Archive for June, 2013

This past weekend I watched the special on Discovery Channel where Nik Wallenda walked across the Grand Canyon on a tightrope.   The 2 inch tightrope was 1,500 feet in the air (approximately 1/4 of a mile) and 1.400 feet long.   This was all done with no safety wire, parachute, or airbag.   This is the same guy who last year went across Niagara Falls from the US to Canada on a tightrope.   Last years event was televised by ABC and they required him to wear a safety harness – this year the event was televised by Discovery Channel and he was allowed to have NO SAFETY GEAR.

13.1 million people watched ABC to witness the Niagara Falls tightrope walk and 13 million people tuned in to Discovery Channel to witness the Grand Canyon trek.   He basically had the same number of viewers on Discovery Channel as he did on ABC.   According to experts in the entertainment industry – the ratings on the Discovery Channel were so high because he wore NO SAFETY GEAR.   

Do you think Discovery Channel would have shown him fall?    No – Discovery Channel would not have shown him fall.   There was a 7-8 minute television delay that was not announced.   Discovery Channel did not consider social media and the fact that people who were there in person were twittering 7-8 minutes before it was “live” on television.   Tweets like “Good luck – first steps have been taken”, “Oh my gosh – he is bending down on the rope”, and “He made it safely – congratulations” were out there before he started or finished on “live” TV.

I think it’s not wise to do any stunt with NO SAFETY GEAR.   I don’t think the ratings would have been impacted with or without safety gear.    Regardless if he is a trained professional or a rookie – one should always practice proper safety!   This is a great example of “being lucky” when it comes to PPE.  I am going to talk about it at a upcoming safety meeting – what about you?

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

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My friend – JK – sent me this article about a Schindler elevator employee named Whitey who was killed during the construction of the new San Francisco 49ers stadium.  I am a firm believer that all accidents are preventable and, as employers, we have an obligation to provide a safe work environment.   It’s always easy to be a “Monday Morning Quarterback” when investigating an accident or reviewing program failures to determine what could have prevented the accident.

After the article, there are many postings where people make comments about the article.   There were many comments on safety and LOCK-OUT / Tag-Out.    One particular posting caught my eye.   Here is an excerpt from the posting:

I am an elevator mechanic. I knew “Whitey”. After reading a lot of these comments two things come to mind. First, lot of the safety first comments come from the heart but are clearly misguided. Second, for someone to post midget jokes and any joking at all are sick and should be deleted (what if it was your friend or brother or father?)

Lock-outs are used mainly when the elevator is unattended (to keep the other trades from using it to transport their parts, supplies or tools). Or when electrical work is being done. During the day they are unlocked in the morning and locked again at the end of a work day.

Also elevator work is usually done with a mechanic and a helper (apprentice). It is common for the helper to be doing one thing (stacking counterweights) and the mechanic another thing entirely (wiring switches in the pit.) The platform must be able to go up and down, even slightly, to enable the work to continue. Otherwise the workers would need a third person to stand next to the disconnect and constantly lock-out the disconnect. Because in a situation like that the helper would be going to the machine room locking out, going back, doing something (stack a few counterweights), and unlocking, going back, move the platform, then going back etc. Very little is accomplished using this method.

From what I can glean from these versions of events I will go with the one that has the helper stacking rails at the middle of the hoistway, he loses control of the counterweight, it drops and strikes the mechanic on the ladder. Even if the helper screamed to look out, there is just not enough time to climb off of a latter to get out of the way.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and loved ones. I hope the 49ers find a way to honor him. The brothers of local 8, Schindler Elevator and all that knew “Whitey” have lost a truly classy individual and he will not be forgotten. -Robbie Novoa

Misguided – Really?  I completely disagree with Mr Novoa and the brothers of local 8.   LOCK-OUT should always be used whenever any work is being performed – not only to keep the other trades from using it.   I don’t care if you need a third person on the crew or if the job is going to take longer.  Whitey would still be alive if he followed proper LOCK-OUT protocol.   Mr Novoa and the brothers of local 8 should use this as a wake-up call and not defend the carelessness of this 26 year veteran or of their profession.   To me, this is a classic example of an employee who has been doing something for a long time and had never been injured – therefore they felt it was OK to “bend the rules”.

We need to keep employees from feeling invincible and from circumventing safety rules and regulations.   We need to use this unfortunate incident as a wake-up call.  We need to re-emphasize the importance of  LOCK-OUT/ Tag-Out.   We need to heighten safety awareness.

I can’t stress enough the importance of LOCK-OUT.   It’s time to do some re-training – what about you?

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

I read a news report about the city inspector who committed suicide in Philadelphia.   This individual worked for the Department of Licenses and Inspections for the city.  This individual was responsible for the INSPECTION of the crane that toppled at a construction site killing 6 people and injuring 15 others.   This individual left a video message for his wife and 7 year old son before taking his own life.

Obviously this inspector felt he was responsible for the accident that occurred.   Did he just check off the boxes during the crane INSPECTION?   Did he feel that nothing could go wrong?   He had been doing the same job for 16 years and had not had a fatality.    How many times do we perform a self-INSPECTION at our workplaces and “just go through the motions” or “check off the boxes”?    How many times do we feel that we are safe because nothing has happened for years?

We need to use this as a wake-up call and take INSPECTIONS seriously.    We need to ensure that we don’t “just go through the motions” or “check off the boxes”.   We need to be pro-active in preventing accidents and tragedies.

I’m all in favor of pro-active INSPECTIONS – what about you?

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

We have kicked off a risk assessment tool at a couple of our facilities over the past few months.   This tool is very powerful and allows us to take a laser approach to safety.    I have decided that we will kick off a little friendly COMPETITION between a couple of our facilities.   This COMPETITION will create a little excitement and rivalry amongst the participating facilities.

The risk assessment tool takes a targeted job and assigns a score (1-25) based upon severity and frequency.   Improvements are brainstormed and a new score is assigned to the targeted job.   The goal is to move the meter on the targeted job and eliminate risk (severity x frequency).   The COMPETITION between the facilities will enable us to target risky areas and make them safer.   The winning team will receive a cookout for all employees at that facility.    If we have the COMPETITION once per month between two facilities – we will reduce 24 targeted risky jobs in one year.

I’m all in favor of a little friendly COMPETITION – What about you?

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