Companies Behaving Badly – A New Year of Dying


What kind of resolutions have you made for the new year?  Are any of them related to safety at work?  Really!?  That’s great, but seriously, how long will that last before that next temptation to just reach in, comes along?  You know those days, you’re not in the mood and don’t want to have to stop the line and do LOTO just to clear that little jam.  I can clear it in no time!  You wait and time the machine’s movements as you ready to pounce on the jam like a lion on it’s prey and the moment comes and you go for it.  Or it’s not a bad day outside and no one is on the roof, working, except you.  You have one quick job to do that should take no time!  There’s a slight angle on the roof but you know you can manage it and you’re not in the mood to stop and have to put on that fall protection gear and hey, no one’s watching.  So you bravely go out on to the roof and you go for it.  It could have gone either way, like gambling.  You’re gambling with your life when decide to ignore safety.  In stead of placing down a chip or cash you placing your life, your essence, your being, your existence on a bet that you won’t die working unsafe this one time or as it really turns out over the course of a life, many times.  If you lose your bet it’s not over, because you have now cheated your family.  Cheated them from knowing you, being with you, learning from you, talking to you.  You’re gone.  As of December 5th. 2015, according to the latest numbers from OSHA, 185 have died in industrial accidents at work.  Why are you betting your life?  Well, that unfortunately sounds like yet another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.


Feds cite Leavittsburg company for fall risk to workers – PREVENTABLE – WHY do falls continue to be the leading cause of industrial accident death?  Because of companies like B&B Plastering who exposed workers to falls at 2 different work sites.  At one site employees were working on scaffolds without railings or fall protection gear and exposed to falls of up to 24 feet and the other site up to 16 foot falls.  They also failed to provide a ladder or other safe means to access the work platforms of the scaffold or hard hats or other PPE.  For this stupidity, they were cited for 4 Willful and 3 Serious and a proposed fine of $131,440. They were also cited for similar hazards in 2010.  It is not required or a part of the job to put yourself at risk.  If you feel you are being taken advantage of or put into unnecessary danger you don’t have to do it. Don’t keep quiet about safety. Call the OSHA hotline1 (800) 321-6742.

3 Workers Suffer Amputation Injuries at OH Envelope Printing Facility – PREVENTABLE – Most of us learn after putting a hand in a fire that it burns,hurts and not to do it again.  Most companies can figure out on their own after one worker suffers an amputation they need to fix it.  However that was not the case with Envelope1 as 3 workers experienced amputations of fingers within a 4 month period. OSHA has cited them for 3 Willful and 4 Serious violations with a proposed fine of $88,200. As you know a willful violations means that the company knew the hazard(s) existed but couldn’t care less if anyone was injured or killed by it. Which explains why only 1 of the 27 production lines had proper guarding in place.

OSHA fines Cicero plant for multiple worker safety violations – PREVENTABLE – Another company that had no problem exposing workers to hazards is Electronic Plating Company who not only exposed it’s employees to machinery and live electrical hazards but also exposed them to cadmium. After an inspection, based on an employee complaint, they were cited for 1 Willful, 8 Repeat, 8 Serious and 1 other safety violations along with a proposed fine of $157,000.  The 8 repeat violations tell you how much they don’t care about their workers and how much profits means to them.  If you work in a noisy environment you should be given hearing protection at no cost to you and you hearing tested annually.  When working with chemicals and metals you should also receive training on the chemicals you’re working with, their dangers, how to handle and how to respond to a spill as well as the proper Personal Protective Equipment at no cost to you.  If this is not happening, don’t put your life in danger. Don’t keep quiet about safety and call the OSHA hotline -1 (800) 321-6742

OSHA Cites Cement Plant for Repeated Hazards – PREVENTABLE – Yet another company that couldn’t care less if their workers are injured or not even though there are solutions to prevent it.  Quality Ready Mix Inc., St. Mary’s, Ohio was cited by OSHA for 1 Willful, 3 Repeat and 2 Serious safety violations and a proposed fine of $51,920.  The company couldn’t be bothered with developing permit required confined space procedures and train employees on those procedures, it sounds so expensive.  There was also no fall protection, protection from moving parts of machinery and electrical hazards. It helps keeps you on your toes at work when you’re trying to avoid more than one way to get hurt or die while working and it’s a little difficult to concentrate on the job at hand.

Roofing firm cited by OSHA for ignoring fall hazards – PREVENTABLE – This time Force Corp. is the company that knew of a danger to it’s workers and looked deep into their conscience and then did nothing about it.  Now they’ve received 1 Willful and 4 Serious safety violations that can cost them $91,000 in proposed fines. Working at least 18 feet off the ground, 3 employees there on the roof had no fall protection at all, but can you totally blame them? The safety harnesses on site were found damaged not to mention the improperly sized ladders the employees were given to use.  It is very disturbing as well as disappointing that companies don’t view employees as assets and nothing more then expendable and cost of doing business.  It doesn’t have to be that way. Never keep quiet about safety, the life or limb you save may be your own.

Construction Company with ‘Severe Violator’ Owner Cited for Willful Fall Protection Violations – PREVENTABLE – One more company tossing grist into the mill.  DMAC Construction LLC allowed it’s precious and dear employees work up to 25 feet off the ground without any fall protection. For their lack of concern for workers earned them 1 Willful safety violation and a proposed fine of $70,000.  Would have the fall protection gear cost much less, yes they would have and they could still have banked profit but then you would have to care.  Due to their long history of putting workers at risk DMAC has earned a place in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.  You don’t have to work at heights without fall protection. Even if they promise you a few more dollars to look the other way, who will take care of your family when you are dead?  Call the OSHA hotline at 1 (800) 321-6742


Camden Park Issued More Than 40 OSHA Violations For Safety Hazards – PREVENTABLE – In a response to an employee complaint about safety at Camden Park, the OSHA inspection found 40 Serious and 5 other-than-serious violations and a proposed fine of $65,100. Employees were exposed to fall, electrical, chemical and amputation hazards as well as obstructed exit routes that were not visibly marked and lack of machine guarding and no hazard communication plan.  Not only were workers put at risk but the visitors were also just as much at risk.  This is also a great example of poor leadership by allowing safety to fall to the way side just to save a few bucks.

South Brunswick Coca-Cola Warehouse Fined For Unsafe Conditions – PREVENTABLE – Even if corporate doesn’t find the managers with poor leadership, caring employees who enjoy their jobs will expose them as one made an anonymous complaint about warehouse working conditions.  The OSHA inspection it triggered found blocked exit routes, improperly stored compressed gas cylinders, holes in the floor among a few violations at the Coca-Cola distribution warehouse in Monmouth Junction. This earned them 4 Repeat and 2 Serious violations and a proposed fine of $61,600.  The forklift drivers also didn’t get license renewals or new training in addition to drive with loads on floors with holes that makes the job harder and more dangerous.  Now you understand why the employee went to OSHA. I’m sure he started with his supervisor and never heard back or has been threatened to “shut up”. This employee knew better then to keep quiet about safety.

Oregon OSHA’s Recordkeeping, Recording Rules Taking Effect Jan. 1 – NEW RULES IN OREGON – Working in Oregon? Be aware of the new reporting rules in the state.

Spike in NYC workplace fatalities in 2014 leaves 78 dead on the job – What’s happening in the big apple?  Lax enforcement and poor company leaders, cutting corners make for a dangerous concoction.

Forklift driver who died at work had no training – NEW ZEALAND – Employer allowed workers to use forklifts with no training at all and what you would expect to happen, happened.  An employee was killed due to utter senselessness.

Roofing contractor pleads guilty to lying to OSHA – UPDATEA roofing company owner has pleaded guilty to lying to OSHA and willful violation of an OSHA rule, in a rare criminal conviction for a safety violation in the death of an employee.  More owners that are found to be willful in the injury or death of employees should be prosecuted.

Departments of Justice and Labor Announce Expansion Initiative to Address Worker Safety Violations – NEWS – Its coming – Someone in the government was thinking for a change and they have figured out how to finally fine and prosecute owners that purposely place their workers in danger. Along with the new higher fines we should be able to reduce the accidents and deaths that claim too many.

30 years after gas blast: ‘When is a political favor worth 12 lives?’ – by John Stroud  Very good article you should read.  It’s a shame that we really don’t learn from previous lessons and still make the same mistakes again and again.

Well that my friends, brings yet another episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close. Wish all of you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.  Thank you for taking time out of your crazy day and spending it here.  Please don’t hesitate to use any or all of these stories at your next tailgate/toolbox safety meeting. If you are not having safety meetings, ask your supervisor, foreperson, union representative and/or H.R. person why?  Don’t accept “cause” as the answer and never keep quiet about safety. The life you save may be your own. Until the 15th. stay safe.

Just Putting It Out There – Leadership The Glue That Binds it All.

Luke Walton & Steve Kerr

Luke Walton & Steve Kerr

You do everything you can to protect your employees at the workplace.  You take all the necessary steps by beginning with a hazard analysis to identify potential dangers and eliminate them, you buy the best and latest styles in PPE so employees will wear them, you make housekeeping a priority and keep a neat and organized facility that looks professional and reduces trips and falls.  You have training classes and drills for any emergency whether medical, natural or man-made that you may encounter, keeping everyone prepared so they know what to do to survive.  You have weekly tailgate/toolbox meetings and a monthly safety meeting on a consistent basis. With all this effort and energy put into keeping your employees safe as you all try to walk down the “Green Brick Road of Safety”, is there really anything else that can be done to enhance their safety?  Yes, there is one more thing you can add that will help immensely and it’s staring right at you in the mirror.  It’s called Coaching/Leadership.  I will be using the term coach/coaching for convenience but you can just as well use leader/leadership.  After working for a company where shift managers were called coaches and workers were called players along with my love of sports, I happen to like the term “coach” much better.

The Golden State Warriors won the NBA Championship with basically the same personnel on the floor they had when they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs a year earlier.  They had assembled the talent and components needed to win and lord knows they had the fan base.  The only significant change to the team from last season was the coach and his staff.  You know the results, Steve Kerr (pictured above) earned his first NBA Championship and I’m here to say to you, you can have the greatest player in the world on your team, but without great coaching/leadership your team won’t achieve the goal. 

That’s why coaching goes well beyond training.  When training an employee you are teaching them a specific skill set, a routine or procedure like how to drive a forklift, how to properly lift a box, or how to handle a liquid spill.  However when coaching you’re building people into great employees by communicating positive feedback on performance improving their self-esteem, building confidence and increasing their knowledge so they are successful at accomplishing their assigned tasks and goals.  I believe the seasoned operator knows his machine better than anyone else, in fact some really good ones know just by the sound how well it’s running.  Some companies allow only maintenance personnel to make adjustments or change overs on machinery.  I find this can waste time as maintenance personnel can often be tied up on several planned projects while trying to put out many fires.  We were allowed to experiment on our shift since I wouldn’t shut-up about it and by allowing the machine operators to make those adjustments and change overs to their machines we experienced an increase in our production numbers and a drastic reduction in down time.  The workers were given an opportunity to have a voice and feel good about being part of the solution and that happens when the coach listens.

Bruce Bochy - S.F. Giants

Bruce Bochy – S.F. Giants

Coaching corrects behavior or performance issues without the threat of punishment which should only be used as a last resort.  A coach sets the standard of ethics and morals that everyone in the facility will be following when it comes to safety, performance, professionalism and how to treat and respond to each other.  A coach sets the level of tolerance for infractions and consequences geared to help the employee improve not just fail again. A coach does not allow employees to engage in horseplay or distracting behavior of any kind while working but gives time to talk and provides a means to blow off steam and reward their efforts.  A coach is an advocate for their employees and shows them, “Yes, they can do it” when helping them learn a new skill and improving their ability to earn more income and a coach makes sure they themselves always sets an example for all.

As in any sport or job a coach makes sure you’re prepared for the upcoming match and ready to execute the game plan with the man power, equipment and supplies required.  A coach begins each work day with a morning huddle to keep you informed, focused and motivated so you’re confident to; elevate your level of performance.   A good coach knows that they need to counsel employees in private, praise them in public, brag about them to the upper brass and to engage staff, listen to their feedback which can result in growth and continuous improvement for them as well as yourself.  Above all a great coach knows to always say thank you for a job well done.

A coach creates and sustains a culture and atmosphere that is conducive for learning and where employees can feel free to ask questions and freely engage in the exchange of ideas on workplace safety, improved equipment maintenance or in obtaining better production results without fear of ridicule.  I’ve seen the other side of the coin in one plant I worked. The department manager couldn’t figure out why we were having certain production issues and never bothered to engage the staff or listen as he would shoot down every idea as “stupid” or “that’ll never work” and then dismissed everyone by putting them down like they were idiots.  He never could see the answers because he closed off communication and began to blame others for the problems.  It was killing moral, production was dropping, sick calls increased and it made for a bad situation which led to bickering between him and other department managers that were also affected right on the production floor for everyone to watch.

A coach delivers timely tailgate/toolbox meetings, interesting monthly safety meetings that involves the staff in presentations.  The coach should almost always direct his team from the playing field itself and not issue commands entrenched in an office behind their desk. A coach knows they need to be on the floor so they can encourage, critique, answer questions as well as observe and document the good along with the bad to develop and offer obtainable goals and objectives to help you grow and retain these employees you’ve developed but even then there is no guarantee they’ll stay as great head coaches from successful NFL teams tend to spawn future head coaches for other NFL teams.  That in itself can be very satisfying.

Whether you are a manufacturer of red ruby slippers or a flying monkey pet food distributor while you lead your company down the “Green Brick Road of Safety” and the Scarecrow forgets to wear his PPE, or the Tin Man has a hazardous liquid spill or the Lion frets about training on a new piece of equipment and the accident prone Wicked Witch creates havoc on the shop floor, don’t bother looking for the man behind the screen as you can always spot the coach on the floor. They’re the one looking cool, collected, assessing the situation, reassuring and encouraging everyone and keeps things going without so much as skipping a beat.  So you see the COACH is the glue. 

Golden State Warriors - 2014-2015 NBA Champions

Golden State Warriors – 2014-2015 NBA Champions


Companies Behaving Badly – Temporary Dead Labor


Recruiting and supplying people for various jobs in various industries has gone on since the early years of mankind.  At one time the British navy used press gangs to recruit for many open positions (unwillingly) and now day laborers patiently wait in parking lots hoping to work as it’ll mean how hungry they’ll go to sleep tonight.  However, today it’s the temporary agencies that provide the bulk of labor to companies with workers and in some cases they’re nothing more than just grist for the mill.  For some agencies, who sign a big contract with a large corporation to supply their temporary workforce they become corrupted by the money and the people they’re supplying are no longer human in nature but a commodity with value. Like most corrupted people they don’t want the cash flow to end so they never bother to ask questions, never bother to inspect the potential employers premises, don’t want to understand what is done there or what skills are needed, don’t know what hazardous materials are used if any, what hazards in general they may encounter or bother to offer any kind of training or even the courtesy of a heads up that the temp is being placed in hell and could be severely injured or die.  OSHA has recently demonstrated that staffing agencies can no longer be ignorant or blind to the working conditions of the company they place workers.  All agencies should be on notice that you are responsible for your temporary employees and need to provide them with safety training, explain what PPE is required and why, and what kinds of materials they will be working with or around.   OSHA has already fined several agencies for their lack of care and will continue to do so, if you continue to provide grist for the mill. Speaking of which, we have passed the thousand mark in workers who have died in industrial accidents as 1,035 have passed as of July 25, 2015. (The latest data OSHA has compiled.  Apparently they’re behind in paper work).  The good news is at this time last year the total was 1,098, so we’re 6% drop. Nice work people.  However, that still unfortunately sounds like another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

Company owner disputes OSHA’s portrayal of ‘willful’ violations – PREVENTABLE – A 21-year old worker, excited to be working his first day on the job and ready to begin a career suffered amputations to 4 fingers on his right hand that was severely burned by molten plastic.  His employer, Quality Blow Molding Inc. not only didn’t think it important to properly train the employee on machine safety but didn’t report the accident. The company owner said, the employee was shown what to do.  That is such a vague statement when it comes to training and I’ve been on the end of that, shown what to do training is really like.  There’s the machine, here are the switches, get it done and be careful.  Was he shown LOTO or what to do if there was a jam?  I’ve found that when training on the first day, you don’t  get to see all the incidents that can happen like you don’t see a jam and how it’s handled.  OSHA also didn’t see it that way either and fined them $171,270 for 2 Willful, 2 Repeat and 1 other than serious violations.  Yea, 2 repeat, this company was told twice before, 2014 and 2010 to fix this problem on training, LOTO and machine guards but didn’t get the message and now a young man has been changed for life.

OSHA cites Dyson Corp. after worker loses part of finger – PREVENTABLE – Another young man, a 23-year old has paid the price for his employers lack of a safety program and had trusted that his employer, Dyson Corporation would keep him safe. The inspection that followed the accident found 2 Willful, 3 Repeat and 3 Serious violations and handed a proposed fine of $170,170 as well as placed into the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.  Workers were not trained on safety procedures or placing machine guards.  This will be interesting to follow as the company brain trust has reached out to OSHA and after years of repeat violations may have gotten the message and wants to change their evil ways. Let’s hope it’s just not talk to reduce their fine and they do make an honest effort to improve safety.

Lancaster battery recycler facing OSHA fines – PREVENTABLE – How would you feel if you found out your employer was exposing you to lead and other harmful substances on a daily basis even after they’ve been told to fix the problem by OSHA?  Well that’s how employees of Retriev Technologies Inc. must feel as they were cited for 8 Repeat and 1 lesser than serious violation and a proposed fine of $74,250.  The biggest issue is improvements to the plant’s ventilation systems to remove the toxins from the air.  However if workers are being exposed to unsafe levels of toxins I don’t understand why the plant is allowed to continue as it seems we’re only creating future illnesses requiring treatment down the road.

 Your social success

Your social success

OSHA cites moving company for heat-related death – PREVENTABLE – A 49 year old worker for Select Van and Storage was packing and loading boxes inside a moving truck where the heat index reached 112 degrees. The worker suffered heat stroke and later died.  The OSHA investigation found 1 Serious violation for exposing the worker to such extreme temperatures.  They were also cited for not reporting the death within the specified time and this earned them a fine of $12,000.  This death was senseless and preventable. Learn the signs of heat stroke and stay hydrated by drinking water and take breaks to cool off when working in high heat.

Federal regulators again cite Latite Roofing for worker-safety violations – PREVENTABLE – Latite Roofing and Sheet Metal doesn’t seem to have a problem putting their workers in harms way.  They have been cited again for exposing their workers to dangerous falls of 10 – 20 feet and not providing fall protection.  This time 6 Serious violations were found at a work site and a proposed fine of $136,000 was issued.  They have been cited 9 times in the past 5 years including the death of a 55 year old worker who was told to keep working during a thunderstorm and was killed when struck by lightening.  Why a company is allowed to continue to disregard workers safety is beyond me.  This company also is one of hundreds of contractors who illegally misclassify its employees as independent on government building projects so they can skip out on federal taxes and undercut when bidding against companies who do it the legal way.  So you can see why the owner has no problem putting workers in danger, he has no morals at all, just the love of money.

Maine roofing contractor held in contempt for OSHA violations – PREVENTABLE – Like we used to say in the 70’s, Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. That would have been great advice for general contractor Stephen Lessard who is now being held in contempt of court for outstanding fines of $405,000.  The company Lessard Bros. Construction Inc. had 11 safety violations at 11 different worksites between 2000 and 2011. He had no problem putting his workers at risk during that time period by sending them to work of roof tops without any safety equipment while he collected his money for the jobs while he then refused to correct the violations or pay the fines and now he stands the chance of going to jail. Why he wasn’t in jail sooner for his lack of safety for workers only makes one wonder and the best thing that could happen is he is totally put out of business so he can no longer put people in danger.


OSHA records show previous citations for roofing company in Vikings stadium accident – Jeramie Gruber, a 35 year old construction worker and husband who greatly enjoyed the outdoors and being an uncle had no idea that today would be his last day alive as he fell 50 feet to his death off the roof top of the new Minnesota Vikings stadium.  His employer, A Berwald Roofing Company has a poor record of safety for their workers as they have received numerous citations.  Even though this company has been cited 9 times for Serious safety violations in the last 5 years, 6 for lack of fall protection, they were still awarded a $3.4 million contract on the new stadium.  In fact fall protection was the most cited standard in the construction industry in Minnesota as 564 were issued in FY2014.  The most telling sign of this company’s lack of commitment to safety was the comment made by one of the moron owners Eugene Berwald, “People do foolish things. They don’t hook up their lanyards”.  Eugene apparently doesn’t understand the concept of supervision or disciplinary consequences when safety rules are not followed.  When you put a project out to bid the lowest price isn’t always the best value as the safety record of a company should also be considered and if OSHA ever gets there national registry completed, people will be able to see which companies don’t care about the safety of their workers.

Workplace safety Bill passes, faces criticism – NEW ZEALAND – After much debate and input from workers and companies New Zealand has a new workplace safety bill even though there is criticism that the bill has been watered down as it was developed.  We’ll keep an eye on the developments going on here.

Contractors awarded for safety record – SAFETY WINNER – There are honest and safety oriented contractors out there that have proven you can do it the right way as Newtron Beaumont LLC was recognized for their efforts and commitment of getting all their workers to go home in one piece at the end of the day.  GREAT JOB!

IN DOL Honors Kimball Office-Salem as a Leader in Workplace Safety and Health Excellence – SAFETY WINNER – Kimball Office-Salem has achieved certification in the Indiana Voluntary Protection Program and recognized as leaders in workplace safety.  It can be done folks.
That brings this episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close.  Thank you for taking time out of your hectic day and stopping by to read the blog.  As always please don’t hesitate to share any or all of these stories at your next safety tailgate/toolbox meeting.  Safety is very much like a team sport as it takes everyone, fully committed to make the program work. It is not just up to the company to keep you safe, it’s up to you as well. Never keep quiet about safety and if you feel that your life is in danger at work, or the company is not listening to your concerns about safety or you have had your job threatened because you refuse to commit an unsafe act, call OSHA and file an anonymous complaint at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).  The life you save may be your own.  Until the 15th. stay well my friends.

Are You Lazy or Just Stupid?

What kind of driver are you?  How about your employees?  You know, the ones out there driving with your companies name and logo plastered right on the side.  It seems that courtesy on the road like a lot of other manners and courtesies have died but you do want your drivers being professionals on the road.  I’ve been traveling the 680 corridor a lot lately to visit my daughter, son-in-law and new grandson and have been making lots of observations of you drivers out there.  True to Pareto’s principle, 20% of the drivers account for 80% of the bad driving out there.  So are you dying to find out where you fit in. Take the quiz.   Remember, this test was to made to make you think, and while those who really need too, won’t read this.  When you are driving in a car you can’t tune out the world but must always be aware of your surroundings and what’s going on.  When you are traveling at 60 miles per hour you are traveling at 88 feet per minute in a one ton box of steel and plastic and in the blink of an eye a car could cut you off or suddenly stop and if you survive the crash itself you still could die from the shrapnel of your airbag.  Driving distracted and without caution, you not only are rude to your fellow commuters on the road but are putting other people’s lives in danger due to your selfishness.


1 – A – When you’re waiting longer then you think you should have to for the red light to turn green do you begin to slowly inch forward, even entering into the crosswalk, believing your motion will cause the light change.  B – Wait patently and no movement.

2 – A – Do you begin to change lanes before even one blink of the turn signal has occurred and expect the driver in the other lane to know and react to what you’re doing?      B – You don’t bother to signal a lane change at all. It’s a useless appendage like the appendix  C – Signal lane change, look in mirror to see if it’s clear and make the lane change.

3 – A – Do you not bother to use the turn signal on turns so the car waiting to make a turn doesn’t think you’re going straight and has to wait only to find out you turn anyway.  B – You always signal for all turns, it’s just easier to do it that way.

4 – A – Do you drive at 40 mph in the left (fast) lane when the posted speed limit is 65 mph because you think you have a God given right too.  B -You drive at 40 mph in a 65 mph zone because you’re too busy reading text messages or having a conversation on your cell phone.  C – You travel at least the speed limit or little less or a little more.

5 – A – Do you bother to stop or just blast through the right on red light and put your trust into the fact that the oncoming traffic will stop in time.  B – Come to a complete stop at the red light.  Signal right turn, observe for obstacles and go.


6 – A – Do you go past a stop sign about a quarter car length before actually coming to a stop?   B – Rolling stop?   C – Full stop at stop sign?

7 – A – Do you use a exit only lane to keep moving ahead, waiting until the last possible moment to squeeze over into the through traffic lane only to block those behind you who are really trying to exit?   B – You stay in the through lanes and don’t spend time finding ways to get around using the saved energy to concentrate on your driving.

8 – A – Do you believe there is a direct correlation between the closer you get to the car in front of you and the faster it’ll go?   B – Always maintain a safe distance between the car in front of you.

9 – A – Do you believe the double white line is there for decorative purposes only?  B – Understand that the double white line is not to be crossed unless directed by law enforcement.

10 – A – Do you stop with any part or all of your vehicle sitting in the pedestrian crosswalk?   B – Do you slowly move your vehicle towards the path of a pedestrian as they cross in the cross walk and hope this will speed them up?   C – Stop outside the cross walk and don’t move until pedestrian has passed.


Do you drive distracted?

a-Yes.Use my cell phone but I’m very important so it’s o.k.

b-Sometimes. The natural light in the car makes putting on make-up easier.

c-Never. Pay full attention the whole time driving.

ANSWERS:  Correct = 0 points  Rude = 2 points  Lazy = 3 points  Stupid = 5 points
  1.  A – Stupid  B – Correct.  It is stupid because there are time when a pedestrian may make a last minute dash in the crosswalk or a vehicle in cross traffic tried to beat the yellow light.  With you inching up is like revving the engine and ready to peel out you’re only concentrating on the light change and not your surroundings and that may cause an accident.
  2. A – Rude   B – Stupid   C – Correct   It is just plain rude to make a lane change without letting people in that lane know what’s coming.  When you barely signal and change lanes why do you assume the person in that lane will respond in amble time.  Are they distracted, slow reflexes, didn’t see your signal light.  It is just plain stupid to make lane changes without any signalling at all.  You are just looking for an accident.
  3. A – Lazy & Rude   B – Correct   You should always signal all turns.  It’s just a good habit to get into and will become an automatic reflex.
  4. A – Lazy & Rude     B – Stupid   C – Correct   Driving way below the posted speed limit in the left lane is rude and lazy.  You’re too lazy to get out of the lane since for some reason you think you own it and then slow all of traffic down.  That’s right, your rudeness just slows down all the traffic and can cause an accident.  Stay out of the lane if you’re not going to go a the speed of the flow.  However if you’re are one of those idiots who tries to read their text or engage in a conversation on their cell phone and slow down way below the speed limit because you’re DISTRACTED!  You are stupid and will cause an accident and unfortunately it’s not the moron that always gets hurt.
  5. A – Stupid   B – Correct  Blowing through that right on red can cause on coming traffic to stop suddenly and create a chain reaction accident because of your stupidity.  Worse, you may not see someone approaching in the crossing lane.  What’s your rush anyway?
  6. A – Lazy   B – Stupid   C – Correct   You’re a lazy driver and can’t be bothered to stop at the stop sign.  That’s a bad habit to get into.  To roll through a stop sign is stupid because your mind is in GO mode and you don’t take the time to check to see what’s coming before hitting that gas.
  7. A – Stupid, Lazy and Rude   B – Correct   You may actually believe that the little “shortcuts” you take on the road save you time to get up 1 or 2 cars but at the expense of others who have to wait getting off their exit because you are blocking them as you try to inch your way into the next lane.  You think you’re a genius getting around but to those folks you’re a rude jerk.  Perspective is everything.
  8. A – Stupid   B – Correct   You know what you’re doing when you tailgate and try to intimidate the driver in front on you because they’re not going fast enough for you.  It’s stupid.  Most folks won’t be intimidated and will only slow down and flash their break lights to back off.  If they stop suddenly for any reason, you’ve now created an accident.
  9. A – Stupid   B – Correct   There is a reason a double white line is used and why you are not allowed to cross it.  It’s to keep traffic moving in that lane and when an idiot goes back and forth over the double line you are creating a hazard especially since people don’t expect you to come into the lane.
  10. A & B – Stupid   C – Correct   Why go looking for trouble.  Stay out of the cross walk, it’s for pedestrians and they have more rights on the road than you.  Stop the car and let people cross, they don’t need you stalking them.

BONUS Question Answers –  A – Stupid (25pts)  B – Stupid (25pts)  C – Correct (-25pts)

Your totals and what they say:                                                                            Negative 25 – 0 Points – You are a very good driver.   1 – 15 – You are a rude driver.  Work on your skills of forgiveness.   16 – 25 – You are a lazy driver. Try picking a lane and going the speed limit.   26 – 74 – You are stupid behind the wheel.  Are you sure you have a D.L.?   75-120 – Crazy – Well somehow you maxed out on points and not only are you a rude and dangerous driver but a individual that demonstrates NO respect for other people and only care about yourself.  You should seek professional help.



A Guide for Your Own Intelligent Warehouse

In the not too distant past, before computers, before the internet was even a twinkle in anyone’s eye, warehouses used to be nothing more than a dumping ground for bodies, into a labor-intensive environment as brawn was more important than a brain. That’s right folks, a company would take their misfits, malcontents and ne’er-do-wells and place them right into the warehouse grind and for some, it was a “last chance” to demonstrate to the company they could still be a productive employee.  If they couldn’t redeem themselves here, they weren’t worth saving and were terminated.  That’s how it was as the warehouse was also one of the last bastions for men since a warehouse was a manly place and only real men worked there, horsing around like teens, playing pranks on each other, playing card games or dominos in the locker room full of calendars and posters with scantily clad women.  It was a time when smoking was good and a hard drink was necessary at the start and end of each workday.  Remember, seat belts didn’t exist in cars, you didn’t have to be politically correct, ethnic jokes were SOP and to be successful in a warehouse you only needed a strong back and a quick right cross since you checked your brain in at the door. As a manager once told me at the very beginning of my young warehouse career, “I didn’t hire you to think.”  As long as the company made money all was right with the world and that’s how things operated for years, mindless zombies doing as they were told, losing limbs, losing lives, endless hours on their feet, no PPE of any kind, and your only recourse was to go with the flow and be assimilated or quit.


Then the winds of change slowly gained momentum as the baby boomers were coming of age and new consciousness arose across the land as people asked why? It was like the great renaissance all over again as we were whisked out of the dark ages. Why do we treat some people differently? Why do we do things this way if workers keep getting hurt? Just for asking these simple questions people were beaten and called horrible names and were cast out as blasphemers and told: “because that is the way we’ve always done it.” However, there were too many voices asking these questions at the same time.  Soon civil rights and then women’s rights were issues of the day as this new awareness of fellow human beings and how they were being treated emerged. Then workers rights were soon to follow and in 1971 OSHA was born and the modern SAFETY era began.  Forklifts were getting smaller but with more power and greater maneuverability with a wider selection of capabilities.  Then came one of the biggest evolutions in the warehouse, the desktop computer, (MITS-1974/Tandy-1977). Things could now be tracked, information stored and then printed on paper. Expenses, inventory, transactions could be found in one area. Oh My!


As these technological changes continued to modify the face of the workplace, the other significant change that occurred was who we had working in the warehouse. Brawn was no longer a vital requirement as we focused on recruiting people who could think for themselves with problem-solving and customer satisfaction skills while understanding that working safely was just as important as producing a quality product. We also wanted people who were flexible, handle multiple jobs and could adapt to change quickly while making abrupt adjustments on the fly without a drop in productivity and quality. We wanted people who could pick at the speed of light and beyond. Of course, this brought a whole new set of problems to the table. How do we find, train and retain these people to ensure continued growth and consistency of production?   Let’s face it, folks, a leader knows the biggest asset in their company is not the infrastructure, materials, or equipment, but the people. Yea, the ones hired and trusted to keep up the maintenance, move the materials and operate the equipment. The ones in the trenches daily, making the company look good while making decisions to keep customers happy, thanks to the trust and backing to do so.


What are the best ways to find and retain these people? When you begin the task of recruiting and hiring remember what Darwin said and I’m paraphrasing here, “selection is everything”. Work closely with your HR department or recruiter and give them every detail about the job to be performed and all associated functions including any and all equipment that will need to be operated and what kind(s) of PPE will be required as well. The more information you give them the better the selection process and once this is all assembled there are lots of places to search for talent. Your local unemployment office, college campuses, and job fairs are all good locales but as you search don’t overlook one important resource, women.  Why not? During World War II between 12 – 20 million women were working in the defense industry and brought us the image of “Rosie the Riveter – WE can do it.” and with their help we did.  In fact, there is a new organization, Women In Manufacturing, a great resource for those who are entering this realm.  There are so many perks you can offer to attract female employees like on-site childcare, flexible hours and equal pay. It is about time that women workers are treated as equals.


After all the effort on recruiting and hiring, you want to start new workers off on the right foot and lay down a firm foundation with a well-developed orientation and training for new employees. This is crucial for their and your success and I can’t stress enough how important this is. I’ve worked for some large companies where their training of new staff began and ended with one sentence, here’s your workstation. You want staff to begin producing as soon as possible, in a safe manner with confidence and not wondering what’s expected of them.  The culture of training and safety also encourages workers to stay since you’ve demonstrated you care about their success as employees. There are many ways to put together your orientation and you can read how Michelin handles this, “Workforce: Successful Employees Require a Solid Start.”  I would say to make sure you cover all aspics in the facility, especially safety, forklifts, and other power equipment, security and emergency procedures, the location of supervisor and manager and then set up some time with their new workmates to chat at lunch or tour around the facility.


Retention of these well trained and talented workers isn’t difficult. Unlike during the DotCom boom, espresso machines and game rooms aren’t as important today as job satisfaction and how they are treated. Listen to your workforce, be accessible and the best way to do that is to be out on the floor.  The best and fastest way to turn off an employee is to NOT LISTEN.  Put yourself in their place and remember just because it’s a pebble to you, doesn’t mean it’s not a boulder to them so take concerns seriously, acknowledge their issue and make sure to report back to them any new details and dates until resolved. You’d be surprised at some of the great suggestions on equipment operation or maintenance employees make that save time and money.  If a worker ever complains about a safety issue don’t you dare blow them off!  Take those with extreme concern and resolve immediately.  You want to cultivate their interest in what goes on in the company so get employees involved in quality circles, continuous improvement projects, workplace safety committees, and maintenance of equipment.  Have impromptu discussions right on the work floor, their office, on improving forklift skills, safety hazard awareness and let them be creative.  Once a year I would split the staff into three groups, and sent them through the warehouse and office trying to identify safety hazards I had previously set up.  The winning team got recognition and a choice of a free lunch or a free hour off.

Other ways to help retain employees is to offer in-house as well as pay for outside training programs where employees can further improve and develop their skills and talents to move up within the company.  One company I worked for offered Spanish or English language in-house classes once a week during lunch to improve internal communication. You can also offer in-house classes on inventory control, warehouse terminology, computers, excel spreadsheets and more.  A good employee should be able to work at least one level below and one level up.  Training could also help refresh their safety skills, to use a fire extinguisher, doing LOTO or how to properly escort a driver to the loading bay and please, get them involved as presenters as well.  In addition, make sure you make every attempt to promote from within.  If you have to keep bringing outsiders in for positions then you need to review your training program as employees will not stay.

Eventually, hopefully, sooner than later, our society will finally get to the point where it is realized that all people are the same, and they all bring great points of view to the table, you just have to want to tap that resource. You wouldn’t like being chewed out in the middle of a dock floor for everybody to witness, so why would you do it to them?   Human beings are precious bundles that drop in for a short time, make their mark on the world, raise children to do and be better than themselves, love who you want, have a good laugh, watch the sunset and stop to smell the roses and live life to the fullest.  When you have to “talk” to an employee do it with respect, in private and be a coach. The golden rule to help employee retention we all learned back in kindergarten, treat all people with respect.

That’s Like Cash Sitting There!

If the inventory in your warehouse looks like this, you have already lost money.  Give enough room for storage, keep fast movers close to the dock, cross dock whenever possible and respect all inventory like it was cash.

Need to up your AIB/ASI score?  Customer audit pending?  Need help? We’re here and ready.

Companies Behaving Badly – Don’t Be a Safety Fool. Fool.


toptenlistoshaOSHA has released their top ten list. (See the whole list here). Not as popular, entertaining or well known as David Letterman’s top ten list and definitely not as funny.  Unfortunately once again the number 1 issued citation continues to be FALLS.  Why? Look in the mirror.  It’s you who actually believes you can do the job without fall protection.  You actually believe nothing bad will happen because you are a man and don’t need no stinkin safety harness cramping your style. Any way you have great balance and agility and well, those things only happen to the other guy. As you continue to use luck and chance as your safety program, one day, your false sense of confidence overrides common sense and a gust of wind hits that 4X8 plywood board just right and suddenly, you’re in flight. If you’re lucky, you’ll snap your neck on impact and die instantly, no pain. Worse, you could just break your spine and spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair full of regret.  As mom used to say, “Just cause the other guys jump off a roof, it doesn’t mean you have to do it.”  You should be offered fall protection gear when working over 6 feet especially when there are no guard rails or other fall preventive barriers in place. ASK FOR IT. Don’t accept that’s not how we do things here. Insist. If they try to challenge your manhood or call you names or fire you for asking, CALL the OSHA national hotline – 800-321-OSHA (6742) and report them. You do not have to die trying to make a living no matter your status. Si usted es amenazado con ser despedido por negarse a trabajar de una manera insegura, llame a la línea nacional OSHA – 800-321-6742 e informar de ellos.Usted no tiene que morir en el intento de ganarse la vida, sin importar su estatus.  Well I do believe that this is unfortunately another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.


Missouri Manufacturer Named a Severe Violator by OSHA after Worker Killed on the Job – PREVENTABLE – A 58 year old maintenance worker believed his employer, Hussmann Corp. would keep him from being crushed to death while working on a scrap metal table.  In reality his employer knew of the hazard but couldn’t care less if anyone was injured or killed as they were found to have 3 Willful and 12 serious safety violations along with a proposed fine of $272,250 and placed in the severe violators program.  They couldn’t be bothered to train their workers on safety procedures, place devices on machinery to prevent sudden startup during LOTO, fix problems related to its LOTO procedures, effective guarding on machines and unsafe practices related to powered industrial trucks.  Don’t understand, since there was a death and willful violation why no one is sitting in a jail cell.  Don’t let anyone tell you not to do a proper LOTO.

OSHA cites U.S. Steel for ‘willful violation’ leading to two deaths in Alabama last year PREVENTABLE – U.S. Steel must have had a flash back to the early 1900’s as they instructed employees to commit a dangerous act that wound up killing Leo Bridges, 61 years old and Edward Bryant, 53 years old and injuring a third. This blatant disregard for human life earned U.S. Steel 1 Willful and 7 serious citations and a proposed fine of $107,900.  I couldn’t put it any better then OSHA, “Management knew that attempting to operate the valve while the furnace was still running placed workers at risk, yet they allowed them to do it because they didn’t want the production line down for hours. This employer chose productivity over the saftey of its workers, and two people died as a result of this decision,”said Ramona Morris, OSHA’s area director in Birmingham.  The person at U.S. Steel who made this decision to keep production going at the cost of human life, in my opinion should be on trial for murder.

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OSHA: Roofing Contractor Ignored Electrocution Hazards that Killed Worker – PREVENTABLEGreed is an awful virus that infects some companies to the point where they couldn’t care less what happens to their workers on the job and Kolek Woodshop Inc. is an example of that kind of company.  Their employee, Andrew “CK” Sakala Jr. was given an aluminum ladder to use while performing his tasks which happened to be very near a 7,200 volt power line, a hazard his employers knew about. His aluminum ladder came in contact with the power line conducting the electricity, killing him. However Kolek’s stupidity doesn’t end there as three days later, they sent another worker to finish the job Sakala Jr. had started and they exposed him to the same hazardous conditions that killed Sakala.  OSHA issued 1 Willful and 4 Serious citations and a proposed fine of $67,900.  The willful was issued for sending the second worker into the same hazards and they also found that they didn’t offer ladders with nonconductive side rails that would have prevented electrocution.  They also erected an aluminum scaffold too close to the power line, exposed roofing workers removing shingles to fall hazards and failed to train employees.  All that costs money and cuts into profits you know.

OSHA fines Dollar General $83,000 for ‘serious’ violations – PREVENTABLE – Don’t know what’s going on at Dollar General stores, but it appears they don’t spend any money on a corporate training program as quite a few of their stores have had violations found over the years.  In fact, since 2009 they have received more than 40 violations. This time one of their stores in Atlanta was found to have 3 Repeat safety violation and a proposed fine of $83,050 for blocked exits, locked exits and blocked electrical panels.  Dollar General issued a statement, “Dollar General is committed to providing a safe work environment for its employees and safe shopping experience for its customers. As such, Dollar General employs a number of policies, procedures and training programs to continually educate store teams to promote and facilitate a safe and welcoming environment.”  However Dollar General, there is a BIG difference between employing policies and procedures and enforcing them. You can have all the procedures in the world but if the corporate culture doesn’t support a safety program it’s just talk and they talk the talk but can’t walk the walk.

OSHA Finds Safety Violations at Fairfield Bowl – PREVENTABLE – Dave Geiger, a 53 year old employee at Fairfield Bowling Alley had no idea he would die that day.  He was probably doing what he did every day, unfortunately this time he may have been concentrating on a repair and forgot about the unguarded moving machine parts.  Imagine the horror he experienced the last few minutes of his life as his hooded sweatshirt got caught in a pinsetter and he slowly chocked to death.  The following investigation by OSHA turned up 8 Serious safety violations and a proposed fine of $45,500.  In addition to the lack of proper guarding of moving machine parts they did not have a plan to prevent the machinery from operating while employees performed maintenance.  They didn’t have a LOTO program. You do not have to operate any machinery with exposed moving parts and don’t accept the excuse the machinery is old and there are no guards for it. That’s a lie. There are plenty of companies that can fashion proper guards.

OSHA probe into Wallingford chemical spill finds ‘serious’ violations – PREVENTABLE – When ever, where ever you work and chemicals are involved, even just moving chemicals in sealed containers, you should receive training on what to do if there is a spill and what kind of PPE you need to use.  If they don’t do this they don’t care about you.  R+L Carriers Shared Services LLC’s terminal in Wallingford had a chemical spill when a drum of tetrahyrofuran, a highly flammable liquid was punctured.  The following investigation found 2  Repeat and 4 Serious safety violations along with a proposed fine of $86,900.  It turns out that the employees did not know how to evaluate the hazards involved, the appropriate PPE to wear and not trained on the procedure to contain a spill safely or as first responders because management lacked an emergency response plan.  Why waste time training what to do in an emergency?  This is not the first time either as OSHA found similar hazards at the Chicago terminal in 2011 but apparently the message didn’t get through to upper management.

Des Moines post office fined for defective forklift and tugs – PREVENTABLE – The U.S. Postal Service is an inept, obsolete and a poorly operated company that is totally devoid of leadership.  If they were a real company they’d be in bankruptcy and closed by now.  They have been cited several times by OSHA at facilities across the nation for putting workers in harms way.  You’d think a quasi-government agency would know better.  This time at the Des Moines main post office an employee had enough and called OSHA with a complaint.  The equipment they had a forklift and 2 tuggers were unsafe to operate but still were allowed to be used by management.  This little lapse in common sense is going to cost the USPS $49,500.  If management can’t be bothered to get the equipment you need to do the job repaired, don’t operate the equipment.  It’s unsafe.  You know damn well if you still operate it and wind up in an accident and injuring another employee the companies lawyer is going to throw you under the bus and ask you why you used it if it was unsafe.  A good manager would have taken care of this issue immediately instead of letting it fester like this.  Very poor leadership when you send mixed messages on safety.  One day you tell the employees don’t do unsafe acts and then the next you tell them it’s o.k. to use unsafe equipment.

Toy firm and builder in court over warehouse roof death – UNITED KINGDOM – A Lancashire based toy distributor and a builder have been sentenced after a worker plunged to his death through a warehouse roof.  He was not given any fall protection gear and now it’s jail time. Read the story.

API: DOE crude-by-rail report highlights importance of accident prevention & Facts, Science Must Guide Rail Safety Improvements RAIL SAFETY – This is a big issue especially if you live in a town that these trains travel through or may soon be passing through.  Can we really trust our infrastructure and can rail cars be improved?  Read both articles and then I’d be curious what you think?

Roofing company puts safety first – DOING IT RIGHT – There are companies out there who understand that their employees are their most important asset and taking the time to do proper safety training works.  Korellis Roofing is one of those companies and a great example of doing it right!

Well my friends, that brings another episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close.  Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read the articles.  Please feel free to use any or all of these examples at your next safety tailgate/toolbox meeting and would greatly appreciate it if you’d just mention you found them at  It is said that a company safety program works well as long as the CEO in the boardroom to the maintenance worker in the plant participate and commit fully to the program.  As true as that is, I can also tell you from fact that you can be the lone voice of safety in your company, plant or warehouse and commit to keeping those who work for you safe and that means catching people doing the right thing and reward and commend them but that also means those who you find violate the safety rules have to be called out on it and face the consequences.  I would pay for a lunch out of my own pocket to reward a safe worker and I found the time to write up reprimands when needed.  I have turned workers from both sides into safety disciples.  I would take flack from my own staff sometimes wanting to know why other shifts didn’t have to follow the rules like they did.  I told them because I cared more.  I would take flack from other supervisors or managers who called me a showboat or kiss ass.  Didn’t care what they thought, I knew I was doing the right thing and that along felt real good. Eventually our safety program grew from the warehouse up to the corporate level.  It wasn’t overnight but the change was subtle until everyone was doing it right.  Workplace safety won’t work without YOU!  Until next time my friends, take care and remember the life you save could be your own.


Companies Behaving Badly – 50 Shades Of Dead


If you were lucky not to be one of the 426 who have died from job-related accidents during FY2015 (as of Jan17th) you were able to spend Valentine’s Day with loved one(s).  It’s a moment to cherish especially if you work for a dangerous company that uses luck at their safety program.  In the blink of an eye – you could be coming home minus a body part or not at all.  You can lose a few fingers a hand or foot and still function in life, as difficult as it may be but when you are dead, there are currently no prosthetics or treatments out there to correct it. You’re dead. So before you go charging out there in the manufacturing/construction world to make a name for yourself, make sure the name is not a new term for how horribly you died.  When working at a dangerous height, (OSHA 6′, State of Arizona may finally be joining the union.) please remember you cannot fly even if you wear a cape.  Unlike the silly 2014 Verizon Wireless Droid Turbo commercial with James Franco who falls off a building trying to retrieve a scarf, you will not have time to do the math on your phone.  You will barely have enough time to think of your loved ones or pray.  Wear fall protection gear!  You have a choice when it comes to workplace safety. You can not be forced to work unsafe.  Ask questions if something doesn’t seem right. Read blogs like this and become knowledgable about PPE, LOTO what they are and mean.  If you don’t get answers or 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)  You know, this unfortunately all sounds to me like another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

OSHA fines Ashley Furniture $1.77 million – PREVENTABLE – Ashley Furniture has gone all out and beyond all expectations.  Oh, not in sales of furniture but for the 12 Willful, 12 repeat and 14 serious safety violations they received from OSHA along with a proposed fine of $1.77 million.  Over the course of 36 months of repeated violations, 1,000 worker injuries including several amputations occurred. That is almost ONE A DAY!  It appears they are able to offer lower prices by saving money from not having any kind of safety program since they blamed the workers for their injuries and not the fact they just couldn’t care less about their workers’ safety.  First, they were cited when a partial finger amputation occurred, then in July, another worker lost 3 fingers.  5 other employees suffered amputations over 31/2 years because of machines without proper guards. But they still never bothered to correct the problem.  They didn’t even bother to train workers to safeguard against woodworking machines unintentionally starting when making tool and blade changes. That is a company that just cares about profits.  The proposed fine is great but a company official should be in a jail cell for the 12 willful.

OSHA proposes fines against Reynolds Nationwide – PREVENTABLE – Reynolds Nationwide didn’t seem to mind having their employees cleaning tankers trucks that were not properly ventilated, that is until one of their workers finally had enough and called OSHA to file a complaint.  The following inspection found 2 Willful and 6 serious violations of safety rules and issued a proposed fine of $179,000.  As you know a willful violation means that management knew there was a dangerous hazard but couldn’t care less to fix it.  In addition to exposing their workers to dangerous levels of toxic air, they also didn’t bother to have the training or have procedures in place to protect workers.  Be aware, whenever you begin a job that involves working with chemicals or cleaning up after them, you should receive training before doing the job.  If you don’t, you know the company doesn’t care what happens to you.

OSHA: Management Ignored Hazards and Worker Fell into Acid-filled Tank – PREVENTABLE – A maintenance worker performing his daily tasks had no idea the horrors he would face that day.  His employer WKW Erbsloeh North America Inc. didn’t care that the walkway over a tank of corrosive phosphoric and sulfuric acid didn’t have railings, which most probably would have prevented him from falling into the tank and receiving severe burns on his face and internal organs. The resulting investigation found 1 Willful for not having railings and 5 serious violations ranging from failing to provide equipment to prevent accidental machine start-up and not ensuring workers followed procedures to prevent it to not monitoring air quality inside tanks and not training in confined space. For all this, a proposed fine of only $177,500 and no jail time.


Portage business cited for 30 OSHA violations PREVENTABLE – Another instance where an employee was not going to put up with the lack of safety and did the correct thing by filing a complaint with OSHA. He knew what they would find and it wasn’t hard as a total of 30 violations turned up at Frick Services along with a proposed fine of $74,200.  Employees were exposed to 10 electrical hazards by using equipment that wasn’t rated for wet use in damp wet conditions, electrical equipment not protected from vehicular traffic among a few.  The company also didn’t bother with a respiratory protection program, gave no appropriate training to workers and didn’t bother with an emergency action plan and did maintain equipment properly.  All typical moves by a company that didn’t care what happened to their employees or wanted to be bothered with spending a penny on a safety program.  Just so you rookies out there know, training is more involved than just being pointed to the shop floor.

OSHA fines Schaumburg company $86K for workplace safety issues – PREVENTABLE – Mercury Products Corp thought it was a great idea to save money and boost profits by just tossing new temporary employees onto the shop floor without training or proper supervision.  What could go wrong with that?  The result was 25 safety and health violations including a repeat violation for lack of training which they were also cited for in 2010.  All this and only a proposed fine of $86,000 by OSHA.  They also didn’t bother to protect temp and regular workers from moving machinery parts, issue PPE and exposed them to electrical hazards. Employees also weren’t trained about hazardous chemicals and their dangers or monitor employee exposure to hexavalent chromium a known carcinogen.

Auburn plant, staffing agency cited by OSHA for safety concerns – PREVENTABLE – Some companies just treat temporary workers like they are nothing more than disposable tissues, just using and tossing.  The only thing worse than that is the agencies who supply the grist for the mill.  Take SCA Inc. for example, an auto parts manufacturer and their labor partner, Liberty Staffing LLC, as both were hit with 21 violations and get to share a proposed $158,000 fine.   SCA has repeatedly had no problem placing temporary employees at risk of falls of at least ten feet while working on platforms without a ladder access gate or chain guard and failing to reduce the compressed air for cleaning to 30 pounds per square and both received 2 repeat violations each for not having standard railings on open-sided floors and exposing workers to electrocution.  Surprise, surprise SCA was cited for the same hazards in 2010 and 2011.  Any temporary agency that does not check the safety conditions of the company where they’re placing human beings for jobs and also offer it’s own training on hazards is NOT WORTH your time.  They’re getting paid for placing you whether you lose a limb or your life. Find another Temp agency, one that cares about YOU as a person.

Norfolk firm faces proposed OSHA penalties – PREVENTABLE – Here is a third story where the employee finally had enough and filed a complaint with OSHA. You have the right to work in a safe workplace.  Unfortunately, an employee of MP Global Products probably complained to management about the conditions and was told either thanks for the input and nothing changed, or just shut up. It takes guts to do the right thing.  OSHA found 11 serious safety violations with a proposed $54,000 fine.  The president of MP Global took the high ground and said sometimes, accidents happen that aren’t the company’s fault.  Really?  Who’s fault is exposing workers to amputation hazards with no adequate guarding of moving machinery parts?  Who failed to protect workers from fire, deflagration and explosion hazards because they allowed the use of unapproved equipment?  Who didn’t want to establish the fire brigade?  Who exposed workers to fall hazards of up to 12 feet with unguarded stairs and platforms?  Who failed to properly dispose of regulated waste?  The company that’s who!  I suggest sir that you get up from behind your desk and walk around your facility, you obviously have no clue what’s going on. Try hiring people with better leadership qualities than beating rhythm for the galley slaves.

South Haven company earns safety award – SAFETY WINNER – Albemarle Corporation has been awarded the Michigan Voluntary Protection Program Star Award.  Congratulations.  It can be done.

Oregon Food Distributor Earns Safety Recognition – SAFETY WINNER – Harbor Wholesale Foods in Roseburg is the latest employer to be welcomed into Oregon OSHA’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program.

Safety Footwear – NEW PPE – Safety footwear can be stylish and still do the job of protection. The most lightweight safety-toe style to-date, the athletic silhouette Aurora is a hybrid style perfect for indoor manufacturing. Check it out.

Lack of safety training, experience blamed for rise in work fatalities – DISCUSSION – Lack of attention paid to safe work practices and little to no training has led to a rise in deadly industrial accidents in Ohio. Read the whole story. Training is one of the most important duties you have for a safe workplace.

With that all said, that brings this episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to stop by.  Please feel free to share these stories at your next safety tailgate/toolbox meeting.  Those of you joining the workforce, you can make a great living in manufacturing.  However, when you join a company before you are put on the floor to perform any tasks if you have not received any training, this is a clue you are working for a company that doesn’t care about you or your safety.  On your first day, you should at least be shown how to evacuate the building, the signals for evacuation or emergency. What you need to do if you run across an emergency and the type of PPE you will need to wear and when.  Also if you will be working with any dangerous chemicals or potential dust issues.  Don’t accept an unsafe workplace, they can be changed and you are the catalyst.  Until next month, stay safe.

Companies Behaving Badly – It’s a Wonderful Life

As you prepare to celebrate the holidays and entertain friends and family please take a moment and think about the 1,400 workers who died on the job and the family members who’ll be spending their first holiday without that loved one; fathers, mothers, sons, daughters and grandparents.  Thank you.   Most of these accidents were the result of company owners who said Bah, humbug to spending money on safety whether to replace machine guards to prevent amputations or take the time to do a proper Lockout/tagout before servicing equipment to prevent a death. Time is money and production must never stop!  The successful companies understand that people are their biggest asset and make sure they work with them to keep them safe as workplace safety is a two way street.  You are just as responsible for your safety as your employer by doing it the correct way with no short cuts.  You don’t have to die at work.  Well, this unfortunately sounds like another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.


OSHA Cites Environmental Remediation and Recovery Inc. after Worker Dies – PREVENTABLE – Environmental Remediation and Recovery Inc. was found by OSHA to have 7 Willful and 14 serious violations during their investigation into the death of an employee.  A willful violation means that the company knew there was a dangerous hazard but couldn’t care less about employee’s safety to do something about it.  When this 27 year old worker climbed into the rail car he trusted his employer had made sure it was safe for him to enter.  When he passed out from the fumes they couldn’t get him out immediately because he was not attached to a retrieval system or was given any respiratory protection gear but that may have not made a difference since the company failed to remove defective respirators.  That all costs money and nothing like playing the odds when it comes to workers safety.  A proposed fine of $188,400 has been issued but I still believe when a death is caused by willful intent the people in charge should be in jail.

OSHA Cites Belvidere Company for Safety Violations After Worker is Crushed – PREVENTABLE – Jacob Frisella was a 21 year old just beginning his adventure in life and had no idea that he would die at work that day when he was crushed to death while trying to make adjustments to his machine.  His employer Ventra Belvidere was issued 1 Willful and 4 serious safety violations because they thought it would be o.k. not to make sure the sensing device to detect someone’s presence was improperly set.  For this they were given a proposed fine of $93,400 which is not nearly enough for this.  Tampering with the function of any safety mechanism should have a prison sentence attached.

OSHA: Holes in JBS safety practices at fault in June death – PREVENTABLE – Ralph Horner a 54 year old maintenance technician didn’t think he would die at work this day as he worked near an unguarded and vulnerable area on the conveyor belt.  He’s done it before and thought he was lucky, that is until his hair got caught in it and dragged him into the conveyor and killing him.  This was not the first time JBS exposed workers to unguarded hazards and pinch points as they were cited for this in 2010.  For this repeat violation plus one serious one they were fined $45,500 for the death of a human being because they JBS couldn’t be bothered to replace the guards on the conveyor belts.  You have every right to refuse to operate any piece of equipment if all the proper guards are not in place.  I’ve done it when maintenance had earlier in the day removed the guards protecting workers from rotating chains but didn’t replace them for graveyard shift.  When I saw that during my rounds, I shut down the machine. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s fine to operate.

Nuvo Construction Co, Sonag Ready Mix cited by OSHA following fatal industrial accident – PREVENTABLE – 3 children are without a father as their 39 year old Dad was crushed to death at work because NO ONE thought it important enough to make sure power was off to the mixer he was doing maintenance on.  What’s even more amazing is the stupidity continued the next day as an employee from another company finished those repairs on the bin where the death occurred also with NO L.O.T.O.  Both companies, Nuvo Construction Co. and Sonag Ready Mix LLC were handed Willful violations for the amount of $84,000 each.  If you are told to make repairs on a piece of equipment and won’t let you LOTO for your safety or try to tell you it’s not necessary, they couldn’t care less about your well being.  Don’t do it.

OSHA fines roofing contractor $140,000 – PREVENTABLE – With all the publicity and national stand downs you’d think the message of fall prevention and safety would get through to everyone, well everyone who cares I guess. Affordable Exteriors of Omaha must be affordable as they save money by abandoning safety for their workers as they were hit with 2 Willful violations by OSHA for not providing fall protection or the associated training at one of their work sites.  Even with the proposed fine of $140,000 there is no guarantee that these idiots will get the message as they have been cited 5 times in the last 10 years for exposing workers to fall hazards.  This is a case where fines are not working and the company should be suspended from doing business.

OSHA cites metal plate company in East El Paso for alleged health and safety violations – PREVENTABLE – Nothing screams more of a company that it’s an accident waiting to happen than a dirty, sloppy, disgusting operation.  It tells you that leadership is non-existent and that they don’t care about the presentation of the facility or it’s workers.  D&D Manufacturing in East El Paso fits that description as they were found to have 41 health and safety violations, 36 serious, that ran the gamut from restroom sinks clogged to risk of falls, cutting injuries and electrical shock to mention a few. OSHA also found compressed gas cylinder missing a valve protection cap, no machine guarding, and employee contact with arc, weld flash and flying sparks. What’s even sadder, the company president doesn’t have a clue what’s going on in his own house and I strongly suggest he get up from his big desk and start walking around his facility.  What would be even sadder is if this company is taking advantage of immigrant workers and purposely putting them in harms way.

Seinfeld television show

Seinfeld television show

Mail handler fired following work-related injury at Postal Service facility – PREVENTABLE – The United States Postal Service continues to demonstrate how incompetent they are as an organization and highlight their tremendous lack of leadership. (Read more articles on USPS).  A postal worker was terminated after being treated at a medical facility for a workplace related injury. The brain trust at the USPS did this even though statements by co-workers and witnesses contradicted that the employee was at fault for the injury as he performed his usual duty of emptying containers onto a conveyor belt when the door on one container unexpectedly opened and hit him in the head. OSHA is suing the USPS on the employees behalf to get back wages and benefits under the whistleblower provisions.  The USPS needs to take a long hard look at itself.  They have been cited numerous times across the country by OSHA for putting their employees at risk.  The USPS could streamline operations and save money by terminating employment of quite a few management folks including the Post Master General.

OSHA cites JSW Steel (USA) Inc. for 12 violations; $126,000 in fines proposed PREVENTABLE – It speaks volumes about the quality of the leadership team of a company when the employees they charge with maintaining and upkeep of equipment are not trained on L.O.T.O. or bother to conduct audits on their own procedures to see if there’s room for improvement.  That was part of the 12 violations including one repeat violation OSHA found at JSW Steel, Inc. that earned them a proposed fine of $126,000.  The repeat violation was for failure to conduct periodic inspections and develop L.O.T.O. procedures to power off the shear safely, a large metal cutting machine, during machine maintenance and servicing.  This had been brought to their attention back in a March 2012 inspection but then that would only slow down production.

Napoleon dry cleaner is fined $39,900 by OSHA – PREVENTABLE – Whether you’re a large corporation or a corner dry cleaner when it comes to the use of chemicals you have to know what you are doing or people can get very sick.  Buckeye Launderers & Cleaners failed to provide a eye wash station or shower even though their workers were handling corrosive chemicals nor did they do any training about the hazards of what the employees were handling.  It is hoped that this $39,900 lesson will get the point across.

OSHA shelves rule on explosive dust – NEWS – Unfortunately the Obama administration has basically shelved a regulatory proposal on explosive dust. This will continue to put quite a few people at risk.  What are your thoughts?

RasGas warehouse celebrates ‘incident-free 7 years’ – SAFETY WINNER – Nice job, over a million man hours without any lost time.  Congratulations.

Group Lock: The World’s First Multi-Person Single Lock for OSHA’s LockOut/TagOut – NEW TOOL – A brand new wireless lock for L.O.T.O. that can be used by a group and overseen by a supervisor or manager.  This could help make L.O.T.O. even more error free and used more often.

That brings another episode of Companies Behaving to a close, the last one of 2014.  Happy Hanukkah!  Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!  To each and everyone of you and thank you for taking the time out of your day to stop by and read this blog.  In fact I greatly appreciate your continued support of Witzshared through out the year and look forward to one day, maybe 2015, not having any companies behaving badly to write about.  If your company doesn’t do any safety or general training that’s an indication that they have no interest in your growth and development as an employee let alone your safety.  If your company doesn’t have a safety committee start one.  Be part of the solution, you’ll feel some much better and the life you save may be your own. Until next year, take care.

Companies Behaving Badly – The Killing Fields

The dying continues in the killing fields of American businesses’ that allow workers to earn a pay check as long as they can survive the falls, spills, electrocutions amputations, and a quick death but those are the lucky ones as some will die slowly over 15-20 years from inhaled asbestos, vinyl chloride or some other hazardous concoction.  No matter what the latest in technology offers in safe-guards or additional layers of regulation and penalties passed the way of doing things to improve safety it is still only as effective as those who do it the correct way in the first place, following the regs and laws.  We want to have our management teams and workers being productive and improving that productivity but not by figuring ways around the safe guards to increase productivity. Safety should be viewed as natural way of protecting life and limb and not some burdensome chore. Manufacturers spend hours testing and modifying their products so they can be operated safely so why would your boss override it?  Because he cares more about his bonus then he does about your well being.  You know, this unfortunately sounds like another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.
Cal/OSHA Cites Disney Construction for 2 Worker Fatalities: Faulty Equipment, Untrained Staff Caused Deaths at Job Site – PREVENTABLE – Marcus Z. Powell a 25year old who enjoyed life and Glenn Hodgson a 49 year old had trusted that their employer, Disney Construction Inc. of Burlingame, Ca. would not put them in harms way that is until May 30th when both men plummeted 80 feet to their death from a crane hoisted platform. The company they had trusted didn’t bother to certify or visually inspect the crane for defects, didn’t bother to perform an unmanned trial run or inspect the rigging and platform before use and had no qualified, trained signal person to assist with the lifting operation.  Cal/OSHA also cited Disney Construction for not thoroughly surveying the conditions of the worksite for predictable employee hazards and neglecting to implement the necessary safeguards required to perform this type of operation, but then that would have cost money and time. For their neglect the fine is only $106,110 as two families try to put their lives back together.
Chemical Plant Where 4 Workers Died Hadn’t Had Workplace Safety Inspection In 7 Years PREVENTABLEIt was another Saturday morning at the La Porte, Texas DuPont plant and with Thanksgiving Day around the corner the conversations amongst workers probably was about food, family and football until methyl mercaptan leaked out into the plant killing 4 workers and hospitalizing a 5th worker who was later released.  What is so sad is that the warning signs of this event were staring everyone in the face.  Even though the use and storage of this and other chemicals like it are so highly regulated this plant wasn’t inspected for 7 years even after the 2 serious violations cited and fine of $3400 in 2007 for the lack of safe management of highly hazardous chemicals!  Then their run in with the EPA in 2012 and 2014 and related penalties of $117,375. On top of all this over the last 5 years they were cited by the state at least 24 times for failures related to performing routine safety inspections, keeping equipment in working order and preventing pollution leaks.  By their actions, DuPont has said they don’t care about their workers, the community and the surrounding environment, but they are not alone in this tragedy.  Why did OSHA wait 7 years for an inspection, why don’t agencies state and federal work together and do what they are charged with, protecting human life?
Report: Plant’s Chemicals Not Listed in 911 Call – ALSO PREVENTABLE – Continuing on the leak at the DuPont plant, to make matters worse, it was an hour after they knew of the leak before anyone called 911 nor did they bother to tell the dispatchers what chemicals were involved!  Not only did the plant contain methyl mercaptan which is highly flammable but methyl isocyanate, the chemical that killed 2,200 people in Bhopal, India in 1984. So you have to wonder why the shift supervisor made no mention of this to the 911 operator who was going to send response teams into danger!  To say that DuPont’s response to the leak was inadequate and slow is an understatement.  There was also no quick access to breathing equipment that would have given the four workers a better chance of survival but then that would have cut into DuPont’s profits and management’s bonuses.
Vernon company fined $59K for workplace violations – PREVENTABLE – This fire was a timely wake up call for Soldream, Inc. as the OSHA inspection it prompted turned up 20 safety and health violations along with a proposed fine of $59,290.  One of the most serious violations was the company, I’m sure with the best of intensions, bypassed interlock mechanisms on equipment, which allowed them to keep operating even with their access doors open.  This  could have led to their workers being caught in the machines but then that would have been their fault for not being careful.  In addition to this incredibly stupid move their dust collection system was inadequate and there was little to no training of employees.
OSHA cites Nissin Brake for safety violations – PREVENTABLE – Nissin Brake Georgia Inc. was inspected by OSHA as part of it’s Regional Emphasis Program for Safety Hazards in the Auto Parts Industry and with good cause as they found 11 violations, 9 serious with a proposed fine of $53,000. Employees were allowed to adjust and bypass safety guards when servicing potentially dangerous machines.  Apparently L.O.T.O. has too many letters for them to understand it’s purpose and also explains why they didn’t have any safe practices training.  But then safety meetings take time and slows production.
OSHA proposes $330G in fines to shipper for Billerica violations – PREVENTABLE – Things seem to continue to spiral out of control at Central Transport, LLC as yet another of their terminals, Dunham Road in Billerica, was found to have OSHA violations and proposed penalties of $330,800. Inspectors brought several hazards to management’s attention, but the company took no corrective action. One instance the buildings roof leaked water on to the work floor where electrical cabinets and forklift battery charger were located.  Imagine employees standing in water while plugging in battery chargers and driving forklifts in wet, slippery conditions.  The owners must be proud of all the money they’re saving with the elimination of safety protocol.
Dollar General store cited by OSHA for second time – PREVENTABLE – A Dollar General store has been cited by OSHA for not only the second time but for the same violations found in 2010.  Apparently blocking exit routes, blocking access to fire extinguishers and electrical panels with merchandise, display racks or supplies is part of their deadly charm.  In addition to these violations, they didn’t bother having the portable extinguishers inspected putting their employees and customers at risk.  Nothing says “we appreciate you as a customer” more than yelling in an emergency – we’re trapped!!  The proposed fine is $51.700.
Norfolk Shipyard Fined $101,000 by OSHA – PREVENTABLE – Colonna’s Shipyard Inc. in Norfolk was found to have 12 violations including 4 repeat.
Could be the main reason the injury/accident rate for shipyard work is more than twice as high as the rate in construction or general industry.  Workers at the shipyard were exposed to open manholes, lacked fall protection and workers were expected to use damaged electrical equipment or work around unguarded machinery.  Yet another company who only cares about how much profit they make.  Violators should not be allowed government contracts.
Repeat OSHA violations result in $342K penalty – PREVENTABLE – I don’t know about you but when there’s a chance my in-laws may drop over we keep the place neat an tidy.  However the folks at Tenneco Automotive Operating Inc. has decided to become the OSHA training center as they have been inspected 11 times in the last 5 years.  In 2013 there were fined $62,000 but they apparently wanted to contribute more to the government coffers as an employee complaint brought them back this year and OSHA found 27 safety and health violations for a proposed fine of $340,000.  With $242,550 of the fine for repeat violations, this company has shown total disregard for the health and welfare of their employees by keeping them in harms way.  This is where the OSHA laws need to be toughened and this plant should be closed down for a period of time or drastically raise the fines.
Another NY dairy farm worker dies; voluntary safety enforcement isn’t working (Commentary) – I always find it interesting when industry says they don’t need the government but can self regulate themselves and do a better job.  Earlier this year there was a big uproar when OSHA began inspections and enforcement on small farms.  The farmers went crying to congress and OSHA was told to back off.  So how well has self regulation worked? Like any place where the inmates run the asylum.  Read for yourself.  NOT.
Ex-WSI insider says safety took a backseat – MORE GREED – As the money from shale production became lucrative, the Dakotas were once again flooded with people in search of their fortune and like the prospectors of yore, are dying to get it.  The love of money is once again putting the safety and lives of people to the end of the line.  Good article to read.

Well my friends, that brings another episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close.  Glad you stopped by and please don’t hesitate to use any of these stories in your next safety tailgate/toolbox meeting.  Do not become a victim.  NO ONE can make your bypass any safety mechanisms. They are there for a reason, to protect you!  You have every right to go home the same way you arrived at work, in one piece.  If your company disables any safety shutoffs immediately complain, to your supervisor, union rep, HR rep and if necessary OSHA.  Would you go to a hospital that let their Doctors bypass safety?  Would you drive a car that had no breaks?  Just say NO! Remember, the life you save may be your own.  Until next time, be safe and keep the discussion going.