Companies Behaving Badly-Nice Guy

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Welcome back for another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.  Is Spring being bashful where you live?  Maybe if we treated the environment better, Spring wouldn’t be so self conscience and step out sooner.  

Of the blogs I enjoy reading, the latest edition of the PPM Blog – Practical Practice Management written by Tina Del Buono, When Being The Nice Guy Backfires”  hit a chord for me since it pertains just as well to safety on the job.  As Tina says, “Most managers want to have good relationships with their staff and go the extra mile for them by being the “nice guy”.  But not always does being a “nice guy” pay off, in fact, it can hurt your career.”  This couldn’t be closer to the truth and in a distribution center or manufacturing plant being a nice guy can wind up getting an employee injured or worse and you under the spotlight of investigation and wind up in court, as a defendant, being sued for failing to enforce safety rules.

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Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Seriously.  More cities are taking a tougher stance on safety and actually prosecuting supervisors, managers and owners.  If you think for one minute that your company won’t throw you under the bus if a worker gets injured because you wanted to be a nice guy and said, oh you forgot your safety googles, that’s o.k., get them later or it’s close to break, forget about LOTO so you can go on time, that doesn’t look like bad jam.  Every day you’ll be tested, I forgot my earplugs, I forgot my LOTO locks, I forgot my brain and every day you have to enforce the rules, uniformly and consistently.  The first time you back down to be a “nice guy” and make an excuse to justify your actions, you’ve lost ALL credibility.  Chances are that allowing someone to not wear their safety glasses won’t lead to an injury but when the other employees see this, what do you think they’re going to expect?  You tell the employee sorry they forgot their safety glasses but they can’t go to their workstation without them.  I always kept a few extra pair in my desk and just handed it to them with a reminder that all PPE is necessary, no excuses under my watch.

There was a warehouse manager who poorly scheduled and didn’t properly utilize staff so there was a lot of dead time in the morning and because he wanted to be a “nice guy” he didn’t make them sweep or clean but allowed horseplay to help the employees pass the time.  One of their favorite games was racing forklifts across the warehouse, straight down aisles with assorted obstacles.  One day, during a race the brakes failed on one of the forklifts and the young driver’s reflex was to instinctively put his leg out to help stop the forklift.  The forklift stopped but his right foot was wedged between the lift and a steel beam supporting the roof. 

ER This young man wound up losing half his foot and even after several surgeries and a long stint of rehab he was never going to work in a warehouse again and this plunged him into deep depression and despair even when the state retrained him for another career but he ultimately survived.  The manager was terminated for being a “nice guy” and had to live with the guilt of what happened in the warehouse for the rest of his life.  Soon after the dust settled I was asked to move from customer service to take over the warehouse.  That doesn’t mean nice guys always finish last.  You can be a “nice guy” in so many other ways by treating workers with respect, listening to their concerns and saying thank you for a job well done.  Buy them lunch for no reason at all, approve that day off they requested and please recognize their accomplishments.  

Whether you’re a nice guy or not, unfortunately DANGER lurks in every workplace and knowing and understanding them gives you an edge.  The fishing industry wants to make sure their workers know, Workplace safety campaign addresses commercial fishing risks.  If you are not getting any kind of training on job hazards, first think is this a company that appreciates me and do I want to work here?  Then go online and research the hazards specific for your job or read blogs like this one and learn about them and then discuss them with fellow workers, your shop steward, human resources.  The more people you get involved in safety the better for all of you.  

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Like drilling it down makes it better for all as emergency responders train to hone farm rescue techniques https://buff.ly/2qEI4hW.  It makes perfect sense in a community that has lots of family farms to be prepared to handle any emergency that may occur there.  As in a community that has lots of trains passing through, their local first responders would do better to have drills on derailments.  In your facility the same holds true.  If you work with chemicals then you should receive training on how to handle a spill or other type of release of chemicals as well as for fires, evacuations and other emergencies that may possibly arise.  Again, if you’re not getting this training then it may be time to find another job.

Nice guy or not, if you’re dumb enough to put someone in charge who doesn’t understand the dangers of the job, proper PPE to be used or knows the regulations then you’re not only an idiot in my book but still at fault per OSHA.  Ignorance of OSHA standards no defense for worker’s death.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit Court upheld OSHA’s decision to issue a willful citation in the case of a worker’s deadly fall, even though the employer claims the foreman in charge was ignorant of safety requirements that could have prevented the incident, according to a summary written by the law firm of Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP for JD Supra.”  So either in my opinion, we believe the employer is actually that stupid a business person to actually put someone in charge that was ignorant of safety requirements or the employer is lying thinking they would go easy on the fine if he said the foreperson was ignorant of the rules.  Never operate any machinery or perform any job without understanding the dangers and have been trained to properly operate.  The truth is out there, somewhere, but not here.  

Yes, accidents happen, you just never know when, that’s why they’re called accidents and not planned.  However, you can minimize accidents by understanding what you are working with and how to prevent the many different ways it can go sideways, but if it does, how to deal with it so you can walk away.  Knowledge is power and never let anyone tell you otherwise, even if they’re just trying to be a nice guy.  Never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.  Until next month.

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Companies Behaving Badly-Training

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Welcome back and thanks for stopping by.  Hope your April Fools Day wasn’t too brutal.

There is no doubt in my mind that TRAINING is the most important aspect of any safety program.  Having employees who know what to do and how to do it without losing fingers, limbs or their lives makes for a fabulously productive shift.  However training is not a one time deal but a continuous process, assembling the many layers over time such as first day safety orientation, monthly safety meetings, weekly tailgate/toolbox meetings, daily huddles, emergency drills, PPE, LOTO, operating different or new machinery, forklift certification and refreshers.  The more opportunities to have open discussion on safety along with input from everyone involved makes it all the better.

To be successful at training, means you got the point you wanted to make across to the group while being focused and with a little entertaining in your message that is geared to your audience.  When you tell your fable of safety to the group and end with the moral of the story  you want to sound real, you want to sound credible so use situations that have occurred on other shifts or as sister plants or in trade magazines.  When speaking to a group of young new workers you don’t want to sound like a lecturing dad, they’ll just tune you out and they’ll never hear the message.  It helps to get them involved in the training.  What’s their experience with this piece of machinery.  What are their concerns and how would they handle an emergency shut off or LOTO on the packaging machine you’re featuring in this weeks tailgate/toolbox meeting.  Also use hand outs, videos and demonstrations to help your presentation.

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It does take work to ensure all the training.  When I had 64 employees working at 10 different stations on a shift, to get the weekly toolbox/tailgate completed you need to stagger the meeting.  Went to the first station and spoke with the 5 workers there about the topic and got feed back, then continued down the hall to the next station and spoke with the 7 workers there and continued through out the shift until I had made contact with all.  If there were no fires to put out that shift I might get to all 64 but sometimes it takes two days to get it done.  To accomplish a monthly safety meeting I’d split the shift in half to keep production going, limited but at least not stopped and do one group early in the shift and the second half after first breaks.  There are always ways to get it done, don’t be afraid to be creative.  Even though these meetings are critical you can’t help but take some time away from production and that’s where some companies go crazy.

Thirty minutes for a safety meeting!? Did you guys have a party last night?  Those are just a few of the comments I would get but didn’t care since wasn’t about to discourage people from asking questions or interrupting them while they discuss a serious safety concern.  But this too is solvable by making friends with the head production scheduler.  We sat down and had coffee and learned about each others goals and for those days he could give us light nights I would get safety meetings done and still make our daily production goals.  Win, win.

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However, there are still those companies that believe spending money on training is a waste.  Like our friends at, Dollar Tree stores cited again and fined maximum for putting workers at risk This has become an annual event finding the same safety violations occurring again and again and now the state of Washington is fining them $306,000 for willful violations.  Willful means the company knew they were putting workers in danger but didn’t bother to do anything about it.  It’s kind of hard not to block emergency exits or electrical panels when you’re not trained on safety hazards.  It’s hard to work safely with chemicals when your employer doesn’t train you how to properly use chemicals and how to safely and properly clean up a spill.  The problem is not just putting employees in danger but any customer entering the store to do business.  I would think twice if it were me.  Corporate could easily fix this, but then that would require thought, carrying out a plan and spending money which are all things I don’t think this company’s executives are capable of doing.

It’s nice to enjoy your job, that’s fabulous but if you get stoned on the job, what if an emergency arises?  Too Many Cannabis Industry Employees Impaired At Work.  This is a serious problem and a big liability to the owners.  Bar tenders are not allowed to drink on the job and I know a lot of Cannabis clubs forbid smoking by employees on the premises since in the case of an emergency someone needs to be in charge and alert!  Needless to say I’m sure their training covered this and it’s up to the club to enforce the rules or they lose their credibility.  It’s a shame that it’s always a few the ruin it for the rest of us due to their ignorance. 

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The Welsh government understands the importance of refresher safety training and are offering workshops to local farmers so they can avoid being part of the rise in farm related accidents.  Farmers urged to kick-start health and safety training.  Nice to see they are not looking for reasons to fine them but working with them so they can continue to be productive and in one piece.  As it should be.

This professor says the workplace is the fifth leading cause of #death in the U.S.  Did you hear that?  5th leading cause.  This professor says the workplace is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S..  You can spend less time dead.  Know where emergency exits are located, listen for alarms, avoid working with distractions and most of all use all PPE that is available and use common sense.

Mark your calendars it’s Stand Down 2018–Preventing Falls in Construction : Fifth Annual Stand-Down Set for May 7-11  BE PART OF THE SOLUTION

That’s  it for this episode.  If you begin a new job and there is no safety training or use of PPE then it may be time to find another job.  Never keep quiet about safety, for the life you save, may be you own.

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Companies Behaving Badly-Boob Tube

boob tube
ˈbo͞ob ˌt(y)o͞ob/
informal
noun
NORTH AMERICAN
television or a television set.
“librarians are scrambling for ways to compete with the boob tube”

 

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Welcome back.  Hope all is well and thank you for stopping by.  How are those New Year Resolutions going?  Still on track or trackless?  Benjamin Franklin once said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”  What a wise man he was since he knew even before they were invented, that people would slack off and forget to change the batteries in their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.  Please don’t forget to check them along with your fire extinguisher.  Give yourself every chance to keep your home and family protected.

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The boob tube was an endearing term for the television.  It was believed, that much like Rock and Roll music, it would rot our brains out.  Considering all the events of late it is quite possible that the fears were well founded.  During an episode of “The Americans”, Nina Sergeevna Krilova is brought to a room and told that due to her actions she was sentenced to death that would be carried out soon.  She drops to her knees in horror and before it all could sink in for her or myself for that matter a soldier pulled out his gun and shot her in the back of the head.  It was sudden, it was brutal.  It left an uneasy feeling.  I felt bad for her and thought what a waste of human life. Did it make me less sensitive to killing?  I don’t think so, but the scene is still haunting me.  However, if I was to watch graphic homicidal acts over and over, day after day I guess I would finally get used to it to the point it becomes the norm.

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Also appearing on the boob tube is a very lovely couple, Chip and Joanna Gaines.  She is a beautiful person with a beautiful spirit and Chip has to be one of the luckiest guys in the world so it’s confusing when he goes out of his way to make Joanna a beautiful widow.  On one episode of their show, Chip, in an enclosed area with a good sized cement saw is determined to cut out a section of the wall.  With only a t-shirt wrapped around his nose and mouth for PPE, sawing enclosed by a cloud of dust filled with silica, brick and cement that you can barely see him, with NO safety glasses, no dust mask, no ear protection.  There was enough dust that a spark may have caused a minor flash.  Chip, true to form made jokes about his experience.  Was I desensitized to safety on a construction site by this?  No, I got angry because there are many, many DIYers watching Chip, laughing along with him, that don’t understand how important PPE is to protecting and keeping you from winding up in the ER or worse.  It’s very hard to stop horseplay on the job when so many DIY shows glorify this childish behavior.

It’s not just Chip.  The Property Brothers, Drew and Jonathan are just as bad, demonstrating bad behavior on a job site and I’m sure the horseplay is to make the shows entertaining instead of a boring production pointing out and demonstrating the proper safety procedures to follow on demolition day.  That’s the problem, it makes horseplay and dangerous behavior look like fun, and it is, until someone gets hurt.  In fact the DIY Network and HGTV don’t see to care what bad behavior their stars portray on the boob tube.  I’ve never once seen a “safety minute” or a disclaimer before the episode, that the behavior is contrary to all safety laws.  The closest that comes to that is the show “First Time Flippers”, where they will insert comments pointing out dangerous behavior but only to make fun of it, not to take it seriously.

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On some shows on the boob tube you’ll see people cut wires, remove fixtures or rip down ceiling fans without checking to make sure electricity or water are turned off.  It’s a funny moment when the person is electrically shocked or sprayed with water.  However there is one person who does not find L.O.T.O. funny or comedic element.  Man loses legs in workplace accident at Alhambra Foundry, company fined nearly $300K  2 workers at the foundry were cleaning and unblocking a 38-feet-long auger screw conveyor at the bottom hopper without effectively de-energizing or locking out the equipment.  One of the workers re-entered the 20-inch square opening after the cleaning was done to retrieve a work light from inside the confined space, when a maintenance worker 45 feet away energized the equipment to perform a test. The moving auger screw pulled the worker into the screw conveyor. Both his legs had to be amputated to free him, regulators said.  The most infuriating part is Cal/OSHA cited the company, Alhambra Foundry, for similar violations eight years ago. They probably thought it funny and would make for good television to hear someone scrambling and screaming in panic and pain.  It was so funny that Cal/OSHA fined them $282,390.  This is why you need a comprehensive Lock Out Tag Out program and ENFORCE it!!  Under a proper program there would be 2 lock outs, one for each person entering the area.  The last man out removes his lock, that way no one can inadvertently turn the machine on.  One other thing, the worker re-entering the hopper was not monitored by a confined space attendant, so no one had a clue he was in there.  Use LOTO and save lives.

Ignoring Safety at the workplace can cost you so much more.  Construction Worker Left Paralyzed Settles For $8.225 Million in Essex   The worker was rendered paraplegic after falling off a scaffold at a construction site.  That must have been knee slapping funny to be over 6 feet in the air without fall protection.  Hey, they get away with it on television.  Jose Criollo, then 46, was employed by Empire Home Improvements when he was working at a job site in Clark on Nov. 15, 2013. Criollo was working on a scaffolding tower when dust and debris from above fell into his eyes, causing him to take a step backward and fall to the ground below.  He was diagnosed with a fractured spine at T12-T13, with a complete spinal cord injury. He underwent emergency surgery and remained hospitalized for more than a month, followed by four months in a rehabilitation facility.  Whether you’re working high up for work or around the home, remember, accidents are not planned but they are created.

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Slapstick comedy with lots of pratfalls is always entertaining especially when a worker falls through a skylight.  Napa area winery appealing fines recommended after Vallejo man’s deadly fall last year.  Daniel Mario Colombo, 56, was working at Sutter’s St. Helena winery in May 2017, making repairs to the cooling system on its roof, when he fell 16 feet through a skylight and died as he wasn’t wearing a safety harness.  During their investigation Cal/OSHA also reportedly found that the steel roofing covering the area where Colombo was working looked too much like the dirty fiberglass panels covering the skylight he fell through.  The accident may have been avoided if guard rails and other safety measures had been in place around the skylight but to make things more entertaining they weren’t and why FALLS continue to be #1 killer on the job.

Thorough training is and will always be key to any successful workplace safety program.  It greatly helps when people know what they are working with and what is expected daily.  There is no room for horseplay on the job, there is only room for professionals carrying out their tasks safely and productively without fear of dying.  If you allow workers to horseplay on the job because they need to let off steam or boys will be boys, however you justify it, will you still feel the same after you are hit with a massive repair bill for a forklift or section of the warehouse or hit with a lawsuit by the widow of an employee killed because you run a day care rather then a business.

When you begin a new job, ask lots of questions.  Do research on the internet about PPE, chemicals, labeling requirements and good practices.  Ask professionals when you get a chance but please don’t blindly follow without any knowledge, for the life you save may be your own.  Until next time, please stay safe.

Always learn from mistakes of the past.  It’s why history is so important. Be sure to begin collecting all Disasters of the World Trading Cards.  Trade disasters with your family and friends, makes for a great dinner time discussion.  After reading a few you’ll wonder how the planet is still even here.

 

Companies Behaving Badly – Disadvantage

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Welcome back for another new episode, always appreciate you stopping by for a visit.  Hope your Valentine’s Day was enjoyable or at least tolerable.  It may help to remember the words of the great philosopher Stephen Stills who said,  “And if you can’t be with the one you love, honey Love the one you’re with.”

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One of the most interesting things I find to deal with in life, is people who go out of their way to make it more difficult for someone to succeed.  Whether it’s refusing to share information, spreading vicious rumors or purposely sabotaging a project, they seem to get some kind of sick joy watching the suffering and struggling of others.  If they’re a stranger on the street who can’t be bothered to give you directions that’s one thing but when they’re your boss or the company itself creating the disadvantage that can become quite a ugly situation.

HP Pelzer Systems Automotive Inc. is an example of a company that put their employees at a disadvantage by offering no training, no LOTO procedures which led to the amputation of a finger putting that worker at a further disadvantage.  Max Penalties Proposed For Safety Violations At Georgia Auto Parts Manufacturer.  This was PREVENTABLE by training workers on energy control procedures but the company couldn’t be bothered to do so and now they face a proposed fine of $129,336.  Training would have been much cheaper which would have prevented the amputation which would never have brought OSHA to their facility.  If you begin working at a company and they offer no training at all on safety issues, then find another job, these guys care nothing about you or your well being.

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Perhaps you work on the loading dock.  Moving pallets of products on and off trailers at a rapid pace.  Do you ever wonder what you’re moving?  Is it volatile?  Can it explode?  Another disadvantage to workers is when companies don’t inform you of the dangerous chemicals and solvents you’re moving around the facility or even worse don’t train you how to react if a chemical leak or potential explosion situation does arise.  Never Underestimate the Risk of Explosion in a Freight and Logistics Warehouse .  Again, this is a PREVENTABLE situation by getting the proper training on how to handle a liquid spill on the dock to understanding what the different symbols on the packaging means along with a updated and current SDS.  Can you use water to contain it and do you have to use respirators?  If there is NO training on the handling of chemicals or a SDS you can reference, you are in danger of losing your life and this employer doesn’t care.  It may be time to move on.

One of the most despicable disadvantages handed to workers is when there are laws on the books to protect them from harm and mistreatment but then the laws are not enforced.  Farm safety checks fall by a third.  It is usually found out after someone is severely injured or killed and the public wonders how it happened.  Then the apologies come out, we’re sorry we neglected this but want to assure you all that we are taking this very seriously.   Or my favorite, we need to put tougher laws on the books to prevent such a tragedy from happening again, when they already had laws on the books but didn’t bother to enforce them.  Those are the situations when public officials should be going to jail for ignoring health and safety of the public.

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Like the city of Oakland’s poor leadership.  They have all kinds of fire, health and safety laws on the books but let them all fall through the cracks and did nothing except pass the buck.  CA City Sued for Fire that Killed Four People at Halfway House.  The famous Ghost Ship fire that killed 36 generated lots of finger pointing in Oakland’s city hall but then after all that they continue to dig themselves in a deeper hole as they’re being sued by families of 4 who died in another fire less then four months after Ghost Ship.  Just as PGE who sat idly by and hoped for the best while they had no clue where there dangerous gas lines were that led to the murder of 8 people in a fierce explosion, the city of Oakland is following in their bloody footprints, killing innocent civilians. 

Another disadvantage is when manufacturers create a problem, agree with the public how terrible it is but won’t fix it and now, Lawmakers Seek Safer Packaging For Toxic Laundry Pods.  That’s right, they insisted on making cute little pods with bright colors and full of chemicals making it look like a treat each and every child wants.  There was no need to make them like this but some moron in marketing thought it was a great idea to sell more pods and now we have a serious problem that lawmakers are going to fix.  That alone should be frightening to all.  If less people use the pods and boycott their use they will change it.  The public did it before initiating change by not buying a product and folks, it’s time again.  Don’t buy pods.  Make the manufacturers fix their problem.

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Considering the disadvantages mentioned above it is no wonder that employees believe their employers policies are not aligned with their safety at the workplace.  Workplace Safety: Employee Perceptions, Employer Policies Not Aligned.  The good news is this is PREVENTABLE.   Speak up at work and never keep quiet about safety.  If there is no safety committee at your job, begin one.  Speak with HR and insist that you want to have  safety committee meetings, safety training and drills on proper evacuation in the event of a disaster.  If no one listens to you CALL OSHA.  Make a complaint at 1-800-321-6742 (OSHA).  You have every right to live and be free of dangers.

Our political brain trust got to see first hand how dangerous our railroads are.  Don’t you find it amazing that in a great country like ours a person can’t get on a train without wondering if I’ll die on the way there?  Very sad.  With Amtrak crash, Congress faced a deadly rail danger firsthand.  This is so PREVENTABLE but then no one seems to be in a rush to prevent further deaths.  Has life become that cheap?  Write your congressperson and Senator and tell them, you want safe transportation on the railroads and will accept nothing less.

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Railroad passengers aren’t the only disadvantaged people as now we have the numbers that show almost half of all deaths on the construction site are due to FALLS!  Nearly half of all construction worker deaths are fall-related, database finds.  This is disadvantage is happening because YOU are allowing it to happen.  Since man can’t fly without the benefit of an aircraft and since man is not immortal when you climb out onto a roof or ledge over six feet from the ground you MUST insist on fall protection gear.  Falls are the #1 OHSA violation and killer overall and all construction companies know that OSHA requires fall protection so don’t let them tell you otherwise.  It is against the law for someone to threaten you or your job to do an unsafe act.  Just say NO.

However, one good piece of news is Toyota-lift of Minnesota is giving VETS an advantage.  Forklift Training: Giving Vets A Lift.  They have certified 90 veterans so far and still going for more.  Bravo for your efforts and giving veterans a chance to be productive after their service to our country.

That brings this episode of companies behaving badly to a close.  Remember, you don’t have to be disadvantaged.  Do your research, google topics as needed and never be afraid to speak up.  The life you save may be your own.  Until next month, stay safe.

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Companies Behaving Badly-Demons

 

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Welcome back for another episode.  Hope all is going well and you’re having success with safety training, drills and safety committees.  If you need suggestions or have questions please don’t hesitate to ask.  May I wish you all a happy ground hog day.  I do find it entertaining that with all the apps, science and technology out there we still drag poor Punxsutawney Phil out of his man cave just to see if he finds his shadow or not cause it really influences the weather.  Wink, wink.

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We all have demons of one type or another that can influence how we perceive the world as well as how the world perceives us.  Whether your demons drink, do drugs, gamble, steal, cheat, binge eat, binge watch television, hoards or bullies other demons, how well we can control them or how well we can have them play with other people’s demons can make a difference in how life goes.  That’s easier said then done as Demons want to control it all so we battle them with conventional weapons like cleanses, portion control, no flour, no dairy, no sugar, fresh vegetables, exercise, vacation, relaxation, meditation and medication.  

 

Beating Demons is not an easy task, after all they are a part of you so they know you all too well and can anticipate how you’ll react.  The medication demons are really slick for sure as they first take away your pain and make you feel good all over and already knows  all your lies to come in your attempt to get more.  What could be so wrong about feeling so good and being without any pain of any kind?  I know I can control it. Only needed a few pills to get by today.  The Demons laugh, they know when you try to stop, the pain comes back and only seems even worse and that you will say anything to keep others from coming between you and your Demon. 

 

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The Devil made me do it.

Demons want you to believe they are your friend and have your best interest at heart by allowing you to indulge, feeding your habit and listens to your endless promises how you’ll know when it’s time to quit and end the relationship, hopefully before that one toke over the line.   I can’t tell you how to best the Demons as there is no one way to accomplish this.  You just persevere, be strong and follow what the professionals tell you and embrace family, friends and their love.

Thanks to Demons, technology and our greedy pharmaceutical companies, accidental injury has become the #3 cause of Death in the United States for the first time, ever! Accidental Injury No. 3 Cause Of Death For First Time In U.S. History.  A large part of this is due to the overdoses of opioids that’s occurring on a daily basis in our communities as the Demons continue to further use up the limited resources of our already stretched out first responders.  Another chunk of this is due to another Demon, the smart phone.  People are so wrapped up in their devices and have their heads buried so deep responding to a lame post, they never see the on coming car headed their way.  People, there is no need to rush blindly into death.  Stop, smell the roses and enjoy this life.

Demons don’t just dilly dally with people.  The cultures of some of the largest corporations are fraught with Demons especially when it comes to workplace safety.  Former train conductor says safety is virtually non-existent at Amtrak.  I am a firm believer that a companies culture is developed from the top down.  People will do or not do, if they know they can get away with it.  When a corporation doesn’t care enough about safety, you wind up with a poorly trained staff and have lots of derailments.  You know these companies, I’m sure you have worked for a few as have I.  No regular safety meetings if at all, no drills on how to handle emergencies, no way to report unsafe conditions.  Apparently this is not just a problem with U.S. railways.  In the United Kingdom, the Demons made sure the safety culture there is so poor that no one bothered to check and make sure the door to a restroom with no floor was locked and off limits to passengers.  Mum saved boy from falling to his death through this huge hole in toilet floor on a moving train.  I’m sure everyone thought that the other guy was checking it or maybe the Demon would keep it locked up.  Either way, the lack of leadership, (another Demon) by management is appalling that no one followed up.

 

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Then there are those Demons that tell you making your point at all costs, even at the expense of a primates life, is fine.  Volkswagen Suspends Executive Over Monkey Trials.  I will refrain from the easy jokes here, (fighting that Demon up to publishing time) but the fact a German car manufacturer had someone conducting experiments on living animals, well.  Are we so smug to believe that we as humans are so important we can decide to torture other living things to ensure our safety or in VW’s case, ensure that they’re lies about emissions could have been hiding the truth.  

Politics seems to attract all kinds of Demons but when it comes to workplace safety, do we want politics involved or common sense?  Washington State Senate Democrats Push Safety for Sanitation Workers.  It would have been so much nice to see a headline that read, State Senate Pushes.  What do Republicans have against safety?  Yea, it costs a little to have a good program in place but don’t we want to preserve all human life?  Do we want families to suffer a tragic loss?  To look at that empty seat at the table and wonder did the company and politicians do what was right for other humans and not to benefit there own bottom lines?  Must be the work of more Demons.

One thing I learned at an early age in the Bronx, don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time or in this case, pay the fine.  In New Zealand, WorkSafe fine ‘will put company under’ says owner.  I have no sympathy for any company owner who knowingly puts his hard working employees in harms way to benefit from the profits only to cry poverty when caught about the fine.  Oh Boo Hoo.  It’s happened in the U.S. as well with a large corporation caught and crying about the size of the fine.  I do believe OSHA and other agencies like it around the world should first be educators, but when a company is caught not complying on purpose or is a repeat offender, you don’t deserve the company in the first place.  Maybe it should be turned over to the workers to operate. 

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Unguarded machinery and no L.O.T.O. is a no no.  Pallet Manufacturer Cited After Employee Injured By Machine.  It is against the law to force you to commit an unsafe act.  So when it comes to moving parts, before you attempt any maintenance, or clear a jam, do proper Lock Out Tag Out.  This is not a game of “clear the jam” or you being a non team player.  It’s about your life, your physical well being.  Don’t let the Demons tell you that it’s o.k. to do just this one time to save a few seconds.  That’s what all the other dead workers thought before reaching in.  If you are concerned about your safety at work and no one is listening, call the OSHA hot line at 1-800-321-6742.  In California the Cal/OSHA number is 1-800-963-9424

Yes, I guess it can be all about perspective.  In the U.S. last year there were over 5,000 work related deaths.  The highest it’s been in awhile and creating quite a stir in industry.  But in China, they are celebrating a reduction of workplace deaths in a year.  Down to 38,000!!!!  CHINA WORKPLACE DEATHS FALL TO 38,000 IN 2017: REPORT.  OMG!!  But this doesn’t take away from our numbers.  5,000 is way too high and we all need to work together to rid of the Demons and make safety a priority.  

Be kind a mentor a younger worker.  Share your experiences, what’s worked what hasn’t.  Communicate those cautions and tips and keep the conversation loud and long.  Ask questions, read blogs, learn!  It’s the best way to keep demons in their place.  Until next time, please never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.

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Companies Behaving Badly – RESPECT

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Welcome back.  Hope all is going well.  Those of you still committed to your New Year Resolutions, bravo.  Keep it up!

Aretha said it best.

“What you want
Baby, I got it
What you need
Do you know I got it
All I’m askin’
Is for a little RESPECT when you get home (just a little bit).”

Isn’t that all we want from our boss or the company that employs you, for that matter, isn’t it something we should do for each other?  I was raised in the Bronx back in the dark ages (BI-before internet), the 1950’s – 1960’s and along with playing stoop or stick ball and watching The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin or Sargent Preston of the Yukon, I was taught the golden rule and to treat others as I wanted them to treat me.  I respected my elders, I respected my teachers, I respected the beat cop and I respected everyone who crossed my path.  There have been a few instances where people haven’t reciprocated and not respected me but gone out of their way to be rude and I don’t see how disrespecting them back would accomplish any thing so I said my expletives under my breath and still treated them the same way and moved on. 

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People are always interesting.  Some are rude and disrespectful because they are responding poorly to something that has or is happening in their life.  Some are having a bad day as a customer yelled at them, their boss dumped on them, a loved one disappointed them.  Others are reacting to stress from their job as they struggle to make deadlines in completion of  a project, worried about qualifying for a bonus or promotion, fearing the rumors of a shutdown may be true.  Still others are jealous, jealous of the way you look, the way you sound, the way you gets things done or the way you wear it better.  At least these folks you can understand where they’re coming from and cut them some slack.  Then there are those who are just plain rude and disrespectful only because you are different then them.  It has nothing to do with your personality or your job performance just your skin color, religious beliefs or the language you speak, and for a very few, some just enjoy being evil.  I just cut them a wide swarth as they may just burst into flame and burn to a cinder from all their hate.   

What’s really tough to swallow is when a company doesn’t show you any respect but still expects your undivided loyalty.  They don’t respect you enough to give you training or the tools you need to do the job they hired you to do.  One small company spent time and effort wooing me to come work for them and help turn the company around.  We need you to be part of our new team and help bring this company to the next step and make us great again.  They were losing money, losing product, missed deliveries, horrible inventory control and sending out incomplete orders making customers and our sales staff crazy.  They said it’ll be well worth your time.  First day on the job, they had no office, no desk, no computer ready for me.  There was a computer on a shelf in the general area that I’m directed too and had to use another sign on since there was none ready for me.  No privacy, no where to put confidential files and no place to hold one on ones with staff except a conference room or break room when they were empty.  Ah, but I’m assured that this will be rectified very soon.  The next day I get my sign on and password, things are looking up until I realize after signing on that I still don’t have access to the areas I need to be.  Per the IT manager, who is offsite, that’s what the boss gave him as my profile.  I was beginning to see where the real problem for this company was located.   A month goes by, still no office, no desk but have the computer on the shelf that several other workers need to access during the day to accomplish their jobs.  Two months go by and still the same but the continued excuses, apologies and promises begin to ring hallow.  Three months go by,  more excuses, more apologies, more promises.  Into the fourth month, I went bye.  A few weeks later one manager was fired as a scapegoat another one quit and two months later the doors closed for good.   

You need to respect a person enough to listen to their questions and concerns without blowing them off.  Who knows what talent and creativity has been stifled or budding careers crushed that would have changed the industry for the better over the years because you couldn’t take a moment and listen.  Companies find many different ways to show no respect to their employees.  Some are very subtle, telling you that your safety is very important to them and is always a primary concern, then put you in unsafe conditions.  Some are more open about it and just plain obstinate by not upgrading with new safety technology when they can until they make headlines by killing innocent people.

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Amtrak could have shown respect for it’s customers and avoiding all this bad press by doing the right thing in the first place but just keep talking about PTC and now this–Aaron Harris, Passenger Severely Injured in Train Derailment, Files Suit Against Amtrak, According to Luvera Law Firm  Companies that don’t respect the public by doing what they can to protect life and limb should have their board members and executives held accountable up to and including jail time.  Three people are dead and this young man if facing a life time of rehabilitation when this could have all been prevented.

There are countries where they do respect the public and workers.  They see the overall picture and understand that to have a high-speed train you have to have top notch infrastructure to protect people so they can get to their jobs in one piece.  What a novel concept.  Other Countries Have High-Speed Trains. We Have Deadly Accidents and Crumbling Infrastructure  They see safety as part of the equation to a good life, here most companies see safety as nothing more then a hassle.  Shouldn’t preserving all human life be important and wouldn’t that be easier to handle then deciding which lives are more important then the others?

Then there are companies that have no respect for their neighbors.  No respect for their property or their lives. Duke Energy Agrees To Pay $84K Penalty For Coal Ash Leaks  After years of dumping coal ash and saying they’d take care of it they let it leak into the drinking water and waterways.  Then continues to insult their neighbors by giving then bottled water and wanting to charge for it and then committing only $84,000 for clean up which is going to do nothing to help the situation.  It seems we have learned nothing after the Love Canal.  

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Of course there are those companies that show no respect to their workers by routinely exposing them to moving belts and spinning gears and no putting guards in place to protect them.  When those conveyor belts are at full speed it takes only the blink of an eye to have a sleeve of your jacket get caught and pulled in.  It happens so fast you barely have time to get out of the jacket let alone hit the emergency stop button.  Before you know it you lost your arm or worse, your life.  Woman Crushed To Death In Plastic Factory Accident  If you have to do maintenance or clear a jam there is only one way to do this and that is Lock Out Tag Out.  You will not beat the machine.  If there is no guarding on moving parts or there is no RED emergency stop button and no one at the company is respecting you and listening to your concerns, call the OSHA hotline and file a complaint. 1 – 800 – 321 – 6742 (OSHA).  

Companies that show even less respect to workers, if that’s possible are repeat offenders.  Companies that violations are found by OSHA and then promise they will fix them because their worker’s safety is important to them.  Then guess what happens next?  They have a re-inspection and those same violations are found once again because they had no intention of fixing them in the first place.  OSHA needs to triple the fines for repeat offenders and executives must attend mandatory safety class.  South Jersey Manufacturer Fined For Continued Safety Violations  
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We need to do a better job of respecting first responders, highway workers and sanitation drivers.  We’re not off to a good start.  Recently a California Highway Patrol officer lost his life when a drunk driver slammed into the rear of his patrol car that was stopped on the side of the road.  Another officer had both legs broken when he was hit by a vehicle and now 7 sanitation workers had died in the first 10 days of the year!
SWANA: 7 solid waste fatalities in first 10 days of 2018  There is nothing important enough that you have to speed to get there and put others in danger.  There is NO reason to drive drunk or stoned.  There are so many other ways to get home safely that you should use.  Stop being disrespectful to your fellow human beings. 

As you can see, safety is just as much your part as the company you work for and more then ever we need to watch each others back and respect each other.  Never keep quiet about safety, for the life you save may be your own.  Until next month, stay safe.

 

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Companies Behaving Badly – Resolution

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“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man. (person)” – Benjamin Franklin

Happy New Year and welcome back.  It’s that time of year when some of you are actually still following through on your resolution(s) for the new year and I say, bravo to you!  Some of you have already begun using creative excuses to avoid your commitment and some have just plain old completely capitulated.  I’m curious though, why do those of you waste time on making resolutions, when you’re only going to spend more time, energy and creativity on making excuses for not upholding your resolution?  Is it a form of masochistic-procrastination?  (you can comment below).  Of course there are also those of you who, like me, who don’t bother making resolutions for the new year.  It’s not that I’m perfect and don’t need improvement, far from it.  It’s not that I’m beyond help, or too old to learn a new trick or can’t change my ways.  It is just that this is what works best for me, to make course adjustments as needed through out the year and taking on different challenges or projects as they peek my interest in relation to self improvement, training, family, work, travel and play.  

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I didn’t start out with a New Year resolution to become a soccer ref that year but that spring when my daughter began to play and I watched her get bounced around with no calls I knew I could do a better job, so I took the 18 hour course, got my license and began to practice what I preached on the pitch.  With each season I worked on being a better ref because I enjoyed what I was doing.  Watching other refs at work, on the field on T.V. or on videos made be a better ref but it also slowly melded into improving my interpersonal skills as I dealt with players, parents and coaches.  Which ever way you decide to go, what ever works for you, it should be comfortable for you but please also look at all the choices and experiment, push your comfort zone a little, test one or two out or even take some from one, a little from another it’s totally up to you but you should always do what is going to work best improving YOU and not just to make someone else happy.  Over the years I’ve found one real truth, that people only change their behavior when they really want to change it, so give yourself everything you need to help you make those changes and keep in mind it then takes 21 days to turn an action into a habit.  

However, whether new year resolutions are involved or not some industries will just never get it.  Imagine if all baby strollers on the market were made in a way so that even when you set the brake and let go, the stroller would roll away on it’s own.  No matter what you did, even on a flat surface, the stroller would roll away from you and build up speed as it moved unless you grabbed it.  The cry from the public would be loud and steady, politicians would speak of the horror and push for legislation, television news to would do stories on corresponding tragedies and loss of life.  Safe to say the way strollers were made would be changed all most overnight.  We have this technology called Positive Train Control (PTC) and it’s been around for quite awhile.  Even though it could save lives it’s implementation has been constantly put off by the industry with one excuse or another and aided by the apathy of our political leaders who could have made it mandatory, but then babies aren’t dying, only commuters.  Editorial: End delay to train safety  What are we waiting for, a larger disaster?

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 So not only in our GREAT nation have we allowed trains to derail or collide but now we are falling behind on worker safety as this tale of two countries demonstrates.  Singapore had a very high rate of death of workers on the job and decided to do something about it.  They put new laws on the books and unlike our country they actually heavily enforced those laws and now, Workplace deaths fall to 13-year low while here in the U.S. worker deaths increased by 7% to over 5,000 dead.  Who’s the third world country?  Now more then ever, never keep quiet about safety.

What happens when a companies safety program is free will, you wind up killing employees.  Demolition company fined $101K in Holland Civic Center workplace death.  Upon investigation Michigan OSHA found 7 violations, 5 of which were directly related to the fatality.  One other worker was seriously injured and now X-Treme Demolition Inc. is facing fines of $101,000 for no fall protection given to workers, no inspections, nothing, cause what could go wrong.  I don’t think the fines are enough and any owner, CEO or manager who purposely puts workers in harms way and someone dies due to this should be in jail for manslaughter.  Monetary fines don’t deter companies since they budget for this.  We need to start putting people in prison.

 you'llseehumansacYou’d think by now that when it comes to working in confined spaces companies would have learned by now how dangerous they can be if not following proper guidelines.  Construction Company Cited After Fatal Gas Exposures  Before you go in ask, what was in there before and has the atmosphere been tested to see if it’s clear of any hazardous materials.  Is emergency retrieval equipment in place to get you out of there quickly?  Why this is tragic is when one guy went down the others reacted immediately to save a friend without any thought to their own safety.  Each time they were overcome by fumes in the confined space and died and the company was only fined $59,576 which works out to just under $20,000 per life.  I guess we’re all collateral damage to companies that maintain profits are more important than their worker’s well being.

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The same training, practices and prevention techniques that you receive at work you can apply just as easily to your home.  An industrial kitchen is cleaned often and kept free of debris and systems in place that will keep insects and vermin out and so can you.  At work they train employees how to use a fire extinguisher and respond to a medical or environmental emergency that may arise and so can you.  Please teach your children early and often about the dangers of fire, matches and stoves.  FDNY: Bronx Fire Caused By Child Playing With Stove.  Protect you family and your home.  If you have questions about home safety please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Thanks to the new tax laws, companies should have a lot more cash on hand.  How the company spends that extra cash will speak volumes about how they care about their employees.  Some have decided to hand out $1,000 cash bonuses to workers, which is nice but still a drop in the bucket for those barely making minimum wage.  Those companies that take the money and put it into developing and implementing safety programs and PPE to help save workers lives should be touted as companies to work at, but those that just pocket the cash for themselves and continue to allow workers to die in confined spaces, from falls, from neglect should have their names mounted in neon lights so the world can see who they are and to avoid, who to NOT do business with and who to boycott.  Never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.

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