll come up with items that are specific for your operation.  When you find issues that need to be addressed, deal with them right away.  You saw above what happens when you put it off.  It winds up costing you more money in the long run as well as employee trust and your reputation, which I hope still means something, as you can’t keep telling them to eat cake, forever.

Even though it ended on March 10th, I wanted to mention this event in Canada,  Road Safety at Work Week kicks off.  The government is making efforts to raise awareness and the adoption of road safety practices for company drivers.  They’re on the road almost every day representing your company and whether you like it or not, they are advertisements good or bad.  Make sure to throughly explain your expectations for job performance and level of professionalism.

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In the February 20th issue of Companies Behaving Badly I mentioned the challenge of dealing with boys being boys.  Continuing on that subject of “boys will be boys” we should point out that St. Patrick’s day is this Friday, which is a good thing, bad thing.  Good since it means no sicks calls during the workweek but bad since the filters will be off as there is no worry as most don’t work on Saturday and it’s exasperated by the NCAA  tournament.  This is another semi-holiday we’ve perverted into nothing more than an excuse for a drinking frenzy along with Cinco de Mayo.  They’ve become the alcoholic version of The Purge except the only killing is not to ones own brain cells, but from head on collisions in cars.  If you’re going to drink, keep your car at home, take public transit in and back.  There are also real Taxi cabs available out there as well as those internet alternatives.  You don’t really want to spend the weekend in lock up and most definitely want to come back on Monday.  St. Patrick’s day was a great holiday to be a cab driver in NYC, which I did for 2 years while in college.  It’s not just the many runs you get taking people from one bar to another but the riches to be found in the form of small change that gets lost in the back seat. Intoxicated people tend to fumble around and inadvertently drop things and they tip well too.  Thank you to those who jumped into my cab and helped put me through college as I listened to and helped you solve your life’s problems within a 15 minute ride.

Important information you Welders should know about. Washington University study raises questions about current welding safety standards.  The study examined the long-term effects of airborne manganese on welders and found that symptoms associated with parkinsonism — a neurological condition that causes tremors, muscle stiffness and other movement abnormalities — increased over time.  It may be a great time to upgrade your equipment.

Cone Of Silence On Enforcement News From U.S. Labor Department – Apparently there are those out there in charge who fear the exchange of ideas and information.  Some countries like North Korea, Russia and Iran control what information goes out to the public masses because they fear that information may cause independent thought, discussion and then lead to change.  Change scares narrow minded people.  The U.S. Department of Labor, including OSHA has become silent.  No news on companies behaving badly and their violations and fines.  I personally don’t understand the silence and fear and am very disappointed as one of the best things in this country is the freedom to speak your mind. But just because OSHA has become deaf and dumb doesn’t mean you do too!  Keep treating your workers with respect and give them a safe place to work.  It will benefit you in the long run.  NEVER KEEP QUIET ABOUT SAFETY for the life you save may be your own.

Until next month, be kind to each other and be safe.

 

Hey, did you do it? Come on you can tell me.  Did you really change the batteries in your smoke/carbon monoxide detectors this past Sunday?  No!  What are you waiting for?  

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RBMB-What’s Wrong With Having Fun?

 

 

It was finally shut down day.  After 10 days straight of production on graveyard, it was over and the only thing standing between me and some much needed sleep and family time was the morning production meeting. This rotation, I would be in the first group out the door, smiling and waving on my way out the door to those who still had to deal with finishing the plant shut down.  As the meeting ended and handed the operation off to day shift it was full speed out the door when my boss uttered those words you don’t want to hear, stay back a minute.  Ugh!  I was so close.  The lead superintendent, myself and our boss  were the only ones left when he said.  “Your crew produced some exceptional numbers this rotation and after last night, really put us in excellent position for a smooth shutdown.  You did a great job this shift.”  I smiled, thanked him for the complement, and then added, and they had fun doing it!  As soon as the word fun left my mouth the lead superintendent exploded with, “There it goes again!  What is all this fun nonsense?  They’re not paid to have fun, they’re paid to do a job!”  

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For the record, I never did like this man at all, ever.  He was old school, he told off color jokes, he bullied workers, he was mean just for the sake of being mean.  He was very disruptive to the whole operation at times but had been with the company for a long time and knew where all the skeletons were buried which worked to his benefit, that is until we were bought out by another company.  He didn’t last long, but I digress.  The lead continued, “I heard you also bought them pizza last night?” Yes, I did, they earned it and turned to our boss and said, do you have a problem with our production numbers and pizza?  He smiled back, put his feet up on his desk and answered, “Have a great shutdown and have some fun, you earned it.”

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There is nothing wrong with having fun at work. The manufacturing and food processing industries don’t have to be depressing and stifling.  If your employees really enjoy not only what they are doing, but are also appreciated for what they contribute within a positive environment, confidence in themselves grows and safety and productivity soars.  You should know that fun doesn’t mean having forklift races or burning rubber in the warehouse but it does mean you can have a yearly forklift rodeo to recognize and reward the safest operators in your facility.  Fun can take the form of handing employees a token each time they’re observed doing a safe act or wearing all their proper PPE.  Workers can later redeem the tokens collected for snacks, lunch or favorite team’s hat or shirts.  Fun doesn’t involve micromanaging staff to the point where no one cares anymore about what’s going on but you can have fun listening to employee ideas, improved productivity suggestions and safety improvement recommendations.  Fun can also include a monthly potluck meal and recognition of workers for their contributions on all shifts.  These are just a few simple ideas to keep fun in your workplace.  What are some things you do?

Never keep quiet about safety, for the life you save may be your own.

 

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Companies Behaving Badly – Backup Failed

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There has been an alarming rash of workplace accidents recently, involving vehicles backing up resulting in the deaths of workers.  Even though poor weather conditions were partially to blame, complacency also has a hand in this.  We’re all guilty of rushing around and under constant pressure to get the job done so we tend to make assumptions that unfortunately can prove to be fatal.  These accidents could have been prevented with a little communication between the driver and the area around him instead of assuming it was clear to proceed. 
Let me put this as simply as possible for you all!  Whether you’re operating a bus, truck, car, forklift or a X-34 landspeeder, after you jump behind the wheel, before you slap it into gear, take that one lousy second out of your life and possibly save someone else by LOOKING behind you before backing up!!  Can I be any clearer!?  I’ve pulled drivers off of forklifts if I observed them backup without looking.  Immediately suspended their forklift license until they completed their re-certification via video tape, instruction and road test.  Why?  Because it’s a skilled job and a privilege earned to be a forklift driver.  
It is all not on the driver though.  Back-up injuries are like a tango, it takes two to dance and it only takes a spit second for either of you to be distracted, be complacent, drop your guard and boom.  Don’t ever assume the driver knows you are there.  Don’t stand behind a vehicle especially if the motor is running.  That should be a clue it could sudden move at any time. Drivers, if you’ve been idling for a while or you have poor visibility get off your ass and make sure no one is behind you or honk your horn and yell, backing up!  But for you to assume that no one is behind you is just asking for an accident.
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 Don’t ever put yourself between a rock and a hard place.  Maintain eye contact with the driver at all times so you each know where you are and avoid a life time of regrets.  Here are some recent stories.
Highway 17 mudslide worker killed in construction truck accident –  A horrible accident that occurred on Highway 17 in Northern California.  They were working on clearing a mudslide caused by the rains deluging California.  
 Sheriff’s deputy hit by bus at East Bay jail dies – Another horrible incident.
Hurricane city worker dies after being crushed at construction site – Driver spun backhoe around but didn’t look first and now worker is dead. 
I think you get the point. Always be aware of your surroundings and what’s going on.  If you’re a driver working in an area where a lot of workers are on foot, slow down.  Use your horn and let everyone know you’re there.  If you’re a pedestrian working in the same area where there’s traffic and people, don’t become complacent and tune out.  You need to watch for moving vehicles and stay off your cell phone, it’s a deadly distraction .  Wear bright colors and stop and wait if you don’t make eye contact with the driver.  By working together you can get the job done and no one gets hurt.  
It’s that time again boys and girls.  That pain in the butt time change.  The biggest issue is the disruption to your sleeping cycle which may cause you not to be as alert as you usually are. This is demonstrated by the increase in the number of accidents the Monday after the time change.  So plan according, get more sleep Sunday if you can and you also might want to have a huddle Monday morning reminding your staff to be careful.  Also put off any new projects or training that day as well.  Please don’t gamble with the the lives of your family and also change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, especially if you didn’t do it last time.  With fresh batteries you know your alarms will work when needed and why wait for that annoying beep, in the middle of the night, to remind you?  Be a hero.  DO IT!
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Thanks for stopping by.  Never keep quiet about safety, for the life you save may be your own.

Companies Behaving Badly-Don’t AssUMe

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Companies Behaving Badly-Execution of Excuses

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“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? 

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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.  

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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.  

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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.

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