Warehouseflow’s Tip of the Month – November


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This Month’s Tip From WarehouseFlow Advisors-Jun




A Guide for Your Own Intelligent Warehouse

In the not too distant past, before computers, before the internet was even a twinkle in anyone’s eye, warehouses used to be nothing more than a dumping ground for bodies, into a labor-intensive environment as brawn was more important than a brain. That’s right folks, a company would take their misfits, malcontents and ne’er-do-wells and place them right into the warehouse grind and for some, it was a “last chance” to demonstrate to the company they could still be a productive employee.  If they couldn’t redeem themselves here, they weren’t worth saving and were terminated.  That’s how it was as the warehouse was also one of the last bastions for men since a warehouse was a manly place and only real men worked there, horsing around like teens, playing pranks on each other, playing card games or dominos in the locker room full of calendars and posters with scantily clad women.  It was a time when smoking was good and a hard drink was necessary at the start and end of each workday.  Remember, seat belts didn’t exist in cars, you didn’t have to be politically correct, ethnic jokes were SOP and to be successful in a warehouse you only needed a strong back and a quick right cross since you checked your brain in at the door. As a manager once told me at the very beginning of my young warehouse career, “I didn’t hire you to think.”  As long as the company made money all was right with the world and that’s how things operated for years, mindless zombies doing as they were told, losing limbs, losing lives, endless hours on their feet, no PPE of any kind, and your only recourse was to go with the flow and be assimilated or quit.


Then the winds of change slowly gained momentum as the baby boomers were coming of age and new consciousness arose across the land as people asked why? It was like the great renaissance all over again as we were whisked out of the dark ages. Why do we treat some people differently? Why do we do things this way if workers keep getting hurt? Just for asking these simple questions people were beaten and called horrible names and were cast out as blasphemers and told: “because that is the way we’ve always done it.” However, there were too many voices asking these questions at the same time.  Soon civil rights and then women’s rights were issues of the day as this new awareness of fellow human beings and how they were being treated emerged. Then workers rights were soon to follow and in 1971 OSHA was born and the modern SAFETY era began.  Forklifts were getting smaller but with more power and greater maneuverability with a wider selection of capabilities.  Then came one of the biggest evolutions in the warehouse, the desktop computer, (MITS-1974/Tandy-1977). Things could now be tracked, information stored and then printed on paper. Expenses, inventory, transactions could be found in one area. Oh My!


As these technological changes continued to modify the face of the workplace, the other significant change that occurred was who we had working in the warehouse. Brawn was no longer a vital requirement as we focused on recruiting people who could think for themselves with problem-solving and customer satisfaction skills while understanding that working safely was just as important as producing a quality product. We also wanted people who were flexible, handle multiple jobs and could adapt to change quickly while making abrupt adjustments on the fly without a drop in productivity and quality. We wanted people who could pick at the speed of light and beyond. Of course, this brought a whole new set of problems to the table. How do we find, train and retain these people to ensure continued growth and consistency of production?   Let’s face it, folks, a leader knows the biggest asset in their company is not the infrastructure, materials, or equipment, but the people. Yea, the ones hired and trusted to keep up the maintenance, move the materials and operate the equipment. The ones in the trenches daily, making the company look good while making decisions to keep customers happy, thanks to the trust and backing to do so.


What are the best ways to find and retain these people? When you begin the task of recruiting and hiring remember what Darwin said and I’m paraphrasing here, “selection is everything”. Work closely with your HR department or recruiter and give them every detail about the job to be performed and all associated functions including any and all equipment that will need to be operated and what kind(s) of PPE will be required as well. The more information you give them the better the selection process and once this is all assembled there are lots of places to search for talent. Your local unemployment office, college campuses, and job fairs are all good locales but as you search don’t overlook one important resource, women.  Why not? During World War II between 12 – 20 million women were working in the defense industry and brought us the image of “Rosie the Riveter – WE can do it.” and with their help we did.  In fact, there is a new organization, Women In Manufacturing, a great resource for those who are entering this realm.  There are so many perks you can offer to attract female employees like on-site childcare, flexible hours and equal pay. It is about time that women workers are treated as equals.


After all the effort on recruiting and hiring, you want to start new workers off on the right foot and lay down a firm foundation with a well-developed orientation and training for new employees. This is crucial for their and your success and I can’t stress enough how important this is. I’ve worked for some large companies where their training of new staff began and ended with one sentence, here’s your workstation. You want staff to begin producing as soon as possible, in a safe manner with confidence and not wondering what’s expected of them.  The culture of training and safety also encourages workers to stay since you’ve demonstrated you care about their success as employees. There are many ways to put together your orientation and you can read how Michelin handles this, “Workforce: Successful Employees Require a Solid Start.”  I would say to make sure you cover all aspics in the facility, especially safety, forklifts, and other power equipment, security and emergency procedures, the location of supervisor and manager and then set up some time with their new workmates to chat at lunch or tour around the facility.


Retention of these well trained and talented workers isn’t difficult. Unlike during the DotCom boom, espresso machines and game rooms aren’t as important today as job satisfaction and how they are treated. Listen to your workforce, be accessible and the best way to do that is to be out on the floor.  The best and fastest way to turn off an employee is to NOT LISTEN.  Put yourself in their place and remember just because it’s a pebble to you, doesn’t mean it’s not a boulder to them so take concerns seriously, acknowledge their issue and make sure to report back to them any new details and dates until resolved. You’d be surprised at some of the great suggestions on equipment operation or maintenance employees make that save time and money.  If a worker ever complains about a safety issue don’t you dare blow them off!  Take those with extreme concern and resolve immediately.  You want to cultivate their interest in what goes on in the company so get employees involved in quality circles, continuous improvement projects, workplace safety committees, and maintenance of equipment.  Have impromptu discussions right on the work floor, their office, on improving forklift skills, safety hazard awareness and let them be creative.  Once a year I would split the staff into three groups, and sent them through the warehouse and office trying to identify safety hazards I had previously set up.  The winning team got recognition and a choice of a free lunch or a free hour off.

Other ways to help retain employees is to offer in-house as well as pay for outside training programs where employees can further improve and develop their skills and talents to move up within the company.  One company I worked for offered Spanish or English language in-house classes once a week during lunch to improve internal communication. You can also offer in-house classes on inventory control, warehouse terminology, computers, excel spreadsheets and more.  A good employee should be able to work at least one level below and one level up.  Training could also help refresh their safety skills, to use a fire extinguisher, doing LOTO or how to properly escort a driver to the loading bay and please, get them involved as presenters as well.  In addition, make sure you make every attempt to promote from within.  If you have to keep bringing outsiders in for positions then you need to review your training program as employees will not stay.

Eventually, hopefully, sooner than later, our society will finally get to the point where it is realized that all people are the same, and they all bring great points of view to the table, you just have to want to tap that resource. You wouldn’t like being chewed out in the middle of a dock floor for everybody to witness, so why would you do it to them?   Human beings are precious bundles that drop in for a short time, make their mark on the world, raise children to do and be better than themselves, love who you want, have a good laugh, watch the sunset and stop to smell the roses and live life to the fullest.  When you have to “talk” to an employee do it with respect, in private and be a coach. The golden rule to help employee retention we all learned back in kindergarten, treat all people with respect.


That’s Like Cash Sitting There!



If the inventory in your warehouse looks like this, you have already lost money.  Give enough room for storage, keep fast movers close to the dock, cross dock whenever possible and respect all inventory like it was cash.

Need to up your AIB/ASI score?  Customer audit pending?  Need help? We’re here and ready.

Companies Behaving Badly – Killing Me Softly



So what do the latest numbers tell us?  That people are going to work, trying to do the best they can and then dying for their troubles because their employer uses luck as the safety program. I have a question for you?  Your answer will remain between just us, O.K? Really. No one else will know your answer so please be honest. If you found one of your bagel halves got stuck in the toaster, would you jam a utensil into the toaster without first unplugging it?  Would you?  No?  Of course not, so why do you do it at work? Oh right, no one told me, boo hoo.  Tell them.  Tell them, no problem boss, I’ll fix the problem on the machine but first, let’s Lock Out Tag Out. You are in control  of your safety and you know what needs to be done, be professional and do LOTO.  The loto you win here may be your fingers or your life.  Well that unfortunately sounds like another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

Bristol Plant Fined for OSHA Violations – PREVENTABLE – It looks like the message is getting out there as more workers are filing complaints with OSHA. Like with Covanta Energy Bristol, Inc. where after an OSHA inspection sparked by a employee complaint found 16 Serious violations along with a proposed $80,100 fine.  On a daily basis, employees were exposed to electrocution, fire, falls, slips and trips, crushing, being trapped or overcome in a confined space, eye injuries and caner and lung or kidney damage. Now you understand why the employee had enough, he wanted to go home to be with his family in one piece. Employees usually go to OSHA as a last resort and my guess is he had brought these safety matters to managements attention and no body listened to him and nothing changed.  You don’t have to put up with unsafe working conditions to put food on the table for your family.

Newark moving company faces nearly $90K in OSHA fines – PREVENTABLE – As Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA’s Parsippany Area Office put it, “In 2015, nobody should be surprised to learn that asbestos exposure is dangerous.”  Even thought Brantley Brothers Moving & Storage Co. didn’t have a clue, an employee there did understand and filed a complaint with OSHA.  They found 14 serious violations and handed out a proposed fine of $89,600.  The company had workers remove asbestos from pipes and didn’t bother to give them any PPE or any training on proper removal.  They just let them breath in all those particles of asbestos while the company saved money by doing it on the cheap.  I don’t understand why there is no Willful violation cited here.  Whether an employer tells you or not that you are being exposed to hazardous dust, if the environment and job creates lots of dust you should be given protective masks and receive some sort of training. If you are just put out on the work floor without this begin asking questions.



Aluminum foil manufacturer in Huntsville cited for serious safety, health hazards by OSHA PREVENTABLE – Yet again another OSHA inspection initiated thanks to an employee complaint as 14 violations were found at ATI Foil, 7 of them serious along with a proposed fine of $57,600.  It seems ATI Foil didn’t bother to provide PPE to it’s workers and had no problem exposing them to corrosive liquids. To make it even more dangerous they didn’t provide emergency showers or eyewash stations.  They couldn’t even be bothered to establish a hazard communication plan.  All of that costs time and money and unfortunately cuts into the profits.  Any time you work for a company and it involves corrosive liquids you should be given training on how to handle it, what PPE is required and what to do in case of a spill. Anything less is not acceptable.

Edison company exposed 50 workers to multiple hazards, OSHA says – PREVENTABLE – Just in case you didn’t know, a temporary employee is a short term worker not someone who wants to die soon and maybe that’s where the confusion lies for Bentley Laboratories as they were found to have 14 serious violations as they exposed temporary workers to chemical hazards, exposed them to loud noises and possible amputation hazards on machines.  The proposed fine is $45,000 and the temporary agency that supplied the workers was also fined $8,000.  It also turned out neither the employer or the agency wanted to be bothered with training workers on the hazards related to the handling of chemicals. Any agency you go through before you are placed, should give you some training and safety protective gear that will be required in relation to what job you’ll be doing.  Otherwise all they’re interested in is collecting a fee and not you.

Massachusetts Roofing Contractor Cited for Fatal Hazards – PREVENTABLE – What do you think is wrong with a company that is cited 4 times in 4 years for exposing employees to fatal falls?  A total lack of respect for it’s workers and William Trahant, Jr. Construction has demonstrated their contempt with their 1 Willful, 1 repeat and 3 serious violations along with a proposed fine of $43,560. As you may remember a willful violation means the company knew there were serious hazards but couldn’t care less as they had workers use a damaged ladder with split rails and bent rungs as well as inadequate anchorage points for fall arrest lines and NO training on fall hazards. In my opinion the penalty for putting people at risk and doing it repeatedly is too low and they should be temporarily suspended 30 days from doing business.

OSHA fines Kansas farm cooperative $65,900 after worker loses toes in grain auger – PREVENTABLE – Never under estimate the power of L.O.T.O.  What you may think takes to long to do can save you from a life time of disability or worse.  At the Beattie Farmers Union Cooperative they received 1 Willful, 1 repeat and 3 serious safety and health violations because they didn’t use LOTO and an employee lost the toes of his left foot.  The auger he was clearing out wasn’t properly LOTO and it started up unexpectedly.  The proposed fine is $65,900 which again I believe is far to low.  Don’t let anyone pressure you into not doing a proper LOTO on equipment.  Take the time, do it right.

OSHA cites Baytown construction company – PREVENTABLE – A worker for Angel Brothers Enterprises knew how dangerous working in trenches can be if not done properly and was motivated enough by what he saw to file a complaint with OSHA. Their inspection found the workers concerns were valid and hit Angel Brothers with a proposed fine of $89,500 for not protecting workers in a 9 foot excavation as they used LUCK as part of their safety program.  If you ever feel safety is an issue at your worksite, don’t become a statistic, call OSHA.

Safety officer in Canberra workplace death had no formal qualifications, court told – AUSTRALIA – Good read on a current court case in Australia as a worker is dead and the person on trial was responsible for safety at the worksite had no formal training at all and was most probably put in a position of failure.  I can’t stress enough the importance of training.

Workplace safety is critical matter – AUSTRALIA – They are taking workplace safety up a notch here and it’s reflected at the 2015 Resource Industry Network Safety Conference.  Check it out.

Saskatchewan needs to drink the ‘workplace safety Kool-Aid’ – CANADA – The province of Saskatchewan has the second highest workplace injury rate in Canada.  Great article on what’s going on and what needs to be done. What do you think can be done?

OSHA fall prevention stand-down set for May 4-15 – STAND DOWN – Get the word out!  A two week stand-down focusing on FALL PREVENTION.  Be part of this effort to reduce the number of injuries and deaths from falls on the job.  Use all the proper PPE available.

Report Chronicles Dangers Of Flavoring Chemical – INFO – Bizarre that a chemical long known to cause immediate severe lung damage remains unregulated by federal labor officials yet flavors your popcorn.  Yes, diacetyl, used in candy, chips and popcorn will be the new buzz word in 2015.  Read up on it.


Emergency Shower Decontamination Booths – NEW PRODUCT – If you work around chemicals or even just refill batteries for the forklift it’s always good to have a shower around.  Check it out.



Well my friends, that brings another episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close. Thank you for taking time out of your hectic day and stopping by.  As always feel free to share any or all of these stories at your next company safety tailgate/toolbox meeting and always look forward to your comments on the stories, safety and about the blog.  Never be quiet about safety.  If something doesn’t seem or look right to you, ask questions.  If you don’t get answers, or are told to mind your business or we’ve always done it this way, call OSHA.  Be an advocate of safety, join the safety committee and participate.  If your company doesn’t have a safety committee, start one.  Get everyone involved and if you need help or advice please don’t hesitate to contact me.  Remember, the life you safe may be your own.  Until next time.





Just Putting It Out There – Owners

   San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ers

The San Francisco bay area sports scene is all skitter scattered because after 3 straight years of being in the playoffs, this season by fan standards was a flop as we missed the playoffs with a .500 season. Sure it was also a year of turmoil, leaks, accusations, rumors and injuries which may have helped bring the parting of ways for our San Francisco 49ers (who really play in Santa Clara-43.3 miles away) and great coach Jim Harbaugh. A decision that feeds the fear of an uncertain future around here. The cause of the break up as said by owner Jed York was that it was over philosophical differences and the breakup was mutual which means they didn’t get along and a lot of fans are angry the coach has left and are blaming the owner for this folly. However this article is not sports related but the recent events between coach Jim Harbaugh and owner Jed York did made me think of past experiences I’ve had with owners of businesses.

I’ve worked for a few small companies during my career. It has it’s advantages and disadvantages, they’re small enough that you’re known by your name and not a number, there is no where as much red tape as a large company and change is usually quicker.  Usually.  One company owner had brought me on board to help “change the culture” but soon after he proceeded to micromanage my every step.  As the suffocation increased I had the epiphany that the problem was not all with the culture but mostly the owner.  Even though you are obtaining the results wanted by all involved, you are either not doing it exactly the way the owner would have or as fast.  It shouldn’t make a difference in the method used to get us to the goal as long as everything is ethical, safe and done within all agreed constraints, who cares? In this case the owner’s Ego did, it still needed to step in to fix problems he thinks he sees and this adds un-needed confusion to the staff as the new processes you had recently put into place are over-ridden or bypassed by the owner’s Ego when you’re not around.  Now the owner begins to feel they are doing all the heavy lifting thinking you are not carrying your load when actually your load increased as you try to re-establish order in his wake.

These types of companies run by owner’s Ego survive when economic times are great and there is plenty of business for everyone and you can survive very well off that small piece of the pie chart.  However when the economy tanks these companies usually collapse within a year after enduring a slow painful death as there is no creativity allowed by the staff and lower management to deal with problems mainly because, as the owner’s Ego moods go so goes the daily operation.  Ever been trapped into one of those “management emergency meetings” held at the end of a long work day with little notice?  When the owner’s Ego senses that things are slumping and need to improve, or he wants to try a new direction or new course or worse, the loss of a long time big account.   We watch and see the owner’s Ego in action as he single handedly tries to save the company as for some reason only his ideas make the agenda while others are unceremoniously tossed.  Here it comes, cut backs, layoffs, flexibility is needed by all as each job is now everyones job, oh and that 5% reduction in salary, it’s only temporary.  Problem is people lose interest, get frustrated and begin to find jobs in other companies and with the hiring freeze others have to pickup the slack and feel trapped and begin not to care anymore as they just go through the motions.  Customers are calling and calling and want to know the whereabouts of their orders and vendors are calling and calling and want to know where their payments are and oh yea, in that case you’ve been cut off.  This leads to more emergency meetings, more layoffs, more brainstorming for ideas that will be shot down and more failure by the troops which leads to more hard feelings between the owner and your lack of hard work and before you know it you part ways over philosophical differences but its a mutual parting the ways as you were not made in his image and sorry you were never as good as me and definitely not the leaders fault.  Spoiler alert, it’s the leader. The doors close, end of story except for the loyal employees who work their butts off and are the ones who suffer most.

   San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ers

Then there are the few small companies that I’ve been very fortunate to work for, where the owner didn’t just hire me to “change the culture” but told me instead to “build my team”.  There is nothing more of a turn on than being told, here’s the ball, run with it, oh and what do you need to get there?  These owners are leaders and have a real vision of their company in the future and understand to allow others to help them obtain it and then share their visions as well.  Open thought is not suppressed and meetings are an exchange of ideas and not an oratory of doom.  They take an interest in their workers and help them grow and develop as employees and individuals and don’t lie to them.  If you should, oops, have a fumble.  These are the owners who say, what did you learn from this and now get back up on the damn horse and get that touchdown.  These owners are leaders and the success of their employees to them means they are successful.  I’ve always believed you can have all the great talent in the world assembled before you but it still takes the right leadership to make it all work together and win.  Which leader you become is totally up to you, but I know which way I’d go.
With that said, while the 49ers search for a new coach I can concentrate on the Golden State Warriors.



Companies Behaving Badly – It’s a Wonderful Life



As you prepare to celebrate the holidays and entertain friends and family please take a moment and think about the 1,400 workers who died on the job and the family members who’ll be spending their first holiday without that loved one; fathers, mothers, sons, daughters and grandparents.  Thank you.   Most of these accidents were the result of company owners who said Bah, humbug to spending money on safety whether to replace machine guards to prevent amputations or take the time to do a proper Lockout/tagout before servicing equipment to prevent a death. Time is money and production must never stop!  The successful companies understand that people are their biggest asset and make sure they work with them to keep them safe as workplace safety is a two way street.  You are just as responsible for your safety as your employer by doing it the correct way with no short cuts.  You don’t have to die at work.  Well, this unfortunately sounds like another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.


OSHA Cites Environmental Remediation and Recovery Inc. after Worker Dies – PREVENTABLE – Environmental Remediation and Recovery Inc. was found by OSHA to have 7 Willful and 14 serious violations during their investigation into the death of an employee.  A willful violation means that the company knew there was a dangerous hazard but couldn’t care less about employee’s safety to do something about it.  When this 27 year old worker climbed into the rail car he trusted his employer had made sure it was safe for him to enter.  When he passed out from the fumes they couldn’t get him out immediately because he was not attached to a retrieval system or was given any respiratory protection gear but that may have not made a difference since the company failed to remove defective respirators.  That all costs money and nothing like playing the odds when it comes to workers safety.  A proposed fine of $188,400 has been issued but I still believe when a death is caused by willful intent the people in charge should be in jail.

OSHA Cites Belvidere Company for Safety Violations After Worker is Crushed – PREVENTABLE – Jacob Frisella was a 21 year old just beginning his adventure in life and had no idea that he would die at work that day when he was crushed to death while trying to make adjustments to his machine.  His employer Ventra Belvidere was issued 1 Willful and 4 serious safety violations because they thought it would be o.k. not to make sure the sensing device to detect someone’s presence was improperly set.  For this they were given a proposed fine of $93,400 which is not nearly enough for this.  Tampering with the function of any safety mechanism should have a prison sentence attached.

OSHA: Holes in JBS safety practices at fault in June death – PREVENTABLE – Ralph Horner a 54 year old maintenance technician didn’t think he would die at work this day as he worked near an unguarded and vulnerable area on the conveyor belt.  He’s done it before and thought he was lucky, that is until his hair got caught in it and dragged him into the conveyor and killing him.  This was not the first time JBS exposed workers to unguarded hazards and pinch points as they were cited for this in 2010.  For this repeat violation plus one serious one they were fined $45,500 for the death of a human being because they JBS couldn’t be bothered to replace the guards on the conveyor belts.  You have every right to refuse to operate any piece of equipment if all the proper guards are not in place.  I’ve done it when maintenance had earlier in the day removed the guards protecting workers from rotating chains but didn’t replace them for graveyard shift.  When I saw that during my rounds, I shut down the machine. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s fine to operate.

Nuvo Construction Co, Sonag Ready Mix cited by OSHA following fatal industrial accident – PREVENTABLE – 3 children are without a father as their 39 year old Dad was crushed to death at work because NO ONE thought it important enough to make sure power was off to the mixer he was doing maintenance on.  What’s even more amazing is the stupidity continued the next day as an employee from another company finished those repairs on the bin where the death occurred also with NO L.O.T.O.  Both companies, Nuvo Construction Co. and Sonag Ready Mix LLC were handed Willful violations for the amount of $84,000 each.  If you are told to make repairs on a piece of equipment and won’t let you LOTO for your safety or try to tell you it’s not necessary, they couldn’t care less about your well being.  Don’t do it.

OSHA fines roofing contractor $140,000 – PREVENTABLE – With all the publicity and national stand downs you’d think the message of fall prevention and safety would get through to everyone, well everyone who cares I guess. Affordable Exteriors of Omaha must be affordable as they save money by abandoning safety for their workers as they were hit with 2 Willful violations by OSHA for not providing fall protection or the associated training at one of their work sites.  Even with the proposed fine of $140,000 there is no guarantee that these idiots will get the message as they have been cited 5 times in the last 10 years for exposing workers to fall hazards.  This is a case where fines are not working and the company should be suspended from doing business.

OSHA cites metal plate company in East El Paso for alleged health and safety violations – PREVENTABLE – Nothing screams more of a company that it’s an accident waiting to happen than a dirty, sloppy, disgusting operation.  It tells you that leadership is non-existent and that they don’t care about the presentation of the facility or it’s workers.  D&D Manufacturing in East El Paso fits that description as they were found to have 41 health and safety violations, 36 serious, that ran the gamut from restroom sinks clogged to risk of falls, cutting injuries and electrical shock to mention a few. OSHA also found compressed gas cylinder missing a valve protection cap, no machine guarding, and employee contact with arc, weld flash and flying sparks. What’s even sadder, the company president doesn’t have a clue what’s going on in his own house and I strongly suggest he get up from his big desk and start walking around his facility.  What would be even sadder is if this company is taking advantage of immigrant workers and purposely putting them in harms way.

Seinfeld television show

Seinfeld television show

Mail handler fired following work-related injury at Postal Service facility – PREVENTABLE – The United States Postal Service continues to demonstrate how incompetent they are as an organization and highlight their tremendous lack of leadership. (Read more articles on USPS).  A postal worker was terminated after being treated at a medical facility for a workplace related injury. The brain trust at the USPS did this even though statements by co-workers and witnesses contradicted that the employee was at fault for the injury as he performed his usual duty of emptying containers onto a conveyor belt when the door on one container unexpectedly opened and hit him in the head. OSHA is suing the USPS on the employees behalf to get back wages and benefits under the whistleblower provisions.  The USPS needs to take a long hard look at itself.  They have been cited numerous times across the country by OSHA for putting their employees at risk.  The USPS could streamline operations and save money by terminating employment of quite a few management folks including the Post Master General.

OSHA cites JSW Steel (USA) Inc. for 12 violations; $126,000 in fines proposed PREVENTABLE – It speaks volumes about the quality of the leadership team of a company when the employees they charge with maintaining and upkeep of equipment are not trained on L.O.T.O. or bother to conduct audits on their own procedures to see if there’s room for improvement.  That was part of the 12 violations including one repeat violation OSHA found at JSW Steel, Inc. that earned them a proposed fine of $126,000.  The repeat violation was for failure to conduct periodic inspections and develop L.O.T.O. procedures to power off the shear safely, a large metal cutting machine, during machine maintenance and servicing.  This had been brought to their attention back in a March 2012 inspection but then that would only slow down production.

Napoleon dry cleaner is fined $39,900 by OSHA – PREVENTABLE – Whether you’re a large corporation or a corner dry cleaner when it comes to the use of chemicals you have to know what you are doing or people can get very sick.  Buckeye Launderers & Cleaners failed to provide a eye wash station or shower even though their workers were handling corrosive chemicals nor did they do any training about the hazards of what the employees were handling.  It is hoped that this $39,900 lesson will get the point across.

OSHA shelves rule on explosive dust – NEWS – Unfortunately the Obama administration has basically shelved a regulatory proposal on explosive dust. This will continue to put quite a few people at risk.  What are your thoughts?

RasGas warehouse celebrates ‘incident-free 7 years’ – SAFETY WINNER – Nice job, over a million man hours without any lost time.  Congratulations.

Group Lock: The World’s First Multi-Person Single Lock for OSHA’s LockOut/TagOut – NEW TOOL – A brand new wireless lock for L.O.T.O. that can be used by a group and overseen by a supervisor or manager.  This could help make L.O.T.O. even more error free and used more often.



That brings another episode of Companies Behaving to a close, the last one of 2014.  Happy Hanukkah!  Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!  To each and everyone of you and thank you for taking the time out of your day to stop by and read this blog.  In fact I greatly appreciate your continued support of Witzshared through out the year and look forward to one day, maybe 2015, not having any companies behaving badly to write about.  If your company doesn’t do any safety or general training that’s an indication that they have no interest in your growth and development as an employee let alone your safety.  If your company doesn’t have a safety committee start one.  Be part of the solution, you’ll feel some much better and the life you save may be your own. Until next year, take care.

5 Steps For a Successful Peak Season – STEP 4

As we had learned in step 3 – Training, even though it is listed as the third step, it is still an extremely important detail to a successful peak season. With that said, this next step, safety is not only just as equally important as training but in fact, they go together hand in hand.  Safety is always a challenge in the workplace but then add in temporary workers and getting them to buy-in to your safety program is even more of a challenge.  Then, if that’s not enough include young workers, ages 15-24 and it will be a trial by fire.  Even if the temporaries receive safety training through the temp agency, you’ll need to reinforce it even further through your own safety orientation including clearly spelling out the consequences of not following safety rules including those infractions that’ll get them escorted off the premises immediately. (Please note for the purpose of clarity in this article, when I speak of safety I’m also including sanitation as cleanliness is part of safety.)

STEP 4 – Safety

To help make this more manageable for you and easily digestible for temp workers, break safety down into different levels/categories of skills and knowledge.

General safety for all (orientation) – this is safety information you want everyone to know.  Evacuation plan including route and assembly area; type of signal used to alert of emergencies (do you use bells, horns, whistles, etc.); required wear needed to be in the general area like appropriate clothing, hairnets, beard-nets and other general P.P.E. like bump caps, safety glasses, steel toe shoes and ear plugs; use of pedestrian ways;  cell phone use while working; keeping work area free of clutter and debris;  where to place cardboard, plastic and other trash; not using boxes and product in lower racks as stepping stools to reach upper racks; how to report an accident, dealing with liquid spills or other hazards; signage; do not touch let alone operate any machinery or equipment without being cleared to do so by management.  I know temp agencies want their people to report accidents to them but I’ve always insisted that they tell us immediately first so we are aware of any issues or hazards and can ensure proper treatment quickly.

Specific safety  – this would focus on the area and type of work the temp has been assigned and what equipment they’ll be using.  Use of tuggers, forklifts, manual and electric pallet jacks and other vehicles are always a safety concern. Take the time to watch them in action after their training is completed.  For minor concerns coaching will help greatly but I strongly reccommend a zero tolerance when it comes to horseplay or willful acts by temporary employees.   Another specific area would be use of the compactor and banding of bales for recycling.  Only trained temporaries should be allowed near the machine if it is so decided.  Even if someone says they had previous experience using the equipment, still make sure they’re properly trained by your standards before being allowed to operate it.  Step ladders, stairways, mezzanines and any other means of travel within the building should also be a safety concern.  Don’t take it for granted that temporary employees know how to use those modes properly and that they fully understand any associated hazards.  I worked in a large plant that used man-lifts to get up and down the 9 stories.  We had an outside contractor come in for a construction project who the company assumed knew how to use the man-lift.  He tried to save time and bring his tools along on the man-lift and fell, breaking his ankles, wrist and ribs. If they will they be working near Conveyor belts, again make sure they’re aware of the associated hazards and know where emergency shutoff buttons are located and how to use.  Will they be operating mechanical pallet dispensers, shrink wrap machines, they need to know and understand L.O.T.O. for dealing with jams or who they need to contact and how.


Bottom line, for a successful peak season look at each job a temporary employee will do as if it’s you first time and see if there are hazards lying in wait and don’t assume they’ll recognize the hazards on their own.  When you clearly communicate like with anything else, most workers will learn and comply but you will also find those gems out there who’ll keep you on your toes.  I once had a temporary worker, trying to impress me with his enthusiasm, climb up the side of 5 levels of racking like an acrobat to retrieve an item off the top. Needless to say I was not amused.

Next installment – STEP 5 – Leadership

5 Steps For a Successful Peak Season – STEP 3

Even though this is presented as the 3rd step in the series, you should never under estimate the impact of training on your operation as it is a very critical element. Training as with communication works best when it’s delivered consistently, concise and with conviction. This goes for all types of training from forklift certification to safety meetings to emergency evacuation procedures. If you treat training as a joke, that’s how it’ll be perceived and what you’ll get. This is your opportunity to set the tone in your house.

STEP 3 – Training

You know what jobs you’re filling with the temporary workers, now gather all the written procedures, SOP, descriptions and policies that cover those jobs and any other pertinent company policies and prepare your training plan. It is extremely important to have this information on hand and readily available not to mention a great habit to develop, reviewing and/or updating job descriptions, procedures and as well as conducting a hazard analysis at least once a year to keep your workers safe, practices current and regulatory obligations filled. Get your stuff printed and assembled and rehearse giving the training. Decide what kind of handouts, videos, power-points or other media you’ll use in your presentation. Don’t forget to include checklists, PPE that’s required and how to properly wear it, what materials are recycled or tossed, procedures on reporting and handling of spills, injuries, forklift use, sanitation and even include breaks and lunch periods. This is also a great way to get your staff involved in the training by having them demonstrate how to wear PPE or do a LOTO or any thing else you want to show.

Depending on your location it may also be a big help if you had the training material translated into the predominate language of the temporary workers. Some workers may speak english much easier than they can read it and this is information you want to make sure you get across. Remember, even though these are temporary workers they are still human beings and should be treated with the same respect as anyone else. I was the day shift manager at one place where my boss the D.C. manager would send temps home for extremely minor offenses as he patrolled the time clock area like a mad hen protecting her nest. Barking out their infraction as he pulled their time card and told them to go home. I would cringe with each one, “Your a minute late, go home”, “your shirt is not tucked in, go home.” It drove me nuts trying to plan the day while losing staff even before the shift began. Needless to say as he continued his campaign for crimes that were never explained upfront let alone written down anywhere he also sabotaged our relationship with the temp agency. Don’t ever hesitate to run your operation the way you see fit but make sure to be up front with workers and explain the rules clearly including the consequences if the rules are not followed but make sure they’re reasonable and not unattainable. One last comment on respecting all temporary workers. Even if their first language isn’t english that doesn’t mean they are any less intelligent and you never know who’ll surprise you with a great idea to save time and money for the operation.



Make sure to document all training by using a sign-in sheets and make sure all employees attending sign to acknowledge their attendance, attach copies of the training material used for that meeting and keep for your records. Well trained employees do impact your bottom line and can lead to a well executing, sustainable workforce.

Next installment – STEP 4 – Safety

5 Steps For a Successful Peak Season – STEP 2


Now that you have Staffing under control, (SEE STEP 1) you can focus your attention on the next important step, storage. Seasonal items are always an interesting collection of flavors, (pumpkin, eggnog, gingerbread and peppermint), new and unusual food products, new electronics and premiere of other household goods, all making their annual appearance. The good news is many of these incoming sku are only temporary items for the season and will be moving fast over a short period of time.


Depending on the orientation of your warehouse or facility cross-docking is a great way to temporarily store product without taking up valuable storage space in the racks. Cross-docking is basically taking product coming in and instead of putting it away into storage just keep it on the loading dock for shipping that day or the next. Begin by looking at upcoming shipments a few days out and the quantities needed and then look at the receiving appointments and quantities coming in. If you’re using a WMS you should be able to flag those incoming purchase orders so the product stays on the dock after being received for immediate shipping whether you’re loading your own trucks or preparing for shipping LTL. If you’re in a strictly Manufacturing environment, most orders especially in food manufacturing are made to order. As the order is produced especially those seasonal ones and brought to shipping, place them right on the dock and ship them out. Be sure to set up locations in WMS for holding the product on the dock so everyone is aware the items are for orders shipping. It also doesn’t hurt to have pre-made labels handy to place on the pallets also alerting everyone to what they are and how they’re shipping.

Renting/leasing trailers is another storage alternative however the down side is sometimes things get lost. Don’t lose track of what you have out there and stay on top of it. Give the trailer an assigned location, (usually the trailer number so you can find it) and an accurate inventory of it’s contents. There is nothing worse then having a yard full of trailers and not knowing which one has what you’re looking for. If possible keep only one sku in a trailer and if you store 2 sku keep them on opposite sides of the trailer from each other since you don’t want to have to move product to get to other items behind them. The chance of damages greatly increases the more you move them. If you need to keep things cool, refrigerated trailers are also available for rental but don’t recommend them for extended period of time since fuel usage will add to the cost of operation.



Even if you are a small operation and can’t do either of the above another fallback to help you with storage is to place the extreme fast moving items in large bays closest to the loading dock. If need be double the number of bays used to hold more product for picking and shipping to reduce the number of replenishments needed. If you load full pallets keep them above the bay you chose as a pick location for quick retrieval. If your product is not perishable and you have good weather as well as a secured parking lot you can store product outside and remember as I said before, set up temporary locations in your WMS and don’t lose sight of inventory.

You can also pay someone else to hold and ship your product. A third party logistic (3PL) operation can store and ship orders directly to your customers from their location for cents per case per day or what ever agreement you make. You just need to make sure they have a continuous supply of your product and hope they care about it as much as you do as well as have a very good inventory control system in place.

No matter how many items you need to store and move in your warehouse, never compromise safety no matter how crowded things get. Don’t ever use pedestrian walkways for storage of product as this only forces people out of using a protective area and right into the flow of traffic and a possible accident. Don’t put product in the aisle-ways or block pick areas and storage racks with product. Why slow down your staff and make them squeeze around stacked pallets of product with their lifts or riding forks and it is more likely to lead to increased damages and make moving items off the upper racks very difficult and dangerous. Above all don’t ever block emergency exits, electrical panels and fire extinguishers even for a short period of time. Those are bad habits you never want to get into.

Next installment STEP III – Training