Reduce Home 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 its oxygen.

2 – Pour baking soda on it.  Yes, that handy versatile box of baking soda can also add firefighting to its 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 the fire is out.  Sure you’ll ruin whatever 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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Companies Behaving Badly-Professional

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Professional [pruh-fesh-uh-nl]

noun-a person who has a job that needs skill, education, or training: Like a forklift driver or a machine operator.

adjective-1-done as a job, or relating to a skilled type of work: Like a mechanic.

adjective-2-Professional also means having the qualities of skilled and educated people, such as effectiveness and seriousness of manner:  I think that means no horseplay.

People who work in warehouses, manufacturing plants or drive trucks get a bum rap. All to often they’re portrayed as lazy, stupid, inept, loud, crass or untrustworthy in movies and television.  Unfortunately this reputation is well deserved when you see videos on YouTube featuring forklifts and other equipment being utilized in dangerous horseplay.  Ha ha, look at those idiots in the warehouse.  They’re so funny!  Not what someone in management wants to hear and not professional behavior.  What?  Professional behavior in a warehouse?   As I see it, after you’ve trained workers to operate forklifts, to receive, scan, inspect and refuse damaged goods while reconcile counts, pull and put away inventory, load and unload trailers, fifo and other good manufacturing practices you have professionals in your warehouse.  That’s what I called my staff with my first supervisory job and was surprised by the blank stares.

In this day and age of apps, scanners and computerization in our industry the only advantage you have on the competition is how well your staff operates and treating them as professionals they feel they’re important to the success of the company, work safer and feel better about their job as professionals address concerns and discuss ways to improve a process.  However I expect professional behavior from them as well.  That means no rituals, no no hazing, no initiations, no horseplay.

In fact the expression “boys will be boys” should be eliminated from the language and is no longer an acceptable excuse to defend unprofessional behavior.  Professionals know that horseplay can create unnecessary costs for repairs on equipment, inventory, infrastructure and injuries which snowballs into higher workers comp premiums and possibly a visit from your friendly OSHA.  There are so many other ways to relieve stress of the job and still have fun without putting people in danger.  For those of you participating in No-Shave November for men’s health, bravo, but you should know that accidents is the number 3 killer of men and a large part of men’s health.  So on the job, act like a man and be a professional.

OSHA Finds Ohio Company Disabled Safety Devices to Speed Production – If you’re having production problems and not meeting goal you need to stop and take a look at your operation.  Is it staffing, training or the equipment?   The one thing for certain is, the lack of production has nothing to do with the built in safety protocol on machines.  There is NO excuse to disable safety devices on equipment, that’s not professional.  They are there to keep your workers safe and seriously, after one accident, how much time did you wind up saving?  If you see someone disable any safety devices on machinery, report them immediately and in my opinion if someone is killed due to this action, that person should be put on trial for manslaughter.

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OSHA Finds Safety Failures Led To Worker’s Death – Exposed moving parts are always a danger.  They are suppose to be covered by guards so you don’t get entangled in the moving parts which can result in a lost limb or worse.  Charlie Cummins Jr tried to adjust a pin stuck in the up position when an unguarded rotating sprocket caught his clothes and pinned him in a position that he was unable to breath and later died.  This wound up bringing in OSHA which led to additional violations found.  When you are operating any piece of machinery, when you have to make adjustments or repairs, it is professional to LOTO the device before doing any work on it.

OSHA Finds Smucker’s Facility Lacks Energy Control Procedures in Federal Investigation of Employee’s Amputation Injury – It’s hard to be professional when you don’t get the correct training.  Smucker’s failed to train it’s staff on how to control gravity as an energy source during LOTO.  Since he didn’t know any better a worker cleaning a valve body lost the tip of his finger when it dropped. The sad part is this had happened before in 2013 but the company still hasn’t been able to get around to addressing the training issue which is very unprofessional.

OSHA: Worker unhooked himself in Niskayuna construction fatality  – This is a tough one and really sad as it was avoidable.  A professional knows you never unhook yourself from a lifeline when you are working very high off the ground and with training and self awareness you won’t get tangled in the lifeline so please don’t use that as an excuse as to why you don’t wear fall protection.  As this worker found out you never know when you will lose your balance and the fall protection gear would have given him a second chance to correct mistakes in his methodology.  When things like this happen, a professional keeps their cool, takes their time assessing the situation and putting a sound plan into action and never ashamed to ask for help.

Following Deaths Of Wastewater Workers, Utility Adopts New Safety Standards – What is very unprofessional is when there are rules and regs in place to protect workers and when they’re not followed and someone dies we adopt new standards.  These deaths were preventable.  As I have always said, don’t care how many rules you have in place, they are only worth the paper they’re written on if they are not enforced.  Rules work when enforcement is there to be a deterrent, whether using fines or jail time.  Sick and tired of the answer being we adopted new safety standards when the answer has always been there.  It’s about as lame as companies that get caught red handed violating safety rules and have the chutzpah to say with a straight face, that they take safety of workers seriously like Dollar General stores.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Dollar General promises commitment to safety after Lebanon Co. OSHA citation and Willful Offender: Dollar General on OSHA’s Violation List AgainThis is a highly unprofessional organization as they treat their workers with little to no respect as they consistently put them in harms way.  Store after store after store for the last few years have been found, written up and fined and I’m amazed that a company is so willing to piss away all that money in fines when they could invest it in a safety program and properly training their managers in safety as well as a safety bonus program.  But not these idiots, they seem to be happy, dumb and blind and not someone I would do business with.  Come on Corporate headquarters, get you head out of your ass and tackle the problem.  Whom ever you have in charge of this program is yanking your chain and may be telling you all is well but you can see it’s not.  Why don’t you try to be professional.

Poor Safety Culture Blamed For 2013 Explosion At LA Plant – Last month we had looked at Toxic Culture and it’s affect on safety and moral and this month it was determined to be the cause of the disaster.  If you the company don’t care and look the other way and tell employees to “do as we say and not do as we do” it sends a very confusing message that is going to blow up in someones face.  Never keep quiet about safety. 

China’s Latest Deadly Industrial Explosion Spotlights Dire Workplace Safety – I guess you can say things are always a matter of perspective.  We thought that 4,821 American workers dying in on the job accidents was pretty bad but then you look at China!  In the first half of the year, FIRST HALF, 13,723 have died in work related accidents and get this, that’s a 8 percent drop from last year.  This is a toxic culture country.

Don’t always depend on the company to tell you everything you need to do for safety on the job.  Educate yourself.  Google it, read other blogs like this one, the OSHA website, the National Safety council website, get your information from more then one source. Learn all you can and be a professional.  Never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.

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Companies Behaving Badly – Toxic Culture

 

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Each and every company has its own unique identity beginning with its name and logo to its style on how it conducts business, its behavior dealing with customers, vendors and especially how their own workers are treated, it’s ethics, it’s morals, it’s CULTURE.  Make no mistake about it, the culture of a company is always determined by the people in control at the very top by what they allow and accept when it comes to enforcing the rules and policy.  If upper management only accepts the commitment to excellence in the execution of daily tasks, meeting goals and maintaining high ethics while caring for the health and wellbeing of their workers, then that’s going to be the culture down to the shop floor.  Productivity is high, accidents are very low, workers enjoy their job and the company makes money.  Those who fail to maintain excellence are retrained, punished and or banished from the kingdom.  

However, if management accepts an unaccountable, below parr, a sloppy, unsafe and dangerous operation that underperforms but excels in finger-pointing and excuses with no solutions but full of contempt then that’s the culture that will prevail right down to the shop floor.  Those who try to maintain a higher standard and a commitment to excellence are branded trouble makers, punished and or banished from the kingdom.  You will see in the stories below that culture does make a difference and that a culture of uncaring a lack of safe conditions, costs more money in the long run and creates unhappy workers and high turnover.  There are also times when a distance is out of sight, out of mind.  A corporation may have a good culture going but in a remote warehouse or distant plant where the leadership is poor or lazy, the message may have gotten lost.  Sometimes all it takes is to hear a new voice with a gentle reminder to get things back on track.  Don’t sit back and watch, become part of the solution and never keep quiet about safety.

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Let’s begin with the N.J. transit system.   APNewsBreak: NJ Transit tops list of accidents, safety fines  This has been an accident waiting to happen for the last 5 years.  In an atmosphere of incompetent unaccountable leadership a culture of complacency and benign neglect developed and spread throughout the system.  No one cared in upper management so no one else cared in the system. The second largest commuter railroad has been involved in 157 accidents since 2011 causing more than $6 Million in damages.  A great deal of the accidents were caused by speeding and drug impairment as 33 of the violations from OSHA included drug or alcohol use which is another red flag of a toxic culture and management never saw it or did anything about it.  OSHA has found a total of 183 violations against them and they’ve paid $519,280 in fines.  The problem is the leadership is so bad and their trust level is nil that they need to replace all of management and begin new with training, evaluations, terminations and build new trust to make sure workers and commuters are not taking potential hazards to work.  It is also sad that public tax money is being wasted. 

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First we heard about the problems with employee fights and other issues at a Blue Apron facility in Richmond, California and of course they said, oh, we know and we have it under control.  Now it turns out there were very similar if not worse issues in the Blue Apron’s busy New Jersey facility a real fight club  This is a culture that was not prepared at all to hire workers or establish good relationships with temp agencies.  Someone in upper management decided they didn’t care if the workers were properly trained and selected for positions they would be successful in.  They thought just pouring bodies into the job would get it done better and faster and sounds like the supervisors they hired had no clue on leadership.  It didn’t work and blew up in their faces and who knows how many mis-shipped orders went out along with warehouse shrinkage and employee turnover this has been one valuable lesson.  Hope they learned.  When it comes to seasonal hiring or additional hiring for your expanded business you need to take the process seriously.  Give the temp agency job descriptions with as much detail as possible so they have the opportunity to find the workers that fit your needs the best.  Take the time to train them, how, what, where, when and why?  They need information to get the job right and most of all make sure safety is covered in the orientation as well.  

Yes, another US Postal Service story.  This is a totally dysfunctional culture with absolutely no leadership and won’t waste much time on it as many of you know how I feel about this organization.  I really feel for those who must work here.  OSHA Cites US Postal Service After 2 Des Moines Workers Suffer Heat Illness While Delivering the Mail  I’m not going to say anything other then you have to take care of your employees, their safety should come first since they’re the ones who make you look good as a supervisor.

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There has been a lot of press lately about how difficult it has been for the construction industry to fill jobs especially the high skilled jobs.  Seems like people are not showing the interest for skilled construction jobs.  Then you read, OSHA’s 10 most common job site violations for construction which has falls as number one and then read Here Are OSHA’s Top 10 Most Cited Violations Of 2016 and falls are again #1.  Hmmm.  Could those be the reasons people are not going into the industry?  Like manufacturing, the construction industry needs to make some serious changes on how it treats people, their training for the job and take a very serious stance for safety on the job and insisting on safety PPE to attract a more diverse group of people to help reduce the labor shortage.  That also means treating women with respect as well as people of different cultural and religious backgrounds.  

Even in a galaxy far far away, it’s still not far enough to escape the long arm of the United Kingdom’s HSE (Health and Safety Executive) who fined the Star Wars production company $2 Million for Harrison Ford’s broken leg suffered on the set. ‘Star Wars’ Production Company Fined for Harrison Ford Accident  Glad to see the British government protecting Han Solo.

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What’s going on in the great state of Illinois?  Workplace Deaths Increase 28 Percent Since 2013.  In 2016 alone, 36 people have died in industrial accidents and the year still has two and a half months.  Complacency is part of the problem.  Things go so well you let your guard down and then, IT happens.  It’s the end of a shift, you’re tired and in a rush to go home.  Your mind is not focused, you don’t notice the puddle of oil and you slip and fall. You think LOTO may take to long and you want to, just get this done so you do and now you’re sitting in pain in the ER with 2 of your fingers in a bag of ice as you still can’t believe how fast that happened.  You get the point.  Safety is always on.  It never takes a sick or vacation day.  It never relaxes in the break room or has a coffee and it never shows up late but it does work OT and you always want it to be there.  When workplace safety begins to get out of adjustment at work, the safety tailgate meetings stop, PPE is not always worn and people stop reporting hazards or following procedure it’s time for YOU to help get it all back on track.  You are part of the solution and you should ask for your safety meetings, insist on PPE and never keep quiet about safety.  Sometimes it just takes a friendly reminder to get even the best program back on track.

Until next month, stay safe my friends.

 

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Aunt Ida’s Recipes for Disaster – 6

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Welcome back folks for another exciting recipe from our 5 STAR Chef de Catastrophe, Aunt Ida. She knows those busy people like you, especially this time of year don’t have the hours to cook a meal so she created this one-pot dish exclusively for you.  Since it’s Aunt Ida, you know it’s gotta be a good disaster.

OUR FEATURED RECIPE   Confined Space One Pot – Nothing helps save more cooking time and reduces cleanup like a delicious and noxious, one pot confined space dish.

Prep Time –  This is a quick dish taking only minutes to prep when you are NOT conducting an atmosphere test before entry, NOT using a retrieval system for quick extraction or NOT employing a spotter to keep constant eye and voice contact with the confined space entrant.
Cook Time Done in 5 minutes or less depending on the concentration of the noxious vapors still in the confined space, and remember ill effects may show up on people differently depending on their physical makeup. However, there is one instant quick-fire technique that we don’t recommend for the beginner chef.  It involves using a torch or other ignition source in a confined space to see if it had previously contained a flammable liquid!
YIELD Can be as little as 1,  if you allow someone to climb into a confined space on their own without testing but may yield as high as 3 or 4, especially when the second one tries to save the first one and the third one tries to save the first two and so on.  We refer to it as the hero domino effect.  It begins when you decided to climb into a confined space and didn’t clear it first, then pass out from lack of oxygen or overcome by fumes you and the others who tried to rescue you could stew in there for days before anyone comes upon your bodies.  
 
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Confined space entry is serious business.  You should always be aware of what’s been in that bin, vat or tank before you get into it to weld a repair, replace a valve or dislodge a clog.  It dictates the PPE (respirator or hazmat suit) and other equipment you’ll need to safely do the job.  You should also be given a vest as part of the emergency retrieval system so you can be pulled out immediately if any trouble comes.  This avoids others having to enter the space and risk the same hazards to extract you.  Never let anyone tell you that confined space is a one person job.  You always need to have a spotter (attendant) outside the confined space that you communicate with and has eyes on you every minute.  The spotter never leaves you alone, not to take a break or have a quick smoke or to use the restroom. They stay with you while you’re inside!  
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If you still don’t believe that confined space entry can be a dangerous recipe and in this case, it only took the fumes of old olive oil to cause two deaths. read this story:  In Greece, Olive Oil Factory Owner And Worker Die In Vat Mishap.  When we see someone down, our first instinct is to get to them immediately to render aid.  However, when it comes to confined space this can be a very costly move.  Even if you’re aware there are fumes present and you take a deep breath before jumping in, the exertion of getting to that person, picking up a limp body and trying to climb out will empty the oxygen in your lungs quickly and before you know it two corpses will be found.  Keep your head in emergencies, use the proper equipment and you may have a chance to save that life, but if you follow proper procedure to begin with you won’t have to worry.
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Companies Behaving Badly-Surprise!

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Welcome back and thank you for stopping by.  When the long standing family owned and operated company I was working for was bought by a large corporation, needless to say there were many different employee responses to the sale.  Reactions ran from pure panic to the philosophical, it’ll be what it’ll be while as some just up and quit rather then face an unknown future.  In the blink of an eye we also became top heavy as we went from the two brothers who lead the company for decades to a leadership posse that consisted of a President and 5 VP’s.  Naturally they brought in more of their people since our people were apparently not ready to operate the place even though we had operated the place long before their arrival.  We had to demonstrate we were fit in body and mind to do so.  They brought and introduced us to their culture, their customs, their policies, their procedures during hours of indoctrination in classroom settings and at the end we got new, thick, really cool looking employee manuals.  Then they observed us and soon passed judgement on us as on a dark rainy Friday, the cleansing began, early, quick and after lots of tears and goodbyes, folks were escorted off and then that following Monday,  we all began our new  journey.

One of the things they brought over from their culture that I really liked besides the twenty new choices of tea and latte machine was their surprise inspection team.  They had a corporate team who’s job was to travel and inspect all the plants across the country. What made it so unique at the time was they weren’t the usual, hey we’ll be there this Monday at 10 so you have a day or two to spruce up and get ready.  This team was HEY, good morning, we’re here!  Like a relative showing up at your door first thing in the morning, unannounced, they saw your plant as it really was and plant and department managers were graded on the results and it went on your permanent record.  Those scores were important since one of their policies had plant managers rotate plants every two years and your high scores could get you that juicy assignment to a state of the art plant to operate.

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I always thought it ridiculous to be told that we’re being inspected next week or having high ranking corporate visitors so get your departments clean and ready and usually what followed was nothing more then a dog and pony show with no one actually looking at the plant.  That’s why I came to enjoy the concept of surprise inspections, you had to do the job the right way, every day.  Surprise inspections are a great way to not only keep people on their toes but to ensure that the corporate policies, practices and procedures, as well as all the hours of training are being followed.  As you will see in the stories below this is especially critical when it comes to safety and operation of a clean and healthy facility.  

You can always conduct your own surprise inspections no matter your situation.  As a warehouse manager I only touched base with the night picking supervisor when I arrived at 6 a.m.  However, at least once a month I would show up at 3:45 a.m. or 2 a.m. just to see how the operation was going and ensure all safety procedures were being used.  It was also a great opportunity to bring snacks and coffee and spend some time listening to the staff.  It’s easy to get into a set routine and each day is like every other day but that’s when complacency can rear it’s ugly head.  Make life and your job interesting, don’t be predictable and bring a little surprise to your life.

Michigan plans surprise inspections of demolition sites – Now granted, this surprise inspection program was not proactive but spurred by a Detroit Free Press newspaper investigation that pretty much exposed Michigan’s workplace safety agency as a joke and not protecting workers from exposure to hazards like asbestos.  This article actually woke up the agency and they vowed to do surprise unannounced inspections at demolition sites for the next month and assigned 6 inspectors to the program.  Whether this is just another dog and pony show, time will tell but this would be a fantastic tool to use at all construction sites to make sure fall protection gear is being used.  With falls still the number 1 killer it’s time we become proactive instead of reactive.

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Another reason surprise inspections are good is to make sure all your plants are handling safety the proper way.  In this case, one company  Cedarburg company cited by OSHA in March death of lathe operator thought it was a great idea to increase productivity by programming the computer to bypass the safety interlocks that prevent workers from coming into contact with moving parts.  As a result of this brilliance a worker was pulled into the operating spindle and died two day later from his injuries.  I’m sure they were shut down during the investigation and were handed a proposed fine of $125,000 so what ever they saved is gone.  Hopefully Carlson Tool and Manufacturing Corporation will properly reward the genius that came up with this idea with a termination from employment.  However I still contend, that anyone who bypasses safety protocol on a machine that results in an employee death should be put on trial for manslaughter and sit in a jail cell to contemplate that profit is not more important than human life.

Then there are corporations that not only don’t believe in surprise inspections but don’t believe in communicating or training their store managers on workplace safety and expose their employees and customers to unnecessary hazards.  Southeast MO Dollar General facing nearly $98,000 fine by OSHA   Dollar General stores all over the country have been inspected and fined for their totally lack of concern for safety as some have been reported to OSHA by employees.  From blocked emergency exits to poorly labeled and stored chemicals this company must have OSHA listed as a vendor as they pay out just about monthly as another store is fined day after day.  If the company really cared about the safety of their employees the corporation not only would have strongly communicated this to it’s stores but would have put together a surprise inspection team to hit each store and then educate the managers and workers on what needs to be changed.  I’m available Dollar Stores, just call me for pricing.

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One last time why surprise inspections are beneficial.  When you walk around and observe a plant in action you can tell what kind of training, if any, workers have had.  Everyone knows how dangerous a busy loading dock can be with forklifts, trucks and people in constant action.  It’s not a place to lose your concentration and you need to be aware of your surroundings as in  OSHA investigating worker’s death at Omaha meatpacking plant .  A worker was pinned between two trailers and died because a simple procedure wasn’t followed.  The accident is currently under OSHA investigation and I will report their findings as soon as they’re available.

Whether you’re a worker, supervisor, manager or chairperson of the board, OSHA would like your input on OSHA Wants Input on Shipyard Fall Protection Rules.  Please don’t think your opinion doesn’t matter because it does!  Especially you people who work in the shipyards day in and day out.  You see it all and know more than any of your bosses, so this is your chance to speak up.

This Labor Day – Make Safety a Priority in Your Workplace – Good article and great thought but I say, Make Safety a priority EVERYDAY, not just labor day and the life you save may be your own.

Safety is not complicated but it does have many parts to it.  Training is critical to ensure people know what to do and how to handle emergency situations.  Surprise drills and inspections are a tool to see how effective your training is and the quality of your hiring practices.  Life doesn’t have to be boring and mundane, make it interesting and keep people focused and on their toes.  Until next month, stay safe.

 

Coming soon – another recipe for disaster.

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