Stuff Your Boss Probably Hasn’t Bothered To Tell You Cause No One Told Them-9

Did anyone ever bother to tell you that the funny-looking plastic tank mounted on the wall in your facility is not an emergency supply of water but your Emergency Eye Wash station! That’s why I continue to do this series to help you become more knowledgeable and successful at your job because information your boss should have passed on to you never got there and maybe because no one told them.

Any location in your facility that you store and/or work with chemicals you must have an eyewash station. So in any backroom or basement storage area, warehouse, manufacturer, shipping dock, laboratory, or fast food kitchen where you handle chemicals, cleaning solvents or bleach to clean, store, mix or ship, there is the chance of a spill and a chance of getting it in your eye. You only have seconds to flush it out before serious damage can occur to the eye. That’s why you have an eyewash station set up within ten seconds (55 feet)in an unobstructed path from where you are working with those items so you can begin to flush the irritant out and this takes at least 15 minutes of continuous water to flush your eye out correctly. Even if the pain stops before then keep applying water to your eye and have another employee alert management of the situation immediately.

But no one told you this and that thing on the wall, in the dark corner covered in dust and oily smudges with an old soda can sitting on it looks like it hasn’t been touched in months? Maybe Years? Are that algae growing in there? Now someone is in desperate need to use it as the burning sensation grows but the water is rancid or worse, it’s empty! Now as the person in charge you’ll have an employee going to the E.R. OSHA forms to fill out and a possible fine to the company. Do you think the company really won’t throw YOU under the bus?

You can prevent this scenario from occurring by adding to the checklist you’ve developed for yourself, the eye wash station. Begin and continue checking on a weekly basis that it activates as it’s suppose too and you can do it on your rounds. Monday, Wednesday it’s up to you. What ever works. Then add on your list to inspect the unit itself annually for any issues than can cause it from functioning correctly and document it. Also make sure it’s in a well-lit area along with a highly visible sign, “Eye wash station”. There are several types available but they all must wash both eyes simultaneously no more than 8″ above the spray heads, which themselves should be protected from any airborne contaminants. If it’s a wall mount or other without plumbing, you need to treat the water and change it on a routine basis to ensure everyones safety. See the manufacturers guidelines on what they recommend.

I would be amiss if I didn’t mention you can prevent the need to use an eye wash station by wearing the proper PPE when working with any type of chemicals such as a face shield, goggles and rubber gloves. Yes, even if cleaning. Stay safe, be patient, be mindful and listen. You’ll be a success.

OTHER TYPES OF EYE WASH STATIONS

Stuff Your Boss Probably Hasn’t Bothered To Tell You Cause No One Told Them-8

We’ve all heard the expression, cleanliness is next to godliness and in any plant or warehouse, that wants to be taken seriously, cleanliness is next to safety. That’s why I started and continue this series, to help you become a better leader because no one may have bothered to point out that good housekeeping and sanitation practices will not only improve safety by preventing accidents but can also help give equipment less time in maintenance and a longer lifespan.

Cleanliness is the Hallmark of perfect standards and the best quality inspector is the conscience” J. R. D. Tata

No body really seems to enjoy cleaning up but housekeeping has it’s place and by showing employees how to properly breakdown and stack cardboard, to place used shrink wrap, strapping and other trash in containers, and how to keep their work areas clean, the benefit is a reduction of trips and falls which are a top accident occurring in the workplace. By sweeping, mopping and washing your area, immediately cleaning up or containment of a liquid spill that can cause slips and falls. By keeping the work area floor free of clutter, obstructions and other debris will reduce the cause of trips and falls and when keeping it organized helps find tools and parts quicker. You have now created a productive and safe work environment which also leads to less sick time off by employees and increased retention.

Another reason to keep plastic wrap and other debris off the floor is to give forklifts a longer life span. If a forklift or other type of industrial powered equipment drives over it, it can be quickly sucked up into their inner workings and over time as the plastic heats up can literally gum up the works. You do not need the added expense of a down forklift and maintenance service call. Make sure there are enough trash receptacles throughout the facility but located where they’ll get most used.

In a warehouse where perishable goods and other food products are stored, good housekeeping is even more critical and usually referred to as sanitation. This involves more deep cleaning on a regular schedule as well as procedures and programs to control and prevent the entry of pest. A good sanitation program is laid out in a master sanitation schedule which ensures all critical areas are consistently cleaned to prevent any contamination of raw goods and finished food product so the customer receives the finest quality available.

When you keep your part of the universe, what ever it is, a department, a dollar store, a warehouse, a factory, clean and organized bosses and visitors usually don’t feel compelled to look further into what’s going on as it looks as it is, under control and that gives credibility to your abilities. Remember, you’re in charge, be in charge.

Stuff Your Boss Probably Hasn’t Bothered To Tell You Cause No One Told Them-7

Another Super Bowl is in the books and it didn’t turn out to be quite the close game many thought it would be. It was entertaining to watch the seasoned veteran out play the young determined student. Never under estimate an old master, we always have a trick or two up our sleeves. It also demonstrated what fantastic leadership can accomplish as Tom Brady has now taken two different teams to Super Bowl victories. Every time the team would huddle up, he created magic in there with clear instructions and encouragement so everyone knew their role to make sure the mission was successful. This is something you can bring to your team by beginning each day with a huddle.

That’s why I continue this series, because through no fault of your own you may have not received the information or training needed to be successful at your job. A new supervisor faces many challenges and hopefully this will help give you the confidence to do the job correctly and an edge over the competition while impressing your bosses.

You can get the huddle habit going by having the staff assemble at a convenient location usually where they’ll begin working every morning or start of the shift, so the loading dock, warehouse floor, construction site, forklift area, shop floor, or the break room are all great locations. Make sure to join them in the circle and for the next five to ten minutes, no longer, address your staff in a positive and inspirational manner about any topic you need, to make sure they have a safe and productive day. The topics can cover the upcoming days activities, a safety reminder about wet floors during the rain storm, informing about an unusual number of cases to be picked and loaded, reminder on changing the production date stamp, commending a worker for their extra effort or just to say, thank you.

Once you’ve established your daily huddles you’ll open the floodgates to open and honest communication between you and the staff which is critical for any supervisor, manager or leader to build trust. You may not have the best knowledge of how a machine operates but if you can properly communicate and can relate to people you’ll learn everything you need to know. Then you can slowly incorporate a weekly safety tailgate/lunchbox meeting which is usually 10 -15 minutes, and then a monthly safety meeting which may last up to a hour depending on the topic and who knows maybe a quarterly safety committee meeting.

Remember, trust and open communication can be totally trashed with one miscue on your part and then it’s even harder to rebuild that trust. Always get back to staff on their questions or ideas even if it’s to say you don’t know but you’ll find out. Always be mindful, kind but firm and you’ll be a success.

The Procrastinating Consultant

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The relationship between a company and a contractor consultant needs be one of trust, transparency and all about the customer to be successful.  In addition the ability of the consultant to listen should be extremely refined to hear what the company braintrust wants the new system to accomplish but also and maybe even more important listen to how the employees will operate the system to obtain maximum efficiently in the task enhanced by their product.  After a period of listening and mirroring employees the hope is the contractor will deliver that much needed system to make everyone happy.

At the time we were owned by an Investment firm who really didn’t have a clue about what went into the making and packaging of the product we made and had no interest to learn.  The equipment was ancient and abused being kept together with baling wire, duct tape and the sheer determination of veteran mechanics using every trick in the book to keep production moving.  Downtime was a common occurrence and a great source of frustration for each and every department.  With all that going on, the Investment firm in their infinite wisdom decided the most important thing to do was improve invoicing.  Not the equipment needed making the product to sell so we can have something to invoice but invoicing itself as the sooner an invoice went out the quicker we could get paid, but not so we have money to improve production but so management can give themselves bonuses.  Well, I guess when it’s put that way, it all makes sense.

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The contractor consultant the software company sent to work with us seemed a nice enough guy at first.  He spent little time with the employees for their input but a lot of time hob knobbing with the investment firm executives.  I expressed concern but was assured he was spending time on the floor with employees getting the important input but after investigating found that was not the case.  The most critical part of a software upgrade is during the transition period when the employees begin using it live.  You want them to know how to do their job correctly to help build their confidence using the new system and this is usually accomplished with training material provided by the vendor.  As intuitive as the consultant thinks his system may be for users this may not actually be the case with your people if the consultant didn’t listen properly or replaced their information with his own beliefs on how it should be used.

Our consultant procrastinated and when we went live our newly upgraded Management System that was to better track inventory, streamline shipping and speed up invoicing wasn’t!  You know the old saying, garbage in, garbage out, that’s what was happening.  Without the training material people were making scanning errors, weren’t sure how to use the printer let alone how to reload it with labels.  Bar codes were incomplete or just plain wrong and product was being incorrectly identified.  We spent every morning, recounting inventory and readjusting it which ate up valuable time that the new system was suppose to save for us.  It was a mess and of course the usual finger pointing began between the investment firm, the contractor, the consultant and the workers.  Fun was had by all.

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I wanted my crew to succeed and could no longer wait on the promises of a procrastinating consultant who didn’t seem to share our concerns.  On my own time I made enlarged copies of the bar codes, with the name of the product boldly displayed and placed them in plastic protectors.  Wrote out the procedure to sign on to the scan gun and  where to apply the printed label then double checked that the whole super sack crew were in the system and had the proper access.  As soon as the production meeting was over where we found out we had three kinds of super sacks to pack out I went to the station to have a huddle with my staff.  We covered the scanning process and gave them the bar codes and other materials but most importantly I told them there was going to be a no fault policy in effect.  If they made a mistake all they had to do was tell me right then and there so I could make the necessary adjustments immediately in the system.  I watched them for a while, could see they had it down and went on my regular rounds.  The crew loved it and their confidence soared thanks to the no fault and materials so much so they set a shift record for the number of super sacks produced.  We left copies of everything at the super sack station and told the other superintendents what we did.  The inventory errors went away, productivity improved, the inventory manager was happy, our customers were happy and most of all, the investment bankers were happy as we could now enjoy the benefits of the new system. 

I did however make one underestimation.  As it turns out the V.P. of Finance, one of the investment bankers who championed the upgrade of our inventory/shipping/invoicing system had been paying attention to what was going on after all and after our procrastinating consultant complained to him that I had jumped the gun and what I did, oh how dare I want my staff to be successful, the V.P. brought him to our next production meeting and thanked me in front of everyone for my efforts.  I had made a new ally and was able to get a few more improvement projects completed before they sold the company to a larger manufacturer who understood what we did.

It’s easy to complain when things don’t happen as they should, it’s another thing to put your money where your mouth is and take care of the issue with a little extra effort.  There is always a solution, don’t fear thinking outside the box.

 

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Companies Behaving Badly-Don’t Talk Until You Walk

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It is so easy to fall into the open clutches of technology with all those alluring sweet apps, like a genie granting your every wish;  bringing you meals, groceries, bagels, new outfits, games for endless hours of entertainment and finding you the love of your life or an evening of lust.  They do seem to make life so much easier so you have to do less thinking or reasoning for yourself.  Back when this boomer was as a grocery store clerk, I had to count out the change on my own with no prompting from the register but as we all know now the register tells you everything.  Is counting out change the loss of a skill set that helps develop critical thinking to resolve problems?  Maybe?  A start. Less thinking, less brain activity and beating candy crush is not a replacement of the skill set.  

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As we become more dependent on the use of technology and virtual reality especially now with so many working from home which is fabulous for office workers, other white collar employees or late night talk show hosts but when it comes to manufacturing, besides all the support groups like sales, marketing, customer service and administrative, who can continue working from home someone still needs to physically be there at the plant to operate, load and repair the machinery needed to produce, package and ship product. 

Clustered in a control room in that plant along with the latest in technology and behind the bank of monitors, scan counters, dials and flashing lights of various colors all updating production in real time sits the Production/Plant manger monitoring the activity going on, on the production floor.  However are you getting the whole story when you’re just siting behind a desk watching reality T.V.?  Well, I can tell you that the successful ones don’t because they know that tech doesn’t give you the rhythm of production or the melody but when you take a WALK you can hear it live all for yourself as well as being accessible to your staff which is always critical.

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You may have heard of the term Gemba Walk which is part of the teachings of Six Sigma.  I’m not going to go into Six Sigma since it is an involved but excellent way to problem solve but you can Google it and find out more for yourself which I suggest you do.  You don’t have to become a disciple unless you want to get your belts and certification but you should at least understand it and then you can incorporate what you like best of it into your daily workings.  My manufacturing philosophies are a combination of different teachings, tweaked at times to suit specific needs.

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I like the concept of Gemba Walk, it’s like a nature walk but around your facility.  You can call it what ever you want, as long as you are out and about for the staff and around the facility so you can find issues before they become problems.  It’s also a great way to get the blood flowing through some exercise as at some facilities I could walk several miles a shift.  All you need to go for your walk is your eyes, ears and a notepad.  As you touch base with employees and thank them when you find them doing things correctly make notes of items that may need attention or repair.  You may notice an out of date fire extinguisher, dangerous pot hole in the warehouse floor or unguarded chain or sometimes when a worker sees you on the floor they may point out an issue.  It’s your facility and you should know as much about it as possible.  When they do make sure to follow up with them as well as to the disposition.  A leader has a few aspects to accomplish to be successful and the ability to listen is important but to me the one that’s most critical is Credibility! It is a priceless commodity. Once you lose it, it takes a lot to gain it back. 

The walk isn’t just good for your shift but as plant manager I could go for a walk on any shift and quite often did keeping every shift manager and employee on their toes .

This could have been avoided.  OSHA cites Furst-McNess Corp. for safety violations If someone n management had practiced the Walk they would have seen that housekeeping was falling behind and a dangerous situation was developing.  When dust accumulates it can become an explosion hazard and not just wood dust but any dust including sugar and grain dust. 

OSHA Whistleblower Charges Surge During COVID19 What Employers Can (and Should) Do to Prepare and Respond ” https://buff.ly/3jv0oUF Employers you can avoid this, try listening to your employees, they are the ones doing the job. When you blow them off it sends the message of “we don’t care about you”. Listen to their concerns and then give them the plan with a schedule of when corrections will be made.

Why wearing the proper PPE is critical to your survival. If working over 6 feet off the ground you must have some sort of fall protection. Ask for it — Report: Nearly half of America’s deadliest Jobs are in construction https://buff.ly/3jVUQTn

I have found in my many years that Corporate Cultures only exist when the corporate heads allow it. At Wells Fargo it’s a den of thieves allowed to cheat and abuse customers. It’s the same with safety. If corporate takes it seriously and has consequences for those who don’t then it will work from the top down. — Wells Fargo Fired Over 100 Workers For Allegedly Lying To Obtain Loans Intended For #SmallBusinesseshttps://buff.ly/3lRj8ia

When it comes to safety at the workplace, never keep quiet but speak up for the life you save may be your own. You are not a rat for speaking up, you are not a stool pigeon, you are an intelligent human being who took in all the facts and decided it is not worth dying to save the boss a few bucks in safety. You can make an anonymous call to the OSHA HOTLINE – 1 – 800 – 321- OSHA (6742) or your state OSHA. Politics has no place in workplace safety, we ALL deserve a safe workplace. Until next time, please stay socially distant, wear a mask, wash your hands and stay safe.

Other Stuff Your Boss Probably Hasn’t Bothered To Tell You Cause No One Told Them

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Why you don’t block exits, emergency exits, emergency routes or electrical panels with product.  Due to the constant turnover of employees and the many unethical companies out there training is not done consistently or uniformly even comparing store to store if at all and the main reason for doing this series of articles.  To help you.    

As the manager/supervisor you maintain inventory at manageable levels so you don’t disappoint customers but when it comes to those weekly specials and co op advertising deals you usually have no control on the amount or any idea of the quantity that is going to come your way to support the sale and weekly flyers.  Marketing always over estimates the quantity your location will sell and they also couldn’t care less about your limited space or storage issues.  It’s not their problem.  

When that product arrives the tendency may be to store product where ever you can and in some cases with the best of intentions blocking an exit  for a short period of time or at least that’s what you tell yourself.  First you promised to move it within a few hours, then the next day, they’re be no fire here or emergency, that never happens.

In 1911 at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City where they chained and locked emergency exits.  A fire broke out and 123 women, girls and men died.  They couldn’t get out.  Just over 100 years later, 2012, the Dhaka Factory in Bangladesh was a garment factory and had loads of fabric and yarn all over the building making already narrow passages hard to navigate.  A fire started and 117 workers, mostly women died.  It was too difficult to get out before the smoke overtook them.  

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What’s an Emergency Exit? – It’s as it sounds, an exit from the premises so you can evacuate quickly in the event of an emergency.  Actually any Exit can be used when evacuating but Emergency Exits are for that purpose only.  All Exits, even Emergency exits should be clearly marked and light up and if power is lost equipped with battery backup.  They should never be locked (unless they have a panic bar with alarm for easy exit), chained shut or most of all blocked by anything!  Don’t assume because emergency exits aren’t always used for daily activity, that you can use them for storage.  Remember, an emergency is never planned and doesn’t wait until you have clear emergency exits. 

What’s an Evacuation route plan? –  It’s a path that is the quickest way to exit a building from your actual location when an evacuation is needed marked by a series of signs and/or markings.  You need to have this posted on the walls along the route so everyone can see the best way out.  As with the exits, emergency routes should never be blocked and free and clear of any obstacles.  You also should indicate the meet place so everyone can be accounted for and known safe.

Why do I have to keep electrical panels clear?  When there is a fire, you want to shut the power off especially if it’s an electrical fire.  You must do your best to keep it clear.

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When it comes to the storing the amounts of product, there is no doubt you will have to become creative and that may mean moving it around often.  Don’t be afraid to try new or different ideas, in fact try to get the staff involved.  As far as the specials try to get as much as possible on the floor display so customers can get right to it and hopefully sell out quickly.  It’s not going to be easy but you are responsible for the safety of your employees and customers and you need to take it seriously.  

 

Didyoucheckit.   

 

 

Downtime Can Be Good Time

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Downtime!  A word that can send chills down the most seasoned production manager’s spine especially when it’s unplanned.  These little headaches often arrive in the form of product packaging jams, a broken belt roller, a burned out motor or a blown fuse but are quick fixes with production back up and running usually at most within two hours, (as long as there is a spare motor in the storeroom which I can tell you from experience is not always the case).  Then there are those real shift killers of downtime when a pallet stacker has lost its memory and refuses to be reprogramed or the main screw conveyor that brings product from production snaps and a fire watch must be set up before it can be welded.

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When you encounter a long downtime period whether it is planned or out of the blue you can be the hero if you already have a list of projects ready at hand for just such an occasion.  Depending on contracts, company policies or other past practices when there is no product to pack or produce some employees are able to and may opt to go home, please check into your situation before assuming you’ll have the staffing to accomplish your lists of projects.  However, if you can and want to keep employees busy then you can use the opportunity to actually make your team stronger.  Some items you may want to include on your list are:

1 – Cross-training – One of my favorite things to do during downtime.  I expected my supervisors to work one level up and two levels down and all other staff to be able to accomplish at least two functions.  For a shipping forklift driver on the dock that meant they could also pick an order via voice or operate the bailer.  This helped greatly during peak season and was able to reward employees with higher hourly salaries based on the number of jobs they could perform.  Downtime is the best time to refresh or conduct training and the best people to train are the ones currently doing the job.

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2 – Drills – Great time to have an emergency drill and see if everyone responds to a spill, gas leak, fire or employee injury as they should and make sure they use all the emergency PPE required for those emergencies to ensure they properly function.  Breaking the group up into teams and competing in response times can make the training fun.  Rewards for winning teams can be pizza, sandwiches or one team serving breakfast to another.

3 – Walk Around (Gemba walk) – It’s also a great opportunity to walk your facility to see if there are any issues that may need to be addressed.   Sometimes when you are caught up in the day to day activities going on around you, it’s easy to miss small issues like bent rack support, missing fire extinguisher label or burnt-out light.  Make notes and get those things repaired immediately.  One thing I have found out over the years if your facility looks good people don’t look deeper as they have confidence you know what you are doing and besides you owe it to your employees to give them a clean organized place to work.  Don’t know if you’ve heard the term Gemba walk, but it’s part of Six Sigma a philosophy on improving and solving problems.  I love the sound of the name, Gemba but you can call it whatever you want.  Google Six Sigma, 5S, or Gemba when you get a chance it’s an interesting aspect to add to your repertoire.

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4 – Cleaning – One activity that never gets done enough especially since a lot of companies have severely reduced or totally eliminated their sanitation departments.  Keep a list of areas and equipment that would benefit from a good deep cleaning.  Other areas to consider would be dusting the racks, cleaning under the dock levelers (it’s amazing what collects under there), sorting pallets, washing ceilings, or dealing with the dreaded employee refrigerator.

What other tasks would you tackle during downtime?  When it comes to downtime for retooling, modifying changes to production lines or yearly maintenance that is another situation altogether as most employees considered non-essential for retooling must take their vacations like it or not.  Some companies track downtime for performance-related issues and determining future expenditures as well as longevity of equipment and materials but think how good your production report will look when you have downtime but demonstrate what you accomplished to make the company better.  Yes there are companies that understand stuff happens but more interested if you can make lemonade.  So far be it from me to tell you what to do with your employees during downtime but make sure you’re not missing out on that golden opportunity?

 

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Companies Behaving Badly-Rules? We Don’t Need No Stinkin Rules

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As it is workplace safety is not the most glamorous topic around the world and when it comes to personal safety in general it’s not something most people talk about at all unless a major incident has been recently covered on television or the internet.  It doesn’t help when safety managers and other professionals are perceived and portrayed as scolding mothers reminding the kids to wear their mittens or put away their toys.  The reality is it’s not easy walking that fine line between what the regulators proclaim, what the company wants, what the employees comply with and what YOU know is right.
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What the recent defiant acts of the people, opening a salon by the owner while quarantine ‘stay at home’ orders were in effect or protests by other members of the pubic serve as a perfect example as to why workplace safety is so difficult to prevent 100% of accidents.  When you are dealing with people, as we are witnessing when it comes to the health and safety of others let alone their own health and wellbeing, they’re going to do what they want to do even if what they believe to be their right is wrong and dangerous.
So your company spends all the money in the world on high-quality training manuals full of detailed glossy colorful 8 x 10 photos, along with the best quality professionally produced videos possible and enlist the most elegant and entertaining silver voiced of all motivational speakers and after all that plus the additional training reminders, slogans, contest, drills, toolbox meetings, tailgate meetings, monthly meetings and huddles if that worker has it in their head they can still beat the machine and grab that jammed package out of the way without doing a proper Lock Out Tag Out, they’re going to do it, consequences be damned, not when a challenge is right there in my face.

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p>Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Unfortunately the consequences of this employees actions are a reality no one wants.    The employee wound up with a serious injury (total of 15 stitches on two fingers), the company issued a written reprimand along with a 5-day suspension without pay so the employee could contemplate the error of their ways and then upon their return must suffer further indignity by going throught the company safety orientation and safety training on his machine again before being allowed back to work.  Do you now have.a loyal happy employee?  Was a suspension necessary? I didn’t think so, I thought the injury and safety refresher was enough.  Why did he do it and will he be careful and use better judgement next time?  Only the shadow knows. We’ll come back to this later on.
When the people openly protested the stay at home quarantine and gathered close in proximity while not wearing masks or other protections they did so because they believed their freedom to do what they wanted was being taken away.  Their freedom to expose themselves and innocent people to the virus.  Isn’t it funny how people pick and choose which freedoms they want but damn everyone else.  What if a manager or supervisor believed repairs on a piece of equipment needed for production was taking too long and he wanted to sped it up and decided to unlock the LOTO in place at the power source and get things going while a worker was still finishing up on it.  Is he wrong?  He did justify his actions by stating his concerns that his bonus may be reduced for not meeting production goals or as we used to call it making quota?  Because of that, he would not be able to feed or properly care for his family and so he cut safety corners even though someones life could have been at stake.
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Let’s take it further.  A manager is tired of the production line stopping and starting due to a safety mechanism.  The device is doing the job it was intended for and that is stopping the high-speed production line so employees don’t get injured or worse, caught in the conveyor and killed.  However, this manager is concerned about losing his job due to problems beyond and within his control at the plant.  So to get ahead on production he disables the electronic eye from stopping the machine and keeps the line going, that is until an employee got a sleeve caught and was pulled in to the machine and now ironically the line is down and production halted until OSHA can finish their investigation.  As he told the grieving widow, “Yes he’s gone but we met quota and hey, you’ll meet someone else, no big deal.”
In actuality these two stories are OSHA violations and would be willful violations at that but hopefully it bothered you that people were purposely put in danger.  It is against the law to tamper with safety devices and yet like everything else in life there are those who will obey the law and do proper LOTO and then there are those who only care about themselves and their own greed and that’s why more than ever we need to watch each others back.  Now back to our machine operator with the stitches.  Did the company really do justice in that situation?  Did they look at all the facts including his previous record in which he was given increased responsibilities over the 5 years he worked there and improved his skills and abilities without an accident until now?  No, they did not, only pointed out he had an attendance problem over a year ago as they didn’t care it was due to issues he had with childcare.  So what motivated him to do what he did?  Could being pushed to make quota be a partial cause for his accident?  Was it to close to break or end of shift and his blood sugar was off?  Was it boredom or just a case of poor judgment?  The truth is he was was going to hit a new personal high on the number of cases packed on his machine during a shift.  He was very proud of himself in how well he had the machine tuned and got lost in all the excitement and really wanted to hit that number.  The good news is he will set a new record on that machine and he won’t lose any body parts to achieve it.

 

So as we see contrary to popular belief, rules are not meant to be broken.  It’s actually records, records are meant to be broken.  Rules are put into place for a reason and not just because Mom said so, or your teacher is mean, or your boss is a jerk but to keep you safe from yourself and the world. So before you decide to change or ignore them be sure you are ready to suffer the consequences.
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Companies Behaving Badly-The Return

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Yes! Because of your many fabulous comments and requests, which was so greatly appreciated- This is the return of Companies Behaving Badly which will now be published the third Thursday of each month.

This means I will have to add something new and make adjustments my routine so I can dedicate time to writing this series which is a good thing since it’s nice to change up one’s routine so it doesn’t get too stale and predictable but it’s also bad in that I absolutely hate changing my routine.  Once I get a routine all nicely broken in, comfy and predictable I’m set and can carry on for months if not years.  However, when it comes to safety in the workplace getting into a set routine can be very dangerous.

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When we fall into a set routine we develop a false sense of security and then complacency develops and focus is lost.  You’ve backed up your forklift hundreds of times when loading, unloading trucks or storage racks and you have always looked behind before moving and in all those times not once, did anyone walk behind you.  Complacency begins to woo you over to their ways and letting your guard down as your new false security is reason to believe people know better than to go behind you and they need to watch for you.  So now you backup your forklift without even so much as a slight swivel of your head.

One day it happens – 

So how do we combat complacency in the workplace?  We could hire cheerleaders shouting out encouragement to pay attention to the movement on the shop floor but that could become very impractical and costly overtime not to mention distracting.  We could use the grief and guilt generated from the accident to motivate workers to avoid complacency but unfortunately, that has a short shelf-life as the memory will soon fade.

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It’s not easy to be on the top of your game every day.  Even athletes have off days.  You didn’t sleep, you’re worried about a sick family member, you’re ill, you have money problems, but you do your best to stay focused.   You can’t be a helicopter manager walking alongside your employees every minute of the workday but you can have a huddle at the beginning of each shift.  It’s the best time to communicate with your staff about what to expect, what to watch for and any other reminders you want to convey.

It’s also why you as the manager/supervisor want to be on the shop floor 80% of your time.  Watching for signs of complacency and touching base with workers in real-time.  Let’s face it, workplace safety is not glamorous, at times it seems like your parents scolding but maybe if we think of it as a form of communication instead of safety where we discuss ways to ensure we go home in one piece and understand you are just as responsible for your safety as the company you work for, maybe even more so.

PREVENTABLE – Beer delivery firm fined £800,000 after a worker was run over by forklift truck at Dagenham depot https://buff.ly/2Uzutsx  Here’s a case where a forklift backed up and hit a worker.

PREVENTABLE WORKING TOGETHER –  Workplace fatalities are at their highest levels since 2008. What’s going on?  More than ever we need to watch each other back at work. Stay focused and don’t be afraid to speak up.

PREVENTABLE –  Ever wonder what an accident waiting to happen looks like?  Inside a chaotic warehouse where Hermes staff were ‘buried in parcels. https://buff.ly/36XHzTb Wonder what the customers are thinking.  Housekeeping is an important part of safety in the workplace.  It prevents trips, slips and falls not to mention makes the facility look really good too and keeps the brass from looking deeper.

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PREVENTABLE –  This is not complacency related but is a distraction issue which is just as bad. Jobsites’ most universal hazard is the personal cellphone  https://buff.ly/2UwtZU0: We really are our own worst enemy.

Why you need to inspect

PREVENTABLE – A worker was killed in a wood drying kiln because he couldn’t exit as over time corrosion prevented the door from being opened with the push bar from inside.  A routine inspection could have caught that.  The manufacturer was fined $281,250 https://buff.ly/39xcyY3

PREVENTABLE – Widow of a construction worker killed in light rail site fall sues maker of protection device https://buff.ly/2SrUCXx All safety equipment must be inspected on a regular and consistent basis to prevent tragedies. Make sure it’s being done.

Who’d a thought

We are an interesting species.  We love to solve problems even though the solutions make cause more problems like this one.  WIND turbine blades can’t be recycled so they’re piling up in landfills — https://buff.ly/2v6yI4e Just like all the spent nuclear rods we have piling up.  Eventually, we’re going to run out of space.  Do you have any suggestions for reuse?

Well, that brings this episode to a close and thank you all for stopping by.  Remember you are in charge of your safety.  Don’t let anyone threaten or bully you into doing unsafe acts.  Until next month, take care

monkeyfallgearposter

 

 

It’s 9 a.m. Do You Know Where Your Contractors Are?

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As your company grows in sales and expands to accommodate more SKUs, greater inventory, new machinery, and additional employees at one time or another, your business is going to need help from an outside contractor.  They may be in the form of an engineering consultant, general contractor, painter or other types of specialists needed for a project well beyond your or your staffs’ current expertise.

When you make that final selection on your outside contractor before you sign anything make sure to do your homework and check up on their history.  If it all comes back good and you’re ready to offer a contract for the work to be done, on their first day at your facility they should be treated like any other new or temporary/seasonal worker that you bring in and participate in a safety orientation before doing anything. 

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Why?  They don’t know what your expectations are on safety and you don’t want to assume they do.  They don’t know your facility very well and you want to make sure as heck that they don’t contaminate your staff with their bad habits.  You also want to make sure they know that if their workers don’t follow those rules at your facility they’ll be banned from entering.  It’s your facility, your rules and you don’t need additional headaches because an outside contractor couldn’t follow direction and is now in need of medical attention.

You’d be amazed how many outside contractors are injured or killed every year on the job because they either cut corners on safety procedures, were traveling (via foot, electric cart, forklift) in an unfamiliar layout, lack of training or the company didn’t communicate instructions to them properly or incorrectly.  Here’s a contractor who’s paying a hefty fine for not following safety rules.  OSHA Fines Contractor $94K After Worker Burned At McDavid Sawmill and here’s another contractor being investigated for a chemical spill, OSHA investigating contractor B.L. Harbert over Birmingham Water Works chemical spill

As I stated earlier, it’s amazing the number of contractors injured or killed and it appears this is becoming a more serious problem as the numbers have increased.  A sharp rise in US contract workers killed on the job

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We hired an outside contractor to do some work on a new production line we were installing and it involved electrical and concrete work.  The main mode of transport within the facility was by man-lift, elevator or stairs with man-lift being the main one and the rule was if you rode the man-lift you didn’t carry a backpack, tools or other cumbersome items.  If you dropped it someone could be injured below or if it got caught riding up you could fall.  Our maintenance crew knew to take their carts and equipment up by the elevator.  The outside contractor didn’t go through any safety orientation as the company assumed all would be well.

A few days after the work began there was a commotion on one of the upper levels in the facility and our in-house emergency team responded to a call at the north man-lift where someone had fallen.  It was one of the contractors and it was bad enough that a call was made to 911 for an ambulance.  He was in a rush and had decided he didn’t want to wait for the elevator but took his tools up the lift with him and wound up falling two stories.  He broke both ankles, a leg, two ribs, a shoulder and sustained back and head injuries.

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The very next day the company had every manager doing recertification on every employee in their department.  I had to watch all 60 of my staff get on the lift, one at a time go up one flight, get off and then come back down one flight.  Documented it for all and then had myself recertified.  A fun evening was had by all.  Here lies the problem.  When you don’t take care of business the right way the first time, by proper training, proper documentation, you wind up spending and wasting time documenting while trying to keep production going full speed just to cover the company’s ass.

However, this will not be a problem at your facility and you will be in full control if you follow these guidelines:

  1. This is your facility, your rules, you are in charge!  As the supreme leader responsible for what goes on, it’s your rules of the road that are followed to protect everyone from employees to outside visitors.
  2. Any individual from the outside contractor must complete your in-house safety orientation. This is important especially if your facility has man lifts, elevators, confined spaces, danger areas, and flammables.
  3. Constant sustained communication between the contractor and you, the hiring company is critical to everyone’s safety.  What equipment will they be using that day, noise level, dust level and so on?
  4. To achieve #3 designate a point person at your company for the contractor to communicate with, answering any questions at any time while the contractors are physically on-site.
  5. Check-in and check out daily with the contractor.  Greet them upon arrival, go over any new details and see them when they leave.
  6. Stop by periodically to touch base and see how the work is progressing and that the contractor’s workers are not wondering anywhere they shouldn’t be.
  7. Don’t hesitate to ban any outside worker not following the rules or committing an unsafe act.
  8. It’s your facility, you are in charge, be in charge.

 

whf2020