The Hawaiian Shirt Rebellion


Some times the best way to improve morale in a company is with a subversive action especially if it just ever so slightly breaks a rule and has been coordinated with the entire staff.

Our family owned company had recently been bought by a large corporation.  We were their new shining addition to the family and after a long grueling process of upgrading our systems and intercommunications, we learned the new rules of the road.  New training, new reports, new programs, new ways of doing things and new dress code.  Morale was very low and our new corporate masters were not seeing it at all and just kept pushing without stopping even for a second so we could catch our breath. 

The leaders of the resistance were all young professionals in their late 20’s to early ’30s. Even though we each worked in a different department, (engineering, maintenance, production, quality control, and facilities) we had become pretty tight over the years not only because we were close in age but our eclectic mix of personalities worked so well  and our positions naturally had us working together to resolve production issues.  We also went to ballgames after work together, Oakland A’s were only a few BART stations away and we shared drinks on Fridays to celebrate our victories and console our loses that week.  

Even though the statute of limitations has long expired I still will not reveal the other members of the resistance but admit that I was one of the members.  On one particular Friday, while drinking and complaining, it came up that July 1st was around the corner and the beginning of the new fiscal year.  What could we do to celebrate the occasion and help break up the funk at work and get morale back to where it needed to be.  There was a definite correlation between the number of drinks consumed and the innovation and creativity of ideas put forward by the group.  Silliness turned to anger and then anger back again to silliness.  The drinks and hours went by until we broke for the night and our weekend.

Monday morning seemingly came around too fast and at our morning break, we again went over our plan to make sure this is the statement we wanted to make.  The six of us talking just above whispers and constantly looking over our shoulders so no one else could hear us or most importantly know we were behind what was about to happen.  We thought a strategic strike against the new dress code would get a smile out of almost everyone.  Previously there was no dress code except the unwritten rule of, when we had visitors at the plant we had to wear slacks and a button shirt and now we had to dress that way every day.  They wouldn’t even listen to having a dress down Friday.  We swore our allegiance to each other after the break and each put their part of the plan into play.


The fake memo was completed by one member and the copies made late at night by another and I came in extremely early to place memos directly on employees desk.  The company leadership such as the President, VP’s and Plant Manager were left off the distribution list.  The memo on the usual company letterhead was plain and simple.  A picture of a Hawaiian shirt and the following,  “To Celebrate the new fiscal year, Friday has been declared as Hawaiian shirt day!  Wear your best Hawaiian shirt and be ready to party.”

The rest of the week we monitored all gossip and conversations to make sure this was still a secret, really going to happen and be a pleasant surprise for all.  Friday came and we met in the employee lot, donning our Hawaiian shirts and to no surprise, all of us had brought a backup outfit just in case it really went south as we had no idea what kind of participation we would get from the rest of the staff.  People sounded excited about the idea but would it carry all week?  We huddled, put our hands in and shouted, “GO HAWAII”!  

The six of us walked in together to meet our destiny, but were stopped in our tracks by our dropped jaws and were totally blown away!  Not only did most of the staff arrive wearing Hawaiian shirts, but the rest had brought them and changed into them here.  Some really embraced the spirit of the day and were wearing leis or playing ukeleles and a few had plastic blow-up palm trees and one surfboard.  Then there was a sound coming from the lunchroom that we hadn’t heard in a while.  Laughter.  People were laughing, talking, smiling and enjoying themselves. WE did it! 


Then the inquisition came. Our VP of Human Resources was a particularly special stick in the mud.  No sense of humor, no jokes, no laughs and extremely pompous.  If you had the misfortune of a meeting with him they always took twice as long as with anyone else since he constantly took phone calls during the meeting so you can add rude to the list as well.  Our VP of HR began his investigation into Hawaiigate and seek out the culprit or culprits responsible!  First, the usual suspects’ were interrogated and then other people were summoned to the office and asked, “Where did this memo come from?”  They all answered as we hoped, it was on my desk when I arrived.  Each member of the resistance was also called into his office, one at a time and asked if we knew or heard anything?  We all responded in kind, as shocked as he was that this could happen but had no clue as to who.

Mr. VP of HR eventually gave up his witch hunt and no one was ever punished for the crime but a flurry of new policies followed along with the consequences for future infractions of HR law. The President of the company actually loved the Hawaiian shirt idea so much,  every Friday was now dress-down day and the second Friday of each month was a different themed employee day. 

Sometimes the only way to shake a culture up is with a little internal rebellion.   


A Complete Guide To Warehouse Safety -Volume 2 – PPE


Dorothy was still not sure what had just happened or any clue about the dead inspector but she knew she wanted out of this nightmare and to be back home so finding this head of OSHA sounded like the best way right now. So she set out on the green brick road hoping to make it to the Emerald city.  After walking along the road for what seemed like hours she was beginning to regret not paying more attention at the safety meetings at work.  If only I had listened maybe I wouldn’t be in this predicament, but maybe I’ll wake up soon and this will be over but the pain coming from her feet because the ruby steel toed boots were rubbing convinced her this was, oh my, could this, could this be for real?

She saw a large boulder on the side of the road and decided to take a break from walking and to feel sorry for herself.  I can’t believe this?  Why didn’t I listen?  I could have been in the shelter and done but no, I had to be, Ms. oh that will never happen to me. “Go figure, huh.”  Dorothy jumped right up and turned around, who was that?  The voice echoed back, “it’s me.”  Who? I can’t see you, come out of the bushes.  “I would if I could but I’m done here in a hole.”  Dorothy peeked over the boulder and could see a fairly good sized hole in the ground.  How’d you get in there?  “I’m not really sure. We were suppose to do some confined space work for the Emerald city public works, somewhere I blacked out and woke up, in here all alone.”  “I know I was suppose to wear a harness with a cable attached so they could pull me out quickly if they had too.  But they didn’t have one and they said that was o.k. this time.  Then I was suppose to wear a respirator before I climbed in, just in case there were any hazardous gases or vapors present, but they didn’t have one and they said that was o.k. this time.  I was suppose to wear a bump camp to protect my head just in case rocks and debris feel in, but they didn’t have one and they said that o.k. this time.”  O.k. I get it, Dorothy responded, you didn’t get any PPE to wear.  “PPE?  No, they didn’t have a bump cap.”  O.K!  What”s your name  “They call me Scarecrow because of my blonde hair and I’m kind of scatterbrained.  I know the right thing to do but tend to lose focus and veer off track and forget.”  Dorothy finally worked up the courage to get closer to the hole in the ground to get a view of Scarecrow.

She peered in, my name is Dorothy.  “Hi”, he said as he waved up to her.  “What are you doing way out here.”  I’m on my way to see the head of OSHA in the Emerald city.  I heard he may be able to help get me home.  “Oh, are you far from home?”  Yes, yes I am, very far from home.  Hey, maybe the head guy can get you the PPE you need so you don’t wind up in a hole alone again?  Do you want to go?  “That sounds great Dorothy, but first I think I need to get out of this hole so I can accompany you.”  Great idea.  She looked around and found what looked like an old ladder that was pretty busted up but should help the Scarecrow climb out of the hole.  When he finally emerged, Dorothy noticed that he was a mess.  He had fingers missing, scars all over and his clothes were ripped and disheveled.  He had been in the hole for such a long time he had trouble standing up and would flop but the two of them were determined to continue their journey on the Green Brick Road of Safety to find the head of OSHA so Dorothy could go home and Scarecrow could get some much needed PPE.

In Volume 1-Begin With Basics, Dorothy began her trip down the Green Brick Road with a job safety analysis, which showed us the types of hazard present and where they’re located.  With this information you can determine what kind of PPE is needed to give further protection to employees as they carry out their daily routines.  

PPE stands for Personal Protection Equipment (Designed to protect workers from serious workplace injuries or illnesses resulting from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical or other workplace hazards).



A Knight’s armor can be considered PPE since the job description includes protecting his King and the realm from enemies which usually included a battle and hand to hand fighting.  His PPE had to help protect him from swords, lances and arrows the best it could so he could continue doing his job and save the kingdom.  However you must make sure the PPE is a appropriate for the conditions where the work is to be performed.  One of the problems with armor was the weight and if a knight was knocked off his horse in a river or lake, they usually drowned.  PPE is to protect you and in no way should be the death of you.  The same would also apply to an athlete getting ready for a football game whether American Football or Soccer.  The equipment worn, shin guards, shoulder pads and helmets are a type of PPE as they give protection needed to play the game but as we’ve seen and heard of late, current helmets are giving inadequate protection and need to be greatly improved to protect players brains.

Apply this thinking to those hazards you located and intersect with the employee.  What added protection will keep them from injury or long term disability.  Usually a safety professional would handle this like the hazard analysis however knowledge is for everyone and all employees, whether management or worker should be aware of why or what PPE may be needed.  You can begin with the five senses, protecting sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste.



EYES/SAFETY GLASSES – Sight is a critical sense that needs to be protected at all times in a manufacturing environment especially if employees work in areas where machinery can create flying debris, hot sparks, saw dust and metal shavings.  Safety glasses with side shields or goggles are a good choice.  When corrosive liquids or other chemicals are involved you want to avoid splashes to the face, a face shield would help greatly.  Of late safety eye ware has become a lot more stylish, with colors and shapes.  Remember you want employees to use these items so encourage them and allow a few different choices as long as they are properly rated for the job.


EARS/HEARING PROTECTION – Hearing is another crucial sense to protect, especially since hearing loss can be gradual over time and not as immediately noticeable like loss of sight.  If you’re working an 8 hour shift in an environment where the noise level is 85dB or higher and you are not consistently wearing ear plugs or ear muffs, you will suffer irreversible damage to your hearing.  Ear plugs are available as daily disposable types that conform to the shape of your ear canal but before you roll them with your fingers to insert make sure your hands are clean or you could inadvertently give yourself an ear infection.  Permanent ear plugs specifically molded for your ears by a professional are also a great way to go. Some very high noise areas, over 100dB require a combination of ear plugs and muffs and also limit the amount of exposure time in that environment. When you take decibel readings to see what PPE is required, make sure to have all machinery running as well as other necessary equipment to get a true sense of the level of noise.  


HANDS/GLOVESThere are many types of gloves available for just about any application you can think of, made of non-latex, rubber, plastic, leather and synthetic materials.  Moving and handling cartons or wooden pallets you want gloves that fit well an that give you a very good grip as well as protect from splinters.  If your job includes using sharp blades, cutting instruments or other tools there are gloves made from kevlar that prevent lacerations to your hand.  There are gloves that protect you from acid & chemical burns and other corrosive materials as well as thermal gloves for use in extreme temperatures.  Just make sure the glove you issue is rated for the task at hand, are comfortable and flexible to easy digit manipulation.  Gloves can be expensive so make sure you establish a policy of always exchanging a worn pair for new and how many pairs a month you’ll issue to employees who just can’t seem to hold on to a pair for very long.


LUNGS/DUST MASKS & RESPIRATORS – Areas of the facility where heavy dust, smoke, gas vapors, paint fumes or other harsh toxins are a result of or part of the production process are completed, employees will need some sort of protection.  Whether you’ll only need to use a simple dust mask, respirator or fully contained system depends on the amount of contaminant particles in the air and their toxicity.  In any case the protection will not be sufficient if the item does not fit flush on your face with no gaps around the mask.  With respirators and other systems make sure to place them on a maintenance schedule to ensure they’ll fully operate when needed, especially if they are stored and used for emergency purposes only.


HEAD/BUMP-CAP -Sometimes employees have to work in cramped spaces or under low hanging obstacles like pipes to make repairs or adjustments to machinery.  To prevent scalp lacerations, concussions and head penetration injuries a bump cap is a good choice. A good way to get workers to wear them consistently is to allow caps with different sports team logos.  A tip for those working around moving machine parts and belts with long hair, it is highly recommended that staff tie up and cover to protect it to prevent hair being caught and you pulled into the machinery.  


FEET/LEG PROTECTION – You’re probably on you feet during most of the shift so you want shoes that not only protect your feet but offer support and are comfortable. Again as with other PPE the type of footwear you use depends on the environment you’re working in.  On the loading dock where there is forklift traffic, pallets, tailgates, dock levelers, dock workers wear steel tipped shoes to prevent crushed toes and broken bones.  If you work in a cold warehouse you want shoes that keep your feet warm and help prevent slips and falls.  If you work with chemicals, corrosive liquids and acids you want long boots that protect your feet if those items happen to spill.



ADVERSE CONDITIONS & OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS – Imagine putting yourself inside a washer machine that’s in the middle of a hot warehouse and then having to make repairs to the washer while inside.  That’s what working inside a confined space can feel like. You’re totally enclosed except for a tiny portal. There is not much air movement, it’s hot and dark and there may be lingering toxic gases trapped inside.  Part of PPE are the apparatus, in this case a vest and tether attached to a winch,   that can get you out of that confined space if an emergency was to present itself.   The same goes for fall protection with a vest and safety line that is anchored to a solid fixture so you don’t plummet to the ground.  


Whether you stand near by and get a blast of heat and fumes as molten metals are poured into molds or picking customer orders for hours at sub zero temperatures inside a giant freezer.  In every case, make sure you do the job using only the proper PPE. It can be a matter of life or death.  Remember, PPE will not work if proper training isn’t given as an accompaniment and you should always be shown how to use and how to wear it properly and understand its limitations and how to maintain it. Training is the key for any successful safe workplace and there is never an excuse for not holding at least a monthly safety meeting as well as encourage the participation of staff on safety committees. Thank you for joining Dorothy on this journey down the Green Brick Road of Safety.  There is still some distance to go. 


Companies Behaving Badly – Turkey!

My thoughts and prayers are with the brave people of France. I had visited Paris in October and found a vibrant and beautiful metropolitan city full of life and energy, that I instantly fell in love with.  Wish Paris a speedy recovery.       #standwithFrance    #standwithParis



What ever the reason, fatigue, carelessness, poor judgement or lack of concentration, mistakes happen.  Mistakes are also a very persuasive tool in learning a lesson but unfortunately not everyone has the fortune to get a second chance after making a mistake.  One little innocent slip, trip or unexpected gust of wind and you’re sailing to a life time of handicap or worse, your death.  Each death has a story and with that a lesson we can all learn from.  40 new stories have begun in FY2016 as that many people have already lost their lives in industrial accidents.  Don’t let their deaths be in vain and learn from their mistakes. The attitude “it won’t happen to me” will come to haunt you.  Take advantage of all safety equipment and/or practices available.  Fall safety gear, hard hats, goggles/safety glasses, LOTO.  You are just as responsible for your safety as your company.  Don’t let them ever put you in a unsafe position.  If you have expressed safety concerns to your supervisor or management and no one is addressing it contact HR or your union representative.  If no one is getting back to you  Call the OSHA Hotline -1 (800) 321-6742 (OSHA).


Penalties in Dallas Fatality Top $400,000 – PREVENTABLE – Jorge Carrion Torres a 44 year old worker, on the job for one month didn’t get a second chance and fell to his death.  His employer Design Plastering Inc. and Design Plastering West LLC didn’t think it necessary to protect Jorge while he applied stucco underlayment from a third story balcony and had not installed scaffolding or provided any fall protection which would have saved his life.  His daughter will spend her first Thanksgiving without him.  OSHA found 8 Egregious Willful and 4 Serious violations and issued a proposed fine of $407,400.  Design Plastering had no regard for the lives of their employees as Arizona OSHA had previously cited them 7 times for fall related hazards.  A man died due to willful neglect by this company and why the owner is not on trial is beyond me.

OSHA slaps ND contractor with $105K fine for fall protection violations – PREVENTABLE – Another day, another fall, the absurd continues.  When a worker injured his back and legs because the forklift platform he was on tipped over, the OSHA investigation found that his employer, Lorz Construction allowed workers on scaffolds up to 3 stories without guardrails or fall protection equipment and failed to ensure forklifts supporting scaffold platforms were not moved while occupied and construct scaffolds correctly. No second chances there.  OSHA issued 3 Willful violations along with a fine of $105,000.  They were also cited in 2014 for similar safety violations.  No matter where you work, you should not be on a platform of any type while it is moving unless you are in a cage and properly tethered.  Don’t let anyone put you into an unsafe situation.  Don’t keep quiet about safety.  Be loud!

Toyota lift of Minnesota

Toyota lift of Minnesota

OSHA fines Kinzers contractor $61,600 for ‘serious’ safety violations – PREVENTABLE – Deja Vu.  Rockvale Construction couldn’t care less about the safety of their workers on the job as they received 2 Willful violations along with a proposed fine of $61,600 for exposing workers to forklift and fall hazards up to 26 feet.  Get this, they also failed to properly attach the forklift platform and this is the third time since 2013 workers have been exposed to dangers and appears their safety program is based on luck and hoping not to get caught as they paid their own pockets with the blood money they save putting their employees in harms way.

TimkenSteel worker injured in crane accident, factory fined for 2nd time in a year: OSHA – PREVENTABLE – A failed safety latch on a crane caused 1000 pounds of equipment to fall on a worker who suffered a fractured left foot and several broken bones.  He got a second chance and the lesson is don’t stand directly under suspended heavy objects, ever.  The following investigation found 1 Willful, 1 Repeat and 2 Serious safety violations and the second serious violations within a year for TimkenSteel along with a proposed fine of $393,500.  Days earlier, OSHA had inspected their other plant and issued 8 Repeat and 8 Serious violations for fall hazards, lack of guardrails, slippery surfaces, PPE, no LOTO in place or use of guards or locking devices, damaged equipment, electrical hazards and didn’t bother to report injuries and illnesses as required.

 After Amputation at Austin Manufacturing Plant, OSHA Cites Employer and Temp Agency – PREVENTABLE – When you toss temporary employees into a new and unfamiliar environment and then expose them to hazards you have a recipe for disaster.  Genesis Today Inc. did just that as a temporary worker had his hand caught in a unguarded auger conveyor and watched it amputated from his arm.  For this lapse in judgement they were cited 1 Willful safety violation and a fine of $56,000 for not having guarding in place. The agency that supplied the temp worker, Texas Management Division Inc, doing business as TMD Temporaries was also cited by OSHA for 1 Serious violation and fine of $7,000 for failing to inspect the work site before sending workers there and making sure the machine was properly guarded.
Large companies could face £20m fines for corporate manslaughter – ENGLANDAs a tougher stance on safety by the government, under new sentencing guidelines major companies convicted of corporate manslaughter will face fine of up to £20 million. Check out the story.
UCH Logistics fined after forklift accident – ENGLAND – UCH Logistics has been ordered to pay £20,940.40 in fines and costs following a forklift truck accident that left a worker with head injuries after being hit by a reversing forklift.
Emterra under investigation after worker injury complaints – CANADA – After 19 complaints from both workers and residents the City of Winnipeg is investigating the city’s trash removal company for unsafe working conditions.

New OSHA Rescue Requirements for Confined Space Retrieval: What You Should Know – READING – Whether you are in management, foreperson or worker you should read this article about the new rules for confined space retrieval and know what’s expected to protect you.

$1.8 Million in OSHA Charges Assessed Against Illinois Businessman – JERK of the Month – This person took advantage of other human beings who were trying to feed their families and have shelter.  He promised these immigrants work and then willfully exposed them to asbestos without any warnings or knowledge of the environment and the possible affects from the exposure.  This person exposed human beings to a life of disabilities just to fill his own pockets with money.  Read the article and see how morally bankrupt one person can be.

Well, that unfortunately brings yet another episode of companies behaving badly to a close.  As always, thank you all for stopping by and taking time out of your busy schedules to read the blog.  Please feel free to use any or all of these stories at your next safety tailgate/toolbox meeting. There are so many types of equipment and devices to provide you with a safe working experience.  Why wouldn’t you want to give yourself a second chance and learn from a mistake.  Use all safety equipment.  Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s o.k. this one time.  You have the right to go home the same way you arrived at work, in one piece.  Never stay quiet about safety.  BE LOUD!  Until next month, take care.

Companies Behaving Badly – Summer Kills

It would be nice to believe that others are actively looking out for your safety but unfortunately that is not always the case.  Some corporations have been so seduced by profits they’ve totally abandoned their ethics and all too easily turn a blind eye to lapses in safety when it benefits production.  You must learn to depend on yourself for survival at the workplace.  Depending on the company you work for there may be gaps in the training you received if you were lucky to get any training.  Ask questions, observe and learn to bridge those gaps.  Never be afraid to ask questions and there is no stupid question when it comes to safety, especially when it concerns emergency shut offs or LOTO.  Observe what goes on around you, are there missing guards on machines, forklift drivers that don’t look before backing up?   Then be a sponge and learn everything but this will all help if you have common sense. I’m not here to debate what or if common sense exists, let’s say it’s a part of your brain that tells you something is not right.  Like using an open flame around chemicals, flammable liquids or areas of high dust concentration or always making sure there is plenty of ventilation in a confined area where you’re using chemicals or dangerous liquids.  Even if your supervisor doesn’t tell you not to do that, a voice in your head should say, Danger Will Robinson, Danger!  You also don’t have to be working outdoors to get sick from high temperatures.  There are warehouses and manufacturing facilities that can reach inside temperatures of 100 degrees or more. Even hotter if you’re unloading overseas containers of apparel or cookware.  Would you know the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke if a fellow worker displayed them? (see below).  You know this unfortunately sounds like another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

       Nursing Education                           Consulting Inc.

Nursing Education
Consulting Inc.


Pitfalls of Trench Work Reprised in Fatal Louisville Accident – PREVENTABLE – We begin with the loss of another teen worker.  Jonathon Moore a 19 year old construction worker for Josh Lefevre Construction Co. was buried alive in a trench cave-in and died of traumatic asphyxia and blunt impact injuries.  Emergency workers pulled his body out of the 10 foot deep trench that excavated debris which included concrete slabs and dirt slid back into the hole.  “When you put workers in an unprotected trench, you are putting them in a grave,” said William Cochran, director of OSHA’s Nashville area office. “These hazards are easily identified and totally avoidable. There is no excuse to expose workers to unprotected trenches.” His co-worker  was lucky and survived but it took rescuers 5 hours before they freed him.  As the investigation of Lefevre Construction goes on, they’re past history involves citations for 2 serious violations in a 2011scaffolding accident and paid a fine of $3500.  OSHA issued 1,462 citations for trench safety violations across the country for FY 2013.  32 Willful and 103 Repeat for a total of $4.9 million in fines.  Do not work in a deep trench unless there is an escape route for everyone working in the trench.  Don’t put your life at risk, don’t believe me? Ask Jonathon.

Man’s death falling from Stockton tower prompts OSHA fines – PREVENTABLEThomas Lucas, a painter was probably enjoying the view that day from the tower he was painting when something went wrong and he fell 9 stories to his death.  The following OSHA inspection found that his employer, Sherwood Tower Services failed to provide a adequate fall protection system and were fined $114,800 for 2 Willful and 1 Serious violation which they are contesting.  As OSHA stated, when companies ask their employees to work above the ground they have a responsibility to provide adequate fall protection to workers. OSHA also found a harness used by Lucas should have been replaced as it showed visible signs of wear, damage and deterioration and that Sherwood had NO safety and health program.  Working more then 6 feet off the ground you should be offered fall protection gear.  Make sure it is properly hooked up before using but make sure it’s used.  Don’t let anyone stop you from wearing and using it.  Why become another statistic?

Nebraska Worker Killed from Lack of Struck-by Hazard Protection – PREVENTABLE – A 26 year old employee, was trying to tow a concrete truck that had become stuck in the sand by using a tow rope and chain with his front-end loader when a link in the metal tow rope connection failed causing the tow rope to snap back like a rubber band, smashing through his cab window, striking him in the head and killing him.  If his employer Gehring Construction & Ready Mix Concrete Inc. had bothered to protect it’s workers from struck-by-hazards this married father of 3 children might still be here enjoying his family.  OSHA cited the company for 2 Serious and 1 other-than-serious violations with a proposed fine of $14,630, for failing to properly train employees in towing methods, connecting techniques and the usage of appropriate towing components as well as not notifying OSHA of the worker’s death within 8 hours.  You don’t have to wait for your employer to tell you of hazards on the job. When you see them, speak up!  Don’t keep quiet about safety.

Griffin Lumber Cited by OSHA as Worker Loses Arm – PREVENTABLE – Imagine the horror of being dragged and pulled into moving machine parts and there’s no way to stop it!  That’s what a 29 year old temporary employee experienced working at Griffin Lumber & Hardware as his jacket was caught in the exposed drive shaft of a conveyor belt and watched as his left arm was amputated.  For exposing workers to unguarded sprocket wheels and chains on conveyor belts OSHA issued 1 Willful violation and a proposed fine of $56,000 for knowing there was a dangerous hazard but couldn’t care less about fixing it or if anyone became injured. In previous inspections by OSHA they were cited for unsafe forklift usage, unguarded machinery and other workplace hazards, so as you can see safety is not a priority at all here.

OSHA cites Rome company – PREVENTABLE – Some companies just don’t understand the principles of workplace safety or even to correct issues that are pointed out by their employees like Cycle Tex Inc. who turns recycled plastics into pellets.  An employee finally had enough and filed a complaint which led to 2 Repeat and 6 serious violations and a proposed fine of $58,000 by OSHA.  The repeat citations were for failing to develop L.O.T.O procedures and exposed workers to flying debris from a grinder that was missing a safety guard.  How hard was it to replace that guard?  Two of the serious violations were for exposing workers to fall hazards and not providing P.P.E.  Obviously it is cheaper for Cycle Tex Inc. to just pay the fines rather then replace guards, issue P.P.E. and putting in railings to prevent falls.  This tells me the fines need to be raised drastically.  If you are put into danger by your employer, if it doesn’t look safe and the company won’t listen to your concerns do what this worker did, don’t keep quiet.  Call OSHA. 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).

EG Company Fined by OSHA for Lack of Employee Safety Safeguards – PREVENTABLE – Here is another instance where an employee’s concerns on safety were ignored and had no other choice then to go to OSHA to file a complaint.  OSHA found 9 Serious and 1 other-than-serious violations along with a proposed fine of $62,000.  The employer Provant Health Solutions, a company that ships clean needles to clinics that are then shipped back for disposal did not protect it’s employees from needlesticks as boxes were unpacked. Boxes also lacked required waning labels and Provant did not use an authorized carrier to return the contaminated needles as well as failed to train employees about hazards as required and didn’t record injuries properly!  Why tell workers about hazards when you have can’t be bothered with a solution to protect them and well that would also cost more money and cut into profits. If your employer won’t listen to you about safety issues, they don’t care about you. Either quit or do something about it like calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).

OSHA Blames Oil Rig Fire That Killed Three on Open-Flame Heater – PREVENTABLE – It is totally irresponsible to me when a hazard is pointed out to you and you do nothing to correct it from happening again and then workers wind-up killed because of your indifference.  That’s what happened with Dan D Drilling in Oklahoma as OSHA cited them in 2013 for having an open-flame heater in the rig.  Now in December 2014, 3 young workers are dead, (2 died at the scene an the third died 16 days later after suffering excruciating pain from his burns) and 2 more suffered extensive burns because an open-flame heater on the floor of the rig began this fire.  In addition to the open-flame Dan D Drilling was also cited for not providing workers with flame-resistant clothing, not giving employees who work with corrosive materials a quick drenching shower, and not providing training for workers on the chemical and physical hazards of chemicals at the work site or a proposed total of $221,200 in fines.  These deaths were preventable and never should have happened but then you have to care about your workers health and safety to begin with.  In my opinion these fines should be tripled.

Roofing Contractor Held in Contempt of Court for Failing to Comply with OSHA Safety Standards – PREVENTABLE – GP Roofing & Construction, LLC thought they were above the law.  They thought consistently putting their workers at risk no matter what the laws of the land said was business as usual.  You other owners of companies that ignore workplace safety regulations are on notice. Guillermo Perez, president and Elma Maldonado, vp of GP Roofing were arrested on warrants issued by the 11th Circuit Court for multiple willful, repeat and serious violations of OSHA fall protection, eye and face protection and safe ladder and other standards as well as the unpaid outstanding penalties of $195,170 plus interest and fees and prove that all hazards have been corrected now and in the future.  What I am most curious about is how these two people can look at themselves in the mirror when they put employees in constant danger and would only hope the state pulls their licenses and does not allow them to bid on any state, city or county projects.

DuPont contesting OSHA violations in quadruple fatality – BALLS – DuPont the company that also brings you behavior based safety programs you can purchase for your company has the balls to contest OSHA’s findings and will not take responsibility after Dupont murdered 4 employees. But can you blame them, who would buy a safety program from a company that kills it’s own workers.  I would have first fired the plant manager for not properly training the workers on the building’s ventilation system and other safety procedures like how to respond if the fans stopped working, which is what the repeat violation is based on but he must be making his monthly goals which is why he’s still there and well you know, profits are more important than people.  Then I would have addressed and corrected each safety issue. Even the worker’s union is telling Dupont to just accept the fine and fix the problems but Dupont’s pride is at stake since the repeat violation will put them in the Severe Violator List.  TOO BAD!  Accept responsibility and take care of your employees, no matter how big a corporation you are you are NOT above the LAW!

Well that definitely sounds like the end of another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.  Thanks for taking time and stopping by to read these stories and please don’t hesitate to use them at your next safety tailgate/toolbox meeting.  Don’t keep quiet about safety.  When you begin a new job in a warehouse or manufacturing facility you should receive training before being allowed on the shop floor.  It should be demonstrated how to properly wear required P.P.E.  There should be emergency procedures in writing and a certification process for forklifts and other vehicles.  There should also be a process in writing on how to address safety issues and concerns.  If you do not get any training, quit.  You are not going to learn anything working here except how to dodge injuries and death and they’re never going to listen to your concerns.  If your company has a safety program that has deteriorated you can either quit or call OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).  Become a safety advocate and never be quiet about safety. Until the 15th. stay safe.


Just Putting It Out There – Safety Complacency

This is my new favorite spot in town. It’s a newly opened coffee shop with a drive thru in the strip-mall very close to me.  Have you noticed the beautiful crosswalk? Nicely painted, bright yellow, white stripes, unobstructed vision and a thank you sign.  I come here just about daily now for a cup of creative inspiration. The other day while waiting in the drive-thru line I saw a near miss between a pedestrian and car in that beautiful crosswalk. Yes, the beautifully painted crosswalk, which sparked a thought, got me thinking, so I took advantage of the nice weather, ditched the car, found a comfortable spot at the coffee shop patio with a view of the drive thru and crosswalk and with my latte in hand, observed for a few days and well, it lead to this blog.  In the picture above, to the left of that large column is the coffee shop which can block one from seeing pedestrians approaching the crosswalk.  To the right is additional parking and the patio area. At different times of the day like end of school day and end of work day it becomes a very busy strip-mall as a bank, gym and supermarket are here as well amongst other small businesses.

What I learned is you can have a well marked out crosswalk like this one and yet it works only as good to avoid accidents as the people involved allow it.  Very much like workplace safety where you work?  You can talk about LOTO, you can train a forklift driver and you can talk about safety until blue in the face, but if the employees doing the job don’t follow the rules it won’t work.

The first safety training we ever receive is as a child from our parents or guardians, and they each had a different approach they took to teach us.  Whether they sat down and calmly articulated about fire & matches, crossing the street on green lights or talking to strangers and the consequences or they just barraged you loudly with many colorful words about how you deserved what happened for being so stupid when sustaining a bad burn after setting fire to your sister’s dollhouse or ran into the street.  The fact is YOUR actions as a parent are the loudest teacher of all! I say that because I was surprised how many moms didn’t make the point of stopping and looking first before crossing, they just walked into the crosswalk with a “go ahead I dare you” attitude. In general too many people overall busy on their phones oblivious to what’s going on around them in the crosswalk.

As a supervisor, when you see a near miss, that is an opportunity to have a discussion on safety.  Definitely not by yelling how stupid that was, but by walking with the employee and talking about what happened and what they thought could be done differently and what are their ideas to correct it.  Make a note for yourself the date, time, who, incident for future reference and then take a closer look, is there a hazard that needs to be addressed here?

You cannot always count on the fact that the other person will stop in time. Oh they’ll see me. I’m sure those are the last words a worker says just before they’re clipped by a forklift that suddenly backs up or worse, smashes you into a wall or other vehicle. As much as the company is responsible to give you a safe environment to work in, You are also just as responsible.  Lead by example, it speaks much louder then slogans and posters. Never make excuses for taking short cuts on safety, you’ll only start to believe them, others will see how easy it is to make excuses and in actuality there really is NO excuse.  Always be vigilant. Safety complacency is the quickest way to get a ride to the local E.R. or even into a body bag.


Companies Behaving Badly – Rushing To Die



Seems to be we are always rushing these days. Rushing to work, rushing home, rushing to the weekend, rushing to die. When it comes to accidents, sometimes it is your fault. You know what I mean. The boss is not watching, you’re feeling lazy, it’s so close to shifts end, you’re angry, you’re worried, you’re distracted, you’re impatient, so you cut corners, “this time only” is the justification from the voice in your head and then it happens.  When “IT” happens let’s look at 2 possible scenarios shall we?

A – You’re working on the top floor of a 5 story building moving materials and doing repairs.  You are wearing your fall prevention gear which is properly anchored. You are in one of the above mentioned moods. You lose focus, trip and fall off the roof but are suddenly jolted to a halt because the gear you wore just saved your life. While you are profusely thanking your deity, you also get the opportunity to learn a valuable lesson and work another day.
B – You’re working on the top floor of a 5 story building moving materials and doing repairs.  You are NOT wearing any fall prevention gear since you don’t need it because those things only happen to the other guy. You are in one of the above mentioned moods.  You lose focus, trip and fall off the roof but the sudden jolt this time is your head impacting the concrete ground below, splintering in hundreds of pieces. You die. No second chance, no opportunity, just dead. Which one do you go with? A or B?

No excuses folks and don’t use your boss as an excuse, wear your fall protection gear. As of April 18th. (the latest data from OSHA), 706 people have died in industrial accidents and that’s just about half way into the fiscal year.  701 in the same time period last year which is good and bad news.  Good – not much more, Bad – not much less either. Don’t ever be quiet about safety, you do not deserve to die on the job because of incompetent or greedy management.  Oh man, you know this unfortunately sounds like yet another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

OSHA: Lloyd Industries in Montgomery Township fined more than $800K – PREVENTABLE – As I’ve said to you all many times before, a willful violation means the company couldn’t care less if you die on the job even though they know full well that could happen. So what do you think about how Lloyd Industries cares about their employees after OSHA found 10 Willful violations!  Yes my friends, this duct manufacturer’s management had no problem or concern that their own employees were having fingers amputated, suffering serious lacerations as well as crushed, fractured and dislocated fingers because for what ever reason they believe in running machinery without safety guards.  Lack of machine guards wasn’t the only issue. They also came up with the money saving idea of discontinuing their audiometric testing program which shouldn’t surprise anyone since they didn’t worry about the loss of body parts why would deafness be a concern. For all this the pending fine is $822,000 and when you add up everything since 2000 to now they’ve been assessed a total of $1 million in fines and earned them a spot in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.  There have also been 40 serious injuries during that same time period.  It is truly disgusting to see people treat other people in this manner and why this owner(s) is not in a jail cell I don’t understand.

OSHA cites $193K in penalties after Burnett Dairy worker dies in grain bin – PREVENTABLE – Again here is another company that knowingly allowed dangers to exist and this time a 52 year old long time employee died.  Burnett Dairy was cited with 2 Willful and 8 Serious safety violations, was placed in the Sever Violator Enforcement Program and a proposed fine of $193,200 because they couldn’t be bothered to LOTO a drag conveyor while the worker was trying to clear a clog in a bin when he was buried in corn and suffered a horrible death. This is a case where the person who operates the facility should be on trial for manslaughter.

     Geoffrey Schmidt

Geoffrey Schmidt

OSHA cites Kewanee factory for January death – PREVENTABLEGeoffrey Schmidt a 21 year old worker at the beginning of his journey was killed on the job in a forklift related accident.  The OSHA investigation found 4 Serious violations and proposed fine of $28,000. This was due to the fact that his employer Great Dane Limited Partnership didn’t think training was important as they lacked initial training for forklift operators, allowed employees to pass or stand under raised forks of a lift and forklifts not properly parked as the operator was not within 25 feet and the load still in the air and break not set. When ever you are out of sight of or more than 25 feet from a forklift, properly park it.  That means break on, forks lowered to ground and engine turned off. That’s it, no exceptions.  Never walk under raised forks with a load. Think of it as walking under a ladder, bad luck and dangerous.

OSHA proposes $50K fine for local paper company – PREVENTABLE – A routine inspection of Clearwater Paper Corporation by OSHA found 9 Serious violations and handed a proposed fine of $50,000.  The response by their V.P. of public affairs was the usual, employee safety is taken seriously and it’s our number one priority. Right, wink wink, nudge, nudge, it was so much a priority that the company lacked procedures for L.O.T.O. during repairs, lacked safety guards on operating machine parts, risk of amputation, lacked eye wash stations & safety latches on crane hooks as well as lacked guard rails to prevent falls over dangerous equipment. I think their corporate brass should get in touch with reality and visit the plant to take a good look at what management is doing by trying to cut corners on safety.

Westfarms Mall Forever 21 Fined $165,000 for Workplace Hazards: OSHA PREVENTABLE – No one is going to be forever 21 when having to work in such hazardous conditions.  Forever 21 is facing a fine of $165,000 for various safety violations found in many of it’s stores.  Their corporate safety plan appears to be based on luck and apparently doesn’t believe in training staff since that will cost money.  OSHA found employees having to work with emergency exits and hallways blocked by inventory, boxes unsafely stacked as high as 10 feet posing a hazard and open boxes scattered all over. This not only puts workers in danger but customers as well but when you’re trying to make a profit and pushing as much product as possible, safety only becomes an after thought if at all.


Americold Logistics in Manchester facing $47,300 penalty for safety hazards, OSHA says – PREVENTABLE – Nothing burns my butt more then a double standard and mixed message to employees. You take the time, effort and money to train your forklift drivers to follow proper procedures, pound it into their heads about safety, being vigilant and doing daily inspections and red tagging forklifts that are in need of repair and then when it’s convenient for you, the manager who’s suppose to be offering leadership and keeping your workers safe, tell them to go ahead and use the forklifts. What kind of message are you sending Americold Logistics?  Some of the employees became confused as well by this double standard and 3 of them filled complaints with OSHA. Safety is not a matter of convenience, it’s a matter of consistently enforcing the rules.  For the lapse in intelligence they are facing a $47,300 fine. Someone needs to sit down and retrain their management staff.

Oregon OSHA fines aircraft cleaning contractor at PDX – PREVENTABLE – OregonOSHA responding to 2 employee complaints on their employer, Prospect Airport Services, a cleaning service contractor at Portland International Airport found 5 Serious health and safety violations and proposed a fine of $1,140. Prospect had workers using vehicles without seat belts for all riders, inadequate eye or face protection while using sanitizers, using issued gloves that didn’t offer enough protection, not provided with eyewash or shower while using harsh cleaners and didn’t have a written hazard communication program.  Now you know why the employees complained. When companies bid for contracts as Prospect must have, the lowest price shouldn’t be the only consideration.  You should look at their safety record and audit their safety program to make sure this is someone you want to do business with.

Tenn. Contractor Appeals OSHA Fine, Judge Increases It – UPDATE – I really enjoy this one. A contractor had appealed their willful violation involved with a crane collapse and the judge not only upheld it but raised the fine.

Report: North Dakota Again Leads Nation in Worker Fatality Rate – MOST DANGEROUS STATE – North Dakota has the distinction of being the most dangerous state 3 years in a row.  Check out the article as the booming oil and gas industries are leading to more deaths of workers.

Make company directors personally liable for workplace deaths – AUSTRALIA – Read the article. They are going to make the company directors liable for workplace deaths which is something that needs to happen here as well.

Well my friends that brings another episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close. Thank you for stopping by to take the time to read these articles and please don’t hesitate to use any of them at your next tailgate/toolbox safety meeting. Don’t know if you noticed but it appears more and more employees are filling complaints with OSHA.  A worker has to be pretty frustrated and at their wits end to finally make that call to OSHA.  It usually begins by bringing up the safety issues to their supervisor and getting no response or worse, some half assed comment. They go to H.R. and again nothing changes and now they are labeled as a complainer or told they’re not being a team player.  Then they see a fellow worker have a near miss or injured and still nothing changes so finally they call. NEVER blow off an employee when they’re trying to tell you about safety issues, because once OSHA is involved it’s going to cost you plenty.  Not just in money, but reputation and trust by your workers.  Remember, never stay quiet about safety for the life you safe may be your own.  Until next month, be safe.



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.

ID-100264757What 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.