Companies Behaving Badly – Disadvantage

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Welcome back for another new episode, always appreciate you stopping by for a visit.  Hope your Valentine’s Day was enjoyable or at least tolerable.  It may help to remember the words of the great philosopher Stephen Stills who said,  “And if you can’t be with the one you love, honey Love the one you’re with.”

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One of the most interesting things I find to deal with in life, is people who go out of their way to make it more difficult for someone to succeed.  Whether it’s refusing to share information, spreading vicious rumors or purposely sabotaging a project, they seem to get some kind of sick joy watching the suffering and struggling of others.  If they’re a stranger on the street who can’t be bothered to give you directions that’s one thing but when they’re your boss or the company itself creating the disadvantage that can become quite a ugly situation.

HP Pelzer Systems Automotive Inc. is an example of a company that put their employees at a disadvantage by offering no training, no LOTO procedures which led to the amputation of a finger putting that worker at a further disadvantage.  Max Penalties Proposed For Safety Violations At Georgia Auto Parts Manufacturer.  This was PREVENTABLE by training workers on energy control procedures but the company couldn’t be bothered to do so and now they face a proposed fine of $129,336.  Training would have been much cheaper which would have prevented the amputation which would never have brought OSHA to their facility.  If you begin working at a company and they offer no training at all on safety issues, then find another job, these guys care nothing about you or your well being.

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Perhaps you work on the loading dock.  Moving pallets of products on and off trailers at a rapid pace.  Do you ever wonder what you’re moving?  Is it volatile?  Can it explode?  Another disadvantage to workers is when companies don’t inform you of the dangerous chemicals and solvents you’re moving around the facility or even worse don’t train you how to react if a chemical leak or potential explosion situation does arise.  Never Underestimate the Risk of Explosion in a Freight and Logistics Warehouse .  Again, this is a PREVENTABLE situation by getting the proper training on how to handle a liquid spill on the dock to understanding what the different symbols on the packaging means along with a updated and current SDS.  Can you use water to contain it and do you have to use respirators?  If there is NO training on the handling of chemicals or a SDS you can reference, you are in danger of losing your life and this employer doesn’t care.  It may be time to move on.

One of the most despicable disadvantages handed to workers is when there are laws on the books to protect them from harm and mistreatment but then the laws are not enforced.  Farm safety checks fall by a third.  It is usually found out after someone is severely injured or killed and the public wonders how it happened.  Then the apologies come out, we’re sorry we neglected this but want to assure you all that we are taking this very seriously.   Or my favorite, we need to put tougher laws on the books to prevent such a tragedy from happening again, when they already had laws on the books but didn’t bother to enforce them.  Those are the situations when public officials should be going to jail for ignoring health and safety of the public.

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Like the city of Oakland’s poor leadership.  They have all kinds of fire, health and safety laws on the books but let them all fall through the cracks and did nothing except pass the buck.  CA City Sued for Fire that Killed Four People at Halfway House.  The famous Ghost Ship fire that killed 36 generated lots of finger pointing in Oakland’s city hall but then after all that they continue to dig themselves in a deeper hole as they’re being sued by families of 4 who died in another fire less then four months after Ghost Ship.  Just as PGE who sat idly by and hoped for the best while they had no clue where there dangerous gas lines were that led to the murder of 8 people in a fierce explosion, the city of Oakland is following in their bloody footprints, killing innocent civilians. 

Another disadvantage is when manufacturers create a problem, agree with the public how terrible it is but won’t fix it and now, Lawmakers Seek Safer Packaging For Toxic Laundry Pods.  That’s right, they insisted on making cute little pods with bright colors and full of chemicals making it look like a treat each and every child wants.  There was no need to make them like this but some moron in marketing thought it was a great idea to sell more pods and now we have a serious problem that lawmakers are going to fix.  That alone should be frightening to all.  If less people use the pods and boycott their use they will change it.  The public did it before initiating change by not buying a product and folks, it’s time again.  Don’t buy pods.  Make the manufacturers fix their problem.

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Considering the disadvantages mentioned above it is no wonder that employees believe their employers policies are not aligned with their safety at the workplace.  Workplace Safety: Employee Perceptions, Employer Policies Not Aligned.  The good news is this is PREVENTABLE.   Speak up at work and never keep quiet about safety.  If there is no safety committee at your job, begin one.  Speak with HR and insist that you want to have  safety committee meetings, safety training and drills on proper evacuation in the event of a disaster.  If no one listens to you CALL OSHA.  Make a complaint at 1-800-321-6742 (OSHA).  You have every right to live and be free of dangers.

Our political brain trust got to see first hand how dangerous our railroads are.  Don’t you find it amazing that in a great country like ours a person can’t get on a train without wondering if I’ll die on the way there?  Very sad.  With Amtrak crash, Congress faced a deadly rail danger firsthand.  This is so PREVENTABLE but then no one seems to be in a rush to prevent further deaths.  Has life become that cheap?  Write your congressperson and Senator and tell them, you want safe transportation on the railroads and will accept nothing less.

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Railroad passengers aren’t the only disadvantaged people as now we have the numbers that show almost half of all deaths on the construction site are due to FALLS!  Nearly half of all construction worker deaths are fall-related, database finds.  This is disadvantage is happening because YOU are allowing it to happen.  Since man can’t fly without the benefit of an aircraft and since man is not immortal when you climb out onto a roof or ledge over six feet from the ground you MUST insist on fall protection gear.  Falls are the #1 OHSA violation and killer overall and all construction companies know that OSHA requires fall protection so don’t let them tell you otherwise.  It is against the law for someone to threaten you or your job to do an unsafe act.  Just say NO.

However, one good piece of news is Toyota-lift of Minnesota is giving VETS an advantage.  Forklift Training: Giving Vets A Lift.  They have certified 90 veterans so far and still going for more.  Bravo for your efforts and giving veterans a chance to be productive after their service to our country.

That brings this episode of companies behaving badly to a close.  Remember, you don’t have to be disadvantaged.  Do your research, google topics as needed and never be afraid to speak up.  The life you save may be your own.  Until next month, stay safe.

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Companies Behaving Badly-Demons

 

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Welcome back for another episode.  Hope all is going well and you’re having success with safety training, drills and safety committees.  If you need suggestions or have questions please don’t hesitate to ask.  May I wish you all a happy ground hog day.  I do find it entertaining that with all the apps, science and technology out there we still drag poor Punxsutawney Phil out of his man cave just to see if he finds his shadow or not cause it really influences the weather.  Wink, wink.

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We all have demons of one type or another that can influence how we perceive the world as well as how the world perceives us.  Whether your demons drink, do drugs, gamble, steal, cheat, binge eat, binge watch television, hoards or bullies other demons, how well we can control them or how well we can have them play with other people’s demons can make a difference in how life goes.  That’s easier said then done as Demons want to control it all so we battle them with conventional weapons like cleanses, portion control, no flour, no dairy, no sugar, fresh vegetables, exercise, vacation, relaxation, meditation and medication.  

 

Beating Demons is not an easy task, after all they are a part of you so they know you all too well and can anticipate how you’ll react.  The medication demons are really slick for sure as they first take away your pain and make you feel good all over and already knows  all your lies to come in your attempt to get more.  What could be so wrong about feeling so good and being without any pain of any kind?  I know I can control it. Only needed a few pills to get by today.  The Demons laugh, they know when you try to stop, the pain comes back and only seems even worse and that you will say anything to keep others from coming between you and your Demon. 

 

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The Devil made me do it.

Demons want you to believe they are your friend and have your best interest at heart by allowing you to indulge, feeding your habit and listens to your endless promises how you’ll know when it’s time to quit and end the relationship, hopefully before that one toke over the line.   I can’t tell you how to best the Demons as there is no one way to accomplish this.  You just persevere, be strong and follow what the professionals tell you and embrace family, friends and their love.

Thanks to Demons, technology and our greedy pharmaceutical companies, accidental injury has become the #3 cause of Death in the United States for the first time, ever! Accidental Injury No. 3 Cause Of Death For First Time In U.S. History.  A large part of this is due to the overdoses of opioids that’s occurring on a daily basis in our communities as the Demons continue to further use up the limited resources of our already stretched out first responders.  Another chunk of this is due to another Demon, the smart phone.  People are so wrapped up in their devices and have their heads buried so deep responding to a lame post, they never see the on coming car headed their way.  People, there is no need to rush blindly into death.  Stop, smell the roses and enjoy this life.

Demons don’t just dilly dally with people.  The cultures of some of the largest corporations are fraught with Demons especially when it comes to workplace safety.  Former train conductor says safety is virtually non-existent at Amtrak.  I am a firm believer that a companies culture is developed from the top down.  People will do or not do, if they know they can get away with it.  When a corporation doesn’t care enough about safety, you wind up with a poorly trained staff and have lots of derailments.  You know these companies, I’m sure you have worked for a few as have I.  No regular safety meetings if at all, no drills on how to handle emergencies, no way to report unsafe conditions.  Apparently this is not just a problem with U.S. railways.  In the United Kingdom, the Demons made sure the safety culture there is so poor that no one bothered to check and make sure the door to a restroom with no floor was locked and off limits to passengers.  Mum saved boy from falling to his death through this huge hole in toilet floor on a moving train.  I’m sure everyone thought that the other guy was checking it or maybe the Demon would keep it locked up.  Either way, the lack of leadership, (another Demon) by management is appalling that no one followed up.

 

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Then there are those Demons that tell you making your point at all costs, even at the expense of a primates life, is fine.  Volkswagen Suspends Executive Over Monkey Trials.  I will refrain from the easy jokes here, (fighting that Demon up to publishing time) but the fact a German car manufacturer had someone conducting experiments on living animals, well.  Are we so smug to believe that we as humans are so important we can decide to torture other living things to ensure our safety or in VW’s case, ensure that they’re lies about emissions could have been hiding the truth.  

Politics seems to attract all kinds of Demons but when it comes to workplace safety, do we want politics involved or common sense?  Washington State Senate Democrats Push Safety for Sanitation Workers.  It would have been so much nice to see a headline that read, State Senate Pushes.  What do Republicans have against safety?  Yea, it costs a little to have a good program in place but don’t we want to preserve all human life?  Do we want families to suffer a tragic loss?  To look at that empty seat at the table and wonder did the company and politicians do what was right for other humans and not to benefit there own bottom lines?  Must be the work of more Demons.

One thing I learned at an early age in the Bronx, don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time or in this case, pay the fine.  In New Zealand, WorkSafe fine ‘will put company under’ says owner.  I have no sympathy for any company owner who knowingly puts his hard working employees in harms way to benefit from the profits only to cry poverty when caught about the fine.  Oh Boo Hoo.  It’s happened in the U.S. as well with a large corporation caught and crying about the size of the fine.  I do believe OSHA and other agencies like it around the world should first be educators, but when a company is caught not complying on purpose or is a repeat offender, you don’t deserve the company in the first place.  Maybe it should be turned over to the workers to operate. 

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Unguarded machinery and no L.O.T.O. is a no no.  Pallet Manufacturer Cited After Employee Injured By Machine.  It is against the law to force you to commit an unsafe act.  So when it comes to moving parts, before you attempt any maintenance, or clear a jam, do proper Lock Out Tag Out.  This is not a game of “clear the jam” or you being a non team player.  It’s about your life, your physical well being.  Don’t let the Demons tell you that it’s o.k. to do just this one time to save a few seconds.  That’s what all the other dead workers thought before reaching in.  If you are concerned about your safety at work and no one is listening, call the OSHA hot line at 1-800-321-6742.  In California the Cal/OSHA number is 1-800-963-9424

Yes, I guess it can be all about perspective.  In the U.S. last year there were over 5,000 work related deaths.  The highest it’s been in awhile and creating quite a stir in industry.  But in China, they are celebrating a reduction of workplace deaths in a year.  Down to 38,000!!!!  CHINA WORKPLACE DEATHS FALL TO 38,000 IN 2017: REPORT.  OMG!!  But this doesn’t take away from our numbers.  5,000 is way too high and we all need to work together to rid of the Demons and make safety a priority.  

Be kind a mentor a younger worker.  Share your experiences, what’s worked what hasn’t.  Communicate those cautions and tips and keep the conversation loud and long.  Ask questions, read blogs, learn!  It’s the best way to keep demons in their place.  Until next time, please never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.

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Companies Behaving Badly – RESPECT

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Welcome back.  Hope all is going well.  Those of you still committed to your New Year Resolutions, bravo.  Keep it up!

Aretha said it best.

“What you want
Baby, I got it
What you need
Do you know I got it
All I’m askin’
Is for a little RESPECT when you get home (just a little bit).”

Isn’t that all we want from our boss or the company that employs you, for that matter, isn’t it something we should do for each other?  I was raised in the Bronx back in the dark ages (BI-before internet), the 1950’s – 1960’s and along with playing stoop or stick ball and watching The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin or Sargent Preston of the Yukon, I was taught the golden rule and to treat others as I wanted them to treat me.  I respected my elders, I respected my teachers, I respected the beat cop and I respected everyone who crossed my path.  There have been a few instances where people haven’t reciprocated and not respected me but gone out of their way to be rude and I don’t see how disrespecting them back would accomplish any thing so I said my expletives under my breath and still treated them the same way and moved on. 

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People are always interesting.  Some are rude and disrespectful because they are responding poorly to something that has or is happening in their life.  Some are having a bad day as a customer yelled at them, their boss dumped on them, a loved one disappointed them.  Others are reacting to stress from their job as they struggle to make deadlines in completion of  a project, worried about qualifying for a bonus or promotion, fearing the rumors of a shutdown may be true.  Still others are jealous, jealous of the way you look, the way you sound, the way you gets things done or the way you wear it better.  At least these folks you can understand where they’re coming from and cut them some slack.  Then there are those who are just plain rude and disrespectful only because you are different then them.  It has nothing to do with your personality or your job performance just your skin color, religious beliefs or the language you speak, and for a very few, some just enjoy being evil.  I just cut them a wide swarth as they may just burst into flame and burn to a cinder from all their hate.   

What’s really tough to swallow is when a company doesn’t show you any respect but still expects your undivided loyalty.  They don’t respect you enough to give you training or the tools you need to do the job they hired you to do.  One small company spent time and effort wooing me to come work for them and help turn the company around.  We need you to be part of our new team and help bring this company to the next step and make us great again.  They were losing money, losing product, missed deliveries, horrible inventory control and sending out incomplete orders making customers and our sales staff crazy.  They said it’ll be well worth your time.  First day on the job, they had no office, no desk, no computer ready for me.  There was a computer on a shelf in the general area that I’m directed too and had to use another sign on since there was none ready for me.  No privacy, no where to put confidential files and no place to hold one on ones with staff except a conference room or break room when they were empty.  Ah, but I’m assured that this will be rectified very soon.  The next day I get my sign on and password, things are looking up until I realize after signing on that I still don’t have access to the areas I need to be.  Per the IT manager, who is offsite, that’s what the boss gave him as my profile.  I was beginning to see where the real problem for this company was located.   A month goes by, still no office, no desk but have the computer on the shelf that several other workers need to access during the day to accomplish their jobs.  Two months go by and still the same but the continued excuses, apologies and promises begin to ring hallow.  Three months go by,  more excuses, more apologies, more promises.  Into the fourth month, I went bye.  A few weeks later one manager was fired as a scapegoat another one quit and two months later the doors closed for good.   

You need to respect a person enough to listen to their questions and concerns without blowing them off.  Who knows what talent and creativity has been stifled or budding careers crushed that would have changed the industry for the better over the years because you couldn’t take a moment and listen.  Companies find many different ways to show no respect to their employees.  Some are very subtle, telling you that your safety is very important to them and is always a primary concern, then put you in unsafe conditions.  Some are more open about it and just plain obstinate by not upgrading with new safety technology when they can until they make headlines by killing innocent people.

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Amtrak could have shown respect for it’s customers and avoiding all this bad press by doing the right thing in the first place but just keep talking about PTC and now this–Aaron Harris, Passenger Severely Injured in Train Derailment, Files Suit Against Amtrak, According to Luvera Law Firm  Companies that don’t respect the public by doing what they can to protect life and limb should have their board members and executives held accountable up to and including jail time.  Three people are dead and this young man if facing a life time of rehabilitation when this could have all been prevented.

There are countries where they do respect the public and workers.  They see the overall picture and understand that to have a high-speed train you have to have top notch infrastructure to protect people so they can get to their jobs in one piece.  What a novel concept.  Other Countries Have High-Speed Trains. We Have Deadly Accidents and Crumbling Infrastructure  They see safety as part of the equation to a good life, here most companies see safety as nothing more then a hassle.  Shouldn’t preserving all human life be important and wouldn’t that be easier to handle then deciding which lives are more important then the others?

Then there are companies that have no respect for their neighbors.  No respect for their property or their lives. Duke Energy Agrees To Pay $84K Penalty For Coal Ash Leaks  After years of dumping coal ash and saying they’d take care of it they let it leak into the drinking water and waterways.  Then continues to insult their neighbors by giving then bottled water and wanting to charge for it and then committing only $84,000 for clean up which is going to do nothing to help the situation.  It seems we have learned nothing after the Love Canal.  

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Of course there are those companies that show no respect to their workers by routinely exposing them to moving belts and spinning gears and no putting guards in place to protect them.  When those conveyor belts are at full speed it takes only the blink of an eye to have a sleeve of your jacket get caught and pulled in.  It happens so fast you barely have time to get out of the jacket let alone hit the emergency stop button.  Before you know it you lost your arm or worse, your life.  Woman Crushed To Death In Plastic Factory Accident  If you have to do maintenance or clear a jam there is only one way to do this and that is Lock Out Tag Out.  You will not beat the machine.  If there is no guarding on moving parts or there is no RED emergency stop button and no one at the company is respecting you and listening to your concerns, call the OSHA hotline and file a complaint. 1 – 800 – 321 – 6742 (OSHA).  

Companies that show even less respect to workers, if that’s possible are repeat offenders.  Companies that violations are found by OSHA and then promise they will fix them because their worker’s safety is important to them.  Then guess what happens next?  They have a re-inspection and those same violations are found once again because they had no intention of fixing them in the first place.  OSHA needs to triple the fines for repeat offenders and executives must attend mandatory safety class.  South Jersey Manufacturer Fined For Continued Safety Violations  
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We need to do a better job of respecting first responders, highway workers and sanitation drivers.  We’re not off to a good start.  Recently a California Highway Patrol officer lost his life when a drunk driver slammed into the rear of his patrol car that was stopped on the side of the road.  Another officer had both legs broken when he was hit by a vehicle and now 7 sanitation workers had died in the first 10 days of the year!
SWANA: 7 solid waste fatalities in first 10 days of 2018  There is nothing important enough that you have to speed to get there and put others in danger.  There is NO reason to drive drunk or stoned.  There are so many other ways to get home safely that you should use.  Stop being disrespectful to your fellow human beings. 

As you can see, safety is just as much your part as the company you work for and more then ever we need to watch each others back and respect each other.  Never keep quiet about safety, for the life you save may be your own.  Until next month, stay safe.

 

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Companies Behaving Badly – Resolution

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“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man. (person)” – Benjamin Franklin

Happy New Year and welcome back.  It’s that time of year when some of you are actually still following through on your resolution(s) for the new year and I say, bravo to you!  Some of you have already begun using creative excuses to avoid your commitment and some have just plain old completely capitulated.  I’m curious though, why do those of you waste time on making resolutions, when you’re only going to spend more time, energy and creativity on making excuses for not upholding your resolution?  Is it a form of masochistic-procrastination?  (you can comment below).  Of course there are also those of you who, like me, who don’t bother making resolutions for the new year.  It’s not that I’m perfect and don’t need improvement, far from it.  It’s not that I’m beyond help, or too old to learn a new trick or can’t change my ways.  It is just that this is what works best for me, to make course adjustments as needed through out the year and taking on different challenges or projects as they peek my interest in relation to self improvement, training, family, work, travel and play.  

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I didn’t start out with a New Year resolution to become a soccer ref that year but that spring when my daughter began to play and I watched her get bounced around with no calls I knew I could do a better job, so I took the 18 hour course, got my license and began to practice what I preached on the pitch.  With each season I worked on being a better ref because I enjoyed what I was doing.  Watching other refs at work, on the field on T.V. or on videos made be a better ref but it also slowly melded into improving my interpersonal skills as I dealt with players, parents and coaches.  Which ever way you decide to go, what ever works for you, it should be comfortable for you but please also look at all the choices and experiment, push your comfort zone a little, test one or two out or even take some from one, a little from another it’s totally up to you but you should always do what is going to work best improving YOU and not just to make someone else happy.  Over the years I’ve found one real truth, that people only change their behavior when they really want to change it, so give yourself everything you need to help you make those changes and keep in mind it then takes 21 days to turn an action into a habit.  

However, whether new year resolutions are involved or not some industries will just never get it.  Imagine if all baby strollers on the market were made in a way so that even when you set the brake and let go, the stroller would roll away on it’s own.  No matter what you did, even on a flat surface, the stroller would roll away from you and build up speed as it moved unless you grabbed it.  The cry from the public would be loud and steady, politicians would speak of the horror and push for legislation, television news to would do stories on corresponding tragedies and loss of life.  Safe to say the way strollers were made would be changed all most overnight.  We have this technology called Positive Train Control (PTC) and it’s been around for quite awhile.  Even though it could save lives it’s implementation has been constantly put off by the industry with one excuse or another and aided by the apathy of our political leaders who could have made it mandatory, but then babies aren’t dying, only commuters.  Editorial: End delay to train safety  What are we waiting for, a larger disaster?

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 So not only in our GREAT nation have we allowed trains to derail or collide but now we are falling behind on worker safety as this tale of two countries demonstrates.  Singapore had a very high rate of death of workers on the job and decided to do something about it.  They put new laws on the books and unlike our country they actually heavily enforced those laws and now, Workplace deaths fall to 13-year low while here in the U.S. worker deaths increased by 7% to over 5,000 dead.  Who’s the third world country?  Now more then ever, never keep quiet about safety.

What happens when a companies safety program is free will, you wind up killing employees.  Demolition company fined $101K in Holland Civic Center workplace death.  Upon investigation Michigan OSHA found 7 violations, 5 of which were directly related to the fatality.  One other worker was seriously injured and now X-Treme Demolition Inc. is facing fines of $101,000 for no fall protection given to workers, no inspections, nothing, cause what could go wrong.  I don’t think the fines are enough and any owner, CEO or manager who purposely puts workers in harms way and someone dies due to this should be in jail for manslaughter.  Monetary fines don’t deter companies since they budget for this.  We need to start putting people in prison.

 you'llseehumansacYou’d think by now that when it comes to working in confined spaces companies would have learned by now how dangerous they can be if not following proper guidelines.  Construction Company Cited After Fatal Gas Exposures  Before you go in ask, what was in there before and has the atmosphere been tested to see if it’s clear of any hazardous materials.  Is emergency retrieval equipment in place to get you out of there quickly?  Why this is tragic is when one guy went down the others reacted immediately to save a friend without any thought to their own safety.  Each time they were overcome by fumes in the confined space and died and the company was only fined $59,576 which works out to just under $20,000 per life.  I guess we’re all collateral damage to companies that maintain profits are more important than their worker’s well being.

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The same training, practices and prevention techniques that you receive at work you can apply just as easily to your home.  An industrial kitchen is cleaned often and kept free of debris and systems in place that will keep insects and vermin out and so can you.  At work they train employees how to use a fire extinguisher and respond to a medical or environmental emergency that may arise and so can you.  Please teach your children early and often about the dangers of fire, matches and stoves.  FDNY: Bronx Fire Caused By Child Playing With Stove.  Protect you family and your home.  If you have questions about home safety please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Thanks to the new tax laws, companies should have a lot more cash on hand.  How the company spends that extra cash will speak volumes about how they care about their employees.  Some have decided to hand out $1,000 cash bonuses to workers, which is nice but still a drop in the bucket for those barely making minimum wage.  Those companies that take the money and put it into developing and implementing safety programs and PPE to help save workers lives should be touted as companies to work at, but those that just pocket the cash for themselves and continue to allow workers to die in confined spaces, from falls, from neglect should have their names mounted in neon lights so the world can see who they are and to avoid, who to NOT do business with and who to boycott.  Never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.

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Companies Behaving Badly-It’s Not Over

 

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Welcome back.  May I wish those of you who celebrate a Very Happy Holiday and to everyone else, a very Merry Christmas.

While I am writing this final blog of 2017, a worker somewhere in this great country, maybe a mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, son or daughter has just died on the job in an industrial accident and will not be opening presents with the family.  Their absence magnified by the empty spot on the couch, missed voice at the dinner table while the hole in your heart and your life is filled with loving memories of the essence and being that once was.  Was their death the result of a company that failed to provide the proper PPE and corresponding training or was it the result of equipment not maintained and in serious need of repair or could their death have been of their own error in judgement due to fatigue or letting their guard down for a moment, cutting a corner to get out of work and home sooner?

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Over 4,000 did not come home from work. That’s why we never keep quiet about safety.  Maybe now with the massive corporate tax break companies will no longer have an excuse that they can’t afford a safety program.  Time will tell if companies like Goodyear Tire (see story below) will put their tax windfall to good, like fixing their facility so folks don’t think they’re working in a manure pit or will they just line their pockets?  We’ll see.  I had a landlord who greatly enjoyed his way of life.  He had no incentive or reason to change his ways, so much so that every time it cost him more to heat his private pool at his home, my rent would go up accordingly.  So only time will tell what will come of this.  Hopefully the good will come forth.

2017 was full of change for the good and the bad as human lives don’t see important enough anymore.  Laws are being removed or pulled back that protect the air I breath, the water I drink, the roads I drive on and the food I eat.  It seems the message if there is one is muddled.  Do they want me to be successful and live or perish and die.  Not really sure, but I can tell you, Companies Behaving Badly will be back in 2018 and we’ll make sure that those who get coal in their stockings will have a spotlight on them to protect workers and those who do good will be cheered.

Horrible conditions and lack of a good safety program kills productivity and increases employee sick calls and turnover —Treading Dangerously: Lax Safety Inside Goodyear Tire Plants .  This is just a serious indication of what poor leadership is capable of doing.  People shouldn’t have to work in conditions like this and the plant manager should know this and in fact should be shown the door, but instead will probably get a bonus to keep expenses low.  Never keep quiet about safety.

What boys being boys do when they are brain dead?  Firefighters free YouTube prankster who cemented head into microwave.  Yep, that’s right.  I can’t make this up folks.  It’s also why accidents continues to be the number 3 killer of men.

Thank you all for your support this year and stopping by to read the blog.  It’s meant a lot to us.  Please remember you are not the only one on the road so don’t drive distracted or drunk and there are so many other alternatives to getting to your destination safely.  Until next year, never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.

HAPPY NEW YEAR.

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Companies Behaving Badly-Man Made

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

Welcome back.  Hope your Thanksgiving holiday was magnificent

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

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

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

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

'What took you so long?'

‘What took you so long?’

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

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

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

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

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

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Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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

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

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

Twitter Account @SFA_inc               shopfloor

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

Byline: Amanda Rosenblatt, Marketing Coordinator at Shop Floor Automations

Safety, Productivity & Automation Go Hand-in-Hand

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

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

Employee Wiring Hardware

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

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

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

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

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

Make Sure Lockout Tagout is Implemented

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

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

Bad Cabling for Shop Floor

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

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

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

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

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

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Companies Behaving Badly-Don’t Do That

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Welcome back and thank you for stopping by.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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