Companies Behaving Badly-August


The dog days of summer are upon us and the days are beginning to grow shorter, but one thing that is  not getting shorter, the list of companies behaving badly!  You and every employee deserves to go home the same way you reported to work, in one piece.  There is NO reason to place yourself in unnecessary danger.  Make sure to take advantage of all proper safety equipment and never let anyone tell you it’ll only take a minute don’t waste time with the equipment.  With that said, please make sure your seats are in the upright position, snack trays closed and seat belts buckled cause it’s time for take off!

OSHA fines Echo Lake Foods with 27 safety violationsPREVENTABLE –  The company totally disregarded OSHA’s standards to train employees on ammonia hazards and safety procedures.  How do you let employees work in a facility that cost millions to build but would only take 5 seconds for an employee to destroy along with themselves due to lack of training to properly operate equipment?  How much did that save in operating costs?


Duane Reade fined $71k by OSHA for fire safety hazards at lower Manhattan storePREVENTABLE – I guess this company didn’t learn anything from the past, (The Dhaka clothing factory fire-117 dead or the Triangle garment factory fire-146 dead) and is doomed to repeat it.  They were cited for having had emergency exits, sprinkler heads and electrical panels blocked or obstructed.  Nothing like being trapped at work to give you a warm and cozy feeling.  If you find an emergency exit blocked, remove the obstruction yourself and report it to a supervisor.  You don’t need permission to remove obstacles from a path to safety so don’t wait, just do it.

OSHA fines Quality Industries, claims Hartwell plant violations PREVENTABLENothing shows you couldn’t care less faster than exposing employees to fall hazards, caught-in hazards and fire/explosive hazards due to fiberglass dust not being cleaned from work areas.  Accumulated dust in a small area is dangerous not just creating respiratory problems but can also cause severe explosions.   Never take it lightly.  I do find it very ironic that Quality is part of their name.


Ford dinged by OSHA for asbestos at Buffalo plant PREVENTABLE – Even though the Ford plant knew there was asbestos on site, employees were still exposed to it as areas in which asbestos was present were not properly restricted, and levels of asbestos in the air were not monitored.  You know just because you deny something exists doesn’t make it any less real.  Hiding the truth from employees who work their butts off for you is just despicable.

OSHA fines Resolute, subcontractor for fatal York County accident PREVENTABLE – Working in a confined space is extremely dangerous and should only be done by employees that are properly trained and understand how to operate the proper safety equipment needed.  If that means certifying  Training consistently throughout the year provides you with a team of veterans when you need them.  Don’t skimp on training.

Wal-Mart Workers Launch Surprise Strike Over Safety Issues – It is a shame when large corporations profit off people in third world countries by letting them languish in disgusting working conditions so their corporate heads can get large bonuses but it speaks volumes of a corporations character when they also take advantage of people looking for work in the U.S. during tough economic times and conveniently  look the other way while employees are forced to work in unsafe conditions.  I applaud those who work at the risk of their jobs to make safety a priority at the workplace.

However – There is light at the end of the tunnel!  Read below.


OSHA Recognizes Cintas Distribution Center in Scranton, PA with Highest Safety DesignationWINNER Three cheers for Cintas Scranton, Pa. facility for doing it the right way and making it a safe as well as productive place to work.

Oklahoma City Phillips 66 terminal receives safety recognitionWINNER – Another large company shows how to lead the industry by example.  Phillips 66 also believes good safety is worth the money.

Well people, that’s it for this edition of companies behaving badly.  Though I wish otherwise I’m sure I’ll be back on the 15th of the month with yet more stories to share.  Be a safety advocate at work, home and in the car and be kind to others.


Still More Companies Behaving Badly


So we meet here again folks and guess what?  There is still no shortage of companies behaving badly out there.  When the industries and their lobbyist say that they can self regulate and even do a better job at workplace safety than the current regulations can you imagine how bad it would be?  With that said, Get out your pens and pencils, (there may be a quiz) grab a squat, and make sure you’re properly strapped in and let’s Go.

OSHA cites Warner Robins business after employee loses finger – PREVENTABLEAn employee had his finger amputated and hand crushed while removing a glass mold from a piece of equipment.  The company was given a willful violation, which means the company demonstrated an intentional disregard for the requirements of the law with indifference to worker safety.  They had no procedures for workers performing set up and servicing of equipment, which to me translates into NO training as well.  It is little cost to have procedures written along with training, but it wasn’t worth the companies time or money.


Bacardi downs stiff OSHA penalty following worker death – PREVENTABLE – “A worker’s first day at work shouldn’t be his last day on earth,” OSHA chief David Michaels’.  I couldn’t have said it any better.  A 21-year-old man, beginning his career and life is crushed in a palletizer because it wasn’t LOTO while he was in it.  They were given 11 violations with 2 being willful violations which involved the company’s failed lockout/tagout program.  Tell me again what you saved by cutting back on training?

OSHA Cites Texas Employer After Worker Death PREVENTABLE Cited for no LOTO procedure, no guards on equipment and disregard for employee safety.  Did you know It costs a lot less to train your staff than it is to hire an attorney to defend your stupidity and laziness?  Before YOU work on any piece of equipment make sure it is properly Locked Out and Tagged Out.

OSHA cites Great Western Products Co. for repeat violations STILL PREVENTABLEDid that say repeat violations!? Yes, it did, 3 repeat violations from 2010. Wouldn’t you be motivated to give your all every day for a company that continually put you at risk!? Its obvious people for them are an expendable commodity.  Remember, You can not be forced to commit an unsafe act.  


Hawaii concrete manufacturer Tileco Inc. cited for safety and health violations PREVENTABLE – Not to be considered as an underachiever, but this company was hit with a total of 23 violations, 22 of them serious.  Too numerous to list here, they included failing to evaluate workplace hazards adequately, including protecting workers from amputation hazards to protecting workers from confined space hazards or provide training on the use of powered industrial trucks.  Nothing like tempting fate.

OSHA Fines Construction Company $7,600 in Worker’s Death – PREVENTABLE Sad that the value of human life is only worth $7600.  A young man working to feed and support his family was killed because the company he was working for decided to cut corners on safety to save a few bucks.  Is it really worth it?

Preventing injuries related to ‘distracted walking’PREVENTABLE This story is more a sign of the times than about any company, but distracted walking is becoming a serious issue.  To prevent accidents at the workplace, on the road or in the kitchen, everybody has to be focused and aware of their surroundings and where they’re going.  I don’t understand how people can believe they’re the only ones on the road or shopping in a store as they proceed totally self-absorbed with the most personal of conversations.  Distracted working is dangerous – please understand that.


That brings this episode to a close people.  Workplace safety is NO accident, it takes work and commitment on your part.  So be part of safety and be an advocate.  Always practice Lock Out Tag Out and the person you save may do the same for you one day.  Until next month.
“If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.” – George Bernard Shaw

A Complete Guide To Warehouse Safety-Volume IV-Emergency Ready

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Well here we are folks, more than half way down the Green Brick Road of Safety.  It’s been an enlightening trip for me as well and I want to thank you all for the positive responses and great comments on this series on warehouse safety.  As I’m sure you remember, we had previously been introduced to Hazard Analysis, PPE and Housekeeping – The big three segments of workplace safety.  So, after all this is there still more ways to protect your employees?   Yes there is and it’s called Emergency Preparedness.

You’ve gone through all this effort to protect your employees on a daily basis so make sure that in the event of a sudden catastrophe you can move them out of harms way by the most expeditious manner  possible and having an emergency preparedness / evacuation plan is the way to ensure this.

Whether you call them disasters, calamities, catastrophes or emergencies they are nasty little events that usually come out of no where and depending on what part of the country your warehouse is located, they can come in various sizes or forms.

Natural Disasters – Earthquakes, Forest Fires, Blizzards, Flooding, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Tropical Storms.  With some of these there is enough warning time to prepare and react but in the case of earthquakes there is no such warning.  Some of these disasters lead to others as Hurricanes can create flooding, lightening can create forest fires and Tornadoes & earthquakes can also lead to fires.  In each case they should be taken seriously as you never know the extent of damage that will occur.

PREPARATION – Know the evacuation route and meeting place.  Know what ever the emergency signal sounds like.  Is it a whistle, alarm bell?  Where is the disaster provisions locker?  You don’t know how long it will be before you can either leave the area or help will be able to get to you so having an emergency provisions locker filled with bottled water, food, first aid kit, blankets, flashlights, radio, batteries and other provisions can come in handy.  In earthquake country it’s also a good idea to have a wrench in the kit as well and know where all, the gas shut off valves are located.  Creating, organizing and replenishment of a provisions locker is a great team project for a safety committee or even for the whole company. 


Man Made Disasters – (Human error) – Chemical spills, gas and other toxic fumes released, excessive dust, explosions, fires, oil spills and potential exposure to other lethal items.  In some cases these can be even more devastating than a natural disaster since the area contaminated could be unusable for years, especially if the contaminants make their way into ground water or destroys natural habitats for wildlife.  The BP spill as well as the Bhopal gas tragedy in 1984 are examples.

PREPARATION – Again listen and know what the emergency signals sound like and indicate.  Is the alert telling you evacuation or shelter and place?  If it’s evacuation, know the evacuation route and meeting place.  If it’s shelter and place find the designated location and close all windows, air ducts, ventilation vents, doors and any other opening to the outside.  Also use duck tape and plastic to seal them all to further prevent any fumes or gases coming in.  This is another project the safety committee can work on with employees, developing and stocking small kits for shelter and place rooms with plastic sheathing and duck tape.

When it comes to any kind of liquid spill the safety of staff is the most important issue.  If it’s a large spill or excessive amounts of toxic gases GET OUT OF THERE and let the professionals deal with it.  However for smaller size spills make sure you know where the spill kit is located and should only handle a spill containment/cleanup if you’ve been properly trained.  A spill kit usually includes booms to contain it and absorbants to soak it up.  There should also be a MDS book (material data sheets – list the properties of chemicals and other materials on site, how to treat for exposure and how to handle) located nearby and clearly labeled and posted so anyone can find it.  It is critical that the MDS book be kept up to date as well.  (You can get more information about spill kits and other related items from Spill 911.)


Medical Emergencies – Self explanatory.  Heart attacks, broken bones, head trauma, sprains and cuts.  Anything where a person is physically injured at the workplace.

PREPARATION – Know the company policy for handling emergencies.  Some companies just advise you to call 911 immediately.  Some companies have trained employee response teams who you should contact at the number specified by the company.  They are trained in CPR and first aid and can determine how serious a situation is and how to handle it.  This is another opportunity to get employees involved with safety by offering CPR and first aid courses and allowing them to rotate on response teams.  This can be done through your local Fire department or Chapter of the Red Cross.  The same goes for dealing with fires.  Use your common sense and training.  If the fire is too large let the professionals handle it, but for smaller fires know where the extinguishers are located and know how to use them.

Evacuation plans and Shelter and place locations should be posted through out your facility  indicating the best route to follow for escape from your present location.  Review it and make sure the route doesn’t encounter any obstacles delaying evacuation.  All the offices or buildings designated to be used for Shelter and place should also be clearly marked with signs.


Don’t wait until some disaster is in the news before you think about what would happen where you work if it hit!  It’s just as good a time now to review your general safety disaster plan and company’s procedures for handling emergencies.  Your company should at least have an annual fire/evacuation drill or an emergency preparedness drill.  I worked for a short lived dot com company, and even though  they held an annual evacuation drill, someone thought it was a great idea to hold it on April fools day when ever it fell on a work day.  Most of the employees just rolled their eyes with annoyance and kept working.  This is NOT the reaction you’re looking for.

Remember if you make any changes at the work place like new walls, new rooms, new racking and storage, installation of new equipment, or any physical changes review your evacuation plans and make sure it works.

Well that completes this portion of our journey on the GREEN BRICK ROAD OF SAFETY.  Glad you joined us and enjoyed the trip.  We still have just a little further to go so please watch for Volume V.  (Don’t miss an issue – just enter you email address on the bottom right and get a new freshly pressed article as soon as it’s published).

A Complete Guide To Warehouse Safety-Volume III-House Keeping


Since we began our journey down the Geen Brick Road of Safety, we have met Hazard Analysis in volume I and learned how to identify safety hazards.  Then further down the road, we were introduced to PPE, in volume II which showed us what equipment is available to protect employees.  Both of these are heavy hitters in the world of workplace safety, but can we still further protect our employees from injury?  Yes, of course, we can and it’s up ahead around the bend.  Let me Introduce to you, Housekeeping.  Granted, it’s not a very glamorous sounding name as it brings up images of maids and hotels who are sweeping, mopping and dusting, but actually, that is a part of Housekeeping.


Trips and falls are the number ONE accident that occurs in the workplace and good housekeeping can severely reduce those numbers.  Housekeeping is a concept that covers all areas of the warehouse by   keeping your work area clean (swept/mopped/washed)  •free of liquid spills on the floor, they’re dealt with immediately to prevent slips  •keep area free of clutter & obstructions (remove scraps, cardboard, excess strapping material, plastic wrap, and other raw materials not needed)  •keep it organized (needed tools for adjustments to machinery or repairs as well as machine lubricants are at hand to find when needed and always kept in proper working condition.


Work area set up for maximum efficiency and ergonomics (setting up a workstation to allow the least amount of movements by the employee to complete their tasks while reducing repetitive motion, as well as stopping and bending over a workbench and reaching for extended periods of time.  A great example is the kitchen triangle.  To achieve maximum efficiency in the kitchen it is set up with a clearly defined path so the chef can easily reach the three key areas;  stove, sink and refrigerator.  That’s how your workstation should be set, everything within reach so you don’t have to stop and go find it.

In a warehouse where perishable goods and other food products are stored, good housekeeping is even more critical and referred to as sanitation.  Cleaning is always done on a continuous basis as laid out by a master sanitation schedule which ensures all critical areas are consistently covered for cleaning.  A good sanitation program will prevent any contamination of food product and keep the facility clean and organized enough to also prevent accidents and the attraction of vermin and insects.

One more term you will hear traveling along the Green Brick Road of Safety in relation to housekeeping is 5S.  5S is a discipline created in Japan that has specific ways to keep your work area clean, free of debris and organized.  The 5S stand for Seiri – Clearing up.  Seiton – Organizing.  Seiso – Cleaning.  Seiketsu – standardizing.  Shitsuke – self-discipline.  There are also variations of 5S like 6S (Sort, Straighten, Sweep, Standardize, Self-Discipline, & Safety).  5S would be a great tool to introduce if you wanted to create a new workplace culture that develops disciplines even a mom would dream of.  If you want to learn more about 5S google will give you many leads.


No matter what housekeeping program you decide to go with or what you call it, 5S, 6S, No S,  I think you can see why keeping your warehouse organized and clean is important.  A quick tip, when your warehouse looks clean, organized and well-kept inspectors of all types tend not to look deeper for issues, bosses won’t hassle you and corporate won’t even think about you.

This does NOT conclude our journey on the Green Brick Road of Safety.  There are still a few more safety icons to meet on our journey to make your workplace safe.  If you don’t want to miss an issue click on the email icon on the bottom right to receive via email.  Please don’t hesitate to also check our website, 


More Companies Behaving Badly


Who knew I would be able to collect examples of Companies behaving badly so fast!  That is very disturbing for me and NOT a good thing.  (Click on each story headline to go to the original and full article.)   A safe workplace is a productive workplace and it is up to everyone to be a safety advocate while on the job.

OSHA alleges safety violations at Jefferson millPREVENTABLE – Federal workplace safety regulators have proposed fining a Jefferson sawmill nearly $80,000 for what they allege are dangerous work conditions.  Violations were also found back in 2009.

Reddy Ice Corporation to pay penalty and improve accident prevention and preparedness at Denver facilityPREVENTABLE -The EPA today announced a Clean Air Act settlement in which the Reddy Ice Corporation (Reddy Ice), based in Dallas, Texas, has agreed to pay a $61,500 penalty and correct deficiencies associated with the risk management program at its facility in Denver, Colo.

OSHA cites Community Power Corp. in Morrison, Colo., for exposing workers to amputation hazards; fines total $66,990 PREVENTABLE – I find it amazing that they didn’t think addressing the amputation hazards were critical to deal with.  It shouldn’t have to take an accident to examine if there are any hazards associated with the job.


Hawaii resort cited with 14 safety and health violations, US Department of Labor’s OSHA proposes $48,000 in fines PREVENTABLE – So sad to think that even in paradise one must still be aware of safety hazards.  Employees should never be exposed to hazards in that manner.  Fix the issues, it is so much cheaper in the long run.

Forklift accident highlights Importance Of Warehouse Safety. – PREVENTABLE – Employee was killed when he was run over by a forklift.  The operator of the forklift was working with this employee when he lost track of him and decided rather get off and look or call out, he decided just to drive.  Pay attention when you’re on the loading dock.

Quebec workplace safety board investigates F1 death. – PENDINGThe person who was a volunteer, tripped and fell and was run over by the wheel of the telehandler that was taking the race car back to the paddock.  Sounds like no one did a safety analysis.  Just because no one gets hurt the first few times you still need to look at scenarios  to prevent accidents.

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

A Complete Guide To Warehouse Safety-Volume II-Picking PPE


In Volume I-Back To Basics, we began our trip down the Green Brick Road of Safety where we met job safety analysis, who showed us where our safety hazards can be located.  Now that we know that we can determine what kind of PPE is needed to give further protection to employees as they carry out their tasks.  PPE – Personal Protective Equipment, (Is designed to protect workers from serious workplace injuries or illnesses resulting from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical or other workplace hazards), is very similar to what our Knight above is wearing.  His job description includes protecting his King from enemies of the realm which probably usually meant battle.  So his PPE had to help protect him from swords, lances and arrows the best it could so he could continue doing his job and save the kingdom.



The same would also apply to an athlete getting ready for either type of football game.  Shin guards, shoulder pads and helmets give protection needed to get through the game.

Apply this thinking as you look at where the hazards intersect with the employees and what added protection will keep them from injury or long term disability.  As a reminder, a safety professional should usually do this, however knowledge is a powerful thing and all employees, whether management or worker should be aware of what is available.

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HANDS/GLOVES – There are many types of gloves available for any job function.  For moving and handling cartons or stacking pallets the gloves will give you a very good grip as well as protect from splinters.  If your job includes using sharp blades or cutting instruments there are gloves made from kevlar that prevent lacerations.     There are gloves that protect you from acid & chemical burns and other corrosive materials as well as thermal gloves for extreme temperature use.  You have many to choose from to properly protect your workers.

HEAD/BUMP-CAP -Sometimes employees have to work in cramped spaces or areas with low hanging obstacles.   A bump cap can prevent head impact and penetration injuries in those situations.  It is also highly recommended that staff cover and protect long hair that can get caught in machinery parts or belts.

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EYES/SAFETY GLASSES – Sight is one of your critical five senses that needs to be protected at all times.  Employees that work in areas where they are flying fragments, large chips, sparks and splashes  should be fitted for face shields.  Goggles, safety glasses and prescription glasses with side shields may be effective enough for areas with particles, sand, dirt, dusts and glare.

EARS/HEARING PROTECTION – Hearing is another crucial sense to protect, since damage can be  gradual over time and not as immediately noticeable like loss of sight.  Working an 8 hour shift in an environment where the noise level is 90dB or higher will cause irreversible damage your hearing.  Consistently wearing ear plugs or ear muffs will protect your hearing.  Ear plugs come as daily disposable types that conform to the shape of your ear canal or permanent egg plugs specifically molded for your ears by a professional.  Some high noise areas may require a combination of ear plugs and muffs.


FEET/LEG PROTECTION – Just as important as the eyes and ears are your limbs.  Having the dock workers wear steel tipped shoes will help prevent crushed toes and broken bones in the foot.  They protect not only from a run-over hazard but dropping heavy items as well.  If you work in a cold warehouse the proper shoes will also prevent slips and falls.

LUNGS/DUST MASKS & RESPIRATORS – Are there areas of the facility where heavy dust is an issue or smoke, gas vapors, paints and sprays are completed.  Depending on the amount of contaminant particles in the air and toxicity of the vapors there are many items available.  From simple dust masks  to respirators and other breathing apparatus for use in confined spaces where toxic fumes collect.

ADVERSE CONDITIONS & OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS – Imagine putting yourself inside a washer machine that’s inside a hot warehouse and then having to make repairs to the washer from within inside.  That’s what working inside a confined space can feel like.  You’re totally enclosed except for a tiny portal.  There is not air movement, it’s hot and dark and there may be toxic gases still trapped inside.  Think about having to stand near by as molten metals are poured into molds and you get a blast of the fumes and heat as it’s poured or imagine picking customer orders for hours in sub zero temperatures inside a giant freezer.  In every case, make sure you do the job using only the proper PPE.  It can be a matter of life or death.

Remember, none of these suggestions will work if proper training is not given as an accompaniment.   Employees must be educated  on how to properly use the PPE, understand the limitations of the PPE and how to adjust and wear the PPE including how to maintain it.  Training is the key for any successful safe workplace and there is never an excuse for not holding at least a monthly safety meeting as well as encourage the participation of staff on safety committees.  Thank you for joining this journey down the Green Brick Road of Safety.  We still have some distance to go.  Volume III will be here before you know it.

If You’re Finger Pointing, It’s Too Late, 2.

This article was originally published Jul 2012 and was spawned from a discussion on LinkedIn.  However, In light of recent accidental workplace explosions and fires it has been revised and updated.

What is going on people?  There has been a series of serious workplace accidents in the news of late, happening around the world and the U.S.  This is a big concern since it tells me people are getting lazy, cutting corners and looking the other way from glaring safety violations.  I fear some are using budgetary concerns as an excuse to reduce safety awareness, training, preparation and enforcement which is infuriating since most if not all of these accidents were absolutely preventable.

(Warning-on my soap box for a moment)  When you read about American manufacturers crying about the cost of compliance of safety and environmental programs laid out by U.S. Government Agencies and how the industry can do a better job of regulating itself, I look at these incidents and wonder how bad it would get if they did.  Don’t these corporations realize these incidents only lead to further scrutiny by those Government Agencies,  adding more red tape and contant OSHA investigations which always leads to finger pointing, not to mention the lost revenues due to shutdowns for investigations, the imposed fines as well as the care and rehabilitation of the injured or even worse, death benefits.

You can always recognize a facility that has slashed or eliminated it’s safety budget as soon as you walk in the door.  Immediately you notice the safety violations, lack of organization, cleanliness, enforcement and poor working habits.  It has been proven over and over the best course of action is   still prevention.  So let’s look at some of these recent accidents.

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• April 8, 2013.  7 Workers Die Inside Mexico Brewery Tank.  PREVENTABLE.  There are several measures that should be taken before any employee enters a confined space.  An air sample should be taken before anyone enters to check for toxic fumes.  Do you know what was stored in there before?  Not only should the employee(s) entering wear a tether so they can be retrieved quickly, but someone should also be spotting, constantly maintaining visual and verbal contact while employee(s) are working inside.  There is no quick in and out with this and all procedure need to be followed.  The worst thing is to send in more people to retrieve an unconscious person without proper equipment, you only wind up with more victims.  In the United States NO one can order you into a confined space without taking these proper steps or fire you for refusal.

• April 17, 2013.  The Texas fertilizer plant explosion.  PENDING.  The investigation continues but your credibility may be in question when you forget to tell the Department of Homeland Security that you were storing large quantities of a potentially explosive fertilizer, ammonium nitrate.  Not a minor oops when the reporting threshold is 400 pounds and you held 270 tons.  Then, their most recent partial safety inspection of the facility in 2011 led to $5250 in fines.  I don’t see the savings here in cutting corners.

• April 24, 2013.  Fuel Barges Explode On Mobile River, Injuring 3.  PENDING.  The U.S. Coast guard is investigating but stated that the likely cause of the fire was a spark created during cleaning.  The question begs, was proper protocol followed before cleaning began or was someone in a rush and just cut corners?  As above, working a confined space like a fuel barge, you need to make sure it is empty and free of fumes before beginning any work, and double check before using any type of flame or spark producing equipment.

• April 26, 2013.  Worker Killed At Nissan’s Tennessee Plant.  PREVENTABLE.  An employee of a supplier died in a fatal accident at its vehicle assembly plant in Smyrna, Tenn. when a large electrical panel fell while it was being moved.  My gut tells me that someone thought this would only take a few minutes and didn’t make sure the equipment was properly secured for moving.  I found that outside contractors are the worst at following safety guidelines and gives your staff a legit complaint of why they have to and outsiders don’t.  The best way to handle this is outside contractors are escorted everywhere by an employee, which costs money or they go through a training course given by the company and after that any violators are banished.

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• March 21, 2013.  $58M verdict in death suit could be New Mexico record.  PREVENTABLE.  Training is so critical to any job.  How the machine operates, how to clock in and out, PPE and how to properly wear it, all the do’s and don’ts.  The jury sent a clear message to the trucking industry, and the oil and gas industry in particular, that those companies who choose not to follow safety rules, and who place profits over human life, will be held accountable for the harm that they cause.

• May 1, 2013.  Worker Dies in blender at meat plant.  PREVENTABLE.  LOTO (Lock Out Tag Out) – This is a loto you want to win.  No piece of equipment should be touched until it is rendered safe by cutting off it power and/or air supply.  No matter how young or agile you think you are you still are not quicker than the machine.  Clearing jams, making adjustments, replacing parts, and for cleaning — LOTO.  Again, in the U.S. NO ONE can order you to work on “live equipment”.  

Safety in the workplace is not a magical process that happens all on it’s own.  It is something that needs to be planned, prepared, communicated and then training, instruction and more training followed by your ever present vigilance.   There is no worse feeling in the world than filling out an accident report and escorting an employee to the emergency room.

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You have every right to leave work at the end of your shift the same way you arrived, in one piece.  If safety is not taken seriously at your workplace you have a few options.  Become a safety advocate and bring issues to your supervisor.  Discuss the issues with your H.R. department and help form safety committees with management and workers resolving potential problems together.  If you belong to a  union bring the issues up to your business manager, what are you paying dues for?  However, if your attempts to bring safety forefront are continually ignored or put down and people are getting hurt, you have an important decision to make.  You either put up with it and hope for the best or you quit and work somewhere else where your life is appreciated as much as your contributions or pick up that phone and call OSHA. There is only one you that can’t be replaced and who wants to be there when the finger pointing begins.

Sure Fire Ways To Achieve Max Velocity.

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I love science.  Well, most of science, not a big fan of equations and statistics.  However, I love science, even more, when I get the opportunity to apply it to issues going on in my world of warehousing. Science?!  In a warehouse? Really?!  I think the best way to prove it, is to show you how we can use science in your warehouse.

Order picking, like receiving is another one of those critical areas of any warehouse whether picking raw materials for manufacturing or picking orders to be shipped to a commercial store or residential retail customer.  Your goal is to get the correct item to the customer intact and within the timeline the customer demands.  You want picking to be an uninterrupted flow, like a serene river, with the pick order set in a sequence to build a stable and good looking pallet, able to stand up to the rigors of shipping and within the customer’s specs.

If your warehouse pick operation is already set up for maximum efficiency you are to be commended.  If you would like to get your order picking to that point here are some tips and history to get you there.  It begins with Vilfredo Federico Damaso Pareto, born July 15, 1848, and the young Italian grew up with many interests and talents including engineering, sociologist, economist, and scientist.  He was the first who observed in 1906 than 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population and he further developed the principle by observing that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas.  This all gave birth to the Pareto principle of 80/20.

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This principle applies to your warehouse in that 20% of your sku, (stock keeping unit) account for 80% of the volume picked.  Why is that significant?  When you set up the locations of your picking slots you want the fastest movers closest to the dock for convenient quick movement.  In fact, depending on the quantities you ship you may want to look into cross docking some of these items as well.  You also want to give the physical pick location ample space to hold enough product for orders to be picked with the least amount of replenishments.  It also means that the items that account for only 5% of your pick volume can be placed the furthest away from the dock and can sometimes be stored in gravity flow racks and picked in batch style.  How does one find out how fast product moves?  You should be able to have generated a velocity report, and I would bet that the sales and purchasing groups have access to this report as well.  It’ll break down for you the total numbers of units moved for each SKU over a designated period of time.  This information can show you seasonal variations in quantities of specific sku shipped and other patterns.  I found running a velocity report quarterly was enough but you may want to look at it on a monthly basis.  Now you can categorize your sku into their different types of mover groups, fastest to the slowest and  can be broken down into three or four groups depending on the number of sku you maintain on hand.  A items=20% of the products that account for 80% of cases moved.  B=30% of the products that account for 15% of cases moved and C=50% of the products that account for 5% of cases moved.

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With that accomplished we can begin planning the slotting sequence and layout of your pick slots.  Usually want to set it up with heavy & large sturdy items picked first to form the base of the pallet and smaller lighter cases on top to avoid any crushing of boxes.  If you’re picking strictly raw materials for production put your heaviest items closest to production.  Make sure to purposely leave a few empty pick slots here and there for future expansion or to help give added slots for holiday season quick movers.

Once you have the sequence in order, to help maintain maximum picking effeincty you want to know how many cases of an item can actually fit into the picking slot.  That information helps determine the size of the pick slot you want and the number of replenishment you’ll need to make during any given workday.  The best way to accomplish this is by Cubing.   No, it’s not the art period but the cubic footage the case, carton, the box actually exists in.  However, to stop and measure every single sku you have and calculating the cubic space it uses is extremely labor intensive and there is also a greater risk of error.  There are machines like Cubiscan that you can purchase or lease to accomplish this task in no time.  Moving forward, as new items come to the warehouse you can get the carton size specs from purchasing or the vendor for calculating cubic feet.  


Keeping the flow.  I strongly recommend that once you have gone through all this effort to get your picking operation in order keep it fresh by reviewing velocity reports on a regular basis and reviewing your slotting.  Listen to feedback from the pickers as they’re in the trenches every day and believe me they enjoy building the perfect pallet and they catch subtle differences in carton sizes or weights and other changes in the product.   They have some great ideas on picking sequence.  Most importantly put all this information together and develop a written slotting guide and procedures for your company on how the product is set up in the warehouse.  State your list of categories of velocity, A – ? , how often you’ll do velocity reports and Include what input is needed from purchasing and suggested timeline for this process on new items coming in with their dimensions, weight and estimated usage.  Make sure all old inventory is used up before beginning a new replacement item to avoid dead inventory.

Hurray Science.

A Sure-Fire Guide To The Gateway For Prevention


The warehouse loading dock is a major gateway for your company and with the constant ebb and flow of people, products and materials simultaneously arriving and leaving it’s a busy place.  However, without the proper precautions taken it also can be the gateway for infestation, contamination and other unwanted visitors who are always looking for easy access to your warehouse and it’s contents and they are most pleased when you’re not being very vigilant in your prevention.

trojan-horsePOINTS OF ENTRY – So what are their usual points of entry?  Let’s begin with those innocent looking trailers backing into your dock door right now.  They could be just like a Trojan horse except now hiding and transporting vermin.  Have your staff routinely do a visual inspection of all trailers before unloading.  Look for the usual signs of infestation like rodent droppings, bags, and boxes with holes that look chewed open and any insect activity. Contamination could also come in the form of chemical or other unwanted compound so also look for spills of liquid or powder in the trailer.  It’s a good safety habit to develop making sure the floor boards in the trailer are in good shape as well.  If they look deteriorated or broken and not safe enough to hold a forklift immediately contact your supervisor.  When a refer unit backs in you should also check that the temperature inside is at the correct level for the safe transport of that particular fresh or frozen food product(s).  Any foul odors should also be followed up with a closer look in the trailer as some food items will absorb these odors. Then as you off load, check the condition of the pallets themselves for broken boards, exposed nails in addition for any indications of contamination.


DOORS & WALLS – Another area of entry is the dock doors and dock levelers.  When the doors are rolled down they may keep people out but can you still see any daylight coming from outside?  A mouse only needs a tiny crack 2 cm in size to get in while a rat can fit through a hole as small as a quarter.  Seal up all cracks and holes and use dock door brushes(>) or weather stripping to block all access.  This should be accomplished for any holes or damage in the walls in your warehouse that would allow vermin entry into the warehouse.  Seal them properly and to last.


As an added precaution it’s also very important to have tin cats at all entrances from the outside and throughout the warehouse.  Most pest control companies do a good job monitoring the tin cats and other pest activity. Each time the trap is inspected, update the data card inside and initial, verifying this activity.  It doesn’t hurt to keep them honest and follow up by spot checking.   Is the dock area kept clean?  If you are currently having a pest control company visit weekly, you can save money by reducing it to a monthly visit and then having your trained staff check the tin cats the other weeks.   In seasons when it gets very warm and you need a little ventilation, use of screen doors helps keep out flying insects and bug zappers in key areas also provide great backup on controlling entry.


So now that we’ve closed as many points of entry we can why leave them an invite with an incentive?  Any small amount of food remnants and trash not properly contained will attack any hungry animal.  You don’t want to find rodents having a midnight rave in your warehouse at your expense.  A good idea is to put that task on a sanitation schedule, assigned to reliable people and then make sure it gets done.  In addition, don’t allow incoming delivery drivers to sweep out their trailers at your dock unless they bag the trash and dispose of in a proper designated container.

Door Solutions

Keep the area around your loading dock clean and free of trash.  Leaving cardboard and broken pallet boards to remain on the ground is another invitation to stay and build a nest as well as becoming a magnet for other trash.  How’s the flora around your warehouse?  High weeds and grass provide great camouflage for the vermin invaders?  Have it cut back and maintained on a regular basis.  Lastly, be aware of what’s going on around your neighborhood.  If there is any construction going on nearby that may be displacing vermin from their homes?  They will be searching for better digs and you don’t want them to give your warehouse a second look.  It wouldn’t hurt to keep an extra eye on the activity at your place.

Another great side benefit of employing and following these practices is improved safety.  Without clutter and trash around and keeping your facility neat and organized immensely improves overall safety reducing trips and falls and other accidents.

Now that you have protected your gateway and have put your defenses in place, train the staff accordingly and remember to stay vigilant!


You can also practice these techniques in your own home to protect it from invaders. Read Secrets of the Professionals Revealed That You Can Use at Home.

Now Hear This!

While I’m waiting for the light to change and listening to the very loud bass vibrating my car from the next vehicle, I chuckle as I think, wow in 20 years we’re going to have a massive hearing loss epidemic among males and headlines asking why the government didn’t do anything to stop it.  You laugh as I but hearing loss is a bigger problem in the work place than you may think.  Sounds over 90 decibels can cause damage to the inner ear when encountered over a long period of time and to compare, a normal conversation at 3 feet apart from one another is 60-65 decibels.  So if your working 8 hours in an environment where the noise level is 90dB and over, (some experts say 80dB and over) you NEED to wear some level of hearing protection PPE, (Personal Protective Equipment).

For those of you already working in noisy environments this is nothing new and your company should be issuing hearing protection and you MUST be USING them diligently.  You also upon your hire should have had a baseline test completed.  This helps monitor and determine if there is any drop in hearing over the years of employment.  Good companies follow up with a hearing test on your employment anniversary date to track if any issues.

Do you need hearing protection at your place of work?   A general rule of thumb is that if you need to shout to be heard, the sound is in the range that can damage hearing.  With forklifts generating 77-93dB and diesel trucks clocking 97-112dB a dock could get noisy.  Speak with your supervisor or manager and ask that a sound test be completed. Then depending on the decibel levels measured you can work with HR on selection of the proper ear protection.

                   Ear Plugs                                                                                  Ear Muffs



OSHA also has posted, limits of exposure time for noise. For 90dB it’s 8 hours a day down to 15 minutes a day at 115 dB.  It’s interesting to note that OSHA limits exposure of 100 decibels to 2 hours.  100 dB is generated easily at some rock concerts, so a 3-4 hour show can actually be damaging to your hearing.

Take safety seriously, protect your hearing, it’s something that happens gradually over the years and will not return after you’ve lost.   Open up those lines of communication with your company and make safety everybody’s problem.