Archive for the ‘Accidents’ Category

This morning OSHA unveiled the TOP 10 SAFETY VIOLATIONS of 2012 thus far.   Can you guess what were the top 3 items?

If you guessed Fall Protection, Hazard Communication and Scaffolding you would be correct.   Here is the complete list of all 10 items.  Yes – Fall Protection leads the list again.   Even though there has been a concerted effort to heighten awareness, it seems like many employers are ignoring this important aspect of their safety program.   As employers, we have an obligation to provide a safe working environment.  It is unacceptable for any employee to get injured on the job – no matter how minor.

I am going to review the listing of TOP 10 SAFETY VIOLATIONS and ensure that we are complying with each of these items – what about you?

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


Posted: September 25, 2013 in Accidents
Tags: , ,

I was going to get the registration for a vehicle at 8:30 on Monday morning.   I was heading southbound on a major road and traffic was heavy.   I was driving in the left lane (car #1)   Traffic was backed up approximately 1/4 of a mile at  a red light.    I pulled up along car #2 to allow car #3 to enter the shopping center.   Car #3 neglected to see car #4 approaching at approximately 30 miles per hour.  POW – there was a CAR CRASH!  Here is a diagram:


Air bags deployed in both cars.  Thankfully, nobody was injured.  Both cars were completely totaled.  Upon impact – my first reaction was to help and make sure that both people were OK.   The guy in the car next to me beat me to it.  I did the next best thing – dialed 9-1-1 to get the professionals on site.   As everything was occurring, it is wise to keep a level head and not panic.   A few minutes later the fire truck, ambulance, and police were on the scene.   After calling 9-1-1, I let both drivers know that help has been called.

A CAR CRASH can be a very ugly situation.   Everyone should know what to do in case you see one occur.   I am prepared – what about you?

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

I have looked at our historical safety statistics and see a trend that I don’t like – the SUMMER BLUES.   Each year we have experienced our most incidents during the months of July and August.   We still conduct our new hire safety orientation, our weekly safety training, and enforce all of our safety policies and procedures.   Why do we have the SUMMER BLUES?   When you peel back the onion, the type of incident is all over the board – Slip Trip and Fall, Ergonomics, Cuts, etc. – there is no one type of incident that is driving this.   Incidents are occurring at facilities in the North as well as the South, East as well as the West – there is no specific geographic location that is driving this.   Incidents are occurring at facilities that are not working overtime along with facilities that are working overtime.

The only way I can explain this is safety awareness.   We have become distracted with increased volumes, vacations, heat, etc,  that we create a self-induced SUMMER BLUES.   We need to double our efforts to heighten safety awareness.   We need to work safety awareness into everything that we do.   We want each of our employees to think about safety as much as they are thinking about their vacation!

I will ensure that we eliminate SUMMER BLUES and heighten safety awareness – what about you?

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

I recently read an article that I find disturbing.   The Chemical Safety Board (CHB) has been making recommendations to OSHA relating to combustible dust that is falling on OSHA’S DEAF EARS.    Future tragedies in the United States can be avoided if OSHA acts on the CHB recommendations.   The article has a brief slideshow showing various real life tragedies that are the basis for the CHB recommendations.  Instead, these recommendations are falling on OSHA’S DEAF EARS!

When is OSHA going to become an organization that is meaningful to our modern day society?   OSHA has become a bureaucratic organization that has not kept up with the times.   It is obvious that our government struggles with running OSHA as it does with the post office, social security, medicare, etc. (this list is embarrassingly too long to name).   When are we going to make meaningful changes?

Future tragedies can be avoided if OSHA will act and not let recommendations from the CHB fall on OSHA’S DEAF EARS.   I am sending a letter to my congressman urging them to act.   What are you going to do?

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

I had a discussion recently with a colleague regarding the importance of leadership in safety.   Too often leaders want to preach safety but send a conflicting message by violating safety rules themselves.   Leaders need to WALK THE TALK!   When employees see a leader violating a safety rule or regulation, they are basically being told that it is OK to do this.    I read a safety story about 15 years ago that sticks with me relating to the non-verbal messages that leaders send employees.   The story goes something like this:  An employee was standing on the top rung of a ladder and did not have a spotter (two safety violations).  This employee’s supervisor was late for a meeting and walked by the employee on the ladder on their way to the meeting.  The supervisor chose not to stop and correct these items and continued on to the meeting.   A few minutes later there was a panic call over the radio that an employee had fallen from a ladder and was being rushed to the hospital.   The employee was killed that day by head injuries sustained from the fall.    By walking by and choosing to do nothing – the supervisor was “non-verbally” telling the employee that it was OK to be standing on the top rung of the ladder and that it was OK to not have a spotter.    How do you think the supervisor feels knowing that they could have prevented this death by just stopping and correcting the situation?

It is so important that leaders WALK THE TALK.   Employees are constantly looking at leaders for direction and guidance.   Leaders need to completely understand that their non-verbal communication is just as important as their verbal communication.    I am going to reinforce the importance of WALK THE TALK at our next safety leadership meeting – what about you?

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

It’s that time of year when the weather heats up and employees wonder why they cant wear SHORTS to work.   As an employer, we have an obligation to provide a safe working environment.   We have an responsibility to conduct a hazard assessment and protect our employees.   As such, many of our facilities handle thin aluminum and steel sheets and fabricated parts and we have determined that there exists a moderate cut hazard.   Therefore, SHORTS are not permitted.

I had a lengthy discussion with a couple of safety experts that have been in the safety field for over 20 years each.   Both of these individuals are in consulting roles and have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of businesses.   In their opinion, only companies with weak safety programs allow SHORTS in the workplace.    Further, their recommendation is for us to not wear SHORTS  based upon the materials that we work with.

We have made some leadership changes in our Human Resources department over the past few months.   The new individuals in this department are traveling to all of the facilities learning about our business and talking to employees.   One of the items that has been coming up consistently is SHORTS.    After their first visit, we explained how we conducted a risk assessment and had discussions with safety professionals on the subject.    Rather than explaining this to the employees, the human resources leadership is telling employees that they will look into it.   Why?   They are providing a false hope to the employees and, in my opinion, undermining our safety program.

I take my obligation to provide a safe working environment seriously.    It is unacceptable of any employee to be injured at work.   Further, in conducting a hazard assessment of the workplace, it has been determined that SHORTS should not be worn.  I think its pretty straight forward – what about you?

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

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

Typically, Safety is measured using incident rates – this is a lagging indicator not a leading indicator.  I am trying to come up with a system to measure safety in a different way.   I want to take into consideration participation, safety perception surveys, self-assessments, and other tools in addition to incident rates.   I feel that this will provide a more accurate look at safety rather than a incident only view of safety.   Here is a draft of the MEASUREMENT system that I am working on:

Safety Score System

Why look at safety this way?   Some facilities are very lucky and have no accidents – therefore we think they are safe.  Some of these facilities do not participate, have poor leadership, have a poor culture and are not committed to safety but their incident rates look favorable.   Some facilities have poor incident rates but have very good participation, very good culture, are committed to safety, and have good leadership but have had incidents.   Which facility is better?    In my opinion, I will take the facility that has incidents but good culture, commitment, leadership, and participation over the facility that is incident free but lacks these characteristics.   I believe that the latter is a time bomb waiting to explode!   We don’t have a system in place to identify the time bomb by looking at incident rates only.

I’m curious to obtain your opinion on a MEASUREMENT system like this – what have I missed?

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

This week I reflected upon the first quarter of 2013 and reviewed our Q1 safety record and data – WE DEFINITELY HAVE SOMETHING SPECIAL GOING!    We have 34 facilities operating across the world in 6 countries.   When we started our safety journey our statistics were “average” as it relates to the data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.    We created a program that focuses on compliance, awareness, accountability, and participation that was very easy to use.   We dropped our TCIR (Total Case Incident Rate) from the mid 5’s to 1.0 for the first quarter of 2013.   That is in the zone of “World Class” being measured with DuPont, Alcoa and others that are very respected in the safety community.   Further, our North American workers compensation claims were less than $12k (paid and incurred) for the first quarter.   Before we started our current journey, our workers compensation claims exceeded $1.7 million dollars on an annual basis!

I am a firm believer that even one accident is too many.   Every employee should return home each and every day in the same condition in which they came to work.   We, as employers, have an obligation to provide a safe working environment.    I take this obligation very seriously.

I am very proud of where we have taken our safety program – WE DEFINITELY HAVE SOMETHING SPECIAL GOING! – what about you?

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