A Surefire way to improve your chances of survival – Emergency Kit

 

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It’s a wake up call.  One humungous wet, windy wake up call.  When hurricane Harvey blasted into southwest Texas leaving extensive damage and flooding, the scale of which is all most beyond comprehension.  Then hurricane Irma took the spotlight unleashing her fury on the Caribbean and Florida.  This is very sad and horrible on so many levels of loss and human suffering and now people who decided to ride out the storm in the keys are stranded, cut off from the world without food, water or power.  I’m sure when most of you heard that, you said to yourself, “Really need to put that survival kit together.”  A fabulous thought that will unfortunately fade along with the coverage of the epic catastrophes until it becomes “Texas, Florida a year later” and then again you’ll say, “Really need to put that survival kit together.” and then one day, the dam breaks, the fires burn rampant, the earth shakes, rattles and rolls.  No kit!!  Now, did you have a plan B?

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Did you notice how fast conditions on the ground changed, from dry to chest high water and did you also notice how with a slight change in direction, Irma hit areas that thought there were originally safe?  That’s how natural disasters work.  No warning, no how do you do, no pleased to meet you, just HERE!  If you think I’m going to use these disasters to motivate you to prepare and give yourself and advantage to survive something like this, well, you would be correct!  You never know when an earthquake is going to hit, you don’t know how bad it’ll flood, you don’t know where the twister will touch down,you just don’t know.  That’s why we buy insurance, hoping to never need it, but very happy that it’s there and by preparing an emergency chest/barrel/kit will give you insurance to be able to survive the first week of an event, but hope you’ll never need it.

A lot of cities, of all sizes struggle daily with their budgets and the cost of firefighters, police, infrastructure repair & maintenance, parks and recreation, public transit, administrative staffing, courts, pensions and lawsuits.  The level of city services are not what they once were and that includes the number of police and fire on duty at any given time and in the event of a natural disaster they would be immediately tied up responding to the hundreds of calls they would receive in the first few hours, (In Houston area alone they had over 75,000 emergency calls in the first four days).  They will triage the calls and handle the most serious including bleeding and severe trauma first, those with minor injuries will have to wait or treat themselves.  Depending on the conditions of the roads in and out of town, additional off duty first responders could be greatly delayed if at all able to report to work in the city or town they serve. 

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That’s why a survival kit comes in handy especially if you are able to stay in your home after the event.  After checking on those in the household the first thing you’ll do is a walk around your property and check to make sure it is still structurally safe to stay in and there is no smell of gas.  Now you can stay put and you have supplies to wait the few days until power and water come back online and life come back to normal.  Putting your survival kit together can be a fun family project and learning experience.  It’s also a great opportunity for a team building exercise for a company or safety committee.

My Survival Chest – This is what I used and put together for our home of two adults and one dog.  I was able to purchase just about everything on Amazon.com.  Use you imagination when it comes to the container and what you want to stash for an emergency. 

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A Rubbermaid 50 gallon capacity container, water proof and made of sturdy plastic, it’s durable and on wheels in case you have to move. Yellow so it can easily been seen.

 

 

 

Now, what and how much to put in your survival chest.  Base the amounts to store on a worse case scenario for your location.  How isolated are you?  Are you in city limits?  Are there bridges?  How many people and pets are you planning for?  You should also plan on 72 – 96 hours before all utilities and services are restored so a 3 – 5 day supply of food and water should be adequate.  

 

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WATER – Plan on 2 gallons per person per day. One gallon for drinking and one gallon for hygiene, sanitation and other.  Multiply 2 gallons with the number of people in the home and don’t forget to include water for your pets.  I have a mixture of bottled water and packaged sterilized water.  I would also add one or two of the straw water filter tools just in case things don’t get back to normal right away and you begin to run low on bottled water.  You can also boil water to sterilize it and if fire isn’t possible, keep a small bottle of bleach in your kit.  It can be used for purifying water for drinking, 8 drops for a gallon of water, shake and wait thirty minutes.  

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FOOD – Any combination of what you enjoy of prepared camping meals, fruits and canned goods (make sure to include a can opener) as well as some of your favorite snacks, power bars and chocolate which will come in handy to help with the stress.  Don’t forget to store emergency food for your pets as well.

 

 

 

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RADIO/CHARGER/BATTERIES – There are several radio choices but the ones that come with a hand crank/battery/solar powered are fabulous.  You can leave it in the sun all day to charge or use the hand crank.  It also can be used to charge your phone if you don’t have a portable charger.  The radio is both AM and FM as well as _________  

 

 

 

 

Flashlights/batteries/Candles and matches/fire starter – With no electricity you’ll have to rely on flashlights, candles and lanterns to illuminate the area.  This is very important for everyones safety especially if there is debris on the ground.  Never leave candles unattended.  Check the battery size requirements of all your items and store extra batteries in your kit.   

First aid kit/non latex gloves – A first aid kit can help you greatly for treating minor injuries.  If you need to treat a neighbor or stranger, the non latex gloves will help protect you.

Sleeping bags/tents – If your home is not safe to stay in but you have a large yard in the front or back you may want to set up tents for protection from the elements.  Even if you can stay in your home, to help get the kids through this, set the tents up and pretend you’re on a family camping trip.  Also keep a tarp in your kit as well to help protect from rain or use to keep you off the ground or help move someone who can’t get around on their own.

Blankets/warm clothes – Natural disasters don’t care what time of year it is so be prepared and keep some extra sweatshirts, jackets in the kit along with blankets to those chilly nights.

Make sure to keep an inventory of what’s in your emergency kit along with the expiration dates of those items so you can replace them when needed.  Also designate a meet area so you know everyone who was in the house or apartment is out.  In the event of an emergency, phone traffic will be crazy as people call 911 for assistance, family members calling to say they’re fine and family members calling to find out if loved ones are fine not to mention the possibility of downed cell towers.  I suggest you designate a family member who lives in another state as the contact person you can call to say you are fine and then let them contact everyone else about your status.  

You can get more information about how to prepare for a natural disaster or other emergencies by going to the FEMA web site at fema.gov and get stuff like a Earthquake Safety Checklist and other great information.  Check it out but don’t wait too long as it’ll be hard to research and prepare when you’re in the middle of a disaster.  Really, do it now!

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Companies Behaving Badly-Ritual Killing

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Welcome back.  Hope your labor day weekend was peaceful and relaxing.

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It seems to me that when people learn about ancient civilizations and their culture, when the subject of their rituals like human sacrifices comes up our reaction is to be appalled, disgusted, horrified.  “How cruel and barbaric!”  “That would never happen in a civilized world.”  Yet here we are in the year 2017 in a civilized world and every day, like a ritual, a worker is sacrificed while on the job in the name of corporate profits and no one is appalled, disgusted or horrified, for longer then ten minutes.   

 

The same companies that constantly complain how OSHA regulations and environmental regulations, are holding them back from greatness believe that they would do a better job of self regulating their actions then the government.  Yet they pollute and poison the communities that supported them with nice fat tax breaks while making record profits for their pockets by cutting corners on safety and by doing so, sacrificing workers.  There is more public outcry for a dog locked in a hot car, “there ought to be a law” then a worker who is burned a live on the job because his company didn’t want to waste time completely emptying the tank of a hazardous substance, oh, and they didn’t even bother telling him that.  Poof!  “He was a father of 3, isn’t that, oh but look at that poor puppy.

Luckily, there are many, many companies out there that care about their workers and make sure they have a safe environment to work in and nurtured with training, drills and respect.  They have painstakingly put together a culture of positive ethics and goals. What we need to watch out for and continue to call out are the companies that have negative cultures and personalities.

Like the company with a serial killer personality for a culture. Weeks after employee died, Blue Springs firm cited for again violating safety rules.  That’s right folks!  After Donald J. Meyer died on the job by being buried a live in a trench that was not properly shored up by his employer, Blue Springs Plumbing, the morons went and did it again, trying to kill more workers, as 5 weeks later workers were found in a trench without proper shoring.  An owner who has no care for the well being of his employees.  For these two acts of stupidity, the pending fine is a whooping $714,142 for 3 Willful and 4 Serious violations.  In my opinion, the owner should be facing manslaughter charges like in Boston.

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For what ever reason, the accidental death rate has climbed in a dying industry, coal mining and people with a conscience want to know why?  Latest coal death brings renewed call for mine safety action.  The latest death, a 51 year old coal miner, Owen Mark Jones was the 6th death in West Virginia alone, this year and 12th nationwide.  Can it be morally bankrupt owners taking advantage of the perceived laxing of regulatory enforcement?  You bet it is and with the appointment of acting Chief of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration filled by a person who as no experience in mine safety.   Just based on hearing that alone tells me things should improve greatly, NOT!  Now more then ever, miners need to watch each others back along with their union.

What does an accident waiting to happen look like?  It looks very much like the Crosby, Arkema plant.  Crosby Arkema plant had 10 violations OSHA considered serious.  However the problems here didn’t begin with Hurricane Harvey, they began over a year ago when OSHA found 10 serious violations and fined them $91,714.  OSHA says all repairs needed were completed but who knows how soon they fell back into bad habits. If you are working under questionable practices you can always make a call to the OSHA Hotline 1-800-321-6742 (OSHA).  You’ll not only be protecting your life and the lives of your fellow coworkers but the lives of the surrounding community.

No matter where you work, all equipment should receive some kind of inspection.   Whether it’s a pre-shift inspection of a forklift or a visual check inspection of the outside of a jet airliner, it is necessary to make sure it is safe to operate.  Failing to maintain lifts endangers employees, risks fines.  In fact the best practice would be to have all equipment scheduled for maintenance through a master schedule that details when and what needs to be replaced and to document and record all repairs made and by whom.  The information is readily available from the manufacturer. All you have to do is make sure it gets done and avoid making silly excuses.

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Apparently in California, two wrongs don’t make a right but it does make an award. Riverside CA Security Guard Injured by Forklift Receives $16.9 M Jury Award.  Even though the security guard was wrong by his actions, the forklift driver’s lack of checking behind him before moving was considered worse and so the monetary award.  Go figure.

If you still believe that the company forces you to wear PPE just so you look dorky, then maybe this story will change your mind. 15 Reasons Why Wearing A Helmet Is Always A Good Idea  PPE is specifically designed and manufactured to protect your body parts so you can do the job safely.  There is no excuse not too.

Well folks, that brings another episode to a close.  Think about becoming a safety advocate at work.  It’s easy to do by joining and becoming an active member of the safety committee, participating in safety meetings and mentoring younger workers.  Working together we can keep each other safe.  Never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.  Until next time.

 

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A Complete Guide To Warehouse Safety-Volume 3-House Keeping

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Dorothy and Scarecrow were enjoying the beautiful day as they walked along a very pristine Green Brick road of safety.  She was very impressed by how clean it was and remarked, the bricks look like they were just polished.  I wonder how do they do it?  It helped make for a pleasant walk even in the company of Scarecrow who constantly chattered on and on, answering his own questions with excruciating detail.  Dorothy was enjoying the weather, the landscape and had temporarily forgotten all about her troubles as they hit the bend in the road she spun around like the Belle at the ball when they noticed a gradual change in the up keep of the area.  Debris became more noticeable as piles of wood and metal scrap, paper, plastic wrap and other types garbage grew larger and filled up the path making it more difficult to walk and Scarecrow kept tripping on the discarded items.  Dorothy even had a few slips and slides while trying to keep Scarecrow upright.  It was a mess!  Streamers of toilet paper blew in the wind as it clung to the trees, heaps of rusted metals, machine parts, liquids, plastic, tools dotted the landscape like little land mines.  What’s the deal, this is ridiculous said Dorothy, it looks like our shop floor after a big project.

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Their pace slowed to a crawl yet Scarecrow still somehow managed to trip over a large discarded water heater or so he thought, until the object yelled, “OW!”  Scarecrow stopped in his tracks and asked, “was that you Dorothy.?”  Dorothy was just as freaked and shook her head, no it wasn’t.  In a soft faint tone they heard, “Etwasmi”   “What?” “Et was mi”  They looked and found lying on the ground a long forgotten tin man buried in the trash that had rusted over during the years it was there.  They stood him up.  “Earlcan”, he said as he eyes rolled and darted downward.  Faced with the blank stares from Dorothy and Scarecrow he repeated, “Earlcan”.  Dorothy realized it and picked up the oil can and oiled around his mouth.  The tin man slowly moved his jaw a few times and finally was able to say, “Ahhhhh, thank you.  I thought no one would ever find me. Can you oil the rest of me please.”  They brought him back to being mobile and was ready for the barrage of questions Dorothy and Scarecrow had.  “Well you see, I was cleaning the area as I was told to do until one of the other workers asked, why are we working so hard cleaning up?  They’re only going to make it dirty again and there are no bosses around to watch what we’re doing, let’s get outta here.  So they did but I did not have the heart to stop and do nothing so I kept working but then the rain came and with no one around to oil me.  I rusted in place and have been here waiting for help so long a family of field mice moved in for a few years until the ferrel cats took over.”  

That’s terrible, Dorothy said.  Scarecrow asked, “So you did the housekeeping here?”  “Yes I did when I could.  The Personwhomustbeobeyed of this section of the Green Brick Road of Safety kept pulling me off housekeeping duties and reassigning me to other non-productive tasks.  So it began to pile up, but the Personwhomustbeobeyed didn’t seem to mind how it looked so other workers figured what the heck and it got worse to the point you see it now.”  Scarecrow jumped in, “Hey, I’ve got an idea!  Why don’t we take this to the head inspector in the Emerald City!?”  The tin man looked surprised, “The head inspector!  Really!”  “Yes.  He needs to know about the trip, slip and fall hazards here and Dorothy has to see him anyway to report the inspector of the East’s death and I gonna get some PPE.  You don’t mind, do you Dorothy?”  Not at all guys but let’s get moving, I want to get out of this dangerous dump.  Off they went further down the road and closer to Emerald city.

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Since we began our journey down the Green Brick Road of Safety, we have done a Hazard Analysis to identify safety hazards.  Then further down the road we met Scarecrow and his lack of knowledge on PPE  as to what equipment is available to protect employees.  Both important factors to workplace safety, but can we still further protect our employees from injury?  Yes, of course we can and it’s up ahead around the bend where the poor Tin Man was left with a daunting task of Housekeeping.  Granted, it’s not a very glamorous sounding name as it brings up images of maids and hotels who are sweeping, mopping and dusting, but actually that is a small part of Housekeeping.

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Trips, slips and falls – continues to be a leading cause of injury in the workplace and good housekeeping practices contains the usual suspects and greatly reduces the number of accidents.  Keep work areas, walkways, entryways free of clutter and obstructions at all times placing scraps, cardboard, plastic and used strapping in proper bins for bailing or trash bin.   You need to have a policy in place on drinks and containers allowed in the work area and if allowed, only containers with lids should be used.  Make sure mops, pails and wet floor warning signs are easily accessible to staff to deal with small spills and for larger liquid or chemical spills have staff trained how to respond and handle with containment booms and absorbent materials.  Work areas kept clean and organized.  Tools, lubricants, oils, inks other items that are not needed or in use should be put away and stored in the proper cabinet.  Window sills, machine tops and computers are not proper storage areas.  Proper footwear is very important especially if you work in a wet or cold storage environment.  You need the correct footing to keep steady and not flat on your back.  –Inclement weather, (rain, snow) and not paying attention or distraction are issues that should also be addressed to help ensure fewer accidents.

Forklifts and other industrial motorized equipment – Yes, housekeeping can keep your forklifts and other motorized equipment working longer and spending less time in repair.  When trash is left on the floor, especially plastic and paper a forklift can suck up the trash into it’s gears.  Over time the plastic heats up, melts and forms a large plug of plastic causing restricted airflow internally which results in other problems.  

Sanitation Another critical part of housekeeping especially in facilities that manufacture and/or store fresh perishables or frozen food products.  Keeping the work areas clean to prevent contamination from bacteria or other foreign particles is a daily routine on a consistent basis thanks to the use of a master sanitation schedule.  The schedule breaks out exactly what areas to be cleaned and the frequency.  As part of the accountability the person assigned to the cleaning signs off that it’s done.  The cleaning and organizing of the facility also greatly reduces the chance of attracting outside visitors such as insects and vermin.

UpkeepIs also included when it comes to housekeeping.  Any part of the facility that is found to be in need of repair should be done immediately, since putting it off could lead to other problems down the road especially if it’s a hole in the floor where someone could fall into or as a gateway for the previously named insects and vermin.  Flaking paint and rusted metal are also indications that immediate repairs are needed.  Upkeep along with sanitation and other good housekeeping practices keep the facility a safe and clean place to work. 

  

Work station’s setup for maximum efficiency and ergonomics – 

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 This is not an example of that.  Cluttered workbench with spray paint not put away in proper storage cabinet, if not tossed as empty cans, tools and other items strewn about which wastes time trying to locate when needed, unnecessary items also on workbench adding to clutter and all surrounded by  trip hazards and poor lighting.  

 

 

 

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A workstation should be set up to allow the least amount of repetitive movements, (bending, twisting, stooping, squatting and lifting) by the employee to complete their tasks while  operating machinery or working over a workbench.  Everything within reach and easy to retrieve and little time stopping to find what you need.  A great example this is something you probably use everyday, the kitchen triangle.  To achieve maximum efficiency in the kitchen it is set up with a clear defined path so the chef can easily reach the three key areas;  stove, sink and refrigerator.

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5S – This is a term you may or may not have heard in conjunction to housekeeping and productivity.  If this is new to you, please allow me to introduce you to this concept.  It is a discipline created in Japan to eliminate waste (wasted time, wasted moves etc) in specific ways to keep your work area clean, free of debris and organized to work safely and highly productive.  The 5S are:  Seiri – Clearing up.  Seiton – Organizing.  Seiso – Cleaning.  Seiketsu – standardizing.  Shitsuke – self-discipline.  Like many other disciplines there are also variations of 5S around like 6S (Sort, Straighten, Sweep, Standardize, Self-Discipline, & Safety).  5S could be a great tool and a way to introduce if you wanted to create a new workplace culture that develops disciplines even a mother would dream of.  There is plenty of literature out there to read up on, just google it. 

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No matter what housekeeping program you decide to go with or what you call it, 5S, 6S, No S,  I think you can see now why keeping your facility organized and clean is so important.

A tip for you from my vast experience.  When your warehouse looks clean, organized and well kept, you’re offering a fabulous first impression and all visitors, whether internal inspectors or external inspectors, your boss or the bosses boss, usually don’t bother looking deeper for issues.  The only problem you may have is the influx of management and corporate visitors wanting to see your facility. 

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So as you can see cleanliness is close to safety and you can be a large part of the solution. Don’t discard trash onto the floor, use proper receptacles.  Keep your work area organized and free of clutter.  Do not use chemicals or other harsh cleaners unless specifically instructed to do so and then make sure to wear the appropriate PPE.  Thank you for joining us and hope to see you as Dorothy, Scarecrow and the Tin Man continue their journey on the Green Brick Road of Safety.  Don’t miss an episode, sign up to get every new issue of Witzshared.com delivered right to you.

 

Safety is never pointless.  If you feel that way you need to talk to someone.  If necessary call the OSHA hotline 1-800-321-6742 and file an anonymous complaint.  Never keep quiet about safety and always ask questions.

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Companies Behaving Badly-To Life

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Welcome back.

We all talk about how important life is.  Our religious leaders teach us how precious life is, we have 24/7 suicide hotlines to help prevent the premature ending of life, we have doctors who are sworn to do everything they can to keep life going and we respect and honor those first responders who put their lives on the line to keep our lives from expiring.  However in reality, we don’t act like we really care about life at all.

Instead we behave like Lilliputians and the Blefuscu, so desperate to be right, so desperate to win, there is no open honest discussion, there can be no consensus just hatred because you don’t like the way the other one breaks open their eggs and if they can’t crack them open like you do, they’re not worthy of life.  That would be like shooting your husband just because he hung the toilet paper in the opposite direction.  (Yes, I know you’ve thought it, but didn’t carry it out.)  We cut off other vehicles, cause we’re special and important without a thought what the end result could be, death.  We have fistfights in a metal tube cruising at 35,000 feet without thought of what the result could be, death.  We bash in someone’s brains just for cheering on the visiting team without a thought of the end result, death and prison.  We shoot at strangers on the freeway, cause, hey why the hell not and no thought what the result could be.  

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So with all that going on and all the training sessions, certifications, re-certifications, safety meetings, safety tailgates/toolboxes, drills, tests and news stories, we, in the name of expediency and under the guise of “just this time”, continue to find new ways to severely injure or kill ourselves because for that fleeting moment, we believe we’re ingenuous and immortal but for too many this reality fades too fast and in the blink of an eye, they’re dead.  No body cares that you saved 10 minutes by stacking paint containers instead of getting a ladder, you’re dead.  No one cares that you were mocking the boss right before you slipped and fell off the roof, you’re dead.  No one cares how may times you could spin the forklift, you’re dead.  They’re all in shock, stare at your dead corpse.  You no longer exist, in fact you’re now a burden.  The OSHA inspection, the internal inspection, the workers comp insurance company inspection, lawyers, courts, fines and settlements.  Meanwhile your body has be moved, cold stored, autopsied, prepped and buried/cremated.  

You’ll be remembered when the old timers are sitting around with the rookies at break and share their stories of the day you died, where they were, what they saw and over the years the story will expand and change to one of epic proportions and no where near the true story, but then, it won’t matter to you, you’re dead.

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This is a company that only cares about money and how much the owner can line his pockets with as he had the nerve to blame the large OSHA fine for Layoffs Triggered by Large OSHA Fine.  Aluminum Shapes was hit with a $1,922,895 fine for all the safety violations in the plant and this includes several workers receiving chemical burns while working in a tank that still contained corrosive material.  To add insult to injury they told them to return to work after their hospital visit.  Another worker got a broken pelvis and also was told to get back work.  Rather then offering leadership and taking responsibility for his actions, he turned and laid off workers using the large fine as to why.  He created the problem but blames OSHA for the layoffs but he may have done those workers a favor, since now they can’t get injured or killed.  What a man.  There seems to be quite a few immature, unprepared leaders around.  You do not have to put up with this kind of treatment and why would you want to die here?

Another company that believes safety is fake news, Fall hazards net roofing contractor over $1.5 million in OSHA fines.  Great White Construction Inc. was cited for 14 workplace violations, 11 of them Willful.  As I’ve told you before, a willful violation means the company knew the hazard was there and that someone could die from it but did NOTHING about it. This also earned them a spot in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program since their concern for employee safety is nonexistent.  They gave them harnesses to wear, so I guess it would look good, but didn’t tie them off to rope grabs and roof anchors.  In other words, if you fall you will probably die.  Learn what is proper fall protection suppose to look like and be.  Don’t put yourself in harms way for someone who doesn’t care.  Say no.  

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News flash, when people have to work more OT and longer hours, accidents increase. Research: Workplace Injuries Are More Common When Companies Face Earnings Pressure.  I’m guessing you already knew this.  We’ve all seen it at the factory, sales over sells and with short time lines to make it interesting,  Raw goods, packaging, parts, materials all need to be ordered, production goes into full gear.  With the Over time and extra work days, plus what’s going on at home and your world it begins to take it’s toll with fatigue, weary muscles and sore parts. Judgement becomes impaired, something gets missed and a mistake happens and you’re hurt.  It’s tough, I’ve been there.  When one of our plants went offline due to Katrina we had to help make up the difference in lost production and worked 27 straight days.  People were exhausted, we found one guy who fell asleep in his car in the parking lot after his wife called looking for him.  When we woke him he wasn’t sure if he was going home or coming to work.  One employee had a serious car crash when she fell asleep at the wheel.  We also had a sharp increase in cuts and abrasions. The schedules could have been made more employee friendly with a few more breaks thrown in, but then management’s attitude was push them until they break.  The end result was we lost a few good employees who quit or retired after that streak.  Was it worth it, I guess it depends on who you ask. 

Veterans, opportunities in construction and manufacturing are there and make for a very good career.  Check out this free, no cost 10 hour OSHA general safety course.  NO COST Osha 10 Hour General Safety Course 09/30 & 10/01/2017 @ Cal State University Fullerton

My two favorite examples of companies that lack leadership and competence were in the news again.  PGE where safety is important, sometimes, Collapsed Crane Lifted Off Campbell Home Amid PG&E, Cal/OSHA Investigation.  Can’t wait to read the final report on this one and see if lack of training was the root cause.  I’ll be sure to follow up on this one.  

And then BART was at it again showing just how incompetent their leadership really is. Anyone need a Clipper card? BART has thousands after Warriors parade blunder.  BART’s geniuses have a half million dollars tied up in Clipper cards, just sitting in boxes doing nothing but collecting dust and not interest.  They’ve demonstrated their incompetence several times and we agree, they are incompetent so let’s move on and get some new brains in there.  Maybe folks who have mass transit experience.  In fact we need to look at how the whole operation is run and eliminate the current board and bring in people who know what they’re doing, not politicians.

Well that’s it for this month.  Enjoy the last of your summer and now more then ever, treat everyone the same way, with respect.  Just because they come in different packaging doesn’t mean they are better then you, worse then you, they’re just different then you.  Vive la dif·fé·rence!!  Diversity works on so many levels by getting a different POV, different ways to solutions.  However, some people are just assholes.  They will always be that way and they will always be around with their negative energy and view points.  Don’t let assholes sour you on other people, just ignore them.  Never keep quiet about safety for the live you save may be your own.

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A Complete Warehouse Safety Guide-Volume 2 – PPE

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Dorothy was still not sure what had just happened or any clue about the dead inspector but she knew she wanted out of this nightmare and to be back home so finding this head of OSHA sounded like the best way right now. So she set out on the green brick road hoping to make it to the Emerald city.  After walking along the road for what seemed like hours she was beginning to regret not paying more attention at the safety meetings at work.  If only I had listened maybe I wouldn’t be in this predicament, but maybe I’ll wake up soon and this will be over but the pain coming from her feet because the ruby steel toed boots were rubbing convinced her this was, oh my, could this, could this be for real?

She saw a large boulder on the side of the road and decided to take a break from walking and to feel sorry for herself.  I can’t believe this?  Why didn’t I listen?  I could have been in the shelter and done but no, I had to be, Ms. oh that will never happen to me. “Go figure, huh.”  Dorothy jumped right up and turned around, who was that?  The voice echoed back, “it’s me.”  Who? I can’t see you, come out of the bushes.  “I would if I could but I’m done here in a hole.”  Dorothy peeked over the boulder and could see a fairly good sized hole in the ground.  How’d you get in there?  “I’m not really sure. We were suppose to do some confined space work for the Emerald city public works, somewhere I blacked out and woke up, in here all alone.”  “I know I was suppose to wear a harness with a cable attached so they could pull me out quickly if they had too.  But they didn’t have one and they said that was o.k. this time.  Then I was suppose to wear a respirator before I climbed in, just in case there were any hazardous gases or vapors present, but they didn’t have one and they said that was o.k. this time.  I was suppose to wear a bump camp to protect my head just in case rocks and debris feel in, but they didn’t have one and they said that o.k. this time.”  O.k. I get it, Dorothy responded, you didn’t get any PPE to wear.  “PPE?  No, they didn’t have a bump cap.”  O.K!  What”s your name  “They call me Scarecrow because of my blonde hair and I’m kind of scatterbrained.  I know the right thing to do but tend to lose focus and veer off track and forget.”  Dorothy finally worked up the courage to get closer to the hole in the ground to get a view of Scarecrow.

She peered in, my name is Dorothy.  “Hi”, he said as he waved up to her.  “What are you doing way out here.”  I’m on my way to see the head of OSHA in the Emerald city.  I heard he may be able to help get me home.  “Oh, are you far from home?”  Yes, yes I am, very far from home.  Hey, maybe the head guy can get you the PPE you need so you don’t wind up in a hole alone again?  Do you want to go?  “That sounds great Dorothy, but first I think I need to get out of this hole so I can accompany you.”  Great idea.  She looked around and found what looked like an old ladder that was pretty busted up but should help the Scarecrow climb out of the hole.  When he finally emerged, Dorothy noticed that he was a mess.  He had fingers missing, scars all over and his clothes were ripped and disheveled.  He had been in the hole for such a long time he had trouble standing up and would flop but the two of them were determined to continue their journey on the Green Brick Road of Safety to find the head of OSHA so Dorothy could go home and Scarecrow could get some much needed PPE.

In Volume 1-Begin With Basics, Dorothy began her trip down the Green Brick Road with a job safety analysis, which showed us the types of hazard present and where they’re located.  With this information you can determine what kind of PPE is needed to give further protection to employees as they carry out their daily routines.  

PPE stands for Personal Protection Equipment (Designed to protect workers from serious workplace injuries or illnesses resulting from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical or other workplace hazards).

 

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A Knight’s armor can be considered PPE since the job description includes protecting his King and the realm from enemies which usually included a battle and hand to hand fighting.  His PPE had to help protect him from swords, lances and arrows the best it could so he could continue doing his job and save the kingdom.  However you must make sure the PPE is a appropriate for the conditions where the work is to be performed.  One of the problems with armor was the weight and if a knight was knocked off his horse in a river or lake, they usually drowned.  PPE is to protect you and in no way should be the death of you.  The same would also apply to an athlete getting ready for a football game whether American Football or Soccer.  The equipment worn, shin guards, shoulder pads and helmets are a type of PPE as they give protection needed to play the game but as we’ve seen and heard of late, current helmets are giving inadequate protection and need to be greatly improved to protect players brains.

Apply this thinking to those hazards you located and intersect with the employee.  What added protection will keep them from injury or long term disability.  Usually a safety professional would handle this like the hazard analysis however knowledge is for everyone and all employees, whether management or worker should be aware of why or what PPE may be needed.  You can begin with the five senses, protecting sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste.

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EYES/SAFETY GLASSES – Sight is a critical sense that needs to be protected at all times in a manufacturing environment especially if employees work in areas where machinery can create flying debris, hot sparks, saw dust and metal shavings.  Safety glasses with side shields or goggles are a good choice.  When corrosive liquids or other chemicals are involved you want to avoid splashes to the face, a face shield would help greatly.  Of late safety eye ware has become a lot more stylish, with colors and shapes.  Remember you want employees to use these items so encourage them and allow a few different choices as long as they are properly rated for the job.

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EARS/HEARING PROTECTION – Hearing is another crucial sense to protect, especially since hearing loss can be gradual over time and not as immediately noticeable like loss of sight.  If you’re working an 8 hour shift in an environment where the noise level is 85dB or higher and you are not consistently wearing ear plugs or ear muffs, you will suffer irreversible damage to your hearing.  Ear plugs are available as daily disposable types that conform to the shape of your ear canal but before you roll them with your fingers to insert make sure your hands are clean or you could inadvertently give yourself an ear infection.  Permanent ear plugs specifically molded for your ears by a professional are also a great way to go. Some very high noise areas, over 100dB require a combination of ear plugs and muffs and also limit the amount of exposure time in that environment. When you take decibel readings to see what PPE is required, make sure to have all machinery running as well as other necessary equipment to get a true sense of the level of noise.  

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HANDS/GLOVESThere are many types of gloves available for just about any application you can think of, made of non-latex, rubber, plastic, leather and synthetic materials.  Moving and handling cartons or wooden pallets you want gloves that fit well an that give you a very good grip as well as protect from splinters.  If your job includes using sharp blades, cutting instruments or other tools there are gloves made from kevlar that prevent lacerations to your hand.  There are gloves that protect you from acid & chemical burns and other corrosive materials as well as thermal gloves for use in extreme temperatures.  Just make sure the glove you issue is rated for the task at hand, are comfortable and flexible to easy digit manipulation.  Gloves can be expensive so make sure you establish a policy of always exchanging a worn pair for new and how many pairs a month you’ll issue to employees who just can’t seem to hold on to a pair for very long.

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LUNGS/DUST MASKS & RESPIRATORS – Areas of the facility where heavy dust, smoke, gas vapors, paint fumes or other harsh toxins are a result of or part of the production process are completed, employees will need some sort of protection.  Whether you’ll only need to use a simple dust mask, respirator or fully contained system depends on the amount of contaminant particles in the air and their toxicity.  In any case the protection will not be sufficient if the item does not fit flush on your face with no gaps around the mask.  With respirators and other systems make sure to place them on a maintenance schedule to ensure they’ll fully operate when needed, especially if they are stored and used for emergency purposes only.

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HEAD/BUMP-CAP -Sometimes employees have to work in cramped spaces or under low hanging obstacles like pipes to make repairs or adjustments to machinery.  To prevent scalp lacerations, concussions and head penetration injuries a bump cap is a good choice. A good way to get workers to wear them consistently is to allow caps with different sports team logos.  A tip for those working around moving machine parts and belts with long hair, it is highly recommended that staff tie up and cover to protect it to prevent hair being caught and you pulled into the machinery.  

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FEET/LEG PROTECTION – You’re probably on you feet during most of the shift so you want shoes that not only protect your feet but offer support and are comfortable. Again as with other PPE the type of footwear you use depends on the environment you’re working in.  On the loading dock where there is forklift traffic, pallets, tailgates, dock levelers, dock workers wear steel tipped shoes to prevent crushed toes and broken bones.  If you work in a cold warehouse you want shoes that keep your feet warm and help prevent slips and falls.  If you work with chemicals, corrosive liquids and acids you want long boots that protect your feet if those items happen to spill.

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ADVERSE CONDITIONS & OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS – Imagine putting yourself inside a washer machine that’s in the middle of a hot warehouse and then having to make repairs to the washer while inside.  That’s what working inside a confined space can feel like. You’re totally enclosed except for a tiny portal. There is not much air movement, it’s hot and dark and there may be lingering toxic gases trapped inside.  Part of PPE are the apparatus, in this case a vest and tether attached to a winch,   that can get you out of that confined space if an emergency was to present itself.   The same goes for fall protection with a vest and safety line that is anchored to a solid fixture so you don’t plummet to the ground.  

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Whether you stand near by and get a blast of heat and fumes as molten metals are poured into molds or picking customer orders for hours at sub zero temperatures inside a giant freezer.  In every case, make sure you do the job using only the proper PPE. It can be a matter of life or death.  Remember, PPE will not work if proper training isn’t given as an accompaniment and you should always be shown how to use and how to wear it properly and understand its limitations and how to maintain it. Training is the key for any successful safe workplace and there is never an excuse for not holding at least a monthly safety meeting as well as encourage the participation of staff on safety committees. Thank you for joining Dorothy on this journey down the Green Brick Road of Safety.  There is still some distance to go. 

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Companies Behaving Badly-Delusion

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Welcome back for another episode of Companies Behaving Badly and the dog days of summer.

I must tell you all, I’m confused and maybe getting delusional.  It began with my very first job at 14 years old, working for my uncle who had a store in a Bronx neighborhood that sold curtains, drapes, linen, bedding, bathroom items and so on.  Until I started working for him, I had only dealt with my uncle at family gatherings, weddings, bar mitzvahs, funerals and holidays and he was a really cool and kind gentleman who never raised his voice.  However, the man I saw at work was not my uncle as he transformed into a loud, barking first Sargent and I’d cringe when he’d yell at a employee for making a mistake.  He freely used words that I had only recently learned in the school yard, they weren’t like your usual motivational words of today, but they were back then.  Nobody cared about your feelings, men didn’t cry, it was about just getting the job done right, the first time and if you couldn’t take it, then git!  Training was not part of the plan then either, you watched someone else do it, until you were deemed ready and God help you if you weren’t ready to fly, the feedback was brutal.  Are you stupid?  How many times do we have to do this?  They said you were smart?  My Grandmother got this in five minutes, I don’t know why they hired you?  I thought (insert ethnicity of choice) were smarter, stronger or faster then that?  I was lucky, my uncle took the time to personally train me how to gift wrap packages, I was family.  This is one talent that has always come in handy and still use to this day.  Bosses lead by giving you a swift kick in the ass, like that was suppose to help get your brain in gear and bawling someone out in front of their peers and calling them all kinds of names with threats of termination for their stupidity was employee feedback of the nth degree.  It was odd since socially, people were very polite to one another, said please and thank you, may I and excuse me.

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Years later when I began working at a local supermarket, my training once again was watching others do something until I got it, OSHA still wasn’t established yet and where I heard the immortal words, “you’re not paid to think.”  As it does, times changed and so did management styles as leadership became more of a coach then a two fisted task master.   The bosses I have had that were yellers and screamers were successful at their jobs, they met and exceeded goals, kept a safe workplace and spun hay into gold and now I was being told that they were wrong.  I was attending supervisory training classes that were contradicting all that my mentors including my uncle had taught me.  Threats and verbal abuse is not how you treat workers after all, we no want to develop people.  Be respectful of their feelings, communication instead of dictation, listen to their feedback as we want workers who can think on their feet.

It meant I had to change as well.

I have to admit, it was hard to change at first.  I enjoyed yelling at people and telling them what to do but the classes, training and feedback really showed me that this was the way to go with people.  So much so that I became an advocate and embraced this new wave of leadership to the dismay of many other supervisors and managers.  Thanks to open communication with my staff we slowly began to out produce other shifts and not only making goals but exceeding them.  Our incidence of machine down time drastically dropped as did the number of accidents and so did the amount of those who called in sick.  After 6 months people on other shifts started bidding to to join our team.  My crew consisted of whites, blacks, latinos, indians-(sikh, hindi and buddhist) and by working together, for a common cause, getting the product packaged, we did one hell of a job and that’s because they wanted to be a very big part of the process and they were, because they were treated with respect.

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Now after all these years of developing people through coaching, mentoring and leadership to improve retention, production, safety and work environment, I hear leaders going back to bully and threaten, using unflattering name calling an openly lying as well as refusing to take responsibility for their actions or pointing the finger at others just to be able to put a few dollars more their pockets!  That’s why I’m delusional right now.  No matter what one boss does, on another shift, another business or in a dumpy white house, always treat those you work with, with the greatest respect all the time and I guarantee when that other boss can’t deliver the goods because of his actions to staff, the company will jump in and they’ll eventually be fired.

When ever I think of poor leadership I always immediately think of the United States Postal Service.  USPS closes Pulaski post office citing safety reasons  What is so sad is that no one in management/leadership there had the brains to do something so a worker had to file a complaint with OSHA.  The heat in the place along with the humidity was stifling.  Now you see why I think that.  If leadership had looked at the problem and worked with employees they could have planned the shutdown better as well so as not to inconvenience the customer but that is also something they are not capable of.  At least at the New York Public Library main building, at the time I worked there, when the heat index hit a certain number, wish I could remember what it was, you were allowed to go home or keep working at time and a half.  I was very young so I would work for the extra money.  Too bad the postal union, which has been very quiet, to the point that I don’t think they exist any longer couldn’t get their workers extra money for working in those conditions.  Remember people, your employees make you look good so take care of them.

Here’s a company that has no respect at all for it’s employees. South Jersey Manufacturing Business Cited Again For Safety Violations: OSHA  Aluminum Shapes LLC. is so concerned about employee safety that after workers entered a tank to drain sludge containing dehydrated sodium hydroxide, aluminum oxide and decomposed metal and experienced chemical burns on their skin, their supervisor sent them back in, which put one worker in the hospital.   Then another employee broke his pelvis after getting caught between unguarded moving parts.  As you’d expect instead of taking responsibility for their actions they blamed OSHA and the news media.  YEA! OSHA and the news media forced their workers into the tank.  What morons.  To top it off, OSHA found a total of 51 violations and a proposed fine of $1,922,895.  Sounds more like it’s managements lack of leadership is the fault.  Never keep quiet about safety.  If you run into a company like this and they are not listening to your concerns on safety, make that anonymous call to the OSHA HOT LINE at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).  Your life is NO less valuable then your bosses.

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Another company that has no respect for workers, OSHA slaps Bay Area Athletic Club with $195,000 fine  This is over an emergency eyewash and shower station.  The original violation goes back to 2015 and it’s costing $300 a day until it’s fixed so the total penalty right now is at $574,110.  The jerk who oversees this company, Mark McPeek won’t spring for the eye wash even though his employees handle hydrochloric acid, sodium hypochlorite and other extreme pH chemicals.  But not surprised since he can’t mange his way out of a paper bag.  His excuse to not having mandatory safety meetings is 1-he doesn’t want to pay people for spending time in meetings and 2-He said it’s too difficult to coordinate the meetings for the different shifts.  What a lazy man, I had no problem coordinating monthly safety meeting for 125 people over 3 shifts.  You have to want to do it an well, when you don’t care what happens to your staff, you don’t want to.  Don’t understand why they haven’t shut this business down.  

This is an issue that needs to be addressed as I suspect there are companies who are taking advantage of workers who don’t speak english well or are easy to threaten to do unsafe work.  Lawmakers call on Acosta to address Latino workplace deaths  Latino workers have a 18% higher death rate on the job then the average worker.  It’s not because they’re more careless or less intelligent, it’s because they are not treated as well as other workers by some employers.  All people matter as do their lives.  They deserve the same fall protection, PPE, safety meetings and training as any other worker.  Si ve a alguien siendo intimidado o amenazado con hacer un trabajo de manera no segura, no se quede callado. Llame a la Línea Directa de OSHA 1-800-321-6742

Training is the most critical element of safety.  People need to know how to do the job, how to respond in an emergency and a drill helps reenforce that training and help deal with when the unexpected happens.  In pictures: Laois fire crews train for farm accidents  and the city of Bowling Green Fire Department has adopted new policies addressing a variety of issues including workplace pranks.  City adopts new operating procedures for fire department  There is no place in any job for horseplay.  It’s usually all fun and games until someone gets hurt, someone gets denied workers comp, someone gets angry at someone else, lost productivity, damaged equipment and so on.  There are other ways to have fun on the job.  This is also cool since it’s great to see them reviewing and updating their policies and procedures which is something you should do annually as well.

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This is troubling, EPA Decided Preventing a West, Texas-Style Accident Wasn’t a Priority. So 11 AGs Are Suing  Yes, that’s right.  If you live near a chemical plant the EPA, charged with protecting the air you breath and the water you drink has decided, well if it blows up, it’s your bad for living there.  Right now the special interest are more concerned with making profits for themselves and supporting friends to become rich and they’re hedging that with your lives.  However, there are people who care and right now 11 Attorney Generals of 11 states are suing the EPA to make it right.  Don’t sit back and wait, encourage these AGs and your politicians to fix this by writing them a nice letter that you’d like to live as long as possible.

Then in Wisconsin, they are so desperate they’re waving all environmental laws just so foxxconn can build a plant.  Wisconsin Governor Calls Special Session On Foxconn Deal and offer 3000 jobs to locals.  The intensions are good but as you know the road to hell is paved with good intensions especially when you jump without really looking.  Jobs are important but so is living.  My main concern, when we rush to fast is that there is the potential to wind up with another love canal. (google it)  Then we can ask over and over, why?  Were the tax breaks and the amount of jobs worth the mounting medical expenses generated from all the cases of cancer and other illnesses related to the poorly managed disposal of dangerous chemicals and materials.  I guess it all comes down to which side of the equation you’re on.  

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It’s HOT.  Seriously, some of you are having some wicked high temperatures.  Don’t be an asshole.  Allow a few more breaks then usual so they can hydrate.  Don’t kid yourself, high temps can kill you-  How berry pickers, construction workers can beat the heat this week  Set-up rehydration stations near where the workers do their thing.  When they’re working in really hot conditions be a nice guy and get some bottles of Gatorade. Increase the flow of air, big ass fans are nice and if your doors and dock doors have screens, keep them open.  

That brings this episode to a close.  Safety is just as much your responsibility as it is your supervisor, manager and employer.  One way to stop accidents to to say NO when asked to perform a dangerous task without the proper support of PPE including fall prevention gear, retrieval gear and other safety equipment or one you have received no training to perform. Never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.

KNOW THE SIGNS OF HEAT EXHAUSTION

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Nursing Education Consulting Inc.

A Complete Guide To Warehouse Safety – Volume I – Begin With Basics

 

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As Dorothy emerged from the modular office she looked around for any signs of life.  A moan, a groan any sound would be nice even the sound of Pete’s voice but where the heck did she land?  “Are you a good inspector or a bad inspector?” the voice from the bushes asked.  Dorothy was happy to hear a voice but also startled as she thought no one to be around.  Who’s that Dorothy yelled?  As she emerged from the brush she again asked, “Are you a good inspector or a bad inspector?”  I’m not an inspector at all, I’m a machinist.  “Are you sure?  You’re not here to find out why that module fell out of the sky and landed on, killing the wicked inspector of the east?”  Dorothy walked over to where she pointed and to her horror saw two legs, wearing work boots sticking out from under the module.  OMG! That’s not my fault, the tornado dropped me here.  “That may be, but when the wicked inspector of the west finds out what happened you’re sure to be in trouble.”  Trouble!  I didn’t…I don’t want trouble…I want to go home.  “Well my dear, you’ll have to go to the Emerald city and see the head of OSHA and report this incident. You only have 24 hours to do so and a long journey ahead so I suggest you don’t delay and begin right now.  First, those ruby steel toed boots will help protect and ensure a safe journey.”  Before she could blink an eye, the work boots that were on the dead inspector of the east were now on Dorothy’s feet.  But how do I get to the Emerald City?  I don’t even know where I am now.  Smiling and shaking her head, “Dorothy, it’s so easy, just follow the green brick road of safety.” 

As Dorothy will tell you the green brick road of safety is not a fairy tale, myth or urban legend. It is a real path that YOU, the staff, management, facility, outside contractors and company should be hiking along together.  To ensure a continuous and consistent safe working environment lets begin with basics.  

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You need to review your overall operation at least once a year, from the receiving dock to manufacturing to the shipping area including the outside area around your facility.  The best time to accomplish this is during your slow period or shutdown which varies for all as for some it’s after the holidays, and others during the summer or year end. The other times you should take a look at your operation is when opportunities like a accident, near miss or when new equipment, machinery or production lines present themselves.  Don’t wait, don’t put this off as it is easier to correct a problem now before it gets to far out of hand.  However, your good intentions, (which I’ve been told paves the road to hell) will mean nothing if you continuously make excuses as to why you put off doing the review. Sorry to keep stressing this but I’ve seen how procrastination can be a stumbling block to getting this done and then someone gets injured or killed.  Oh yea, we meant to fix that and now it’s too late.  OSHA is going over your records with a fine tooth comb and employees are with lawyers giving depositions who are then filling suits.  You want to avoid that.

Yes, I  know what it’s like and what’s involved and how each day can be hectic and challenging in a warehouse or manufacturing facility  but when you keep making excuses to put it off another day, you’re only kidding yourself.  That’s why, first work and develop your time management skills an give yourself a schedule with a plan with blocks of time and days you’ll work on this.  Remember, you’re in control and the one who manages your time.  It was one of the hardest things I learned to do but I was able to accomplish it.  There are books on time management that can help you but I found you have to want to do it and after 21 days it’ll become a habit.

Even though a job safety analysis is usually completed by someone trained and certified in the field of industrial safety and can be a in-house safety manager or an outside consultant, there is no reason as a manager, supervisor or employee you shouldn’t be familiar with the process and understand what a hazard is and why.  As you spend time on the shop floor, about 80% of your time, observing and being available to your staff, there’s a chance you may even spot a safety hazard and correct it long before it can become a problem.  Not all safety hazards are physical in nature like from moving parts or power source.  Lack of training is also a hazard to that employee, other employees and the company.  Review and update training records of your staff to make sure it’s current and compliant. Which employees have been trained on emergency shut off, handling liquid spills, containing hazardous spills, lock out tag out, shelter and place, forklift battery or propane tank change and maintenance and so on.  Make a list of who is lacking training in a specific area and those who may need a refresher.

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Now you can begin your walk around the facility and identify potential hazards.  The analysis starts as we watch and observe each movement and action an employee takes as they complete their assigned daily tasks looking for any source of potential damage, harm or adverse health effects on that person under the conditions at work.  Some are obvious as an open hole in the floor that someone can fall through, missing railing to prevent falls, exposed wires.  In addition are there moving machinery parts or conveyor belts in close proximity to them?  Any piece of equipment, machinery or conveyor system that is operated by or near working employees, needs to be checked for pinch points, inadequate or lack of guards from flywheels, gears, shafts, pulleys, keyways, belts, sprocket chains and any other moving parts as one can easily get a shirt sleeve or limb caught in those moving parts and pulled into the machinery. For the equipment that requires to be fed by hand, oiled, adjusted or requires maintenance, do employees know and understand LOTO procedures, (Lock Out and Tag Out) before performing any of those tasks.  As employees manually load machines with labels, cartons and tape or physically move product to a pallet, are they over reaching to grab an item (strains), are they off-balance or have incorrect posture while they lift (back strains), and exhibiting other poor ergonomics like bending, or twisting the torso for long periods of time? 

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Some hazards may not be as obvious like poor air quality, leaking gases or dust particulates in the air.  What ventilation system or PPE can help that situation?  Forklifts, the workhorse of every facility unfortunately account for a large percentage of accidents and also cause at least 100 deaths a year in this country.  So when we begin our observations in the dock area where the most action occurs as items are delivered, shipped, cross-docked and put away. the main issues here involve forklifts being driven off the loading dock, forklifts striking or pinning employees, and products falling onto employees. These incidents are related to the following hazards; slick or wet floors (rain water, other liquid spills, ice) that is not cleaned up immediately, improper use of forklifts, including excessive speeds, not honking horn coming out of trailers or at blind intersections, trailers pulling out of dock while unloading is still in process, not paying attention while driving, improper stacking or over stacking of product, use of broken wooden pallets, forks left raised in air while moving product and striking overhead fixtures or my pet peeve, horseplay.  Warehouses are just as much in need of professional behavior and the front office.  There is not room for horseplay or other immature activities as people usually wind up hurt.  If there is time for this kind of behavior in your facility, then you then you’re over staffed.  

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Which bring me to, establishing and enforcement of the rules of the road at your facility and again, the rules only work when they  are enforced so the consequences for infractions must be clearly spelled out including those for horseplay and should not only cover your employees but outsiders like truck drivers and vendors as well.

Now as you walk around the remainder of the facility be sure to check in the battery recharging room or refueling station. Do you have an operating eye wash station and/or shower to deal with acid spills on a individual?   There is always the chance of an acid spill from a battery charged immediately after refilling with water (not proper procedure). Does the battery room have a venting system to prevent vapors from accumulating and creating a possible explosion hazard. Is there a spill kit and PPE available such a goggles, face shield and gloves? PPE, (Personal Protection Equipment).  In fact, any task an employee does in the warehouse ask yourself is there any PPE that’ll make the job safer to perform? Besides goggles, gloves, ear plugs, bump cap/hard hat, face shield, dusk mask, what would offer better protection?

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Continue with your critical eye now focused on fire safety. Make sure fire extinguishers or fire hoses are accessible and are NOT blocked and overhead sprinkler heads are not being used to hand signs or are damaged.  Are the extinguishers clearly labeled at there location? If there is a label but no extinguisher either remove the label or get an extinguisher. Have the fire extinguishers and sprinkler system been inspected within the year and in working order and are the hoses properly rolled and encased?  More items to check: emergency exits not blocked with materials, exit signs light up, emergency lighting works, electrical panels not blocked, poor housekeeping habits like wood debris & trash on floor. Are storage areas full of clutter and disorganized and how are you storing those flammable liquids? They should be stored separately in a clearly marked metal cabinet. Are aerosol cans, parts and tools piling up at workstations or the window sills and floor? Are walkways free of clutter? High pressure hoses clearly marked? Is there a particular spot where you can bump your head, cut your hand or trip and fall? You see, depending on your operations, the hazards can be numerous!  Lastly but not least, are there plans for any new equipment or production lines to be installed in the upcoming year?  When installing new machinery get input from your workers, don’t just listen to the vendor?  My experience has taught me this is a big mistake as they usually don’t take your facility and hazards into consideration.  When you install new equipment or upgrade machinery or change operating procedures, make it the habit to automatically do a job safety analysis to make sure your employees can continue to work in a safe environment. Make sure it’s not blocking emergency routes or exits and is additional PPE needed and most important, training on the new equipment and procedures.   Put the procedures in writing and place in a binder and then given to each employee.  Don’t wait until someone is injured, in fact another good source would be your insurance carrier or HR department.

The Green Brick Safety Road is a long one and Dorothy has just begun her journey. Please join us next month for the next segment of this experience.  

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