Archive for October, 2012

I was at a manufacturing plant this week that GETS IT!   This particular plant is located  in Colorado and manufactures windows and doors.   As you might imagine, cutting and handling glass, lifting large patio doors, working with saws, working with hand tools, etc. creates plenty of opportunities for accidents.   This particular plant has gone over two years without an accident!   Why is this plant so successful in terms of safety while other plants (most of which are less riskier) not so successful?   It’s simple – it’s because this plant GETS IT!

This plant embraces safety and has created a culture where it is unacceptable for any employee to be injured – no matter how minor.   Therefore, everybody at the plant has the responsibility to remove potential hazards, enforce the safety rules, and be responsible for safety.   They have embraced their responsibility for safety and have not pushed that responsibility to the “Corporate Safety Guy”.   This plant GETS IT!

It is refreshing to see a plant and talk to leadership that GETS IT!   I applaud their efforts and hope this culture becomes contagious.

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

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I am in the UK this week working with one of our facilities on an upcoming factory relocation.   Over the past few days, I visited their current manufacturing sites as well as their new consolidated building.   The new factory is a 205,000 square foot facility that is absolutely awesome.   It has the highest ceiling height that I have ever seen in a manufacturing building.   The sub-contractors were running gas lines, electric lines, air lines and hanging lights while I was there.   I am not familiar with the safety rules and regulations of the UK so I asked a few questions while we toured this impressive building.    There were 5 or 6 scissor lifts and cherry pickers being used by the sub-contractors performing the work.   This equipment was specialized to accommodate the extremely high ceiling.   What I found interesting was that fall protection when using a scissor lift was OPTIONAL.   Fall protection was required on a cherry picker but OPTIONAL on a scissor lift!   Is the fall any different?   Does it hurt any less when falling from a scissor lift?  Why would it be any safer on a scissor lift than a cherry picker?

I asked why is there a difference in fall protection requirements between a scissor lift and a cherry picker?   Why would one be OPTIONAL and the other mandatory?   The on-site safety professional explained to me that it’s easier to be thrown from a cherry picker than it is from a scissor lift.   The UK safety laws allow each individual using a scissor lift to make their own risk assessment and determine if they need a safety harness on an individual by individual basis.

When it comes to extreme heights, I am not in favor of leaving a risk assessment up to an individual.   As an employer, we have an obligation to provide a safe work environment.   We need to protect every employee from being injured – even if they think nothing will happen.   Nobody goes up into a cherry picker or scissor lift with the intention of falling to the ground.   It’s always a freak accident that occurs when a safety harness does it’s job.   I completely support fall protection and do not believe that it should be OPTIONAL – What do you think?

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

I recently had a discussion with a safety professional regarding whether or not to APPEAL an OSHA citation.   Here is a little background on the citation:  This safety professional has a facility that experienced an accident which occurred while an employee was performing maintenance on a machine.   The company has a very good lock-out / tag-out program and every employee has received annual training, including the injured employee.   On this particular day, the employee chose not to lock-out the machine and perform the maintenance task – the employee lost a finger in the accident.   The company fired the employee for a violation of company policy.     OSHA cited the company for this incident.

The safety professional has filed an APPEAL on the citation.   The argument is that the company has documented training and documented machine specific procedures – the employee (former employee) chose not to follow the rules.   The OSHA citation was considered “serious”.   A second violation will be considered “willful” by OSHA.

As I have said and will continue to say – we have an obligation to provide a safe work environment.  It is unacceptable for any employee to get hurt, no matter how minor.   My argument with the safety professional is why did the employee not lock-out the machine?  How many times previously had this occurred without incident?  Is the culture at the facility one that allows actions like this to happen?

While I understand the APPEAL to move the violation from a “serious” violation to a “non-serious” violation, I think the safety professional needs to dig deeper into the safety culture and find out if the facilities are truly living by the rules and training or are they going through the motions – What do you think?

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

Each month, I host a safety conference call with the leadership teams at each of our facilities.   We average between 110 and 130 people on the call.   I send out the agenda and related materials one week in advance of the meeting and encourage participation in the discussions.

Why is it we have the same few people PARTICIPATE each month?  Why do we have some people who have been on the call for over one year and have never said anything on the call?   The individuals who PARTICIPATE are the ones who are active in their safety programs and have very good safety records (as demonstrated by their incident rates, perception survey results, etc).

How do we get more people to PARTICIPATE?   I have tried to create an open, safe environment on these calls.   I purposely have not put anyone on the spot nor singled anyone out by asking their opinion.

I will continue to encourage people to PARTICIPATE  – What else do you suggest?

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

I have two rants today:  One regarding the amount of time it takes to compile and issue injury data and one regarding the quantity of work-related deaths that occur in our country each year.

Rant #1:  The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) issued the Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary for 2011 at the end of September.  They are still compiling the accident data for 2011 and plan on issuing the information at the end of October.  Is having data issued 10 months after the fact really meaningful?  Is it the BLS or BS?  The BLS system is broke.  Sending paper surveys to employers and having them mailed back is not an efficient way to collect data.

Rant #2:  The fatality data showed 4,609 work related deaths in 2011 down slightly from 4,690 in 2010!   That’s 4,609 unnecessary deaths.  The average worker in America works 200 days per year.   Therefore, 4,609 deaths translate to 23 deaths per day!   We have an obligation to provide a safe workplace.  It is unacceptable for any employee to be injured on the job, no matter how minor.

I will reach out to lawmakers in the next 30 days to and write a letter regarding the BLS or BS system – What will you do?

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