2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,300 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Aunt Ida’s Recipes For Disaster – Noxious Spicy Soup

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Welcome to the first edition of Aunt Ida’s Recipes for Disaster.  As you may know I was recently cleaning and organizing the garage when a vaguely familiar looking, old wooden box covered in cobwebs and dust caught my attention.  It contained sheets of looseleaf paper and 3×5 index cards that had yellowed with age with faded, barely readable hand writing.  Could it be?  What I had in my hands was astounding since I thought these gems were long lost over 40 years ago!  My parents wanted me out of the city during the summers, so as a kid I spent many of them at Aunt Ida’s small truck farm and soon learned that she was big on prevention, a meticulous organizer and a stickler for detail as she taught me each recipe.  She was ahead of her time as she created little waste by recycling what ever she could back into the farm.  Each recipe is crafted and written so they can be professionally executed by the beginner as well as the expert.

TODAY’S FEATURED RECIPE NOXIOUS SPICY SOUP  –  This dicey, gaseous soup, served cold helps begin each work day as an accident waiting to happen while trying to find what you need to complete a task in the unorganized mess puts you behind schedule or in the E.R.

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Prep time: 0 why bother      Cook time:  Various      Yield: Respiratory failure, burns, death, fire and explosion.

Ingredients:  2-3 assorted unlabeled containers – contents unknown, 1-2 unlabeled spray bottles – contents unknown, 1- liquid cleaner, 2- solvents, 2- assorted liquid chemicals, 1-2 flammable liquids, 2- pesticides, assorted powdered cleansers, 1- jar lubricant, 1- fire extinguisher with blocked access and NO SDS (safety data sheets).  Oily rags (optional).

Directions:  In an enclosed area that does NOT have proper ventilation combine ingredients by spilling contents from unlabeled containers and allow to marinate with flammable liquids and other chemicals so they can react with each other producing poisonous vapors.  It is also possible that the proper combination of liquids will create an explosion or fire instead.  If you have time and immediate disaster is not required, allow unknown liquids to marinate in a unsuitable container, eventually the container will leak on it’s own.  At no time should the use of PPE such as safety glasses, rubber gloves or apron be used when handling as this will curb your productivity.  Should you spill any ingredients on yourself Do Not use an eyewash station or shower as this will only dilute solution (most of them are out of operation anyway) and render it useless creating waste.  It is not worth the time to store items in a metal fireproof cabinet since you’ll need them eventually.

If you enjoy a little more spice in your soup follow directions above but make sure you are very close to a source of ignition.  A spark may do but an open flame will ensure a explosion of flavor.

When ever working with flammable liquids, chemicals, cleaners and other cleansers use caution.  Stored in clearly labeled properly rated containers.  Keep work area organized, clear and clean up any spills immediately.  At work store flammables in a metal fireproof cabinet and only use in a well ventilated area.  Always use proper PPE.  At home make sure the cabinet is childproofed.  Anything that is not labeled or identifiable should be properly disposed of immediately. Most cities have centers where you can drop them off.  Never pour down the drain or sewer.  If you have any questions on workplace safety please don’t hesitate to contact me at warehouseflow.com

Companies Behaving Badly – December

Wow!  Where did the year go people?  Time sure does fly when you’re having fun and busy as many of you have been and are now.  Busy making lists of gifts to buy, busy planning menus making sure you have dishes for vegans, gluten free and the traditional meat and potatoes.  Many companies are also still busy making sure they are producing enough product for the store shelfs and online deals.  Food companies are also cranking out products to make sure you have everything you need to bake and cook or just buy it already made.  Yes, they’re in full production mode pushing workers, forcing over time and making sure they’re goals are made to keep consumers happy.  Unfortunately when people are pushed, they get tired and tired people make mistakes, have lapses in judgement and become susceptible to injury.  When temporary employees are pushed into a job without proper training and supervision they make mistakes too but unfortunately don’t always get to learn from theirs since they usually die.  There is no reason for this to happen and that is why I bring you another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

OSHA cites Tyson Foods, proposes $121,720 in fines for workplace safety hazards at Buffalo, NY, production plant – PREVENTABLE Tyson Foods safety inspection was conducted through the OSHA’s Site Specific Targeting Program, which directs enforcement resources to high-hazard workplaces with the highest rates of injuries and illnesses.  This was apparently justified by the number of repeat violations they found in falls, electrocution, burns and lack of LOTO.  Like Tyson used to say, It’s what your family deserves. 

Ore. Meat Company Fined for Safety Violations – PREVENTABLE Springfield Meat Company probably thought they were so smart saving money when they didn’t bother replacing the safety guard on the tenderizing machine for two years.  Now it cost them $7850 in a fine plus medical bills for the employee who received 60 stitches thanks to that money saving idea.  This is when the owner and management should be fined or jailed for purposely putting people in harms way.

Landscaper fined by OSHA in stump-grinding death – PREVENTABLE – Someone at Urban Tree Service thought it would be a great idea to shorten the cord length for the remote control to the stump grinder, thus bringing the operator closer to the machinery while it was in use.  This resulted in the death of Matthew Morasse who was just trying to do his job and make a living.  Any modifications done to any piece of equipment should be handled by the equipment company manufacturer representatives and then damn well make sure your employees are aware of these modifications.  They really like to go home to their families at the end of the day.

OSHA cites Missoula auto shop for 9 violations in worker’s death – PREVENTABLE – This is a really sad story.  Bruce Hall went to work that day like every other.  It was going to be at hot day with low humidity and he probably was thinking about a cold shower that night at home while pouring lacquer from a barrel into a smaller container through a funnel when the fumes exploded.  The shop didn’t have appropriate grounding or bonding for the flammable liquids with a flashpoint below 100 degrees Fahrenheit and probably always had it that way, until luck ran out.

Wind plant workers air safety concerns – PREVENTABLE – Employees at the TPI Composites plant in Newton, Iowa had to complain about safety hazards to OSHA.  Could it have been motivated by the 10 violations OSHA found in 2012 or the 6 found this year?  It’s obvious that the company is not very good at listening and responding to employee concerns or about workers losing fingers, otherwise the employees wouldn’t have felt the need to go to OSHA and look at obtaining additional workplace safety protection by joining a union.  Companies make it so much harder than it has to be, just listen to your workers!

Ferdo Refrigeration Cited After Follow-up Inspection – PREVENTABLE – Companies complain about too much government intervention yet then go and temp fate by not bothering to correct any of the violations OSHA found in an earlier inspection.  Why you want to be under the microscope for allegedly exposing your workers to fires, explosions, falls, and chemical hazards and then leaving them unable to exit the workplace quickly in an emergency is just beyond me.  Give your employees the tools they need to do their job and they will be successful and make you successful.  It’s better than hoping no one gets hurt, crossing your fingers no one is killed and waiting to be caught by OSHA.

Warehouse safety blitz coming to Ontario – INFO – Warehouse managers operating in our neighbor to the north, Canada don’t say you weren’t warned.  Applause to the Ontario Ministry of Labour for taking a proactive stance in protecting workers.

BREAKING: Wal-Mart faces warehouse horror allegations and federal Labor Board complaint – UPDATE – They sure have had their share of press lately.  Their television ads portray a caring, nurturing company that’s great to work for, yet headline after headline says different.  You can also read another recent article about Walmart and it’s practices in Betraying Public Trust For A Few Dollars More: Walmart.  There is nothing wrong with finding deals and good prices, but a companies ethics are also something important to consider.

Hours Of Service Will Affect Warehouse Operations And Networks Too – INFO – How HOS affects your operation.  Something to be aware of.

OSHA no match for workplace dangers that kill thousands – ARTICLE – This is a great article by Randy Lee Loftis of the Dallas News on OSHA’s challenges.  It is worth taking the time to read.

That brings another episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close.  We are each as unique as snowflakes as no two humans are the same. We each have our own quirks, likes, mannerisms and ways of thinking which makes us different.  Not better, not worse, just different.  Appreciate the differences and respect life. Become a safety advocate and speak up when you observe unsafe conditions.  You don’t have to put up with it and don’t assume the next guy will take care of it.

Later this month I have a new series on workplace safety debuting, Aunt Ida’s Recipes For Disaster.  Check out the story below and hope you come back to check out the recipes.

So I’ve been busy with a new client implementing a 5S program when… o.k., I was really cleaning and organizing the garage for my longest and dearest client, my wife.   I was put into service when she asked me to practice what I get paid to preach.  My attention became focused on a stack of boxes that contained many different artifacts such as kindergarden child art and tax records of 1996 when I happened upon an old wooden box that was full of recipes.  They were all hand written on sheets of notepaper that had faded and turned yellow with age.  What I found was astounding since I thought Aunt Ida’s recipes for a disaster where long lost.  I can’t wait to share them with all of you and sharing is something I will be doing in the next coming months beginning some time this December.

Each recipe is crafted and written so they can be professionally executed by the beginner as well as the expert.  You don’t want to miss any of these classic recipes for a disaster so make sure to sign up, just click on the email box on the right, to get witzshared via email each time a new episode is available.

Companies Behaving Badly – Thanksgivukkah

By the time the middle of November hits, you know the year is winding down and the festive times are about to begin. The tree has been selected and trucked down to Rockefeller Center in Manhattan and is being prepared for it’s debut. People are beginning to stress over seating arrangements and menus as family gatherings are planned and courses assigned.  We also have an added bonus at this year’s Thanksgiving table as we get to have potato latkes on the side with our turkey and gravy while Santa’s naughty and nice lists get longer and longer.  However, the one list that unfortunately continues to get longer and longer is the list of Companies behaving badly.  So tighten the laces on your ice skates, fill your glass with eggnog and get a seat by the fire,  for this is another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

OSHA Cites Trucking Company for Willful Confined Space ViolationPREVENTABLE – Sherman Brothers Trucking Inc., doing business as Team Transport Inc. in Arkansas apparently doesn’t like to waste time, when it comes to training temporary workers before sending them inside confined spaces as they clean the inside of tanker trailers.  Their total lack of regard for human life has cost them $113,400 in proposed fines.  That is still not enough for loss of a human life and don’t understand why the supervisor or owner that sent him in isn’t on trial.  Remember, there are strict rules for working in a confined space.  Learn them and follow them.

OSHA cites West Hartford Plant for Violations – PREVENTABLE – Har-Conn company was hit with 15 violations after an inspection, that was prompted by employee complaints.  Do you think they complained because they were being exposed to various chemical and mechanical hazards without given proper eye and face protection, no emergency eyewash stations, lack of adequate guarding and hazardous chemicals not labeled OR because six of the 15 were repeat violations from a 2010 inspection?  Training, again was more trouble than it was worth as no one was shown how to use a fire extinguisher.

OSHA cites Malden bakery for worker’s deathPREVENTABLE – It was a beautiful August day when Yogambigai Pasupathipillai went to work at Piantedosi Baking Company Inc.  The 61 year old probably didn’t believe it was also going to be her last day on earth as her apron became caught in a conveyor belt and it slowly strangling her while she struggled to find a emergency stop button for the belt. The problem though was insufficient stop buttons and failure by the company to ensure the emergency stop button was the proper color – RED, not to mention the inadequate guarding that all could have saved Yogaambigai’s life.  For this they were fined $20,790 which probably could have paid for the safety upgrades.

Alabama Pallet Manufacturer Cited, with $76,000 in Fines – PREVENTABLE  – Southeast Florida Products, Inc., operating as Southwest Pallet & Box was hit with a total of 10 violations, seven of them repeat and three serious.  OSHA originally conducted the inspection as part of a program with emphasizes on noise reduction when Bingo!  They found in addition to the lack of a hearing monitoring program and failure to conduct audiometric testing which are some of the repeat violations but employees were also exposed to electrical shock, burn and amputation hazards. Yes, the company was warned before about this, knew it was supposed to be fixed and chose to ignore it.

Video: Reversing lorry crushes plumber in warehouse loading bay – but incredibly escapes with just bruises – PREVENTABLE This video is amazing to watch!  This guy is incredibly lucky and should have been crushed to death.  No matter where and what you’re working on, you want to be able to concentrate on the task at hand so before you work, think LOTO.  What do I need to lock out or block and tag an area so I can do this safely?  Cone off or block a loading bay with pallets so you can’t be hit from behind.  If need be, have someone stand there watching your back like a spotter for confined space work.  Don’t ever assume everyone is watching out to see you there, make sure they do.

Canadian employers hit with record setting occupational health and safety finesNEWS – Our neighbors to the north have gotten on the safety wagon and taken the lead by greatly strengthened the occupational health & safety laws along with handing out much larger monetary fines.  Applaud you Canada.

OSHA Plans To Make Workplace Safety Reports Public – NEWS  This is great news and why not?  Quite a few cities do something like this when they publish the list of “Johns” caught in round ups or stings.  Restaurants use a letter system to display in their windows letting you know how clean they are so why not know about how a company treats it’s worker in the area of safety.  It speaks volumes of their character.

OSHA wants companies to electronically file workplace injuries – NEWS – OSHA took a big step towards our paperless society as they prepare to release plans to electronically file workplace injuries.  Let’s hope it’s not developed by the same people who brought us the CMS Healthcare website.

Safety Eyewear Challenges Traditional Designs – PPE INFO – If you want people to wear something, let them decide what they want.  These safety glasses are a little stylish but as long as they do the job you want and are reasonable priced let the employees get them.  You want them to wear their PPE, don’t be a stick in the mud.

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That my friends, brings yet another episode to a close.  Thank you for stopping by and please feel free to use the lessons of these stories for you next safety meeting or tailgate or toolbox meetings.  Keep the discussion on safety going and don’t let anyone ever talk you into taking shortcuts when it comes to safety just to save a few minutes.  It’s quite possible the life you save by doing it correctly could very well be your own.  Don’t keep quiet when you see a safety hazard and don’t assume the next person will report it.  Be an active participant on the company safety committee and convert as many disciples as possible to the practice of safety.  There is only ONE you, protect yourself and take responsibility for safety.

Recipes For Disaster!

So I’ve been busy with a new client implementing a 5S program when… o.k., I was really cleaning and organizing the garage for my longest and dearest client, my wife.   I was put into service when she asked me to practice what I get paid to preach.  My attention became focused on a stack of boxes that contained many different artifacts such as kindergarden child art and tax records of 1996 when I happened upon an old wooden box that was full of recipes.  They were all hand written on sheets of notepaper that had faded and turned yellow with age.  What I found was astounding since I thought Aunt Ida’s recipes for a disaster where long lost.  I can’t wait to share them with all of you and sharing is something I will be doing in the next coming months beginning some time this December.

Each recipe is crafted and written so they can be professionally executed by the beginner as well as the expert.  You don’t want to miss any of these classic recipes for a disaster so make sure to sign up, just click on the email box on the right, to get witzshared via email each time a new episode is available.

warehouseflow consulting

warehouseflow consulting

Ch-Ch-Changes: A Mentor’s Warehouse Memoirs.

Change;  To become different.  To make (someone or something) different.  To become something else.  It doesn’t sound like or come off as a very intimidating word, yet when people in the workplace hear it spoken, change, it can cause large scale ripples in the peaceful serenity of life. No matter what language it’s said in, Cambiar (spanish), Veranderen (dutch), Muuttaa (finnish) or Ndryshim (Albanian) it’s still change, and people fear change which is interesting since we are all constantly changing every day whether you know it or not.  New information changes your opinions, moods change your outlook and your body changes as it ages as each cell completes it’s normal preplanned chemical reaction.

Change is necessary to adapt and survive and Change can create more change.  The written word had to wait for about 4500 years before the printing press came along but only about 1000 years between the presses invention and computers.  Change can be for the good but Change for the sake of change is not good when it comes to the job and people.  The secret I learned well before people people were saying employee engagement, was to get people involved in the change.  When employees have input in change and the scope of change you prevent 10,000 rumors from floating through the plant creating negative vibrations.  People don’t fear the change when they can discuss it and exchange their ideas on it and now feel good because they’ve helped the change.  The worst thing you can do is force change, it then becomes the battle of trying to get your child to eat their vegetables.  They won’t do it even though it is good for them.

Once upon a time there was a young man, happily working in the warehouse as a non-exempt employee getting his 40 hours a week with occasional overtime.  Arriving at work one morning, even before he could have a cup of coffee, due to circumstances beyond his control, was thrusted into the realm of management.  CHANGE!  The previous warehouse supervisor, a very well liked person who had been working there for quite a while had allowed something very wrong and was unceremoniously shown the door.

Our protagonist was given this opportunity as it was explained, based on his previous work history, suggestions and productivity and the company also wanted to take this opportunity as well to “change the culture”.  He was now unknowingly himself, to become an instrument of change as well as the victim of change and most importantly, he survived this first change.

When you become the new supervisor on the block, whether promoted from within the ranks or an outsider hired in, like any new quarterback or new team player you must learn the play book while keeping the team performing and executing properly.  You also simultaneously have to gain the trust of the team as well since people don’t know what kind of manager you are and especially since some people already dislike you just because you replaced Mr. Fabulous and you’ll never be him.  Some will believe the rumor you worked behind the scenes and pushed for Mr. Fabulous’ release.  Some will be very happy thinking they’re friend moved up from the ranks is now in charge and they have his ear and one or two will come to you right away to give their opinions on which employees are productive and who’s not.

One thing about the perception of Change is that when you’re promoted you don’t need to change your personality to be a supervisor – You are the same personality today as you were yesterday and you still speak to people as you did before and it’s what got you the promotion.  There are positive changes to come, your job knowledge will increase,  experience personal growth and new confidence in yourself which will reflect in job performance.  Yea, I know there are things you’ve wanted to do for a long time if you ever got the opportunity and you are just chomping at the bit to change.  Wait to make those changes as you don’t want to create a panic and you want your changes to succeed so you will need to get everyones buy in.

On you first full day, gather your staff together in a convenient area, bring the donuts and introduce yourself to them and remind them what a great job they’ve been doing and look forward to everyone’s continued success.  Your commitment to workplace safety and use of PPE and working as a team as well as your open door policy and willingness to listen.  There is no such thing as a stupid question or suggestion.  Depending on the company rules and guidelines I also like to introduce the concept of cross training and weekly safety tailgates in my first group meeting.  Here are some more tips to help you get through change.

  • It takes 21 days to develop a new routine.  Until you’re comfortable remembering on your own make yourself a check list of the daily task that you now need to perform; Check the sick call line, poll staff for OT, time cards, check forklift inspection sheets.  Put it in any format that you’re comfortable working with.
  • Let individual staff members take you on tours of the warehouse or show you how they do their assigned tasks and be sure to listen.  See it from their point of view, it’s helpful and will give you ideas on what if anything needs to be changed to help them improve performance.
  • Keep a 3×5 notepad in your pocket.  Never know when something will set off the bulb over your head and you want to write it down right away before something interrupts you and the thought gets lost.  It’s also good to make notes of what good things you catch employees doing so you have something for their appraisals.
  • Not every body works exactly the same as you do.  When you did that job you set certain expectations for yourself daily.  Don’t helicopter manage if they do it differently but still achieve the goal.  Remember you want employees to grow and develop.
  • What other departments does yours interact with daily?  Purchasing, customer service, transportation?  Sit down with them and see what their pet peeves and previous issues are and not just with the department heads but the worker bees in the department as well.
  • Learn what department goals your boss wants to achieve this year and how they blend with the company’s overall goals.  Especially what do they mean when telling you they want to “change the culture”?  I was told up front once names of people I could have terminated immediately.  You have to stop and think; why do they want these people gone and why haven’t they done it.  I declined since I didn’t know what if any key areas they covered and if they were underachievers due to the company’s fault of poor training.  Since it was my group, I would see where the lapses were and correct them.  If you do make drastic changes for the culture, Is upper management totally committed and assisting with the change.  What do they perceive as the areas for improvement and what  key indicators do they use to base performance.
  • The only immediate change(s) I would make at this time is correcting any glaring safety violations or issues that can cause immediate harm to employees.
  • Remember to enforce the rules evenly with everybody.
  • Watch, listen and watch.  Each warehouse has it’s own rhythm, it’s own unique tempo and movement from the receiving dock to put-away to replenishments and ultimately picking and shipping.  Along this flow are there any areas of concern in regards to safety hazards, equipment use and sanitation concerns.  Once you have this down and fully understand it then you can look for opportunities for improvement.  Make sure to speak in the language your boss and his boss will understand, that is in $Dollars.  How much the changes will cost.  How much will be saved by the changes and how soon will it pay for itself?
  • Don’t let your ego get in the way.  Present the ideas to the staff and get their feedback, see what holes they can find in the plan and in many cases they’ll surprise you with ways to improve it.
  • Don’t listen to the people who tell you it can’t be done or we’ve tried that before.  That may be the main reason for the culture change since previous management didn’t consistently maintain new programs.

There may be times you do fail, just always be honest about it and learn from your mistakes and then move on.  Dwelling only creates doubt and you’ll loose confidence.  Remember life is one long roller coaster ride full of laughs and scary drops.  Believe in yourself and you’ll do fine on the ride.

Ladder Safety and The Ups and Downs

Mike Willis

Mike Willis

“The ladder of success must be set upon something solid before you can start to climb”Voltaire

Even though he wasn’t specifically speaking about a ladder, Voltaire makes an outstanding observation when it comes to the proper use of a ladder.  As you weekend warriors begin to tackle those necessary fall tasks around the house remember that on a yearly average, 187,000 people will be injured and then treated in a hospital after serious run ins with their ladders.  A whopping 97% occur at homes, farms and other non-occupational settings.  It looks innocent enough, standing there but like any other piece of equipment, if not inspected and handled properly you too can be rewarded by spending the weekend in emergency.

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DO Before you use it, inspect the ladder and make sure it is in operational shape.  Wooden ladders have a tendency to break down over the years and all types of rungs can become unstable and a hazard.  After you examine the ladder, If there are any flaws and/or you have any doubts, throw it out!  Buy a new one and go metal this time unless you do electrical work then wood or fiberglass is the way to go.                                                                                                                                                               DON”T – use the last words:  I can use it one more time.  As sure as lighting a cigarette brings the bus or mentioning any kind of streak ends it, this line will get you firmly planted on your butt and possibly E.R.

DO – When ever using a ladder around the house or at work it’s always a good policy to work in pairs.  It doesn’t hurt to have someone there to help stabilize the ladder and get tools as well as serve as a spotter if something were to happen.  Always climb using both hands and hoist needed tools if they prevent you from using both hands.                                                                                                                        DON’TDo It Alone.  If you fall and there is no one there to hear it, it still hurts and bones break.

DO – As Voltaire says, make sure to use a ladder on a firm evenly level base that is dry and clear of debris.  The ladder should be stationary without any wobble, tilting or any chance of the ladder slipping.  You want to be able to stand safely on the ladder while completing tasks.                        DON’T do a balancing act on the ladder and use on un-level ground or not on firm footing unless you intend to practice to perform in the circus or sideshow.  Set yourself up for success, NOT E.R.

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DO – Use the appropriate size ladder for the job at hand with the correct weight limit.  You want to be able to comfortably reach the area you’re working on and keep the ladder in the proper balanced position.                                                                                                                                                          DON’T – Over extend yourself or stand on the very top rung and put yourself in a position of falling.  You are not auditioning for a sit-com and you don’t have a stunt double.

For fixed ladders, any ladder permanently attached to a structure, make sure to have a training program in place before allowing individuals to use it.  I strongly suggest you do the same if you have man-lifts in your facility as these can be extremely dangerous for those not familiar with their use.    Don’t use a ladder for anything other than a ladder and as with any piece of equipment, treat it with respect, use properly, take the necessary precautions and you’ll get to spend more time with the family and loved ones.

Companies Behaving Badly-September two

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The leaves are changing color, there’s a nip in the air, football is in full swing and fall is knocking at the door.  It’s a wonderful time of the year and also a great time to check and make sure your drivers and facility is ready for the change in season and prepared for bad weather and related emergencies. Creating a master checklist makes this task easy to do each year as there never seems to be an end to list of things to do in the warehouse.  However, one thing we’re not short on though is Companies Behaving Badly.

OSHA cites Packaging Corporation of America for safety violations PREVENTABLE – One would think that after 5 fatalities in four years you would take a serious look at your safety program and procedures.  However after another employee was badly burned OSHA came in again and found an additional 30 violations during their investigation.  Apparently the paper industry has historically favored what’s known as behavior-based safety as opposed to concentrating on processes and hazards that might lead to workplace injuries. Guess what, it’s not working.

OSHA fines aerosol paint manufacturer $262k after explosionPREVENTABLE – Nothing like having an emergency evacuation at the workplace and then finding the emergency exits blocked. That’s what they did at Fox Valley Systems, Inc.  Due to this three employees couldn’t get out fast enough after the explosion and were seriously injured. This act of ignorance has earned them a spot on the Severe Violator Enforcement Program. When you go to work, like on an airplane look where the emergency exits are located and if you see them blocked be proactive and handle it and then report it to management.  Your life may depend on it.

Cal/OSHA Cites Henkel over $200,000 Following Death of TemporaryWorker – PREVENTABLE –  A 26 year old temporary worker was killed when he was pulled in by an exposed rotating shaft while doing his job.  This accident never should have occurred but Henkel thought it wasn’t important enough to maintain the guards on the equipment to protect their workers or even bother to follow their own safety program that identifies these issues.  I’m also willing to bet no one pointed the danger out to the temporary worker.  In my opinion I don’t think $200,000 is enough of a penalty when someone is killed by a companies stupidity, people need to start going to jail.

OSHA cites company, proposes $63,490 in finesPREVENTABLE – I am constantly amazed at how many companies lack a Lock Out Tag Out program and E.L. Mustee & Sons not only doesn’t have a program to train their employees but they were dinged a year earlier for the same exact thing and still couldn’t be bothered! Protecting your workers should be the number one goal especially when it’s so easy to do.  In fact E.L Mustee & Sons contact me, I’ll write the LOTO program for you, at a discounted price.  You spend money to train, maintain and produce a product, why do you want OSHA in your place checking every little thing when you could have rectified this issue a year ago?

OSHA Fines Company After Florissant Man’s Death, 26 Violations Discovered PREVENTABLE – A worker was found dead from accidental electrocution.  Upon their inspection after the accident OSHA found 19 further violations including, wait for it, lack of machine-specific lockout procedures, no annual inspection of the lockout program, missing lockout devices, multiple instances of locks not being placed on machines to prevent unintentional energization and lack of machine guarding.  The most scary part of this is how many times have they done this and got away with it that it makes it worth while to continue this dangerous behavior before luck ran out.  

OSHA cites McDonough medical businessPREVENTABLE – Atlanta Health Careers Institute, LLC was cited for failure to correct it’s training practices and training workers in the bloodborne pathogen program.  That would be the equivalent of not having your chefs and wait staff wash their hands after using the restroom.   Again, like not having a LOTO program in place there is NO excuse for this and so easy to prevent.  Don’t wait for government inspectors to find your lapses, do a quarterly or annual review of your facility and update any procedures when installing new equipment.

OSHA launches video series to educate young workers Humor and song raise awareness about hazardsINFORMATION – Yes, those crazy kids at OSHA have produced a new video to reach out to the young workers on hazards.  Hopefully they’ll stop texting long enough to watch it.

2012 Fatal Occupational Injuries in California – INFORMATION – Latest statistics for fatal injuries in California in 2012.

Serpent Safety Helmet Wins New Product of the Year Award – PPE – New helmet to check out.

OSHA Inspections – Part 1: What to Expect During the VisitHELPFUL INFO – You should know your rights and how to handle it when a OSHA inspector shows up at the door.  Great info and a must read for any warehouse manager.

Please, don’t ever put yourself in a position of possible injury just because you’re told to do so.  If you get injured when not following procedure no one in management will protect you by saying, oh he was doing me a favor.  They’ll throw you to the wolves.  You should expect to go home the way you arrived at work, in one piece.  Keeping quiet about safety violations may cause a lifetime of guilt.  Are you ready for that?  Remember be a safety advocate.  Until the next episode of Companies Behaving Badly take care and work safe.

It’s still NOT to late to get your free Green Safety Pin that you can wear and show the world your commitment to safety in the Workplace.  Subscribe to this Blog by September 30, 2013 and it’s yours.

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Companies Behaving Badly – September

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In honor of Labor Day, I am giving away a GREEN Safety Pin to the first 35 new subscribers who sign up to receive this blog by email and LIKE my facebook page, warehouseflow consulting.  That’s the first 35 who do this on Labor Day, September 2nd only.  By wearing this pin you show everyone you’ve made a commitment to a safe workplace.  When you see someone wearing one, shake their hand & say thanks!

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Happy Labor Day!  This is a holiday celebrated in the U.S. on the first Monday of September and was a creation by the labor movement dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers of all types and backgrounds.  So as we prepare to picnic, party or be a couch potato on this yearly national tribute honoring the sacrifices and contributions workers have made for the success of our country, remember the 4,383 workers who were killed in the workplace in 2012.  Some from their own doing like horseplay and most from bad company policies and greed.  So as long as workers are still put into positions of danger so the company can make a few extra bucks, there will always be another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

Concrete Block Manufacturer Cited by OSHA After Worker Loses ArmPREVENTABLE – A worker lost his arm because none of the conveyors in the production area were guarded to prevent this from happening.  On top of that they didn’t have a hazardous energy control program, written procedures nor any lockout hardware on the premises in addition to no training for workers who inspected and maintained the conveyors and other machinery.  Wouldn’t you go to a Doctor who didn’t have medical training or biohazard training?  NO you wouldn’t.  The money they think they would save by cutting corners on safety will be lost in the lawsuits to follow along with their reputation.

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OSHA fines local cabinet companyPREVENTABLE – OSHA found hazardous levels of combustible dust in the workplace as well as unsanitary working conditions.  The company responded with the usual denial of reality by stating, “Employee safety has always been, and will continue to be, our top priority.” Not all unsafe conditions result in immediate injury to a worker, but over time it will take it’s ugly toll and that of course depends if you don’t die in an explosion first from the dust igniting.  Either way you should not be put in this jeopardy by an employer.

OSHA: Violation To Discipline Employee Who Reports InjuryPREVENTABLE – This is unbelievable.  If you are injured on the job, the first thing to do beside seeking medical attention is report the incident to your supervisor.  It protects you the worker. As OSHA said, you can’t discipline an employee for that especially when the investigation found that the employee had been directed by the mechanical supervisor to change the defective tires in a manner which violated company safety protocols.  The company should have fired the supervisor for putting an employee in that situation.

OSHA cites East Peoria plant where man diedPREVENTABLE It’s very sad when ever someone is killed in an accident and more so when a 23 year old young man beginning his working career dies due to the lack of the most basic safety precautions at the plant.  Someone thought it was a great idea to by pass the safeguards that would have prevented this accident.  Fines are not enough in my opinion and the owner/president of this company should be jailed and put on trial for murder as well as the person who actually did the bypassing of the safeguards.  If anyone, especially in management tells you to do something that is contrary to the rules of the road, don’t do it!

TSA cited by OSHA for worker hazards at LoganPREVENTABLEYes, even the organization charged with protecting us in the skies exposed their own employees to finger crushing and amputation due to lack of guards at pinch points.  I guess when you’re so busy checking luggage all day long you loose sight of the hazards around you.  Big shame on any federal agency that puts it’s employees at risk for NO reason.

US Department of Labor and US Postal Service agree to terms on improving worker safety at postal facilitiesPREVENTABLE – Speaking of shameful federal/semi federal agencies the USPS had no problem exposing their workers to all kinds of electrical hazards.  But unlike other companies that get fined big dollars the USPS is being allowed to upgrade procedures and policies with the help of OSHA with no monetary penalties.  I would almost bet on the fact, since the USPS is so horrible at internal communication that in a year this issue will come up again.

Poor Supervision Cited At NY-Run Steam Plant – PREVENTABLE – When the cat’s away or in this case, doesn’t care, the mice will play.  According to a NY State I.G. report, in 2010 the plant manager acknowledged knowing about bedrolls and beer cans on plant premises and did nothing about it.  An unscheduled inspector general’s tour in 2011 showed several rooms used for unauthorized breaks including cigarette butts and inappropriate photographs of women.  There is no excuse for this. As the manager you SET the TONE of the operation.  You need to be out on the floor and walking around the facility while checking in with people and making sure all rules are followed.  Vary your walk routine by the route you take and when, it’ll keep people on their toes.  Remember you were hired to be the responsible leader, if someone is injured due to your neglect you can be prosecuted and go to jail!

FYI Be prepared for an OSHA inspection before it happens “A memorandum sent to the agency’s regional administrators directs field inspectors, when conducting inspections, to be mindful of whether employers have provided and maintained adequate means of egress from work areas”.  Please make sure your emergency evacuation plans are current and adequate to get everyone out.

That concludes this edition of Companies Behaving Badly.  Remember, safety at the workplace is not just the employers responsibility but YOURS as well.  Don’t let anyone talk you in to doing an unsafe act just to save a few minutes on the job.  it’s just not worth your life or a life time of guilt.  Become a safety advocate and keep your fellow workers thinking safety.

Companies Behaving Badly-August too

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Hi there!  Glad you could make it.  Come on over and join us by the camp fire.  We’ll sit, relax and watch the sunset and then when the stars begin to twinkle I’ll tell you some truly scary stories on workplace safety.  If you have a weak heart or prone to fainting then maybe you should go to your tent right now because this, is another episode of Companies Behaving Badly!

Honolulu refrigeration warehouse cited with 63 health, safety violationsPREVENTABLE – Apparently even living in paradise does not guarantee employee safety in the workplace and not deemed important as Unicold Corporation showed it’s love to workers with exit doors locked and sealed from the outside, exit routes blocked with stacks of product and then figured why bother with labeling and signing emergency exit routes.  Mahalo!

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Wal-Mart agrees to safety fixes at 2,857 stores / Walmart pays $190,000 fine and agrees to improve safety at 2,800 stores – PREVENTABLE – I guess to give those “low prices everyday” they had to cut back on safety and training.  I really despise companies that knowingly place workers in harms way so the company can make a few more bucks.  My favorite line from Wal-Mart spokesman Randy Hargrove,  “the company immediately addressed the problems as soon as it was made aware of them”.  What were the store managers doing all this time?  Oh yea, it costs money to train them too.

OSHA Hits Montana Refinery with Willful Violation After Arc Explosion PREVENTABLE – The wide open plains of Montana where the cattle roam, the wheat and barley wave and workers are exposed to arc-flash because someone thought it was a great idea to bypass the circuit protector switch.  Gives you a warm and cozy feeling doesn’t it?

Dallas Food Company Cited Again – PREVENTABLE – AGAIN!  Since BCW Food Products Inc. thinks it’s cheaper to get fined than train on LOTO, it’s time to raise the fines.  Before you climb into anything to work on it, lock it out and tag it yourself.  Use your lock and your key then you can have peace of mind and go home in one piece.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

OSHA Issues $1.1 Million in Fines to Republic Steel – PREVENTABLE – Not only fined over a million dollars but they’re on the OSHA’s severe violator enforcement program.  This company takes care of it’s employees by allowing them the privilege of working on a platform 20 feet above the electric arc furnace and molten steel ladle protected with missing and damaged guardrails.  When it comes to challenging your employees it should not involve a “Hunger Games” theme.

OSHA fines company $188,300 for exposing workers to lead hazards PREVENTABLE –  Spectrum Machine Inc. must be proud of earning their way into the Severe violator enforcement program because they saw no problem with exposing their workers to airborne metal particles or develop noise monitoring or lockout/tagout program or provide fire extinguisher training.  Sorry guys, you’re on your own but we’ll stay up here in the office where we can breath without fear.  Don’t understand how you can employ luck as your safety program.

Oil train safety rule delayed by 1 year – PENDING – Focus on safety is a great thing but are we always looking at the correct issue.  Is it the tanks we need to be concerned about or is it engineer training and track maintenance or all of the above?  Was putting this off for a year the correct thing to do?  What do you think about all of this?

Coventry automotive firm wins third gold award from RoSPA – WINNER – Cheers to Coventry Automotive for winning “GOLD” from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) for excellence in safety.  Now that’s a list I’d be proud to be on.

Remember, safety is just as much YOUR responsibility as it is for the company.  Follow the rules and become a safety advocate.  That’s it for this issue of Companies behaving badly and hope you all learned a little more about safety.  Until next month, be safe.

As George Bernard Shaw said, “If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.” 

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Photo credit: johninbkk from morguefile.com

Psst.  Lets begin a movement – safety awareness.  It’ll be our little secret.  Just wear a safety pin on your on your shirt, jersey, lapel, collar, uniform etc. and when you see someone else wearing one you’ll know they’ve made a commitment to safety as well.  Smile and shake their hand.