Companies Behaving Badly – Dad Health Day

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Men, we begin simply as “snips and snails and puppy dog’s tails” until we morph into Men and June happens to be men’s health month and it’s to remind men that your health is in your hands as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are all preventable and/or treatable when detected.  I understand, you’d rather stop and ask for directions than see your doctor but you can improve on the 77.4 year average life expectancy in the U.S. by eating right, (more fruits and vegetables and less steak and potatoes) exercise, (reaching for the remote control doesn’t count) and don’t put off discussing any issues you may experience with your doctor.

In fact, did you know that four of the top 5 man killers are, #1 Heart disease, #2 Cancer, #4 Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and #5 Stroke!  I’ve saved the number 3 killer for last, Accidents!  Men, seriously!  We go through all of these life style changes, exercise routines and medical tests to avoid killers 1,2,4 and 5 from doing us in only to go climb out on a three story building roof without any fall protection gear! Instead of taking the time to do a proper LOTO because you’re in a rush you’d rather just climb into the belly of a piece of machinery to make an adjustment, “don’t worry it’ll only take a minute”!  You give up smoking so you can instead fill your lungs inhaling silica dust because you don’t look cool in a dust mask!  Do you see the problem here?  A little hypocritical?  Or should we just say men’s health is an oxymoron?  Tell you what, let’s ALL work together to eliminate Men’s killer #3.  We don’t need donations, we don’t need hundreds of scientist researching for hours, we just need YOU to work safe, wear the proper PPE, wear fall protection, always perform LOTO and question any potential hazards you see and then you can spend more time with your loved ones. I guess since we’re talking about accidents, this unfortunately must be another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

                                 HAPPY FATHER’S DAY

                  My Dad          witzshared.com

My Dad
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OSHA levels $130,700 in penalties on two Kyle Field contractors over death of worker – PREVENTABLE – Angel Garcia a 25 year old worker, trusted the fact that his employer, Lindamood Demolition wouldn’t let him use a skid-steer loader that wasn’t approved for the task he was performing.  That is until the 3,340 pound concrete stub an employee of Texas Cutting & Coring was cutting, tipped over the loader due to the excessive weight and fell 70 feet, ejecting Angel from the loader.  He died later that day at the hospital.  Both companies failed to provide employees with safe demolition procedures despite concerns from workers and for this both companies were hit with Willful violations and Lindamood placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.   Casey Perkins, OSHA’s area director said, “This disregard for worker safety is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”  As I’ve said before fines are nice, but some management people should be in a jail cell.  Always check the weight capacity any piece of equipment can handle safely before operating it.  Don’t let anyone tell you it’s o.k. to exceed that limit.

OSHA cites company in workers’ deaths – PREVENTABLE – Timothy Lang, a 53 year old construction worker who loved his vegetable garden and decorating for the holidays died on site while his coworker Scott Winkler, a 50 years old family man with 5 children and who enjoyed the outdoors died several days later in the hospital after a concrete wall that was not properly braced fell on them.  A third worker Rafael Zakota, 37 sustained injuries that will heal but the memory of this accident will be with him for the rest of his life.  Halmar International their employer was hit with 2 serious violations one of which occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have know.  Since this was a mock up site to get ready for the actually project my guess is the company tried to save money by omitting the needed supports.  Again, this is a time where the person in charge should be facing murder charges.

OSHA investigating fatal grain mill accident – PREVENTABLE – On a cool, beautiful early Tuesday morning at Great Falls Montana Specialty Mills, Barry Ladd died as he bled out after having lost his leg when he stepped in an auger.  The accident is currently under investigation but records show that Specialty Mills was found to have 7 safety violations in a 2012 routine inspection by OSHA that resulted in a $24,000 fine.  Two of the violations involved protective coverings of floor holes and revolving parts.  The others involved floor cleanliness, electrical equipment and protocol for working in confined spaces.  All sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.  You shouldn’t have to remember where all the holes in the floor are.  They must be properly marked and made safe enough for you to get the job done without falling or an amputation.

MA Steel fabrication shop cited after worker crushed PREVENTABLE – A 46 year old worker at Boston Bridge & Steel Company had trusted that his employer had properly secured the 12,000 pound steel arch beam he was assigned to paint.  As he worked, probably thinking about the upcoming holidays, the 6 ton arch fell on him and crushed him to death. OSHA found that his trust was misplaced as Boston Bridge failed to make sure the beam and 3 others like it, were not properly braced to prevent falling.  Have you ever seen how a pilot does a walk around his jet as part of a pre-check?  He knows that his company has some of the best talented mechanics in the world taking care of that jet, but he knows that “stuff” can happen.  So as an added safety measure, he walks and looks.  Before you work on any project you should take the few minutes to do the same.

OSHA Cites Chicago Company for Repeat Violations PREVENTABLE – Pan-Oceanic Engineering Company in Chicago is either very arrogant or just very stupid as they were cited for a second time this year for failing to protect workers in trenches from cave-in hazards. They were given a willful violation which in plain english means they knew they were putting workers in danger and couldn’t care less.  Think about what it’s must be like to work for a company that doesn’t care if you are buried alive and suffocate.  Warming isn’t it?  They were also cited for a serious violation after someone found evidence of a potential cave-in and did nothing about it.  For all this they were only fined $147,000 and placed under the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.  In fact, according to OSHA since 2003 they have been cited multiple times for violations of trenching standards and why they’re allowed to continue one wonders.

Lincolnshire firm ECO Plastics Ltd fined £12,500 after employee hit by reversing forklift truck – PREVENTABLE – Robin Eddom, a 63 year old engineer who worked at ECO Plastics Ltd. was just trying to get through the waste processing building but couldn’t use the pedestrian walkway as he was trained to because it was blocked with building materials and equipment while construction work was going on.  He had trusted that the company had warned their forklift drivers to watch for pedestrians due to the blocked walkway, but he was hit by a reversing forklift and suffered severe injuries.  The company had no problem allowing employees and moving forklifts share the same route and for what ever reason never thought to redirect traffic or detour pedestrians to another route.  No warning, no signage or anything.  As they say, just an accident waiting to happen.  When ever any change occurs in the workplace, whether installation of a new piece of equipment, production lines or even a temporary change, look around and see if there are any newly created safety issues and don’t assume all the employees will no what to do on their own.  Communicate!

OSHA Cites Contractor for Exposing Workers to Fall Hazards – PREVENTABLEIt’s even happening in my home town, the Bronx, as Kay Waterproofing Corporation was cited by OSHA for 13 serious violations at their worksite of a residential building in Edgewater, New Jersey.  Not only were they cited for exposing workers to fall and scaffolding hazards but failed to provide eye protection and hard hats for falling debris and cutting of masonry.  They also didn’t ensure equipment had electrical grounding pins and not properly guarded.  Isn’t is great when companies show the love?  They are now facing a proposed fine of $66,600.

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Missoula store facing OSHA fines – PREVENTABLE – You can’t always judge a book by it’s name, but in this case Dollar Tree Stores seems to spend only that much on safety as several of their stores throughout the country have been found to be willfully exposing workers to safety hazards, which means customers are at risk as well.  At this location in Missoula, Mt. an employee filed a complaint with OSHA because they were rightfully concerned with the blocked emergency exit routes, the storage of materials in unstable and unsecured means and the use of space around electrical equipment for storage. Usually an employee calls OSHA as a last resort since their expressed concerns fall on management’s deaf ears.  For their lack of effort, Dollar was hit with a fine of $217,000 for putting their valuable assets at risk.

OSHA cites Flambeau River Papers for failing to protect workers from toxic sulfur dioxide vapors – PREVENTABLEAccording to OSHA, Flambeau River Papers routinely exposed workers to sulfur dioxide vapors which can cause numerous adverse effects to the respiratory tract and led to 8 violations, including failing to document safe operating limits and to comply with good engineering practices for equipment as well as failing to conduct an annual audit of the LOTO procedures for a total of $42,300.  You can breath deeper now.

Turkey’s Building Boom Takes Toll on Worker Safety – PREVENTABLE – Sad, but falls at construction sites is not just a problem in the United States as 3 workers in Turkey were killed as the scaffolding they were depending on collapsed. You can read about the issues their construction workers are facing.

Games teach Missoula teens importance of workplace safety – TRAINING – Teaching teens about workplace safety before they become part of the workforce is a great idea and hopefully will pay off with fewer accidents down the road.

After working in a warehouse, thrice-suspended Redskins S Jackson thankful for another chance – UPDATE – Who said working in a warehouse was easy?  Ask Redskins Safety Tanard Jackson who wouldn’t go into detail about his warehouse job, but it was enough to jar him into making what he called a “lifestyle change” to keep from reverting to old habits.

Clearwater Paper’s North Las Vegas Tissue Facility Achieves OSHA VPP Star Status – HURRAY – Clearwater Paper Corporation received the Nevada OSHA’s highest level of recognition offered by the agency’s Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) as Star status. Clearwater Paper now becomes one of only nine such VPP sites in the state of Nevada.  Congratulations!

On that last note, that my friends, brings this episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close.  As always, thank you for taking time out of your busy day to stop by and feel free to use any of these topics for your next safety tailgate/toolbox meeting.  Before operating any forklift, tugger, excavator always check the manufacturers plate on the equipment to see what the weight capacity it can safely handle is.  Don’t let anyone tell you it’s o.k. to exceed the limit on the plate, there is no fudge room built in.  Don’t operate any machinery that has been modified from normal use without the consent, approval and assistance of the manufacturer.  If the manufacturers weight plate is missing or unreadable report it immediately to management. Always do a walk around the equipment for any signs of leaks or distress before starting. Never operate any machinery you are not trained or checked out on.  Above all, report any issues that affect safe operation of any equipment immediately!  Remember, we’ve working to eliminate Man Killer #3 and together we can do this.  Hope to see you all here Next month.

Just Putting It Out There – People Are Assets

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Witzshared

When the opportunity presented itself for us to visit a foreign land,  we immediately said yes!  Taking a trip overseas is so cool since first, it gives you the chance to bore and torture family members and friends with daily posts and pictures on facebook of your travels accompanied with cute anecdotes on interactions with the locals!  Second and also the best reason, it’s a fantastic opportunity to meet new people in a different setting, who have a different culture and use a different language.  When our trip to Spain finally came to an end, what struck me the most was that there is really no difference between us.  Except for language, they are people just like us, with the same hopes, dreams, and desires.  They are cab drivers hustling for fares, wait staff hovering and taking orders, teachers leading classes, bankers and students all using buses, cars and mopeds to and from work.  As an Italian tour guide one told me several years ago on my expectations in Rome, which also applies in Spain and France, “It’s not better, it’s not worse, it’s just different.”

 

Tapas 24, Barcelona, Spain

Tapas 24, Barcelona, Spain

After several days of eating my way through Spanish tapas joints and watching the teams of chefs operate, the epiphany hit and no it wasn’t the baby eel.  The key to achieving success is the same here as the U.S. and in the world –teamwork.  I noticed the differences between a truly GREAT Tapas bar and a so-so tapas bar had a lot to do with the level of teamwork, execution and communication within the group.  It wasn’t just the great quality and amazing flavors of the food that made the experience, it was the entire process, full of energy and precision that was awesome to watch, especially for a productivity geek like me!  The skill of people flowing along effortlessly: menus, translations, taking orders, food preparation, food distributed, drinks, constant clearing and replacement of dirty plates and new utensils distributed, final check in, clean up and then reset the area for the next customers and all along the constant communication between all the associates as they executed each task flawlessly.  Again, and again, over and over, repeating the process happily, energetically and always engaging without skipping a beat.  Those were also the places that had long lines of people eagerly waiting their seat like at Tapas 24.  Those places with short waits didn’t have the same energy and coordination.  It shows you the importance of that very precious commodity you have, your staff.

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In this day and age of computerization, digital scanning, smart phones, robotics and other electronic assistants we have developed a false sense that these systems are actually keeping us in touch with the pulse of the company in real time.  In actuality, it’s the people performing the tasks, your companies biggest asset who are the pulse of the company.  They execute the process, take the orders, produce the product and complete the servicing.  So peel off that layer of tronics and ditch your electronic umbilical cord and make the time to walk the floor. Visit the workers and engage in face to face verbal exchange with these people.  Visit when they’re on the production line, visit when they’re receiving on the dock, visit when they’re cleaning and then listen, listen, listen to their ideas, their perceived roadblocks and suggestions for improvement.  They are the team and when you give them the proper tools, proper training, realistic expectations and also ensure they are protected with proper PPE and safety policies you can create a business people would be willing to wait on a long line to experience.

 

Companies Behaving Badly – April Taxing Day

Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”  He was so right and that’s why he’s one of my favorite forefathers, well that and he was an awesome party animal.  So today (April 15) is the day  those of us living and working in the U.S.A. must file or extend filing because somewhere along the line some bureaucrat decided it was time for all of us to help pay for the upkeep of the country, (apparently not everyone was picking up after themselves).  In fact the first income tax started in 1862 to support the Union in the Civil War but was ended 10 years later in 1872.  Imagine those parties.  Then the concept was brought back in 1894 but was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court the next year. Imagine those parties!  However as we’re all aware The Federal Income Tax is permanent and here to stay after Delaware became the 36 state needed to ratify the 16th amendment on February 3, 1913 and here we are.  The people who enjoy tracking these things, the Tax Foundation tells us that we have to work 111 days just to earn enough to pay our taxes and they have declared April 21st Tax Freedom Day.  I’m paraphrasing here, they may take our lives and our money but they’ll never take our tax freedom day.  Getting back to Mr. Franklin’s quote about nothing can be said to be certain.  One item Ben wasn’t aware of but I can be certain about is at least ten people will die on the job today either due to their own fault or negligence by their employer which is sad that human life has taken a back seat to corporate profits.  With that thought in mind, this unfortunately is another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

Company fined for worker’s death at St. Paul Saints ballpark site – PREVENTABLE Johnny Valek a 61 year old from Plymouth, was looking forward to his retirement after 25+ years of experience working in deconstruction and building demolition and he was also very excited about his daughter’s upcoming wedding, when on this day while working on site, a section of concrete collapsed onto the cab of his backhoe and crushed him to death.  Rachel Contracting, the subcontractor he was working for was hit with three safety violations for not doing preparatory operations, not to remove walls and masonry sections until above floors were removed and continuing inspections to detect hazards which are the alleged violations totaling $51,650.  Johnny had trusted they were doing their job as well as he did his.

Northern Minnesota worker caught in rising door, killed – PREVENTABLE – A 41 year old male resident of Fosston and long time employee of Bagley Hardwood Products was killed when his jacket became entangled on a door roughly 40′ W x 20′ H when it started opening up lifting him and then stopping halfway up.  By time emergency personnel arrived it was too late to save him. This unfortunate accident is an example of why you always need to be aware of your surroundings when on the job, even going to and from breaks you have to pay attention!  Wear appropriate clothing, PPE and don’t leave apron strings, jackets, sleeves dangling when near moveable machinery.

OSHA Alleges 45 Willful Violations by NY Real Estate Developer, Issues $2.3M in Fines – PREVENTABLE – Olivet Management LLC, of Wingdale, N.Y. is a real estate development and management company has demonstrated they have no problem treating workers as disposable like a used tissue.   They allegedly had NO problem exposing it’s own employees as well as the workers of 13 contractors to asbestos and lead hazards during the cleanup of an old facility that they were fully aware existed.  They not only didn’t tell anyone about the hazards but also provided no training, no monitoring of exposure levels, no respiratory protection and didn’t post notices, warning signs or labels about the presence of asbestos and lead because all that would have cut into their precious profits and they probably figured in the 20 -30 years it takes for these workers to began developing health issues no one could tie it to them.  Luckily someone complained to OSHA and for their contempt of human life Olivet Management was hit with 45 willful violations for a total of $2.36 million in fines. That’s a good size fine, but if found at fault their executives should be doing jail time as well.

State slams glass factory with record safety fine – PREVENTABLE – Pilkington North America’s Glass Factory in Shelbyville was hit with a record state fine of $495,500 which could have been avoided if they had listened to state inspectors and cared about their workers.  They first caught the attention of IOSHA when a worker was killed in 2010 and were issued several orders to fix safety issues.  Pilkington demonstrated their commitment to safety when a follow up inspection in 2012 found violations persisted when another worker was injured.  The issues ranged from workers exposure to pinch points or places where they can become trapped or crushed to inadequate warning signs and employee training.  Nothing like a company that cares about it’s workers.

Fabric Facility Cited by OSHA Following Worker Hand Injuries – PREVENTABLE – Precision Custom Coatings LLC is another company that doesn’t understand that their employees are their biggest asset, and are in no rush to correct any safety issues that may harm their workers as they were at fault for alleged repeat and willful violations.  OSHA became involved when two employees were injured with one having his hand crushed and another had a partial amputation of the hand.  The company didn’t have proper guarding of machinery to protect them from rotating parts and portable grinder, lack of forklift training, lack of danger tags and lack of midrail on aerial lift platform are just a few of the gems.  If they were in place, the accidents wouldn’t have happened and OSHA never would have come in, but now they face a $185,400 fine and could never put a price on loss of employee trust.

No culture of safety at NJ Transit, union official says – PREVENTABLE – The leadership of a company is where the type of corporate culture is handed down.  If the leadership has no morals, then the company in general will be underhanded and backstabbing.  If the leadership couldn’t care less about safety, then no one else down the line will and if you do want to take a stand on safety, be warned, it’ll be like trying to swim upstream on Niagara Falls.  The N.J. transit system according to a union official said, it’s a culture where an on-time train is better than a safe train.  However I do have an issue with the following statement, “We just go about our work every day and we’re not told anything — nobody ever talks to us about safety,” Michael J. Reilly, general chairman with the United Transportation Union, said during the monthly NJ Transit board meeting in Newark.  My issue is the union could have begun the discussion of safety among it’s members and safety committees could have been formed as they could have filled the void of offering leadership and begin solving the issue.

Fatal fireworks warehouse explosion causes revealed – PREVENTABLE – The report is in from Quebec’s workplace health and safety board on the possible causes of the explosion at a Coteau-du-Lac fireworks warehouse that killed 2 workers last year.  Use of electric equipment not suitable for that environment, use of ferrous iron tools, presence of pieces of previously primed fireworks, discharge of static electricity, friction on a pyrotechnic device’s fuse.  They also found workers used wooden cases of fireworks as stepping stools and that could have caused an explosion as well.  The cause may never be found, but it stands to reason the poor safety culture helped.

Gas Workers Risk Silica Exposure – ARTICLE – As we rush to find alternative sources of cheap energy within our own boarders are we looking at the whole picture?  Let’s hope politics and thirst for profits won’t prevent people from harm.  Read the article.

W.Va. Governor Signs Storage Tank Safety Bill – REALLY? – It’s nice that Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed legislation imposing new safeguards on above-ground storage tanks and water systems, but doesn’t matter if you don’t bother enforcing the laws.  There were laws on the books to prevent some of the issues that occurred last year so I guess the best way to deal with a disaster is make new laws.  You can make all the laws you want but if they’re not enforced the laws are worthless.  And the chemical industry wants to self regulate themselves…yea right.

Canada safety board urges faster phase-out of old rail tankers – PROACTIVE – The Transportation Safety Board of Canada renewed its call for the speedy phase-out of older oil-by-rail cars in light of last summer’s inferno that killed 47 people.  Why wait for another tragedy?

Temporary Workers, Risky Situations – ARTICLE – OSHA is really working hard to keep temporary workers from being temporary on this planet as accidents of these workers are getting out of hand.  Great article you should read especially if you hire seasonal temporary workers.

Removable Retaining Walls for Conveying – PRODUCT – No tools needed and easy to get inside.  Check it out.

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That my friends brings this episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close.  Thank you for stopping by and spending time reading these stories.  Please don’t hesitate to share these articles at your next tailgate/toolbox meeting.  Safety at a company doesn’t always have to start at the top and trickle down.  It should also begin at the bottom and grow it’s way up like a vine.  A safety culture is more than talk or cute commercials telling the world you’ve found safety and will continue to do it. As your have read even an expert can be injured or killed on the job but usually due to a breakdown in the chain of trust between people.  Make sure you’re all on the same page of safety, get it done and go home and enjoy your family.  If your company doesn’t have a safety committee, start one!  Be an advocate for safety for the life you safe may be your own.  Take care and be safe.

There will be NO May 1st edition of Companies Behaving Badly but will be back May 15th.

Companies Behaving Badly – March Green Madness

Four leaf clovers, rainbows, pots of gold and Leprechauns, that’s what St. Patricks Day consisted of for a young boy back in NYC a half century ago.  Good thing there were 8 shades of green in the 64 crayon box.  St. Patricks Day took on a whole new meaning when I drove a cab while attending college.  It was full on entertainment!  One thing you learn fast is that a tipsy passenger can be either a curse or a blessing and luckily they were most often a blessing which meant they were usually happy, very happy.  One St. Patricks evening I was waiting for fares outside P.J. Clarke’s on 3rd Avenue when a very happy fellow indeed p0ured himself into the cab.  He sat totally motionless for a second and then suddenly announced, “DRIVER!  Take me to P.J. Clarke’s.”  I turned to him and said, We’re here.  He smiled, thanked me, handed me a five and went right back into the bar.  Even more fun was shuttling St Patricks Day celebrants from bar to bar.  Anywhere from 4-5 very happy people would pile into the back of my Checker who then generated an amazing amount of noise as they were driven the short distance to their next destination.  However it was worth all my troubles as waiting for me there in the back seat, sat my pot of gold, all the loose change and money that fell out of their pockets unnoticed by them.  One thing not falling fast enough is the amount of Companies Behaving Badly.  Trips and falls are a serious safety concern as they’re always in the top 5 and yet one of the easiest to prevent, as long as it doesn’t hurt the company profits.  With that said, unfortunately this is yet another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

luckycharm

Death fall company admits failings – PREVENTABLE Unfortunate to see that being stupid about safety extends over “the pond” as well as Halsall Toys in Fleetwood,UK allowed Craig Gray a 39 year old father of 5 clean their roof without wearing a harness or using any safety equipment.  The company has admitted breaking the health and safety law as Mr. Gray fell more than 20 feet onto a concrete floor and died the next day.  Earlier his 17 year old son who had been brought in to help on the project was called names by personnel for asking about the use of safety equipment.  It is so sad that if the few minutes were taken to use the proper safety equipment Mr. Gray would be home enjoying his family.  Do NOT allow anyone to bully you into performing an unsafe act, not a fellow worker, your supervisor or the company CEO.  Your bravery is not the question, but their stupidity is.

OSHA fines Neb. construction firm $14,000 for safety violations related to worker’s death – PREVENTABLE – Werner Construction of Hastings, Nebraska was fined for 3 violations found during the investigation of the death of a 35 year old worker who was struck by a front end loader.  They had failed to maintain safety features of the front end loader, failed to train someone on first aid (both serious violations) and failed to assess hazards related to PPE.  No matter the environment when you are working around moving equipment make sure the driver knows where you are at all times and you watch for him.  Don’t assume the driver is keeping track of your position as you can be seriously injured or worse in the blink of an eye.

Warehouse worker killed by falling tubes – PREVENTABLE – Ronald Meese a 58 year old production supervisor who worked at Roberts-Gordon Europe Ltd for 34 years and an experienced forklift driver was crushed to death when the stacks of metal tubes he was putting away collapsed and fell on him.  In all the years he worked there Mr. Meese was never given any specific training on how to stack the tube bundles.  There was also no risk assessment or hazard analysis ever completed on the task either.  Sometimes another pair of eyes is all you need to help avoid your next disaster whether it’s a paid advisor like me or your insurance company, take advantage of their talents to look and see if you missed any hazards.  This error in judgement cost them over $249,000 (150,000 pounds) and Mr. Meese’s life, a lesson learned here.

OSHA fines Cleveland business for multiple serious hazards – PREVENTABLE – New Wave Plastics of Cleveland, Ohio didn’t think it was worth the time and trouble to train workers on wearing PPE, hazards associated with chemicals, forklift safety, fire extinguishers nor provide fire retardant clothing.  Apparently an employee didn’t agree and filed a complaint with OSHA sparking the inspection which found 13 violations including no hearing conservation program and the presence of combustible dust which totalled in fines of $51,800.  Your employees are your most valuable resource, why wouldn’t you protect them from hazards and give the necessary training.  It doesn’t take long to do and then there is no life time of sorrys.

Company Cited for Repeat Fall Hazards – PREVENTABLE Coastal Building Systems of Amelia Inc. has no problem exposing their workers to falls as they were hit with repeat violations for a total of $55,000 in proposed fines.  Coastal Building tempted fate by allowing employees work on roofs without fall protection in place and as you know all it takes one little slip or trip and BAM, you’re dead.  That’s why they are called accidents folks and not planned.  Minimize that “oops” moment from being a lifetime of disability or guilt by using proper fall protection.
OSHA fines Schwan’s for alleged violations in Atlanta – PREVENTABLE – Schwan’s Global Supply Chain Inc was hit with a $264,360 fine for 32 alleged serious violations at their facility in Atlanta.  Cimco Refrigeration Inc. and Adecco USA, Inc. provided maintenance and staffing services for Schwan’s, were cited as well for 18 alleged violations.  Sort of the blind leading the blind. Employees were not properly trained to safely handle ammonia, a hazardous and corrosive chemical needed in refrigeration that can kill in seconds if released.  In addition to this issue, workers were also exposed to unguarded machinery and damaging noise levels.  Whenever you are told to handle any kind of chemical, find out what PPE is needed and the effects of exposure.  If your company doesn’t have that information available, leave and call OSHA cause you are as good as dead staying there.
Albertsons cleans warehouse after KATU uncovers mold growing inside – PREVENTABLE – Albertsons seems to have their own science experiment growing in their Portland distribution center that supplies 104 stores.  For months a hairy, white patches of mold have been growing on the racks where refrigerated packaged meat and dairy products are stored.  It appears the company had no plans to clean up the place until an employee(s) called a local television station. What a great example to set for the employees you want to keep the warehouse clean.  Pick up that trash but don’t touch my mold.  If you’re operating in a food storage environment you need to have a sanitation schedule in place to avoid these issues.
Wear Your Green Safety Pin

Wear Your Green Safety Pin

Well my friends, that brings this issue of Companies Behaving Badly to a close.  Feel free to share these stories at your next safety tailgate/toolbox meeting.  Learn from the mistakes of others so you don’t have to go through these experiences yourself.  If you see a safety hazard notify your supervisor immediately, don’t assume someone else with take care of it and never let anyone ever bully you into performing an unsafe act.  Remember the life you save may be your own.





Just Putting It Out There – The Gap

             Witzshared

Witzshared

Of late there has been a lot of talk and articles written about the pending talent “gap” allegedly out there in the manufacturing sector of the United States.  The ironic part here is that all the offshoring that went on for years helped create that gap with massive layoffs of skilled workers and closures that became common to the landscape of our great nation.  Now with the new re-shoring efforts and initiatives that have become vogue, companies say they can’t find the talent to fill those positions currently and for the future.

I’m not a politician and I don’t even play one on television but it occurred to me that with this pending gap in combination with the unemployment rate as it is why can’t we give tax breaks to companies that hire someone who’s been unemployed for more than 6 months?  Another point, there are also quite a few of those unemployed who are over 50 and have dropped off the charts all together as well as run out of benefits.  As aged and over the hill as they may be they still have a wealth of talent and knowledge to offer and would make excellent mentors to help bridge that “gap” as they help train the new generation, working together to improve the industry and retention of workers including the very important untapped female segment.  Let’s get people back to work building a great future for everyone.

What do you think?

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Aunt Ida’s Recipes For Disaster – PICKLED FORKLIFT

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Our Chef de Catastrophe, Aunt Ida has really stepped outside the box in creating this new holiday classic for all to enjoy.

TODAY’S FEATURED RECIPE –  PICKLED FORKLIFT –  This treat is not only easy to make but can be made year round and is especially a great accompaniment for any disaster whether used as a side dish or condiment.  The best part of this recipe is the pickling process does not take much time.

Prep time: A minute      Cook time: Blink of an eye     Yield: Severe head trauma, crushed limbs, and death.

Ingredients:  Any forklift can be used in this recipe;  sit down, stand up, picker, electric, propane, or diesel.   

Directions:  After selecting the desired forklift type, you must use it any other way than what it was originally intended to be used for.  Don’t even bother with a safety pre-check and here are some recommended uses.      

    LADDER

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ELEVATOR

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COUCH

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TAXI

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STUNT VEHICLE

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JOUSTING

Paul Blomfield PR Flicker

Paul Blomfield PR Flicker

STEP STOOL

Toyota lift of Minnesota

Toyota lift of Minnesota

SURFBOARD

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EXERCISE EQUIPMENT

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HORSE PLAY

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In reality, forklifts are an integral part of the warehouse and manufacturing plants and like any other piece of equipment if not properly trained to operate or not used properly it can KILL you or someone else.  It’s the workhorse that doesn’t need to be groomed at the end of a ride, but you do need to treat it with great respect and it’ll be sure to take care of you.

Please feel free to read the other articles in this blog or contact us witzshared.com for your workplace safety questions.

Recipes For Disaster!

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

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

warehouseflow consulting

warehouseflow consulting

Betraying Public Trust For A Few Dollars More: Walmart

When the smoke cleared in Dhaka, Bangladesh on November 24, 2012, the world got it’s first glimpse for themselves of the poor working conditions the 117 workers who perished in the fire had to endure so that Walmart and a few other retailers could sell the American public cheaply priced garments.  The appropriate outrage was heard and the usual promises followed of changes and new practices to be implemented while others sent in teams of inspectors to check it all and stop at nothing to fix it.  The outrage lasted for a little while, soon faded and when the cameras disappeared the heads turned away and blind eyes returned.  The only real thing to continue burning out of this tragedy was reigniting the “made in america” movement which is put forth as one of many answers to avoid taking advantage of third world people.  Walmart still has refused to sign any agreement on improved working conditions overseas and skipped all scheduled meetings on the issue.  I guess their thinking is if you ignore it, it’ll go away which as you will see later in the article is their company standard.  Walmart did do the honorable thing and blamed the contractor, shook their heads, tisk, tisk, took no responsibility and moved on. 

Walmart constantly reminds us how honorable a company they are in their television commercials and printed ads, how they help the community and how important it is to offer working families low prices and quality products to stretch their hard earned dollar.  However, Walmart is also a creature of habit and just as they had turned a blind eye to what was going on in Bangladesh, Walmart has done the same thing right here in the United States of America.  That’s right folks, would it surprise you to know the company with all those deals to entice your impulse buying was repeating history with it’s dirty little dark secret in southern California?

Warehouses subcontracted by Walmart are spread out around the Los Angeles area, just like the subcontracted manufacturers in Bangladesh.  Employing people at sub wages under harsh  working conditions for moving product to their stores, labor laws be damned!  These warehouse owners sign contracts with Walmart for a set fee that is ridiculously low to help Walmart’s bottom line and then in turn the warehouses hire people who are desperate for work looking to feed their families for ridiculously low wages and forced to work under hazardous conditions.  Like in Bangladesh, the warehouses here are located around economically depressed areas and they take advantage of the seemingly endless supply of workers. They are hired through temp agencies like NFI and Warestaff, that the warehouse groups have created together so they can control the labor force and hourly wages.  The new hires are placed in warehouses where they receive little if any training and are denied breaks, basic protective gear and water as well as working with blocked emergency exits, over crowded aisles and poor lighting.  It also soon turned out that similar conditions were found in Walmart contract warehouses in the state of Illinois and brought people to the brink of striking to show the world what was going on in Walmart’s supply chain even though their jobs were in jeopardy as retaliation for their actions.

Soon after the warehouse issues in California and Illinois, Walmart demonstrated even further how honorable a company they are by pleading guilty to criminal charges of mishandling hazardous waste and pesticides in it’s retail stores across the country. Rather then pay someone to properly dispose of hazardous chemicals they dumped them into city trash bins and down city sewer systems in order to cut corners and save money.  To out do them selves even more, Walmart also mishandled pesticides it sent as damaged products to a Missouri recycling center that resulted in them being mixed together and put on sale again in a process that violated federal laws regulating pesticide processing.    Walmart also was guilty of not bothering to do any training of their staff in hazardous material handling while they were busy dumping tons of material without regard to public health as well as the effects of contamination to their employees that may not show up until years from now.  For this they paid a fine of  110 million dollars and Walmart just keep on paying as they go, probably cutting more corners to make up the difference.

Another incident that speaks volumes to the conversation on Walmart’s pattern of ethical behavior happened well before the Dhaka fire. The always honorable company was trying it’s hand at spreading their business modules and morals throughout Mexico when sometime in 2005 they came across the idea of bribing Mexican bureaucrats to get preferential treatment for building their new stores.  When upon upper management learned of this transgression they did the honorable thing and totally denied it happened going so far as to destroying any evidence and with NO discipline or counseling for those who plotted and carried it out.  When the standards for decency are set so low at the top you have to wonder how low they can get when they trickle to the bottom.

I’ve been taught you can tell a lot about a person by how they treat others who can do them absolutely no good.  Walmart’s actions or non-actions has consistently demonstrated their feelings about how they believe you should treat human beings.  The company mission and mantra is profits! Profits over morals and profits over human life.  The attitude of benign neglect and looking the other way while putting on a happy face makes me think of that scene in the Wizard of Oz, “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” and that’s what Walmart hopes their millions of dollars in advertising will get you to do. Forget and buy.

We can be such a compassionate race.  When dolphins were being killed by the millions to fill our need for tuna fish sandwiches public sentiment and outrage plus buying habits altered the way the tuna industry fishes.  When the recent movement of farm to table and a transparent food supply chain came about, it wan’t just to see how our food is grown, what’s used to grow it and how can we get it to the people without the middleman but also how the animals are treated, fed and put down.  Again, it has changed the over all treatment of livestock.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could do the same thing with how large chain stores and manufacturers maintain those cheap prices by creating a transparent supply chain?  It shouldn’t be enough just to say, “made in America” but how is it made, how are they treated and what are their working conditions.  Maybe it’s time to change our buying habits and change the market by spending your dollars at a small local business.  You may spend a little more but you know their ethics are better and in a lot of cases, products can be found that are made by other locals and I’d rather help them and bring money into my community than help some nameless CEO get to his bonus on the misery of others.  The reality is, so you can shop at those rock bottom prices, people suffer even in America.

As a leader, there may be times you have to swim against the tide since you may not agree with the morals of your leaders whether it be safety or treatment.  Make no mistake about it, this takes courage on your part.  Be a leader, rage against the machine and begin a culture change and you can be proud of that person looking back at you in the mirror.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Companies Behaving Badly-August

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.