Archive for July, 2012

I visited three manufacturing sites yesterday with a co-worker, workers compensation insurance broker, and workers compensation insurance representative.   It was intended to be a quick visit at each site due to time constraints.   All three manufacturing sites are within the same company.

The GOOD – Plant #1 was neat, orderly, and overall the visit went well.   There were a couple of ergonomic items that the insurance representative pointed out related to hand tools.   The facility leader embraced what they had to say and even asked for suggestions on a “problem job” that he identified.    Overall it was a very productive visit that lasted 40 minutes.

The BAD and UGLY – Plant #2 was very clean, neat and orderly – not much else that was good to report.   We entered the facility and were not required to sign in so we could be accounted for in case of an emergency (per policy) .  The facility leader did not comply with PPE requirements when we entered the production area (per policy).   We observed a maintenance tech working on a machine with the guards removed while the machine was not Locked Out (per policy).   We looked at dock doors that had no fall protection (per policy).   Overall, it was a very embarrassing visit that lasted 30 minutes.

Also the BAD and UGLY – Plant #3 was not clean, not orderly and nothing else that was good to report.   The facility leader at this location wants to do a good job but in my opinion lacks leadership skills.   Again, we entered the facility and were not required to sign in (per policy) nor were we asked to wear high visibility vests (per policy).   The worst thing we saw that day happened at this facility.  A customer was parked in the building being loaded.  The customer was wearing shorts, tennis shoes, tank top, no safety glasses, and no hardhat (per policy).   The load was moved one foot over his head via crane!   I asked the facility leader about this and he said that he didn’t want to upset the customer by asking him to comply with the safety rules!  I could write a novel related to other observations at this facility but I want to give you a quick impression of the visit.   Overall, it was another embarrassing visit that lasted 30 minutes.

Here is some additional background items relating to these three facilities.   All three of these facilities report to the same operations leader.   All three of these facility leaders have been responsible for safety at their location for at least 2 years.   All three of these facilities follow the same safety policies and procedures.  All three of these facilities attend monthly safety calls.

So this brings us to the obvious question – why do we see such a difference between these facilities?   In my opinion, the one word answer is Leadership!   More specifically it is the lack of leadership by the Operations Leader as well as a lack of leadership of Facility Leader #2 and #3.   The Operations Leader has created a culture, through lack of leadership, that allows Facility Leader #2 and #3 to be out of compliance with the safety policies and procedures.   Facility Leader #2 and #3 choose not to follow the safety policy and procedures because there has been not adverse consequences by the Operations Leader.    Culture and support play such a large role in any safety program.

The next day I called the Operations Leader and spent more time discussing my observations and concerns then we spent actually visiting these facilities.   For the safety program to be successful, the Operations Leader must support the program and he must be a leader and address the issues with his subordinates.

I addressed the issue with the responsible individual – what would you have done?

STAY SAFE!     **  Jeff  **   214-215-2434

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I was on a flight earlier this week from Dallas to Atlanta.   The flight was diverted to Nashville to refuel after circling the Atlanta area multiple times.   We landed, refueled, and waited for the thunderstorms to pass so we could safely finish our journey to Atlanta.   During this delay, people used the restroom and stretched their legs.  We were not at a gate, thus nobody was allowed to leave the plane.   Sitting two rows in front of me across the aisle was a woman and her young child.   Both sat in their seats very quietly and calmly during this delay.  The pilot announced for everybody to return to their sets and turn off all electronic devices – we have been released to Atlanta.    The plane taxied to the end of the runway and revved up the engines for taxi and takeoff.   The lady two rows in front of me started saying (in broken English) “No, I get off in Atlanta”,  “Help”, “Stop”, etc.   The people around her were trying to calm her down and explain what had happened for the past two hours.   This woman and her child did not speak English very well and had no idea that we were not in Atlanta.   This woman thought we were leaving Atlanta and heading to the planes next destination.  Nobody spoke Spanish and she didn’t speak English.   There was clearly a worried, frantic look on this lady’s face thinking that we were leaving her destination.

This incident got me thinking about safety and training.   In our facilities with a DIVERSE WORKFORCE where English is not always an employees primary language, do ALL employees understand our safety training?   Do they read and understand safety signs?   Do they understand their supervisor or co-worker when hazards are identified?   Or do they sit back and pretend that everything is OK like the lady and her child on the flight?     We have an obligation to provide a safe workplace.   Therefore, how do we accomplish this with a DIVERSE WORKFORCE?

In my opinion, if you have a workforce in which you have employees where English is not their primary language, you need to ascertain whether or not those employees are able to understand safety training, signs and instructions.   If not, you have a responsibility to have somebody interpret the training and instructions so the employees understand.   You have a responsibility to post signs in multiple languages.   You need to recognize that most of the time employees are NOT going to come forward and tell you that they do not understand.    Most employees that do not understand are going to act like the lady and her child on the plane and sit back quietly and pretend.

I am going to figure out a way to ensure that all employees understand training and instructions.  I am going to post signs in multiple languages to ensure that all employees are aware of a hazard.   What are you going to do to address the issue of a DIVERSE WORKFORCE?

STAY SAFE!     **  Jeff  **   214-215-2434

I was recently reviewing accident data for a company over the past three years to determine where they should be expending their efforts.   It was eye-opening to learn that SLIPS, TRIPS, and FALLS was the number one incident at this particular company.    According to the National Safety CouncilSLIPS, TRIPS, and FALLS represent  the most common cause of workplace injuries behind  motor vehicle accidents.   The NSC reports that the the average workers’ comp costs for SLIPS, TRIPS, and FALLS  is over $21,500 per incident.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety reports that 60% of falls happen at the same floor level.  The other 40% are falls from heights.  Even the slightest change in elevation surface (1/4” to ½”) can cause a trip or fall.

Good housekeeping in a business is vital.   Safety and housekeeping go hand in hand, especially when discussing addressing SLIPS, TRIPS, and FALLS.  If  housekeeping habits are poor, there is a good chance that employee injuries, rising insurance costs, and regulatory citations are present.  If a facility is noticeably clean and well organized, it is a good sign and most likely the safety program is effective as well at the facility.  Disorderly work environments can negatively impact the morale of employees who must function in a job site that is dirty, hazardous, and poorly managed.  Because SLIPS, TRIPS, and FALLS occur more than any other occupational injury, it makes good sense to ensure that employees comply with a good housekeeping.  If each individual does his/her part to keep work areas clean, the housekeeping program will be a success.

I’m going to remind employees about SLIPS, TRIPS, and FALLS  and emphasize good housekeeping – what about you?

STAY SAFE!     **  Jeff  **   214-215-2434

Happy 4th – BE SAFE

Posted: July 4, 2012 in Personal Safety
Tags: ,

Today is the 4th of July – BE SAFE!   Every year we read about fires and injuries caused by fireworks.   Don’t be a statistic this year – BE SAFE!

STAY SAFE!     **  Jeff  **   214-215-2434