Really Burns My Butt – Die Young


Kelsey “Bug”Hagenson

When a young person dies in war, it is heartbreaking and only somewhat comforting that it was in the service of their country.  When a young person dies in an industrial accident it is just as heartbreaking and in both cases the world has lost an original masterpiece, someone who later in their life may have gone on to invent or discover or paint or write something that will improve the world or produce the offspring that may accomplish all that.  The Army gives at least 10 weeks of basic training to ensure civilians become soldiers and 14 – 16 weeks in some cases of specialized military functions so they are prepared and ready before being sent into a dangerous situation.  So when I see a young man die in an industrial accident because he was thrown into a job like grist for the mill my feelings turn into anger.  Kelsey “Bug” Hagenson, an 18 year old who enjoyed the outdoors and just beginning his journey in life, had been on the job only 3 months, when he was mixing concrete at a construction site when a forklift, driven by another employee, 15 years on the job, with inadequate training and no use of his right hand, hit and killed Kelsey.

OSHA has cited the company, Lunda Construction Company for 1 Willful and 5 Serious safety violations along with a proposed fine of $105,000.  For those of you who don’t know, a willful violation means the company knew there was a hazard that could kill one of their workers but couldn’t care less to do anything about it.  Too me, that’s manslaughter especially when you take into account that Lunda has a history of worker deaths and safety violations being inspected 30 times over the last 5 years, receiving 12 Serious violations and earning a spot in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.  With this history, they also should be barred from competing for ANY Federal, state, or city construction contracts .

Let’s not allow Kelsey’s death be for nothing and turn this into a positive.  On any construction site in any state, watch out for each other.  Pair up with the younger workers, be their buddy and mentor them on safety, the job and how to go home in one piece.  You are there to do a job under dangerous conditions.  There is no room for horseplay or joking. Yea, there will be times they may come off as a know it all, talk to much, or you think their music sucks but guess what, you were like that when you were young too.  Just because you were treated like crap and weren’t shown anything when you began years ago doesn’t mean that has to continue.  Be a mentor, share knowledge, be kind and let’s prevent another senseless death of a young worker.  For you young workers, if you don’t receive any training on how to recognize hazards at the job site, or how to operate machinery or how to use fall protection gear, you must make an important decision.  Is the job worth your life?  If it’s a union job, get hold of your representative immediately and if there is no one there to protect you, CALL the OSHA hotline – 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).  Also check out the OSHA website for information in both Spanish and English on what to expect on the job.  The information could just possibly save your life.  Don’t become a statistic and never keep quiet about safety, it’s the best way to honor the memory of Kelsey.











Drive to Survive

There are all kinds of safety gadgets available for your vehicle thanks to the latest in science and technology, like seat belts, air bags, anti locking breaks, rear cameras. Then add the computers installed so all the different components within your car can not only communicate with each other but then tell your service department what’s going on.  Yet with all this, the best functioning safety gizmo still available for any vehicle to date, is, your BRAIN!!

Your brain, a marvel of science, retains all the driver training you’ve received over the years, from your Dad groaning, “the clutch!” to drivers education lessons to actual experiences behind the wheel and in some cases profesional driver training for a  job.  Your brain draws on info in your memory and within split seconds tells you how and when to respond to an emergency.  The brain occupies the same head as your eyes and like a computer, constantly updates data is receives from them as they scan the road ahead. This is all good since you are driving a potential weapon, two tons of plastic and metal at high speeds in rain, snow and pedestrian congestion.  So as your brain processes the movement of surrounding traffic and the various speeds of cars and trucks, changing lanes, slowing and breaking while listening to last nights scores why would you corrupt the data flow by talking on your cell, or texting?

GUESS WHAT, you are NOT the only one on the road!  If you are not aware of what is going on around you, or driving distracted, you have the potential to not only hurt another person but do the unthinkable and take someone’s life if not your own.  There are hundreds of other people driving with you, all in their own little worlds dealing with the trials and tribulations of daily life.  At 60 mph you cover 88 feet in only one second.  That’s a 29 yard pass play in the blink of an eye.  All it takes is just two of you, not paying attention come upon a sudden slow down or someone making a sudden lane change and now you’re a statistic. Your day is ruined and now there’s paperwork, calls to the insurance company, adjustors and repairs and rental cars.  For what?    Responding to someones tweet?  Getting gossip that couldn’t wait for an hour?

I don’t care how much you think you are a multi-tasker.  When you’re busy chatting on your cell phone you are not paying attention to your surroundings, especially if it’s an intense conversation.  In most cases to compensate for being on the phone, you usually drive slower than you think you’re going and everyone is trying to go 60 mph and you’re moving at 40.  So instead of telling everyone they are number 1 when they honk at you, put down the damn phone and drive.  To drive to survive you need to watch the road at all times.  When you’re driving you need to pay full attention constantly scanning up front for changes in flow, vehicle movement and your mirrors.  In addition be polite on the road,  you don’t own it, you share it.  When you have to make a hard stop it’s pretty scary isn’t it?  The car slightly fish tails and you can hear the tires squeal as you hope you’ll stop in time as well as the car behind you.  Now just try to imagine what it would be like to do that same hard stop in a big rig and trailer weighing up to 80,000 lbs. or 40 tons fully loaded.  So why do you race and cut off something 5 times larger than you?  To save a minute?  When did this all become a competition trying to beat the next guy to point A.  If you need to get over, signal, slow down if needed and then change lanes.  Usually the moron that cuts off the truck is not in the accident, it’s the innocent behind the big rig that is stopping.  However If you see a truck driver being unsafe or driving distracted, most of them have a number on the back where it says, “How’s my driving?”  Don’t assume someone else will report the driver, don’t hesitate to make that call and get that driver off the road.  Believe me the company wants that guy off the road as well, since it’s really bad advertising for them to have someone driving one of their vehicles with the logo all over it and texting while driving, (see Your Drivers are ads, Good or Bad. If they don’t have that 800 number to call check the cabin door since all trucks in California are suppose to display their state registered number and interstate drivers have USDOT numbers on their trucks to identify them.

Yes, there is always going to be the jerk who feels their time is more important than anyone else and will change lanes at will.  Don’t hate them, since they are not worth your time or energy, just feel sorry for them.    If that jerk cuts you off for that 5 second lead, don’t take it out on the next guy who comes along.  They don’t know you were cut off, why ruin their day?  Let everyone in on your intent.  Use the signal device, that’s what it’s there for.  When dealing with glare from the sun cutting down your visibility, don’t look directly into the sun but to the side and slow down.  Plan ahead.  You know when you need to get off the freeway, don’t wait til the last minute and try to get to the exit lane from the far left.  Your stupidity and laziness is not someone elses problem.  When the weather is bad, again plan and leave early so you can drive a little slower to get to your destination in one piece.

Another important aspect, don’t let any friend or even your enemy drive who are impaired by drink or drugs.  Take their keys and call them a cab.  This is a decision that is easy to make and will keep you from living a life time of guilt.  I always preached to my kids, if they found themselves in that situation or the person they depended on for a ride was intoxicated to call me and I would get them, and they would be spared any judgmental lectures but would get a big hug for making the right call.  As the CHP signs say, report all drunk drivers.  You never know whose life you’ll be saving.

Keep your vehicle in top operating condition as well.  If it’s your personal car have the breaks checked and please don’t wait until you hear metal on metal.  It’s a little late then and will cost you more in repairs.  Don’t wait for the little light to come on to get gas.  Your engine is sucking in all those deposits on the bottom of your gas tank and you never know if you’ll run into a blocked or partially closed highway.  You don’t need to add worry of running out of gas in addition to everything else.  If you’re driving a company vehicle always use your checklist to ensure everything is operating properly and report any mechanical issues to your supervisor.

When something in your vehicle is found to be defective it can be brought in to service and be replaced.  To bad it’s not that easy to fix those who drive distracted or impaired.  That’s why we all need to drive to survive.

Safety Is Never Having To Say You’re Sorry.

This blog is dedicated to the front line employees out there who work hard every day and follow the rules to make their bosses look good and sustain their company’s success.

If someone in management tells you to do something that is unsafe, you should and can legally refuse to do it.  No supervisor, manager, boss or company owner can force you do something unsafe.  I know, sometimes management can be its own worst enemy.  I had a Boss, who right after a company safety meeting ordered an employee to elevate another employee with his forklift to the top rack while they stood on a wood pallet to retrieve something the Boss needed because he didn’t want to wait to get the cage and do it properly.  (Actually for the record, this was a continual problem that they could never find the cage, as important a piece of safety equipment it was, since they never kept track of its location.  Lesson to be learned here, keep track of the cage and other safety equipment.)  The employee did the right thing and politely refused then reminded the Boss it was a safety infraction and didn’t want the Boss to get in trouble.  It was a great line!  After the smoke cleared from Boss’ ears he realized he was wrong and backed off.

Never let anyone bully you into unsafe work practices either with words and terms like:                            You’re not a team player.   – Another term for this is would be Co-defendant.                                                           It’ll take longer if I get the right equipment  = life time of disability.                                                          – Tom’s crew doesn’t have to do it that way = Your welcome for me saving your life.                                     Remember that sticks, stones and heavy machinery break bones but words will never harm you.

What is the condition of the equipment you operate on a daily basis.  Are all the safety guards and covers in place?  Are all the safety switches, emergency overrides and shutoffs properly functioning?  Do you see exposed and frayed wires or puddles of fluid?  Does your company use a checklist so you can see if there were equipment issues on the previous shift?  Before you operate any piece of equipment you should do an inspection whether you have a checklist or not to make sure you can work safely and efficiently.   When you do find and need to report a safety issue immediately lock out and tag out the equipment so no one else can inadvertently use it and report it to your supervisor.   If you do LOTO a piece of machinery due to safety issues don’t go for any lines from management that it’s fine to drive or use this time as long as you go slow.  Don’t use it!  I’d put money on the fact that if you did continue to operate as instructed and you got injured the company would throw you under the bus in a nano second.  Think about it, If they are that unscrupulous to let you work under those dangerous conditions why do you think they would go to bat for you if you got hurt?

Don’t believe me?  A female employee at one company was operating a high speed conveyor belt that had no emergency shut off available in her area and the drive chain was exposed because the maintenance crew that did repairs that night left the job of putting the guard back on to the next shift.  It was a chilly morning and she had on a co-workers wind breaker that was a large on her but it kept her warm while she worked.  Unfortunately the sleeve from her windbreaker got caught in the exposed chains and pulled her into the conveyor severely injuring her arm to the point that she is permanently disabled.  It was only her screams for help heard by the palletizing operator, who stopped the conveyor.  Her supervisor and the maintenance department had no repercussions from this incident but she was reprimanded for wearing the loose fitting windbreaker.

No matter what signs, posters or catchy slogans your company devises to increase safety awareness, YOU are the person who has control over your safety in the workplace.  Always ask for the proper  PPE to perform a job, always check your equipment before use and become an advocate to ensure everyone goes home as they arrived to work….in one piece!  Your efforts can help form safety committees, discuss the issues, and develop safe SOPs.  Safety should be never having to say you’re sorry.

Safety Knows No Season

I know, it’s the last days of summer and the nights are still warm but the days are getting shorter, so who wants to start thinking about Winter?  This is a great time to prepare and make sure your staff will be properly equipped when the weather begins to turn ugly, especially since before you know it there’ll be snow in them mountains and will your drivers be able to get over the pass?  As a manager developing checklists to help you track what needs to be done and when is extremely helpful especially when you fine tune it to your specific situation.  When things slow down it’s a great time to inspect, repair and/or replace equipment in time so your company can still compete while the others may not be as prepared for that first patch of inclement weather.  Nothing will send the sales department up a wall more than having a delivery vehicle trapped on the summit by the first snow fall because the trucks don’t have their chain sets and emergency gear.

Does your company supply weather gear for the staff?  Great time to post a reminder to check and make sure they’re in one piece and ready for another season.                                                        Some other items to check:

  • Dock hoods, make sure they haven’t been damaged and will repel water.
  • Dock doors, do they need new stripping and keep rain out?
  • All drains.  Yard drains free and clear of debris.  Don’t forget to check the drains or gutters on the roof.  Weill they channel off the water?
  • Are the squeegees still on the dock where they’re suppose to be.  You need something to remove excess rain water from the dock.
  • Do you have a spill kit?  Booms to keep water contained and absorbent materials to help remove it.
  • Floor is wet signs or cones or make your own slow down signage.  You know when it’s raining outside your dock floor becomes slick and you want the forklift drivers to slow down and be aware.

So these are a few of the items I look for.  In your current situation what other items would you add to your checklist to make sure you’re ready for the seasonal change?  Wishing you all a safe season.

It’s A Sign!

SIGNS.  Some believe that signs are an indication of the future, an omen of things, good or bad about to happen.  Printed signs are great for delivering information quickly whether they are for commercials, to indicate parking days and hours, alert you to wet floors, detours, the end of the world and danger.  Signs are also a form of communication, with the hearing impaired sign to chat,  or a catcher putting down fingers to pitch a curve or slider inside and the armed services us flags to chat while a frazzled commuter uses one finger to say thanks.  Signs should be clear and too the point.   DANGER.  Pretty clear, yes?  However, when was the last time you made sure the signs in your warehouse were updated?

In a recent incident in Suisun City, California, a child playing in a park was bitten by a dog.  The issue is whether the sign was clear as to it’s intent.  The sign clearly said:  “No pets allowed beyond this point” and under that “All pets must be on a leach.”  Is that clear to you?   Are they allowed or not and does a leach make a difference?  Can a parent make a fair assessment  that their child will be safe in here or not?  Then add to this the statement from a parks spokesperson, we’re really haven’t been enforcing the sign”, yet the sign remains.

At J.F.K. airport waiting for my flight home.  I was hungry and thirsty and a juicy burger sounded really good so I stop at a place that looks good, 5ivesteak.  They had a list of beers.  I ordered a Corona.  We don’t have that.  Oh, o.k. how about a Brooklyn brown ale?   Sorry, we don’t have that either.  I was getting frustrated and asked what they did have?  After she told me I had to ask what the deal was with the several beers they didn’t have.   Is this a temporary shortage or do you no longer carry the beers.  We haven’t had them in quite a while so I think we don’t carry them.  So why don’t you update the sign?  Something had changed, but no one updated the signs and now you’re an upset customer.

So what has changed in your warehouse?  When was the last time you walked the building with a critical eye to make sure your signs are not misleading.  This is  a great annual exercise completed during your slow season.

Let’s start with the fire extinguisher signs.  is there actually an extinguisher there?  Think how it would go if a small controllable fire broke out and you ran towards where an extinguisher should be and it’s empty.  If you find this to be the case you have two choices.  Get an extinguisher there or remove the sign.  This is something that will be dinged in a fire department inspection.  Also check the inspection dates on the extinguishers as well.

How about those exit signs?  I know this is going to sound silly, but are they above the correct exit doors?  Just because it’s a door leading out of the warehouse doesn’t mean it’s an emergency exit.  Check the signs and make sure they will light up if there is a power failure.  If they don’t, change out the batteries or get repairs as needed.  This will also go against you in a fire inspection if they don’t work.

Have you done any renovations or added on to your warehouse.  Does the evacuation plan posted on the wall still make sense and is the meeting area still usable?  If it needs to be updated do it now!  The eye wash station in your battery room.  Are the signs properly displayed there and clear to see without obstructions.  Are all the chargers access doors closed and locked shut, without frayed cables or broken connectors and have clearly labeled high voltage or danger signs.

One other area to check on is the pick locations and other rack locations.  Are the labels there clear for easy RF scanner read and are they correct?  Have new locations been entered in the WMS but not changed on the racks.  This could lead to dead or out dated product without proper visibility.  Check and make sure the minimum/maximum weight loads for the racking are properly labeled and displayed?  So as you can see anything with a sign including the emergency water shut off valve and the fire hose locations and others you may use at your location need to be checked, verified and replaced to keep your warehouse a safe haven.

Wear It Or You Could Lose It.

It started with a blog on LinkedIn.  Frank Fasano Jr.  VP of Operations at F&F Industrial Equipment Corp. had posted “A guide to personal protective equipment”,, which I recommend for you to read.

This led to a brief discussion on getting people to wear their PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and the challenges involved accomplishing that goal.  The consensus is, when a company gives you PPE to wear and tells you it’s part of your job, there are very good reasons for it.  They are making a financial investment on equipment to ensure you get to go home the way you arrived at work, in one piece!

There are two main ways you can go on this:

1-  Training:  Safety training is an important tool to combat complacency with wearing their protective gear.  It keeps safety in their minds and thoughts continually.  Don’t skip or skimp on safety meetings,  what ever your company policy or practice.  If the policy is that you hold a monthly meeting, there is NO EXCUSE not to have them.  You can make them more interesting by involving staff in presentations or have a guest speaker from your insurance company, safety professional or another department head.  I know it’s extra work but you can also do a power point presentation once in a while that really grabs their attention.  They really don’t take that long to do.  You can also keep reinforcing safety with tailgate meetings that are weekly or less and are 5-10 minutes and can be used to address what you’ve recently observed in warehouse.

If the practice on safety at your company is lax and no one cares if you hold safety meetings or not, that is even more of a reason to hold them.  Document the meetings by writing a short description of what was covered and attach it to the sign in sheet used to document who attended the meeting.  Then keep them in a safe place since you’ll never know if they’ll help you down the road.  No matter how lax the company is you should never stop your vigilance on safety.  Preventing an injury is so much easier and rewarding to deal with than the regrets and “should haves” if someone was to be injured or worse.  Don’t ever let anyone deter you from keeping a safe working environment.

2- Discipline: No one likes to hear this word but it’s for your defense as well.  If you don’t enforce the PPE company rules and an employee gets injured, you can be sued as well as the company.  Your position on this is as I used to tell my staff daily, “You came in this morning with all your parts and I want you to go home with all your parts.”.   Discipline doesn’t have to be brutal either.  If I came across an employee at the beginning of the shift not properly wearing their eye protective gear, I would remind them in a non threatening manner,  “Those are eye protectors not forehead protectors”.  You don’t always know what kind of start they’ve had that day.  Maybe they ran into an unexpected traffic jam, or they’re worried about the rumors of a slow down at the plant or they’re just worried about the Giants maintaining the one game lead over the Dodgers in the standings.  If I saw them a second time that day I’d jot myself a note about it after a stern reminder and a third time earns a chat in HR and a verbal or written warning.  Don’t ever be quiet about safety.  Looking the other does NOT gain you points but insisting tells employees you care about them and the company.

There are so many resources out their to help you keep employees safe while working.  Check them out and remember to protect yourself from liability and protect them from injury.

Lock Out Tag Out & save a friend!

There’s always at least one scene a season in every sitcom where the male lead in all his infinite wisdom tries to fix a toaster with a knife while it’s plugged in. Or he’s not sure while working on a table saw blade if the power is off or not. In either case you know he’s going to give himself a severe shock or slice a finger off and everyone is going to have a good laugh. Except in real life it’s not funny! There were over 94,000 estimated saw related accidents in 2003 (1) and as little as 0.2 amps can make the heart fibrillate or beat in an uncontrolled manner which could result in death! (2)

Monica Thayer (attached article-Huffingtonpost)(3) began to clean a piece of machinery and unfortunately the equipment became active and her hair was caught and ripped off her scalp. Gross? Scare you? GOOD! Before any piece of equipment is worked on for any reason; cleaning a machine, clearing a jam, making a minor adjustment, replacing parts or making repairs if you don’t Lock Out Tag Out (LOTO) that machine you risk injured or lost fingers and/or hand, lost scalp or even death. You are not faster than the machine and the machine is an inanimate object, it can’t think and doesn’t know you’re there, it just does what it was made to do, but you are the one with the brain.

What ever time you think you’re saving by not walking to the fuse box or circuit breakers and locking it in the off position will be lost by your injury and more. Time lost by your absence while injured, time lost on machine operation while it’s cleaned of your body parts and blood and time lost for the investigation of the accident not to mention product not produced for your customers which has now become a burden on the other machine operators to make up the difference in production lost by the down unit.

Take the time and make sure everyone who operates or works on machinery and equipment is issued a Lock Out Tag Out set. You can find them in any safety equipment catalog and they make them for just about every application needed. Work with H.R. to write procedures for LOTO and then train, train and train. And I don’t mean tell them to LOTO. i mean you go to the piece of equipment and ask for a volunteer to actually demonstrate to everyone else how and where to properly LOTO that specific piece of equipment and then document all training with a sign in sheet. It could also become part of new employee packet like forklift training for new warehouse employees. Must be trained before allowed to operate any machinery.

Everybody should go home in the same condition they arrived at work, in one piece. Help a friend stay that way and insist they LOTO to stop preventable accidents.


– Photos of hand injuries by saws.  Graphic.  It’s meant to make you think.

If You’re Finger Pointing, It’s Too Late.

In a recent LinkedIn discussion, it was brought up should drivers  carry their own chock, as part of their vehicle equipment?  We all know that the loading dock can be a very hectic, loud and dangerous place!   Forklifts and other power equipment are racing in and out of trailers, while other doors have trailers backing in or pulling away, as drivers, buyers, sales reps and others simultaneously navigate through the traffic.   With all that activity do you really want to worry whether a driver brings his own chock or not?  As the warehouse supervisor or manager you are responsible for safety on that dock.   You control safety on that dock!
Safety on the dock is not a magical process that happens all on it’s own.  It is something that needs to be planned out and your ever present vigilance all the time.   There is nothing worse than filling out an accident report and escorting an employee to the emergency room.
Put simple and easy procedures together, then take the time to properly train your staff and then enforce them.  Procedures should all be put into writing and gone over with your Human Resources department.  You want their buy in on this and they’ll also help with getting other departments to take the warehouse seriously about the rules of the road.

Some areas to cover would be:  No one, (except warehouse staff) is allowed on the dock floor unescorted.  If someone needs to get to an area of the warehouse they have two choices.  They either have a warehouse person escort them to the location they’ve requested or they take the training the other warehouse staff have had and sign off on the training.  That’s it.                                                     Deliveries by appointment allows you to control the flow on the dock as well as your staffing and keep the clutter to a minimum.  You should also have a contingency plan on how to handle and work in deliveries that show up unexpectedly.                                                                                                         Have drivers check and/or sign in before backing into an assigned door.  This gives you yet another tool to control the flow on the dock.  You can spread deliveries out on the dock floor as long as you have the doors to do it.  This is also a great opportunity to go over the rules of the road with the drivers and remind them to chock their tires.                                                                                                   Do not let non company drivers use your power equipment, since you don’t know what their level of training or experience is.                                                                                                                               Before anyone enters a trailer to load or unload they must do a visual check, that chocks are in place, the engine is shut off and the condition of the trailer floor and contents before entering with any equipment.
Then make sure you add to your monthly walkabout checklist verifying that all the equipment is in place and fully operational including their emergency shut off switches.  Nothing could ruin a day faster than the emergency cut off not working.  Somethings on your checklist should Include the chocks, dock lights, dock plates and levelers, dock doors and any thing else that could enhance safety on the dock.

Let’s be honest, you will have jerks that will still pop into the warehouse when they shouldn’t or dart out and try to stop an employee from what they’re doing because they need creamer.  Document those incidents and report them as safety violations to H.R.  There will also be drivers who will tell you it’s never been that way before or doesn’t apply to me.  They are easy to handle especially if they become repeat offenders.  Don’t hesitate to call their dispatcher.  Trust me they want their drivers working safe as much as you do.  If it’s an LTL or long hall that your company has a contract with or does business on a regular basis,  speak with the sales-rep on what’s going on.  He’s also a great contact when you put your changes into place to alert all their drivers.
It may seem like work, but this is the Best way to make sure everyone goes home as they arrived, in one piece.  Cause you know that when the guano hits the fan and the finger pointing starts, it’s too late.