RBMB-Your Medical Records Aren’t As Safe As You Think

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And I’m not even talking about hacking of a computer, this is all human error.  Hopefully this article will spur most of you to double check where you’re sending personal information about an injured employee.  Get into the habit of reviewing and updating your phone and fax numbers for medical clinics and the state workers compensation board on a regular basis.

I’m still not sure why or what changed but the fax landline number that I’ve had for 32 years has been receiving for the last seven years full sets of information on employees who have been injured on the job. The last one was this week and now I have Mr Smith’s dob, home address, work address, SSN, his injury and other personal information that if I was dishonest, would also be hurting Mr. Smith financially as well as from his accident if I assumed his identity.  I called the medical office to let them know the information didn’t get to where it was suppose to go but to my home instead.  The clerk was perplexed and asked me again the patient’s name and birthdate.  Still not getting it he told me he needed to check with his office manager.  After being on hold for five minutes I hung up. Hopefully there were able to figure it out with the info I gave them.

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To make it worse, The state of California doesn’t seen to care either.  When this happened last August I tried to inform workers comp I was getting personal information.  She thanked me and was ready to hang up when I said, don’t you want to know who sent it and what it was about nor did she ask if I still had the information or destroyed it?

So folks, you’re going to have to take it upon yourselves to make sure this doesn’t happen to you.  FYI, when I do get this info and after reporting it to the sender, I take the time and shred it at no charge to anyone.  You’re welcome. 

 

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Companies Behaving Badly-YEAR END

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Welcome back, Happy Holidays, thank you for stopping by.  As you may know, OSHA recently released it’s annual top 10 violations for 2016 which quickly made the rounds. People offered their opinions about it,  criticized and pointed wagging fingers as those for more regulation and those for less regulation stood their ground on principle refusing to compromise while people continued to die.  So without further ado, may I present to you OSHA’s top 10 violations for 2016.
#1 – FALLS
#2 – HAZARD COMMUNICATION
#3 – SCAFFOLDING
#4 – RESPIRATORY PROTECTION
#5 – LOCK OUT TAG OUT
#6 – POWERED INDUSTRIAL TRUCKS
#7 – LADDERS
#8 – MACHINE GUARDING
#9 – ELECTRCAL WIRING METHODS
#10 – ELECTRICAL GENERAL REQUIREMENTS
NOW A MESSAGE FROM THE GRIM REAPER.   FALLS #1, 6 years in a row!!!
THANK YOU!
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This information is nice so we know how we stack up against others in the country and where resources and training may need to be directed but is it really useful information? What does it tell us besides giving us reason to be thankful and feel superior since we were lucky enough to have experienced none of the violations on the list?  So instead of the OSHA top ten I would like to offer my Top 5 violations for 2016.
#1 – GREED.  The love of profits over the love of humanity. No money spent of safety, in fact the word isn’t even allowed to be spoken but if safety generated income for a business, it’d never be an issue.  Ever.
#2 – STUPIDITY.  You can’t coach stupid nor can you manage stupid but people seem somehow to still do so by putting people in danger, over riding safety shut off mechanisms to keep production going at all costs, adjusting machinery without using LOTO or blocking emergency exits with merchandise and equipment. That’s half of stupid, the other half are those who refuse to wear PPE or use fall protection gear and consistently put themselves in harms way.
#3 – LACK OF TRAINING.  Why waste time and energy in training employees on how to respond to an emergency whether fire, chemical or natural, it’ll never happen here, right?  Or how to properly use and wear PPE or how to properly operate a forklift.  Too much information in too little time.  They’ll learn as they go.  What could go wrong?
#4 – LACK OF RESPECT – for your workforce.  Don’t treat them as idiots, give them the materials and training they need to be successful and do their job with confidence. Explain what the expectations are and the consequences for non compliance and say Thank You for a job well done.
#5 – COMMUNICATION – This includes listening to your employees concerns about working conditions and process improvement and then answering those concerns with feedback and developing an on going conversation of respect to solve issues and make your operation stronger.

Hope you appreciate my top 5.  Now lets finish the year looking at other disturbing trends from 2016 that’ll continue into 2017.

The continued lack of leadership that prevails at the US Postal Service.  Blood incidents prompt OSHA to fine Brooklyn Postal Service location $342,000 – How stupid is the leadership?  Pretty damn stupid and the workers know it since they filed a complaint with OSHA that found 2 WILLFUL and 3 REPEAT violations.  3 Repeat!!!  Which means they never bothered to fix the problem of not having written instructions or training for workers responsible for handling and cleaning up biohazard packages that are stained or leaking. Managers also did not offer hepatitis B vaccines to affected employees.  It’s a wonder that your junk mail even gets to you!  I predict you’ll be reading more stories of violations at the USPS next year since management has proven it’s incapable of finding it’s own way out of a paper bag.

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Continued lapses of safety on our railroads and ignoring the fixes needed for infrastructure to ensure protection of civilian lives. N.J. Transit Safety Jobs Vacant as Christie Allies Hired at Top – Some politicians, actually only the clueless ones bent on personal power think the way to fix a problem is to hire their friends to top management positions or by making new and “better” laws when all that is needed is to fill the open positions with employees who do the job at hand and not brown nose their way through.  While accidents continue on one of the worst transit systems in the world the Governor thinks it’s better not to fill the safety positions since they’ll ask for money to fix it while his buddies will keep the status quo and let constituents continue to die.  I guess the transit system isn’t as easy to take care of as the George Washington bridge.   Look for continued lack of a plan and leadership into the next year and beyond.

Continue to poison ourselves, our water supply and the environment because we are too cavalier on chemical safety.  New Martinsville chemical plant cited for workplace-safety violations – We need chemicals for food production, building materials, cars, planes, homes and just about anything you can think of but why are we so sloppy and careless about handling it?  Could it be that it maybe takes 20 years for the exposure to show up as a health problem?  Could it be that we truly believe the planet can handle all those chemicals in the air, land, streams, rivers and oceans to dilute and render them to harmless?  Could it be that chemical companies find it a needless expense to make all the needed safety measures and training to prevent chemical injury and death?  Either way, YOU as a employer, whether a supermarket or chemical plant are responsible to train your workers on what they are working with, it’s potential hazards, the proper PPE needed and how to handle in a spill or other emergency.  However I predict this also will continue to be ignored since we never learned anything after the 1984 Bhopal, India gas leak that killed 4,000 humans immediately and residual effects claiming a total of 15,000 human lives!!!  If you think it can’t happen here, you’re just in denial or brain dead.  

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Continued deaths of civilians due to budget cuts and lack of leadership at all major and small cities. Operator accused of ignoring safety in deadly Oakland warehouse fire and Fire Chief: We were not aware what was going on in Ghost Ship – What happened in Oakland, California at the Ghost Ship Warehouse is just the canary in the mine warning f0r all cities.  Due to the competition by city departments for that little slice of the budget pie, things are not getting done and the leadership instead of thinking outside the box and developing solutions to working with what they have are just crying about it and doing NOTHING!  Between all the departments within the city, Ghost ship slipped through the cracks and now people are dead.  The mayor of Oakland at one point stated we need better laws but this is just rhetoric since all you had to do was enforce the current laws and better leadership developing communication between the departments instead of every man or woman for themselves.  If you think this can’t happen in your town, then think again.  When you city is more hell bent on saving the baseball team or football team from leaving, the safety of it’s citizens is a moot point.  Time to wake up Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and Vallejo.  Sure there’s a knee jerk reaction happening now and everyone is aware but over time this will fade, things won’t get done and we’ll all be horrified again when it happens again.

That does it for now.  I greatly appreciate your support over the year and wish you all a Happy Hanukkah and a very Merry Christmas.  After the interesting year we’ve had it’s nice to see the show of solidarity by Hanukkah and Christmas as they begin back to back. As you visit family and friends remember to please not drink and drive or drive distracted. Be your own fire marshall and safety inspector to protect your home and family from fire, accidents or visits to the ER.  If you’re into making resolutions for the new year, resolve to be a better person to you fellow human beings, treat them with respect, be polite and especially be kind to those less fortunate then you.  There is a lot of love out there and we can obliterate the hate with it.  Until next year, never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.

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Hanukkah Candles and Christmas Tree Lights-Festive Dangers

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Reduce Home Holiday Risk – Don’t Kill Santa

As we show you how to make your home a safe haven for the holidays are there any other potential hazards that may exist?  What about that nice cozy fireplace that Santa will use to deliver presents?  When was the last time you used it and even more important, when was the last time you had the chimney cleaned?   Each time you use your fireplace, deposits  of ash, water vapor and other debris build up within your chimney and if not cleaned out can fuel a fire in your chimney that could spread throughout your home.  Be sure to keep flammable liquids and materials away from your fireplace, you don’t want to give the fire any added fuel to spread with and please avoid overloading your fire with too much wood.  Keep the fire manageable.  In addition here are 3 more tips for a safe fireplace.

1 – Don’t leave a fire burning in the fireplace when you go to sleep.  All it takes is one little spark to create a house fire.

2 – Don’t close the flue in your fireplace until all ambers and smoke is extinguished and out.  Closing it too early can cause dangerous carbon monoxide to spread throughout the house.

3 – Place all ash in a metal container, never in plastic or paper as any live ambers can burn through and create a house fire.

4 – Most important, test and make sure your carbon monoxide detector is operating.  

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Warehouseflow Advisors

Reduce Home Holiday Risk – Your Stove is a Diva

Your stove is very much like a Diva. When it’s on, it needs lots of attention to be happy but can become vexed in the blink of an eye.

You’ll be working with your Diva often during the holiday gauntlet, (the time period between Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day) and keeping focused and avoiding distractions while cooking and baking is key to a problem free relationship.  

Still, being prepared and ready for any flare ups and you’ve won half the battle if not more.  Also check and then keep the filters and collectors in your stove hood clean and free of dirt and grease as it builds up quickly with all the holiday cooking.  Highly recommend that you set a schedule of cleaning them every two weeks, like the pros do and you can set a reminder on your calendar.  Same for the stove top and oven, keep them clean and free of debris.  

Then of course you should also know the 3 ways to put out a grease fire.

– NEVER use water on a grease fire.

1 – Put a lid on it.  Place a lid over the pan on fire and remove the heat source. This smothers the flames by cutting off it’s oxygen.

2 – Pour baking soda on it.  Yes, that handy versatile box of baking soda can also add firefighting to it’s long list of uses.  It also smothers the flames. 

3 – Use your fire extinguisher.  Focus the stream on the center of the fire and sweep the area left to right and back until fire is out.  Sure you’ll ruin what ever was cooking but it’s much easier to replace a menu item then your house.  If at any point the fire begins to get out of control leave immediately,  close the door behind you as you exit and call 9-1-1

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Companies Behaving Badly-FIRE!

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Hello all, welcome back and hope you had a nice Thanksgiving.  Each of us have a few words that we respond with an instant reaction of fear and a jolt of adrenalin.  They can be as simple as  “Our next shipment of tickling Elmos is after Christmas”, “That was the last of the wrapping paper” to “I’m late” or “wifi is down”!   The word “FIRE” is another great example of one of those inspirational words that when shouted, creates a flight or fight response in individuals.  For those who have had all that training and drills, it all comes to mind and kicks in, (which really feels good when it does) as you immediately begin to size up the situation and proceed with the next steps you need to take to deal with the fire. Others may just take FLIGHT!  

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Now I don’t want you to think there is any thing wrong with taking flight and evacuating upon the outbreak of a fire, it is the correct thing to do in an emergency.  The problem arises when those emergency routes are blocked with boxes of merchandise, equipment and junk made only worse by arriving at a locked emergency exit door.  Imagine the fear and desperation a person experiences when the building is burning and the only way out is locked shut with chains and padlocks.  If you’re lucky, you’ll pass out from the smoke and heat be dead before the flames get to you.  Terrible, isn’t it?  Yet as you will see in the stories below, there are companies out there that seem to have no problem placing their workers and customers in that worst case scenario.  Like they tell you on an airplane, where ever you work, know where the emergency routes and exits are and you should always plan on at least two ways out.  Just in case on of them is blocked by the fire and they should always be clear.  It’s an emergency route not an obstacle course.  

10 Retailers You Should Think Twice About Buying From on Black Friday – Why not patronage a business based on how it treats it’s employees and safety violations.  We’re all horrified when we hear about the working conditions in Asia and other parts of the world, why not our own backyard.  It’s also not just these retailers, General Dollar stores or the U.S. Postal Service that have blocked emergency exits.  I was recently in a local, Bath Bed Beyond and the aisles throughout the store were choked with boxes and carts of merchandise.  If an evacuation was needed, people would have been injured trying to get out pushing through the blockade.   I understand that the holiday season is an important economic event for retailers and you want to push as much product as possible on the floor because you need those numbers and the morons at corporate just don’t want to understand your situation but still send more.  Will all that matter in a courtroom when you’re on trial because one or more people died trying to escape you store during a fire?  No it won’t and corporate will just pay a fine and you’ll be thrown under the bus.  Customers!  When you see this situation, say something to the manager, don’t keep quiet about safety.

Evacuation routes on a grander scale.  Houston Area Jeopardized By Outdated Chemical Transportation Routes – I must confess that I am no longer surprised by the level of incompetence of the leadership operating our cities and states.  The ideas of continually putting things off, like it’ll just go away on its own, and not blow up until I’m retired and then can be righteous and say, “told you so”.   As we have no control over these clowns in the cities we do at our workplace.  Don’t wait until something happens to make changes to procedures, be proactive and review your operation annually.  What’s changed in the last year?  Equipment, new chemicals, storage?  Do the evacuation routes still make sense?  This is also why I firmly believe in THE WALK.  When you walk your facility or warehouse you’ll notice these changes and can correct accordingly.  In fact, if you have a safety committee, members can take turns doing a monthly walk through.  Don’t wait until it’s too late.  

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AP: Too quiet on the set; filming accidents often go untold – It’s always interesting to see how groups that share an interest always want to keep things quiet and operate in their own vacuum.  Making movies with lots of stunts and under intolerable conditions, accidents are going to happen but the movie industry is not above health and safety laws and people should no longer keep quiet about safety.  The movie company that produced Star Wars-The Force Awakens was fined in the UK for the accident that broke Harrison Ford’s leg.  In Georgia a camera assistant was killed on location on a train trestle because no one bothered to notify the railroad or check the train schedule.  Don’t let anyone ever tell you to keep quiet about safety or to look the other way.  There is no code to protect except life.

NJ Cleaning Products Manufacturer Exposed Workers To Chem. Hazards – A chemical company that has improperly labeled drums of chemicals being moved by untrained forklift drivers.  What could go wrong?  Luckily an employee realized that and complained to OSHA and during the investigation, the agency found the company: failed to properly label hazardous chemicals; lacked forklift training and maintenance; exposed employees to electrical hazards; lacked guardrails on an open-sided platform six feet above ground level; failed to implement a lock out/tag out system to prevent inadvertent machine start-up and provide employee training; didn’t develop and implement a respiratory protection program, including medical evaluation and employee training for employees required to use respirators; and failed to address exposure to confined space.  Sounds like one big accident waiting to happen.  You have the right to know what chemicals you are working with, the PPE required for safe handling, the effects it can have on you and how to respond to a spill.  Talk about FIRE!

This gem is from a friend, Kyle Thill of Toyota Equipment.com and if you’re in any industry that uses forklifts or other industrial powered vehicles you should be following him on twitter – @ToyotaEquipment   Is Bulldozing a Violation of OSHA Federal Law?   This is great info so you can stop this practice in your facility.  It’s something I never allowed as all to often something gets damaged and even more often it becomes a competition and then someone get hurt.  

That’s all for now folks.  Keeping a workplace safe is not an easy task, but when you get the message out there and hold people accountable it’ll become word.  Listen to your employees, don’t be afraid to make change for the better as long as it’s not for the sake of change.  Never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.  As you prepare for the upcoming holidays please also don’t forget to take safety home as your home can easily become a house of horrors.

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Companies Behaving Badly-Communication

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Hello and welcome back.  There are several critical elements that comprise workplace safety.  As water exists thanks to a very successful bonding between the elements hydrogen and oxygen so does training, PPE, drills and communication, make strong bonds for great safety.  Training and PPE are the introduction to safety for most workers and a indication of how serious the company is on safety.  Drills are done on a periodic basis to help reinforce the training and keep workers on their toes.  However, communication also creates a strong bond in the safety compound since it is used every minute of every day, work and home.

You would think that in this day and age, communication would be so easy to do with so   many means to choose from, smoke signals, semaphore, morse code, email, texting, cell phones and of course good old fashion, verbal.  We communicate at the beginning of each shift with a quick huddle for a size-up of the day to come with the staff and plans of attack on the challenges facing your crew and a reminder on the best way to safely approach and complete.  Unloading unusually sized items, wet floors on rainy days, excavating a trench or staying hydrated on hot days, all good reminders before work begins.  We communicate when equipment is not operating properly and red tag it out of service until repairs can be made. We communicate possible hazards before anyone begins to weld or enters a confined space.  We also communicate what chemicals are being used on site through safety data sheets and symbols so firefighters know how to safely deal with fires and emergencies. As you’ll see in the stories below, lack of communication can lead to serious accidents and death which is sad as only a few simple words could have had a totally different out come.

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SD Worker Suffers Fatal Burns When Ethanol Ignites During Expansion Project   – The employer of a worker, Bilfinger-Westcon didn’t bother to communicate with him that the area where welding would occur wasn’t free and clear of hazards. The refinery, Sioux River Ethanol LLC, that hired them for contract work didn’t bother to communicate that ethanol and flammable liquid was still present in the pipe to be worked on.  Because of this breakdown in communication a 38 year old pipefitter of Bilfinger-Westcon suddenly found himself covered in 190 proof ethanol when he opened the pipe and before he could do anything else, it was ignited by the near by welding, making him a human torch.  He agonized in pain from the burns for a day before succumbing to his injuries.  If a few minutes of communication had taken place between all three parties before work began this whole incident could have been avoided.  Ignorance is not bliss and you should ask questions before beginning work like this in any location.  Don’t assume your boss or the company that hired you has taken all the precautions for your safety.

Transit Worker Fatally Struck by Subway Train in Brooklyn – Again, a simple pre-shift huddle, to communicate potential hazards could have helped save this workers life. Three workers were on the southbound tracks near the Fort Hamilton Parkway station to set up warning lights for a construction zone when a G train hit two of the workers as the train was traveling around a curve. One of the workers, Louis Gray, 53, of Brooklyn, was pronounced dead at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn while the other employee, Jeffrey Fleming, 49, was injured and taken to New York Methodist Hospital, where he was listed in serious but stable condition.  All the train engineers on that route should have been communicated to and alerted that there were people on the track in that area.  Horns should have been sounded by the oncoming trains at the beginning of the area and slowed down to a crawl.  A very similar accident happened on BART in the San Francisco bay area when trains were not alerted to maintenance workers on the tracks.  This type of accident can be avoided when all parties are on the same page and simple communication can help.

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Aer Lingus faces charges over man who died at Dublin Airport warehouse in 2014 – Have you successfully communicated the rules of the road at your facility?  Do drivers delivering or picking up know how to properly enter your facility and where to wait until their truck is ready to move?  It is extremely important to control the flow of traffic on your loading dock and keeping people not familiar with your facility out of harms way.  Unfortunately, Aer Lingus didn’t and is charged with failing to ensure so far as reasonably practicable that individuals who were not employees were not exposed to risks to their safety, health or welfare at a cargo warehouse at Dublin Airport. They regularly permitted or required drivers to access the building via the loading bay itself.  I can’t tell you how many times I found drivers doing this even though at our warehouses we had several doors they could come through.  Even with broadcasting our rules of the road, via fax, emails and written procedures handed to drivers it still got to the point that we banned a few drivers from our facility that just wouldn’t follow procedures.   Which in this age of litigation is something you must do to protect yourself, your workers and your company.  Communicate your expectations and then enforce them or no one, including your employees will never take them seriously and you can avoid a senseless death.

FOX10 Investigates: Warehouse fire posed problems for firefighters – Knowing what chemicals and flammables you’re storing in your warehouse and communicating that information to others, especially firefighters is critical for the survival of all.  As we have seen all to often in warehouse fires, there are no signs, placards or other information for firefighters so they know how dangerous the situation can be and most importantly, HOW to fight a fire.  Depending what is fueling the fire makes a big difference on how the fire is attacked.  If you have alkali metals burning in your facility, you don’t want to poor water on it as the results would be fatal to a firefighter.  When firefighters arrived at Mike Hoffman’s Equipment Services they found an extremely powerful fire, due to the flammable liquids like oil, hydraulic fuel, acetylene, gasoline and diesel fuel stored inside the building. “When we arrived on scene, we had heavy fire, they tried to make an entry, but because of the amount of fire that was there, the decision was made to back out, and take an exterior attack on it.” Make sure you’re using the new Hazard communication procedures by OSHA and SDS sheets to ensure everyone remains safe in your facility by knowing what to do in an emergency.

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Construction industry death: Whistleblower speaks out over safety fears at fatal fall site – Marianka Heumann, a German national backpacking her way through Australia was killed as she plummeted 13 floors through a open shaft because NO ONE thought it was important enough to communicate the dangers.  Four other people died on Australian construction sites during the month of October, raising questions about workplace safety nationally and the level of training employees are receiving.  Just because you know there is a hazard somewhere doesn’t mean the average person knows especially when you toss in being distracted by their smart phones.  Signs, cones, flags, barriers all indicate, HEY LOOK!  

Multiple Safety Issues Found At Plant Which Supplies Major Auto Brands – Workers  began communicating multiple complaints of unsafe working conditions at the Fuyao Glass America Inc.facility. Since the company is apparently deaf this lead to 8 separate federal inspections and $226,937 in proposed penalties for the automotive glass supplier to plant brands such as Audi, Cadillac, Land Rover, Volvo and Volkswagen.  The employees knew what they were talking about as OSHA found 23 serious safety violations from multiple machine safety violations which expose workers to amputation and other serious injuries, as well as a lack of personal protective equipment, electrical hazards, failing to train workers about hazardous chemicals in use and unmarked exits.  As you can see, NO communication to it’s valuable employees.  When you begin a new job and there is no training or communication about safety, then make sure your life insurance is paid up if you intend on staying there or speak up as these employees did.  Never keep quiet about safety.

As you can see, communication is a critical part of safety.  Even with all the training, drills and PPE without the exchange of information people’s lives hang in the balance.  If you’re not doing it already, begin each shift with a quick huddle.  Go over the scheduled days activities and make sure everyone is on the same page, for the life you save may be your own.  Until next month, stay safe.

 

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