The Company Civil War


Everyone wants to think they’re in charge.  Some sales and marketing departments think they’re in charge.  Some think manufacturing is in charge and some think purchasing and supply chain is in charge.

In the vast city known as Candy-Land (protecting the real company name) there existed but only three gangs who had divvy-up the city and totally controlled it.  All three not only ruled their territories with tyrannical deceit and ruthlessness but were often at war with each other at one time or another.  If only the feuds were about something constructive but always more personal between the gang leaders then anything else.  There was one gang known as Creations and they were ruthless but more civilized of the three in their approach.  Their mission was to make the “product” and dry it before transporting the product to the bins.


The other two gangs were constantly at each other’s throats with skirmishes popping up a few times a week not so much from the gang members hating each other, they did but the leaders despised each other.  The leader of the gang called the Wrappers was Pete the sweet a very ugly, short and vulgar man.  Across town, where the gang the DC ruled their leader, Raoul who was tall, muscular and good looking spoke softly since he was a former boxer and often let his fists carry the conversation.  As I said, the two didn’t get along at all and were constantly in full-blown shouting matches right in full view of everyone mano y mano.

The Wrappers were an interesting bunch.  They would take the dried product from the bins and get it ready for transport to the buyers by packaging it in nice colorful paper of all sizes from one pound boxes to 100 pounds bags to attract as many buyers as possible.  Pete the sweet had illusions of grandeur as he believed he could tell people in the other gangs what to do or how to do it so it wouldn’t affect his gang in their quest to meet packaging goals and his bonus.  This interference enraged the other leaders but really angered Raoul no end who may have taken a punch to many as he believed he should be in charge of all the territories.

The games afoot:


When the DC was having problems with the ASRS (read The Company Hostage) and stopped the putaway of pallets of packaged product into storage this enraged Pete the sweet as having people standing around drove him crazy.  So he decided to go to the DC and tell them how to fix the problem and get it going.  He huffed and he puffed, he threatened and he intimidated, but it all fell on deaf ears since we were already busy doing what we needed to do.  It was easy to ignore him since Raoul had told us earlier to ignore Pete and then call to update him but what really made it easy was our gang really didn’t like the Wrappers so when he went directly to the workers they took pleasure in ignoring him as well and made Pete even angrier when he heard, you’re not my boss.

On the off shifts, when Pete wasn’t around had instructed his lieutenants to climb out of their trees and confront us on what was happening in the DC every time the packaging lines stopped.  We ignored them too or just outright lied on how long it would be down just to really send them into a frenzy as they then had to call and wake Pete at home to update him and he wasn’t so sweet.  He would call the ASRS room where of course they also ignored him but more because they were busy working to get the system back up and running.


There was no team building going on here unless you want to call telling your gang to ignore the leaders of other gangs team building.  I watched as lots of walls were erected between departments as each was surrounded in its own secrecy and not daring to allow anyone else to know their plans for that day, week or month all within the same plant.  The current owners, an investment company, still searching for a buyer had no idea how to handle the situation and didn’t want to invest let alone lose any more money and sent out this one and only in edict in early October as production numbers took a dive, “work things out”.

As with a lot of other companies, the holidays, Thanksgiving thru Christmas were our biggest season for sales, so much so to keep up with the orders we had to begin to produce and stockpile inventory right after labor day in September or we’d never meet the demand and lose sales.  For some reason, each gang leader interrupted the edict from the owner as giving them the authority to be in charge to get things done which turned ugly later in the month.

The day started like any other day.  A quick huddle with my crew and we laid out several scenarios that could happen and how we would respond.  We had spent the weekend clearing out a large storage area in the back of the facility where we could stack pallets of product in the event of the ASRS going down.  The holidays were on the horizon and sales and marketing people were loudly crying about not enough product out in the stores.  We were all trying.  The Creations were having issues cooking up the product, The Wrappers had packaging machine issues and the DC had the ASRS.  We were literally holding things together with chewing gum, baling wire, and duct tape.


As fate would have it our luck and the duct tape didn’t hold out.  Something fell from a pallet jamming the conveyor in the ASRS and snapping the drive chain and taking out a license plate reader.  The DC gang began moving the product by forklift as fast as we could but the hallway that led to the makeshift storage area was narrow and we couldn’t go very fast but we were keeping the factory going.  Raoul came to assess the situation and told the palletizers to slow down so we could keep up with the product coming out and take it to storage.  Emergency repairs to the ASRS were beginning but we knew it’d be down for the day if not longer.  Raoul also knew it was going to be a long day and as he had done before and one of the reasons I liked him had pizza delivered to feed his gang as we were in constant motion to keep the other gangs happy and busy as well.

Pete the sweet was having none of it.  He didn’t care what was happening in the DC and that we were making every effort to keep the factory going.  He didn’t like the palletizers were slowed and even though the packaging was able to continue it wasn’t at the pace Pete wanted.  Pete only cared about Pete and how all this was personally directed at him.  He believed what happened was only intended to hurt him and him alone.  He didn’t care whether the company made the goal or not, he didn’t care for training or safety either and was known to order others to cut corners on safety.  If they got away with it he applauded them for their ingenuity but if they got caught he’d throw them under the bus.  Yet his gang knew in order to survive in the Wrappers you had to do what he wanted or suffer the consequences with abuse and bullying.

The showdown finally came, right there in the middle of the facility.  Pete and Raoul face to face yelling, screaming, cursing and threatening each other.  Pete loudly criticized Raoul for buying pizza, not a time to eat!  Raoul disagreed and told Pete he didn’t have to defend his actions to anyone let alone a little dictator.  The louder they got the more people from all the gangs lined the floor, the mezzanine, and the rafters until it looked and sounded like a sell-out crowd at a Golden State Warriors game with various shouts of encouragement from the crowd.  Hit him!  Don’t take that crap, Pete!  Punch him out, Raoul.  The cheers, the chants, the calls for blood, if I didn’t know better I could have been at the Colosseum in Rome watching gladiators.  We could see that Raoul was getting ready to end the conversation and let his fists speak.  There was no production going on at all.


Finally, another lieutenant from the DC and myself decided to end this and jumped between the two combatants and while Carl began trying to calm down Pete while he backed him up I was pleading with our leader, Raoul to take this discussion to an office, in private.  The adrenalin was surging through my body and my heart racing as I started to think of things to say and babbled, You’re better than this. You don’t want to hit him here there are too many witnesses.  At one point in desperation, I supposedly said to him, the pizza is getting cold, I don’t remember this with all the excitement going on but it actually made him stop, look at me and brought a smile to his face as he caught his composure.  He chuckled and said, You’re right Phil, the pizza is getting cold and we walked to his office.

It took a day and a half before the ASRS was fully operational and even then still continued with the usual ups and downs.  With the efforts and hard work of staff, we were able to meet most of the demand with some late shipments going out at discounted rates as make it up to the customers for previous short shipments.  Raoul and Pete continued their feud and that alone was more of a disruption to the plant than any equipment failures.  It even became more difficult for the Superintendents and forepeople to manage the day to day activities not knowing what would break down next.  Sick calls increased and people just didn’t want to come to work and I can’t say I blame them but now, that all didn’t matter as rumors of a new buyer for the plant began to swirl and we could all feel the change in the air.


This Month’s Tip From WarehouseFlow Advisors-Jun



Accident Waiting to Happen-Visibility

Visibility is an important component of safety.  When you walk your warehouse/facility don’t do it with blinders on.  Take the time to walk and smell the roses, so to speak and embrace it, it’s your domain after all, see what hidden blindspots may exist? Like the staircase below, that leads into an active traffic area. A person in a rush, distracted with their phone or not thinking of their surroundings, may walk right into a moving forklift or vehicle.  How would you correct this situation?

A easy solution would be adding signage, blinking lights or loud beeps that would alert pedestrians to the hazard and focus.  Hopefully this would cause them to slow down and look before crossing.  A painted crosswalk & xing sign is another good change that would alert drivers to pedestrians who may appear suddenly.  The most intrusive solution would be to place stop signs on either side of the crosswalk to further decrease the speed of traffic.  Don’t let an accident wait to happen for you to make changes.  Be proactive.

As you can see the only warning at all is painted on the wall. “Caution Watch Your Step”.  To me that says, my opinion, the risk manager was only out here the one time when someone tripped on the steps and that was the solution.  Talk about tunnel vision.  Don’t stay quiet about safety.

witzshared is the blog for warehouseflow advisors. If you like what you’ve read here and concerned about your businesses compliance. Give us a call. The first chat is free.

Companies Behaving Badly – Falling For You


Falling for you is not an expression of endearment in a love song but a call for help as it seems the falling off roofs, buildings and forklifts just won’t stop as you’ll see in the stories below. Some how we are not getting the message out there so I guess we need to get a little LOUDER!  What ever your job is at what ever company you work, you do not have to work under unsafe conditions. You are entitled to say NO, that is not the way it’s done. The latest OSHA numbers indicate a disturbing trend! As of Jan 3rd 2015 for fiscal year 2014 – 376 workers have died on the job so far.  That is a 9% increase over the same time period from last year.  Here are some other numbers to mull over.  In 2012, 269 of the 775 construction deaths in the U.S. were the result of falls34.7%  In 2013, 294 of the 796 construction deaths in the U.S. were the result of falls36.9%.  If you believe that your company puts your safety in jeopardy and you have brought it to managements attention and nothing changes or you have questions on safety compliance call the OSHA’s national hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).  Si usted cree que su compañía pone su seguridad en peligro y que ha traído a las gerencias de atención y nada cambia o si tiene preguntas sobre el cumplimiento de seguridad llame a la línea nacional de la OSHA al 800-321-OSHA (6742)  Well, in any language, that sounds like this is unfortunately another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

Cal/OSHA Cites Two Companies for Electrocution Fatalities Resulting from Lack of Precautions – PREVENTABLE – We continue to kill our young as employers throw them into the grinder without proper training and then are surprised at the results. Take Five Star Plastering of Laguna Hills for example who was recently hit with 1 Willful and 5 other safety violations when they had two 23 year old workers as part of a three man team erecting a multi-stage metal scaffolding at the high school. Daniel Pohl was on the top level when he suddenly fell unconscious. His partner Joshua Shetley saw this and climbed up the help Daniel but was thrown from the 20 foot scaffold when he came in contact with 12,000 volts.  Daniel was pronounced dead at the scene and Joshua was hospitalized for 2 weeks with severe injuries. CalOSHA found that Five Star failed to properly train these kids on safety or bother to point out the power line hazard. The CalOSHA proposed fine is only $164,275.  Meanwhile Erick Ceron-Alegria a 26 year old employee of Winlup Painting was electrocuted when the boom he was in came in contact with high power lines. Again lack of training was the issue but this time the fine for loss of human life is only $30,410.

Fatal fall from Sparboe Farms roof prompts OSHA to fine subcontractor PREVENTABLE Ruben R. Esquivel Solis, another 23 year old just beginning his journey in life was installing tin on top of a chicken barn on a beautiful summer day when a board under him broke and he fell 30 feet to a concrete floor and died.  His employer Pro-X Builders Inc. of Sioux Falls, S.D. didn’t think it was important enough for their workers to have any kind of fall protection while working on that roof. The Minnesota OSHA issued a whopping fine of $25,000 for the violation that led to the death of the employee. This in my opinion is a Willful violation, should be a million dollar fine since it resulted in a death and the company officials sitting in a jail cell. Don’t work heights without fall protection.

OSHA Slaps Canyon County Steel Manufacturer With Fines After Death of Worker – PREVENTABLE – Ernesto Bemal a 30 year old employee had no idea he would become another statistic that day in August as nearly one in four (25%) workplace fatalities in Idaho resulted from improper forklift use. Ernesto was simply welding when he fell off a forklift and landed on his head, dying later at the hospital.  His employer Superior Steel was cited for not protecting it’s workers from forklift hazards including training and modifications and operation. For this they are only fined $38,780 for the alleged violations and death of a human being.  When ever any piece of equipment is modified you need to do additional training as to the modifications and how they affect the operation of the equipment. Also modifications should only be made with the approval of the manufacturer.


OSHA fines 4 companies after fatal fish plant explosion – PREVENTABLEYou’d think four companies involved on a project together there would be some kind of meaningful communication going on more then just good morning but in Moss Point, Miss. at Omega Protein no one bothered to think of warning the 2 temporary workers hired to cut and weld pipes that they were working above a storage tank with explosive methane and hydrogen sulfide gases. The resulting explosion killed one and injured the other and the resulting investigation by OSHA turned up 1 Willful violation for Omega Protein along with repeat and serious for a total of 13 violations.  1 Willful issued to Accu-Fab and 1 serious for Global Employment Services both for failing to communicate and training on hazards.  JP Williams was issued 1 serious.  All four have a total of pending fines of $187,620, which including the 2 Willful violations, you know I feel is way too low. Companies need to be up front and truthful about hazards and stop this hiding their heads in the sand and using luck as a safety policy.

OSHA fines company more than $76,000 for willfully putting employees at risk – PREVENTABLE – MCM Precision Castings may be precise when making forging castings but totally off the mark when it comes to keeping their employees safe.  In fact they couldn’t care less about the safety of their workers as they were exposed to constant loud noise levels for their entire 8 hour shift.  MCM was given 1 Willful citation for failing to provide audiometric testing for employees, which helps to identify if there is premature hearing loss.  The 17 other serious violations covered many areas including not conducting noise testing, not providing PPE, exposed workers to silica dust, didn’t provide guarding from moving parts or have a L.O.T.O. program.  All of this costs money and why waste it on something like Safety!  The proposed fine is $76,200.  Noise related damage is something that happens over time. It’s not immediate like an amputation but you slowly loose hearing and having it checked yearly can help determine severity of the loss of this precious sense.

Texas Company Cited for Fall Hazards, Unguarded Machinery – PREVENTABLE – Here’s a company that is over achieving in the wrong area. Transition of Superior Systems in Merkel, Texas was found to have 25 serious safety and health violations after an OSHA inspection.  They failed to provide safeguards for air compressor pulleys and belts, grinders and plate rollers. They allowed several fall hazards to exist including an open loft area that didn’t have a gate or chain to prevent falls and a missing stair rail leading to a cement mixer.  They also were found to store flammable liquids incorrectly and keeping forklift that needed repair in service and continued use of frayed electrical cords rather than replace them. What could possible go wrong here? I think Elizabeth Linda Routh, OSHA’s area director in Lubbock put it very well when she said, “Safety and health in the workplace is not a luxury, it’s the law. When an employer like Transition of Superior Systems fails to find and fix hazards, a worker’s livelihood and life are at risk.  OSHA will never tolerate such negligence.”

Florida company cited for OSHA violations at Albany work site – PREVENTABLE – Things at Atlas Steel Coatings Inc. had finally reached the point that an employee felt he needed to file a complaint with OSHA and it was a good thing as they found 13 violations. Atlas Steel didn’t want to be bothered training workers on lead hazards, provide PPE for those exposed to lead, develop a site specific compliance plan, provide showers for workers exposed to lead over safe levels, forklift training or give workers in writing the lead levels in their blood within five days.  The proposed fine is $58,800.  If you think your safety is being compromised at work and you are not getting answers from your boss then call the OSHA hotline – 800-321-6742

OSHA proposes $60,500 in penalties after workers were exposed to dangerous chemicals – PREVENTABLE – Another company that felt protecting workers from safety hazards wasn’t their problem is Georgia-Pacific Chemicals LLC as they exposed employees to dangerous chemicals and other potential health and safety hazards.  The OSHA inspection at the Columbus plant turned up 11 serious violations and a proposed fine of $60,500.  Their standard operating procedures did not contain accurate information on safety systems and how they worked. The company’s process hazard analysis failed to address many issues in the plant including training, inspections and equipment testing. Here again the cost of safety is just to much to bare as it cuts into bonuses and profits. The leadership here has demonstrated that in an emergency they don’t care who dies in the chaos.  Why are emergency procedures kept a secret.  If you have never been told what to do in an emergency or evacuation ask.  If no one gives an answer call OSHA.

OSHA fines Valdosta pallet maker $47,000 for safety violations – PREVENTABLE – Yet another company that doesn’t care about their own workers safety and continues to ignore violations.  Sam Wright Pallets is under continued oversight by OSHA because of their cavalier attitude towards worker safety as they were hit with 5 Repeat and 5 serious violations for a proposed fine of $47,000.  The repeat violations included exposing workers to amputation hazards, electrocution from improperly wired equipment and allowing forklifts to be used even with broken safety equipment. This company has demonstrated it’s cheaper to them to pay fines then have a safety program in place.  This tells me they have only contempt for their workers and should be closed down.

Kettle Falls cedar mill fined more than $150,000 for safety violations in connection with worker injury – PREVENTABLE – This brings us to Columbia Cedar mill of Kettle Falls as they were hit by the Washington State L&I with a $151,800 fine for 1 Willful and 28 serious violations.  Really! Think how much money they’re saving on not having a safety program.  If it wasn’t for the worker who was injured trying to clear bark from a hopper, which they also never reported who knows what else would have happened.  This is a owner doing it on the cheap and couldn’t care less about his employees.

Montana leaders addressing workplace injury rates – ACCIDENT RATES – The state of Montana has the 3rd highest workplace injury rates in the U.S. Not something to be proud of and this is an interesting editorial on how to address this problem.  It’s worth the read.

Committee Advances Bill To Increase Wyoming Workplace Safety Fines – ACCIDENT RATES – Wyoming also one of the states with very high workplace accident rates and they are looking at increasing the fines to help put a stop to the killing.

State Honors Albemarle’s South Haven Facility For Workplace Safety – SAFETY AWARD WINNER – Albermarle Corporation’s facility in South Haven was recognized by the state with the Michigan Voluntary Protection Program Star Award for safety.  Congratulations.

Local plant honored by Dept. of Labor – SAFETY AWARD WINNER – Siplast Liquid Resin Facility located in Arkadelphia has achieved status in the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program.  Congratulations.

CSB Urges OSHA for Combustible Dust Regulations in Wake of Ink Plant Fire Report – REGULATION REVIEW – All I’m going to say here is read the account of the fire.  We can’t put this off any longer and need to do a better job on combustible dust. What do you think?

That my friends brings another episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close. Thank you for stopping by and please feel free to share these stories at your next safety tailgate/toolbox meeting.  Get the word out. Workplace safety can’t work without YOU, as You must be a safety advocate, Mentor young workers, share your experiences with peers and be active on the safety committee and all other related activities.  You can make a difference in someone’s life by mentoring safety.  If your company doesn’t have a safety committee, ask why and how can you start one.  Don’t let anyone tell you it is o.k. to bypass safety protocol.  It never is.  Remember, the life you save may be your own.

Just Putting It Out There – Owners

   San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ers

The San Francisco bay area sports scene is all skitter scattered because after 3 straight years of being in the playoffs, this season by fan standards was a flop as we missed the playoffs with a .500 season. Sure it was also a year of turmoil, leaks, accusations, rumors and injuries which may have helped bring the parting of ways for our San Francisco 49ers (who really play in Santa Clara-43.3 miles away) and great coach Jim Harbaugh. A decision that feeds the fear of an uncertain future around here. The cause of the break up as said by owner Jed York was that it was over philosophical differences and the breakup was mutual which means they didn’t get along and a lot of fans are angry the coach has left and are blaming the owner for this folly. However this article is not sports related but the recent events between coach Jim Harbaugh and owner Jed York did made me think of past experiences I’ve had with owners of businesses.

I’ve worked for a few small companies during my career. It has it’s advantages and disadvantages, they’re small enough that you’re known by your name and not a number, there is no where as much red tape as a large company and change is usually quicker.  Usually.  One company owner had brought me on board to help “change the culture” but soon after he proceeded to micromanage my every step.  As the suffocation increased I had the epiphany that the problem was not all with the culture but mostly the owner.  Even though you are obtaining the results wanted by all involved, you are either not doing it exactly the way the owner would have or as fast.  It shouldn’t make a difference in the method used to get us to the goal as long as everything is ethical, safe and done within all agreed constraints, who cares? In this case the owner’s Ego did, it still needed to step in to fix problems he thinks he sees and this adds un-needed confusion to the staff as the new processes you had recently put into place are over-ridden or bypassed by the owner’s Ego when you’re not around.  Now the owner begins to feel they are doing all the heavy lifting thinking you are not carrying your load when actually your load increased as you try to re-establish order in his wake.

These types of companies run by owner’s Ego survive when economic times are great and there is plenty of business for everyone and you can survive very well off that small piece of the pie chart.  However when the economy tanks these companies usually collapse within a year after enduring a slow painful death as there is no creativity allowed by the staff and lower management to deal with problems mainly because, as the owner’s Ego moods go so goes the daily operation.  Ever been trapped into one of those “management emergency meetings” held at the end of a long work day with little notice?  When the owner’s Ego senses that things are slumping and need to improve, or he wants to try a new direction or new course or worse, the loss of a long time big account.   We watch and see the owner’s Ego in action as he single handedly tries to save the company as for some reason only his ideas make the agenda while others are unceremoniously tossed.  Here it comes, cut backs, layoffs, flexibility is needed by all as each job is now everyones job, oh and that 5% reduction in salary, it’s only temporary.  Problem is people lose interest, get frustrated and begin to find jobs in other companies and with the hiring freeze others have to pickup the slack and feel trapped and begin not to care anymore as they just go through the motions.  Customers are calling and calling and want to know the whereabouts of their orders and vendors are calling and calling and want to know where their payments are and oh yea, in that case you’ve been cut off.  This leads to more emergency meetings, more layoffs, more brainstorming for ideas that will be shot down and more failure by the troops which leads to more hard feelings between the owner and your lack of hard work and before you know it you part ways over philosophical differences but its a mutual parting the ways as you were not made in his image and sorry you were never as good as me and definitely not the leaders fault.  Spoiler alert, it’s the leader. The doors close, end of story except for the loyal employees who work their butts off and are the ones who suffer most.

   San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ers

Then there are the few small companies that I’ve been very fortunate to work for, where the owner didn’t just hire me to “change the culture” but told me instead to “build my team”.  There is nothing more of a turn on than being told, here’s the ball, run with it, oh and what do you need to get there?  These owners are leaders and have a real vision of their company in the future and understand to allow others to help them obtain it and then share their visions as well.  Open thought is not suppressed and meetings are an exchange of ideas and not an oratory of doom.  They take an interest in their workers and help them grow and develop as employees and individuals and don’t lie to them.  If you should, oops, have a fumble.  These are the owners who say, what did you learn from this and now get back up on the damn horse and get that touchdown.  These owners are leaders and the success of their employees to them means they are successful.  I’ve always believed you can have all the great talent in the world assembled before you but it still takes the right leadership to make it all work together and win.  Which leader you become is totally up to you, but I know which way I’d go.
With that said, while the 49ers search for a new coach I can concentrate on the Golden State Warriors.

Just Putting It Out There – 2014 Wasn’t About Respect

A brand new year will soon be upon us and this is my year in review as we bid 2014 a fond farewell. No doubt that 2014 has been a compelling year as it has had everything including wars, armed conflicts, kidnappings, massacres, disappearing aircraft, shootings, protest and all types of disasters unleashed by mother nature. However there was some positive news that came out of this chaos as we saw a big drop in unemployment and the comeback of manufacturing in the U.S. or as this years new buzz word states it, a successful “on shoring”.  Unfortunately this increased manufacturing was over shadowed with record fines from OSHA as some companies continue to demonstrate more concern for profits while not thinking twice about putting human life in jeopardy to obtain it. It is obvious that workers are still being sacrificed to the deity of $money$ as a record number of citations were handed out this year, 8,241 in just the category of failure to provide fall protection.  That’s 22.5 a day. The fall protection standard also now has the distinction of being the most frequently cited violation 4 years in a row!

But is it only the love of money that companies continue to put workers in harms way? Isn’t it also the low fines and lack of jail time that allows companies to incorporate amputations and deaths as just a part of the expense of doing business? They are both part of the problem but the larger issue is actually the continued growing lack of respect for other people. The lack of respect for people who are different from you and the lack of respect to acknowledge that people make the company successful. The lack of respect to provide fall protection gear for workers when working on roofs or other great heights. The lack of respect for people who are undocumented workers, hired and taken advantage of because they don’t know the rules and won’t complain out of fear of deportation. The lack of respect for people by disabling emergency shut offs or safety protocol so production can’t be stopped. But what makes it alarming is it’s not just companies demonstrating a lack of respect for people! It is us! Lack of respect for other motorist and not signaling a turn or lane change but expect everyone to know what you’re doing. Lack of respect by blocking an aisle or doorway with your cart like you’re the only one in the supermarket. Lack of respect for neighbor’s property and don’t clean up after your dog. Lack of respect for others as you blow through a right turn on red and/or park next to a fire hydrant. Guess what, if you have kids when you perform these acts they are watching and learning from you as you treat other people without respect. They grow up thinking it’s the way to be. It doesn’t stop there does it? You also make comments out loud in response to the latest news story you’re watching or about the new people that moved in next door not thinking again of the affect you have. They won’t see what’s really there as you have tainted their view. The “rag-head” that moved in next door is actually of proud Sikh heritage and a physics professor. The “wet-back” selling fruit on a corner is actually a U.S. citizen laid off from the plant and just trying to make ends meet. The man with tattoos wearing a hoodie is not a “threat” but the chef of your favorite restaurant.

As we begin 2015 let’s remember that we are all different in some way and just like a snowflake each one of us has similarities but also our own uniqueness. We vary in size and shape and are formed through different influences and experiences. We are not better then the next person or worse then the next person but just different. Is it possible that in 2015 you can step a little outside your comfort zone and not react in a negative fashion to how someone different looks whether or not they can help you with your journey in life?  You’d be surprised how similar your goals really are.

Without respect there can be no discussion. Without discussion there can be no resolution. Without resolution there can be no progress. Without progress, we all perish.


The 12 Signs Your Company May Be a Serial Killer


You are very proud of yourself and you should be.  You just survived the entire hiring process beginning with; searching the web for a job, sent in your polished resume, interviews, more interviews and finally, it’s your first day on the job and you’re in the Human Resources office filling out your W’s, who to contact in case of an emergency and many more forms galore.  As your day continues you are barraged with new names, introductions and restroom location but what else do you know about this company?  There is no current app to check the number of stars the company has earned for safety or a comments section by employees.  Do you know what their history is?  How many accidents have they had this year?  How do they respond to incidents?   As you settle into your new job routine or have been on the job for some time, this list will assist you to identify if your company could be a serial killer.

Your company could be a serial killer if…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA -You’re beaming with pride as you’re shown to your new work station and you can’t wait to get started until you suddenly notice that the emergency exit door is blocked and padlocked shut.

-Your assignment for today is to assist on repairs of the roof/tower or another high point at the facility. Upon arriving there you find there are no safety harnesses or other fall protection gear yet everyone is standing around impatiently staring at you waiting to see if you have the balls to ask for safety equipment, “Well, what you waiting for?  Afraid of heights?”

-During your employee orientation and training the word “safety” is only mentioned once in reference to proper carry of a firearm at work.

-When you ask about the Lock Out Tag Out program you’re told it’s a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.  Don’t ever, never, stop production and don’t even bother asking. It’s all on the fly here, you’ll get used to it.


-Management orders the removal of the safety screen or machine guards to speed up production to ensure the boss’ bonus and a new car.  For your trouble, you get a frozen turkey while you heal and continue physical therapy.

-Today’s task is to climb into a confined space and told, not sure what was in there before but it doesn’t smell too bad now, oh, since you’ll be on your own, try to be careful.

-Working at one of the 42 U.S. Postal Service sites found to have serious violations of electrical work practices by OSHA or exposed to the hazard of working in the heat without an adequate heat stress management program.

-Your company asks for a price increase so they can enhance gas pipe safety for the community and improve productivity but instead uses the money for executive bonuses and somehow loses the pipe maps.

-Your company begins running a television ad campaign that it’s now a safe operating company and its workers are family oriented folks too, just like those 8 people killed in the community your company blew-up. A double concern when the PUC is an accomplice.

-You find there is no formal certification process for forklift drivers but there is an informal rating for “freestyle”.  Your assignment today is to retrieve old parts from the highest warehouse rack while standing on a wooden pallet with no fall prevention harness or tether and then your driver walks off for his break.

-Today you get to work in what the employees affectionately refer to as the gas chamber.   A room is full of unmarked and unknown containers of various chemicals.  Oh, by the way, the ventilation system is on the fritz but should be safe as long as you don’t allow any two liquids mix.

-The giant “Number of days without an accident” sign at the main entrance has a 0 written in permanent marker.

Wear Your Green Safety Pin

Wear Your Green Safety Pin

You do not have to tolerate unsafe working conditions. Don’t ever keep quiet about safety and continue to be part of the problem.  If your company doesn’t respond to your safety concerns and you’ve spoken to your supervisor, union rep and H.R. make an anonymous call to OSHA. 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).  Why put your valuable life at risk so someone else can put a few extra bucks in their pocket.  Remember the life that you save may be your own.


Companies Behaving Badly – Atomic Food




I’m sure there has been several very significant times over the course of history when people living in that era saw something so new that looked like not of this world, for the first time ever and said, “holy s..t! Is that for real?!”  I’m sure it was said when man first discovered fire, when man invented the wheel, the invention of the printing press, the invention of the steam engine, invention of in-house plumbing and bathroom, the first flight, the radio, the personal computer and the power of the Atomic bomb. The A-bomb and I have a long standing relationship as it was something constantly hanging over my head like the sword of Damocles while growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. Preparing for the A-bomb had us doing duck and cover drills in school and by the 4th grade I could duck and cover faster than anyone since my wooden desk would protect me from any Russian made mushroom cloud, or so I believed at the time.  The movies shown during the Saturday matinees’ only reinforced my A-bomb relationship as the big screen had blamed it for creating such monsters as giant ants to grow in the New Mexico dessert later moving to the sewers of Los Angeles (THEM), The attack of the 50 foot woman, The incredible shrinking man, The beast from 20,000 fathoms, On the beach and how can I forget the incredible, charismatic Godzilla.  This source of great energy first exploded onto the scene at 5:29:45 a.m. on July 16th 1945 (code named:Trinity) when all the work of the Manhattan Project came to full fruition in Alamogordo, New Mexico.  It was first a great weapon to end the World War but it was also suppose to change how we were going to live and be a new source of energy for our homes, businesses as well as power our flying cars and spaceships to Mars. However except for the threat of mutual world annihilation it has not lived up to it’s potential and the debate still goes on 69 years later.  It’s sort of like workplace safety.  You know there are times the job can be dangerous with all the moving machine parts, electrical wires and people still say “Holy S–t, is that for real?” when someone does something incredibly stupid with a forklift but they laugh it off.  Even though it’s been proven that safe working companies save money while also helping to save human lives, the debate still goes on, is profit more important than human life?  So that must mean that this unfortunately is another episode of Companies Behaving Badly. Nuclear_fireball Worker Buried Alive After Sugar Plant Pulls Safety Device – PREVENTABLE – When Janio Salinas woke up on February 25th to go to work at the CSC Sugar warehouse he had no idea it would be the last day of his 50 years on earth. Janio would still be here but the plant manager decided that profits were more important than the life of a temporary worker and ordered the removal of a safety screen the warehouse manager had campaigned for to protect his employees.  Sugar clumps were causing stoppages and delaying production to clear them. So instead of tackling the problem of what was causing the clumping of the sugar (moisture) or installing a vibrating screen to break up the clumps the plant manager instead put workers in harms way because it is cheaper to pay the fines as normal part of doing business than pay for the proper solution and it took Janio’s death to see it was the wrong thing to do.

OSHA proposes $14K in fines after roofer death – PREVENTABLE – George Fifield a 51 year old husband, father and grandfather who loved the outdoors fell 9 feet off a roof while removing shingles and died the next day in hospital.  The company he worked for, Jared Langley Roofing didn’t provide him with any fall protection gear and they were also cited for the same offense in January 2013 but obviously didn’t learn a thing.  OSHA has proposed a $14,000 fine which is not enough.  I understand jobs are hard to come by but the fall deaths have to stop and YOU have to start saying NO, not doing the work without the correct PPE.  Enough voices together can change how safety is addressed at construction sites.

OSHA Cites R.R. Dawson Bridge Co. Following Worker Fatalities – PREVENTABLE –  Yet 2 more construction workers died on the job when they fell 90 feet to their deaths and the following investigation by OSHA found one willful violation. A willful violation means that R.R. Dawson Bridge Company, LLC knew of the dangers for the workers but did absolutely nothing about correcting it.  The employees working near the edge of the bridge were not issued required fall protection gear. Every man for themself!  The fine of $54,500 is nothing for this loss of human life.  Jail time is more appropriate.

Two Ontario worker deaths result in a call for action – PREVENTABLE – Patrick Dillon the Building Trades business manager in Ontario put it well, “We are tragically witnessing a pattern of needless, completely preventable workplace deaths.”  Within the span of four days, 2 workers were killed.  On June 23 a 22 year old, Sarmad Iskander fell 28 stories at a condominium project in downtown Toronto.  Then on June 27 a 46 year old construction worker was struck by a dump truck backing up and killed.  These companies need to be held accountable for worker safety and The Ministry of Labour, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board need to make sure this happens.

OSHA Cites Marietta Co. for Major Violations – PREVENTABLE – Jose M. Hernandez Cruz, doing business as JA Siding Construction Services LLC was found to have 3 repeat violations in addition to the 4 serious violations for a total of $42,240 in proposed fines.  Apparently JA Siding didn’t understand when OSHA first brought the violations to their attention in October 2013 for failing to ensure employees working on scaffolding systems more than 10 feet above the ground were protected from falls; to provide workers with fall protection systems; and to secure the scaffolding system to a base structure. The serious violations involved failing to provide eye and face protection; monitor for safe operating pressure for hoses and pipes; and no training for fall hazards.  OSHA needs to look at tripling the violation fees for repeat offenses.

Fruit processor fined $135k for worker safety failings – PREVENTABLEIf Fresh From Texas Company the fresh fruit and vegetable processor for H-E-B Grocery stores had taken care of the violations OSHA found in 2012 maybe employees wouldn’t have felt the need to call OSHA to file a complaint. This time they found 12 serious violations and 2 repeat in which the company again failed to ensure sufficient working space around electrical equipment and unobstructed access to fire extinguishers.  Some of the serious violations included exposure to hazardous chemicals and high noise levels that could lead to permanent hearing damage in addition to no training and no signage on machines to warn workers.  There is no motivation for workers to do a good job when the companies message is “we don’t care if you get hurt or die!” This leads to our next story…..

NIOSH: Lockout/tagout failures cause numerous injuries in food manufacturing – PREVENTABLE – Food manufacturing workers experience a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than workers in private industry according to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, (NIOSH).  Failure to do LOTO is one of the easiest things to do to prevent injuries but when you’re under pressure to make your daily production goals management conveniently looks the other way to ensure goals are made.  Don’t forget, their bonuses depend on meeting production goals and LOTO is time consuming. Don’t allow this to happen.  Always perform LOTO when doing adjustments or repairs on your machine.  I worked in a food plant with an employee who thought he was faster than the machine he operated when he tried to clear a jam, didn’t follow procedure and didn’t do LOTO and lost 3 fingers.  His reward for trying to save the company time and money was a 5 day suspension and 3 lost fingers.  Was it worth it?  HELL NO!

OSHA fines Florida contractor $228k PREVENTABLE – Burgos Construction Corp. was hit with a whopping $228,690 fine for 4 willful, 1 repeat and 2 serious safety violations at four of their work sites in Florida.  The willful violations were cited since the employer didn’t provide fall protection for it’s workers at any of the 4 sites which as we’ve said before translates into, they couldn’t care less if an employee fell off a building.  They also didn’t provide training on fall hazards which should be no surprise since safety may cut into the profits. OSHA has found numerous violations with this company over the last eight years.  The only way to stop this is to shut them down and put the owner in a jail cell for his total contempt for human life and people trying to make an honest living so they may provide for their families.

Oil boom and fracking cause spike in energy industry workplace deaths – PREVENTABLEThe oil boom in the Dakotas and other midwest states may not only be the cause of earthquakes and poisoning the water table but is also causing an extreme number of workplace deaths.  This continued greed by a few for today may leave our part of the world in shambles tomorrow and needs a good deep look.  We need to stop the killing.  You should check out this article by Stephanie Goldberg.

If You Can’t Stand the Heat . . .You’re Not Alone: OSHA Kicks Off its Annual Heat Illness Campaign – PREVENTABLE – It’s that time of year folks.  Please make sure your workers are protected from high temperatures.  Learn the symptoms of heat stroke and provide plenty of water and shade for workers.

Kitchen Magic Receives Acceptance Into Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program From U.S. Department of Labor – BRAVO – Cheers and congratulations to Kitchen Magic for demonstrating Workplace Safety is achievable especially when all are involved.

That my friends brings yet another episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close.  Please feel free to share these stories with your staff and co-workers at your next safety tailgate/toolbox meeting.  Remember, you are just as responsible for safety as is the company.  If you see a safety hazard, speak up!  If your machine is missing it’s guards, speak up!  If your supervisor tells you we don’t have time for LOTO, speak up and tell him to put his hands in there.  You can not be forced to perform an unsafe act.  If your job is threatened for not complying with an unsafe act call OSHA or call the whistleblower hot line. Silence kills and when you are silent, you are condoning the companies lack of regard for you. Be safe and we’ll see you back here August 1st.

Companies Behaving Badly – World Independence Day



It’s America’s birthday and our Nation is another year older and not too bad looking for a 238 year old. Definitely not the same size and as with most of us has expanded with age to 50 states and still, to this day, these words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.-” are beautiful, elegant yet powerful.  Pretty cool words from a bunch of rebellious rabble who took on the task of kicking the mighty Great Britain out of our colonies and lived to tell about it.  These alleged rebels, our forefathers; Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin, blessed with unbelievable foresight and intelligent thought sat down together, debated and discussed and forged a Nation, only made stronger by that magnificent living document, the Constitution which has been the law of the land for 238 years. These words along with their amendments and interpretations are the fabric of the nation and they have been threatened, fought over, fought for, defended, marched on, protested, boycotted, immigrated, renounced and criticized and yet they still offer hope, opportunities, new beginnings and life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness along with Freedom.  Freedom to work on the job without fear of dying instantly or dying 20 years from now from a malady.  You have the freedom to question your boss and ask for the proper equipment to do the job safely and you have the right to go home the same way you arrived at work, in one piece. Wow, were still talking about people dying on the job, that unfortunately sounds to me like another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

Middletown carpet company fined for worker’s CO death – PREVENTABLE – Robert Williams a 67 year old, who was a part time worker at Custom Carpets for the last 46 years, was found non-responsive on the floor and later died at the hospital from Carbon Monoxide poisoning.  The retired machine operator, (he had worked 2 jobs until he retired from Cytec Industries two years ago) was exposed to 8.85 times the OSHA permissible exposure limit of CO.  He had been operating a forklift with the roll up doors down and there was no other proper ventilation of the gas or a CO detector in the area to warn Robert. Another worker had fallen ill as well from the CO and left the premises to seek aid after assuming that Mr. Williams had also left until a truck driver making a delivery found Williams’ body some time later. Custom Carpets was hit with a $12,400 fine. CO gas is colorless and odorless and you should not operate any piece of equipment that produces exhaust in-doors without proper ventilation.

Forklift Fatally Crushes Crushes Brooklyn Worker Against Wall – PREVENTABLE – Gustavo Tapia a 22 year old, just beginning his life and career was killed when a forklift he was pushing up an incline with an electric pallet stacker rolled back and crushed him against a concrete wall.  Even though the operator was in the forklift as it was being pushed he couldn’t stop it from rolling back.  The article says it was a freak accident but this was an accident due to lack of training and common sense.  The load limit for a pallet stacker is about 2200 pounds and was trying to push a forklift up hill that probably weighed about 3000 pounds or more.  Physics is not a forgiving science.  They had probably been getting away with this unsafe act for quite some time and now a young man has learned the ultimate lesson the hard way, with his life.

Aerojet facing $67,000 in fines for explosion that killed worker in Rancho Cordova – PREVENTABLE –  Robert Ortiz a 54 year old employee with 33 years of service at Aerojet under his belt was cutting through solid rocket propellant with a bandsaw when an explosion occurred.  Mr. Ortiz succumbed to his injuries 5 months later at UC Davis Medical Center.  OSHA found 6 serious violations and 3 less serious for a total of $$66,935 in fines, issues which Aerojet has since corrected.  One of the violations was their inadequate training procedures.

OSHA Fines Seafood Company and Temp Agency Following Worker’s Death – PREVENTABLEIt was a cold New England night at Sea Watch International in New Bedford, Ma. when Victor Gerena a 35 year old, well liked by his coworkers and father of several children was killed on the job when he became entangled in shucking machinery he was trying to clean. OSHA found 7 violations with a pending fine of just over $35,000 and to no ones surprise one of the violations was for failing to put in place procedures to quickly switch off dangerous machinery.  According to MassCOSH this was not the first time Sea Watch was cited for placing workers in danger.  In 2011 OSHA found inadequate emergency training for employees dealing with hazardous waste and insufficient respiratory protection.  Isn’t that nice?  Even though Victor Gerena was directly employed by Sea Watch, the temp agency Workforce Unlimited which supplies workers was also fined for failing to train workers.  You know it cost clams for workplace safety.

OSHA cites two N.J. companies over worker’s injury – PREVENTABLE – Glad to see OSHA is holding temp agencies just as responsible for worker safety.  Inspectors came to visit Maplewood Beverage Packers LLC after a temporary worker was injured falling off a ladder. What OSHA found was appalling, willful and repeat violations which accounts for the heavy fine of which Maplewood received the bulk of it. Corporate Resource Services Corp the temp agency was also investigated in conjunction with the Maplewood accident and fined $11,000. Temp agencies who purposely put their workers into a meat grinder so they can collect their fees is nothing more than a human trafficker.  A good agency knows their clients needs, assures their placements are properly trained in safety and placed into jobs they can handle along with the proper PPE.

OSHA Issues Fines of $145,000 to Buchman Lumber Co. – PREVENTABLE – What began as an employee complaint turned into a major investigation of Buchman Lumber Co. LLC as it was found they had no problem exposing their workers to excessive noise and amputation hazards, so much so that it resulted in OSHA finding 17 violations, including 4 willful violations for a proposed fine of $145,200.  The violations included failure to protect workers from serious hazards of exposure to excessive noise which can lead to permanent, disabling injury.  In case you don’t remember, a willful violation basically means the company couldn’t care less what happened to their employees and to sum it all up, some of the serious violations involved failing to develop and train workers in a hazard communication program, electrical safety, PPE and machines with no guarding.

OSHA fines California Cereal Products in Macon – PREVENTABLE – California Cereal Products Inc. is an organic, gluten-free producer of rice flour products but not too organic about exposing workers to electrical, fall and noise hazards as alleged by OSHA.  A fine of $39,900 was issued for lack of training to protect permanent and temporary workers from moving machine parts during servicing and maintenance activities and exposing workers to fall hazards. LOTO needs to start being part of a national training standard.  They should be no excuse for working on live equipment.

US Department of Labor’s OSHA proposes $449,680 fine for Fontarome Chemical after inspection finds 23 serious safety and health violations – PREVENTABLE – The Fontarome Chemical Inc. of St.Francis, Wis. has landed itself in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. It came easy to them as they were found to have 23 safety and health violations including 7 willful and one repeat bringing the fines to $449,680. They not only didn’t care about what happened to their workers but also failed to protect them from highly hazardous chemicals, failed to establish safe operating procedures, develop safety information for equipment, correct problems or do inspections while failing to protect workers from dangerous machines during maintenance. Workers need to focus on doing their jobs and not dancing around to stay alive.

W.Va. Chemical Spill Company Facing More Violations PREVENTABLE – Nothing better than a disaster that must keeps on giving.  A storm water collection trench overflowed at the same place where chemicals spilled into West Virginia’s largest water supply in January.

Safety Foul-Up Exposes CDC Staff to Anthrax – PREVENTABLE – Procedures are put in place for a specific reason. To ensure you complete the task the best way and safest way.  When you cut corners and don’t follow procedure bad things can happen as the CDC will tell you.  There are NO short cuts to safety.

Texas Worker Safety Hotline Falters – OOPS – The Safety Violations Hotline Program, a bilingual, 24-hours, toll-free line for employees to report unsafe working conditions was experiencing some issues one night.  A recorded message urged callers to call back during regular business hours and wouldn’t allow one to leave a message.  Wow, look at that, no calls, everyone must be working safe, NOT.

Europe Takes a Close Look at Safety Concerns Caused by Forklifts & Cost of Forklift Accidents Drive European Companies to Forklift Free Effort – POV – You can read about Europe’s take on how to deal with Forklift accidents and the related costs.  Interesting reading.

Glove coatings enhance grip and durability – PRODUCT – Gloves can protect your workers and significantly reduce the number of hand injuries. Check out the new product.


That my friends brings this issue of Companies Behaving badly to a close.  Glad you could stop by and check out the latest issue.  Your support is always appreciated and please feel free to share these stories at your next safety tailgate/toolbox meeting.  Let’s all work together and eliminate the #3 Men’s Killer – Accidents.  While preparing for this issue I happened to watch Witney Cummings stand up routine on the Comedy Central Channel.  She has done her research and knows men to a T.  Yes, she jokes about a general stereotype of men, but I’d dare say that most of us have ventured into pure maleness one time or another in our lives.  Don’t do it at work.  You’re not a superhero, you are mortal.  What you think may save some time could cost you a life time of disability and pain.  Don’t let anyone talk you into committing an unsafe act, let them do it.  You don’t have to. Until next month, be safe.


Just Putting It Out There – J’accuse


When employees do stupid things (an immature unsafe act) at the workplace whether an injury occurs or not, who is at fault? Is the boss to blame?  Who is responsible for upholding the culture of safety at the workplace?  All good questions and Blue Rhino is taking the position that the explosion at their Tavares facility last summer was all the result of bad employees not following the rules. Their defense against the 27 violations OSHA found during the investigation, which were linked to the explosion were due to “unpreventable/ unforeseeable employee misconduct” and the result of “isolated and unauthorized actions by certain employees and/or supervisors.”  So then it is the employees fault?

But doesn’t management create the culture of safety through the quality and frequency of training, response to safety issues along with the written “rules of the road” including the thresholds required for progressive discipline, reprimands and terminations.  When a manager sees an employee working without the mandatory PPE that’s required, isn’t the manager at fault if they ignore it?   So then the answer must be, it is managements fault!

There was a forklift driver in the shipping department on graveyard shift who wore headphones and listened to loud rock music while driving across the dock, back and forth loading trailers.  The new supervisor approached him and asked him to remove the headphones where upon he was informed that he was the first supervisor to ask him to do this. Apparently no one thought it was an important issue to stop and speak to him.  The supervisor insisted and was then told the employee might not be able to work as fast without the music.  The supervisor patiently explained his concern about him not hearing and backing over an employee and the worker’s quick retort to that was, “then they’ll just have to watch out for me, won’t they.”

That was a big red flag about the safety culture here, and it was troubling.  The icing on the cake was to come later that night when the foreperson informed the new supervisor how wrong he was to do this to the best and fastest worker they had on the shift.  The flabbergasted supervisor told her he couldn’t live with the guilt if he hadn’t said something and an employee was later hurt.  “Management doesn’t care about safety around here or care about us” she told him, “After a few weeks you’ll give up and be just like all the others supervisors.”

He stuck to his guns on the issue at hand but wondered where was the disconnect?  Everyone wants you to be a nice guy, just look the other way this time boss but you have to know damn well that if an employee gets injured on the job and it goes to a trial the attorneys are going to burn the supervisor for not saying anything to that employee let alone live with the guilt for not having said anything.  Now for our new supervisor, on to find the problem and the first step was to attend the monthly safety meeting.

It is a company mandatory monthly meeting.  There were handouts galore with images and pictures of various types of PPE and company rules as the foreperson read from a prepared script to deaf ears.  The employees were reading newspapers, playing dominos, doodling on their handout sheets creating very inventive new PPE.  No one heard the message of safety, no one did care on this level but the company could proudly display, hey, we have monthly safety meetings. If anything happens, it’s the employees fault.

Alas he was intrigued by this challenge and had to look further into this so he made time and spoke to each employee on his shift as he shadowed them learning about their individual jobs. It is a perfect opportunity to learn about your team and what the issues are for them and he learned that safety issues were brought up to management but nothing was done to correct the issues.  There was no two way communication going on at all.  Concerns went up the pipe and vanished never to be heard from again.  A horrible message to send and it explained their attitudes and why people didn’t take the safety meetings seriously.  This was a talking safety but do nothing culture one of the worst kinds. It’s the type of culture that will generate a call to OHSA from that anonymous complaint.

He needed a way to show the workers he was serious about his commitment to safety besides just reminding them about wearing their PPE.  This was compounded when he found that safety was not enforced equally between the shifts as his team now wanted to know “why don’t the other shifts have to follow the rules like we do?”  He told them the company rules are safety glasses, ear plugs and hard hat.  There’s a reason for that rule, to protect you and I want you to go home the same way you arrived at work today, in one piece.  He knew he had reached them on some level as they starred back in shock that someone cared.

Our new supervisor lead the next safety meeting.  He went over the handouts with the staff for that month’s company safety topic and then… he pulled out a white board and marker and turned to the group and looked at them and asked, “O.K.  Let’s make a list of safety concerns you have.” WHAT?  They sat in stunned silence and then it began, a very slow trickle of issues and then they got into it, bouncing issues off each other and the list began to grew as well as their excitement.  “So now what?”  Well, which do you think are the top ten?  [Yes folks there were that many issues.]  We hammered out a list of 10 as a team as you could see they began to become comfortable with the concept of engagement.

The new supervisor had, through detective work, discussions, hit and miss and a lot of “can I buy you a coffee?” with other management staff was finally able to get into the company maintenance work order program.  The longest aspect of assembling the materials needed to do this was obtaining a sign on and password.  There were many hoops to jump and tricks to perform but the squeaky wheel does get oiled, after a few times anyway.  Now to put things into play.

As a individual work order was generated for each item on the top ten list he had marked them as “Priority – Safety Hazard”. Each work order had a identifying number, was in the system and visible to all.  He then created a spread sheet with columns, work order numbers, the repair issue and estimated completion date which was then prominently displayed so all the employees could see that their issues were valid and were to be addressed. Maintenance department was not pleased with the new supervisor since he had invaded their complacency and that created fear as they hadn’t been accountable for years.

The concern for the safety of people paid off as an excellent team was formed and they almost daily met their daily goals and regularly out-performed the other shifts and they continued to have lively engaging safety meetings.  Someone demonstrated that they actually cared and listened to them and they responded.

So I think we may have an answer to the question, who’s fault is it when an employee does something stupid?  Well I would have to say, It’s everyone’s fault.  Somewhere the culture of the company has let the employees and itself down due to a disconnect which shouldn’t be a surprise when the culture is to talk about safety but doesn’t follow through when safety issues and concerns are brought to management’s attention. You don’t want to lose the employee’s trust.

You can change that!  I’m not going to lie, it’s not going to be easy and it doesn’t help when other superintendents, managers and department heads walk by an employee not wearing their PPE and don’t challenge it let alone wear the required PPE themselves.  You will be labeled a trouble maker, not a team player but remember YOU have control over your part of the company whether a warehouse, production line or office.  As part of management you set the standards for the operation.  Have safety tailgate meetings and allow employees to do the demonstration in front of their peers. Next time you have to take down a piece of equipment for repair turn it into a safety learning lesson including LOTO.  Be an example to all your staff and always wear your PPE.  Get involved with or create a safety committee.  Speak to the other shift supervisors, they may have the same experiences you’re having and soon another shift is following the rules and another and soon the whole plant.  It’s a culture change you can begin

The bottom line is, when it comes to workplace safety you want to do the right thing all of the time.  You can’t be Mr. nice guy one minute and then clamp down the next, you’ll loose credibility.  Be respectful, be consistent, be firm, be fair.  You have to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and if you believe that the grief you’ll get from an employee because you tell them to put on their safety glasses is some how worse than dealing with the life time of guilt because they’re blinded for life, then you may be in the wrong line of work.