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Workplace Safety

  • Gun Control and Behavioral Based Safety

    In the last few years it seems like we’ve discussed everything safety that can be discussed. The challenge is always relevance or the topic du jour. We discussed bike safety, cold, hot, electrical, first dates, crossing guards, and ladder safety in the woods. We discussed drugs and alcohol in the workplace and its overall effect on not just the work environment but the dangers it presents behind the wheel, and at home. Not to mention the precedent setting laws created to appease a minority. Whoops I almost got political. I’ve tried to avoid political topics even though it can be a safety issue.

    In the last years we’ve seen a rise in “Gun Violence”. The issue has polarized the Second Amendmentcountry and challenged us to act to a point where as a safety company we are developing an “Active Shooter Awareness” training. What a sad day. The second amendment, “The right to Keep, and Bear Arms” doesn’t mean wearing a short sleeved or a sleeveless shirt or blouse. I don’t mean to diminish the issue because it truly has touched a lot of lives. It seems everyone has an opinion and to try to make everybody happy would create turmoil, in a system that was meant to be simple, by creating “what ifs” and “exceptions”. That’s a lawyer’s pay day.

    Yes “Everybody’s Life Matters.” So as safety advocates what can we do short of metal detectors at the gate? We’ve said it before. We must create a culture of safety. Employ “Behavior” based programs using “on line training”, classroom and production floors or wherever it is appropriate. Where everyone is not just responsible for his or her own safety but for recognizing the safety of those they work with, and treating them with respect. Employers need to be involved. It starts at the top. They must challenge their HR and Safety departments, and supervisors, to be vigilant, and proactive in their training and making good choices, while exercising fairness.

    I don’t mean to oversimplify the problem. This is a problem that is not going to go away anytime soon, because it is as complex as is our society is in general, with instant access to…(you fill in the blank here). We do need to break the problem down into its simplest terms, and remember it’s not a competition; “We VS. Them” so you can read the results in the sports news tomorrow. It’s a matter of taking care of each other, while recognizing individual needs. Its Basic Living 101, and respecting the rights of all. This isn’t a new concept it’s been around since the dawn of man. Need one more example? Read the story of the “Good Samaritan” You can search it on line or you can find it in the Bible Luke 10:25-37. We need to restart somewhere and soon. Please consider being a part of the solution. It starts at home.

  • End of the Year Harassment Reminders

    What a difference a year makes. The last two years and even our latest blog we discussed snow blower safety and snow shoveling. So far this year the only winter equipment we needed are “water wings” and pumps. For you ladies out there I don’t mean high heeled party shoes. If the weather decides to get back to normal I’ll be able to skate to the office. If we do get snow, remember a cubic foot of wet snow can weigh 15 – 50 lbs. Snow on the end of a shovel is magnified exponentially as you and your shovel struggle to get it off of your sidewalk or driveway. Be patient, practice safe lifting procedures, don’t become a statistic, but waiting for spring however, might not be an option.christmas party

    This time of the year also ushers in the “company party season” and takes center stage, so can “harassment.” Here are a few reminders:

    *Be aware of your surroundings

    *Dress appropriately

    *Limit yourself, drink as if you are the designated driver. Alcohol can complicate your life, and those you love.

    *Keep your hands and wayward thoughts to yourself

    Any number of these issues can land you in front of HR on Monday Morning. If you are the boss, and abuse your position, you could also have issues as labor laws do protect whistle blowers, and take them seriously.

    As long as we are discussing these easier to spot conditions, here are a few that are a bit more nebulous in terms of harassment. It has been a challenging year in terms of religious freedoms, rights in general, separation, and political correctness or lack thereof. These are also topics best left in the HR office and not at the company party, and can be a basis for a charge of harassment. Harassment can ruin relationships and destroy company atmosphere and morale. These parties and get togethers are offered to improve morale, and to say thank you. Enjoy the time you have together and enjoy this time of the year!

    Here at Safetyinstruction.com we are pro family and want to wish all of you the very merriest of Christmases and Blessings for the New Year!

  • Completing the Cycle

    It seems that there continues to be a lot of discussion about Safety everywhere, about the cost of safety and training, the providing of it, and government oversight. I am concerned that there is a lot of cheerleading, but not much play on the field. Does this remind you of the current state of our political system?

    You have to question yourself as safety coordinators and managers: Is this an exercise just to satisfy OSHA Government Regulations for compliance or for the betterment of humankind? If you are conducting training classes and doing all the paperwork, your work isn’t quite done. The T’s need to be crossed and the I’s dotted. If you’re conducting Lock Out, Tag Out and not visiting an application in the plant, is the cycle complete? If conducting Slips Trips, and Falls or Machine Guarding and not auditing and correcting deficiencies, is the cycle complete? Or is the cycle ever complete?

    Eventually the numbers will catch up to you. All you need to do is take a look at the citations issued for non-compliance. You’ll find them listed by district under OSHA News releases . A quick look reveals the results of incomplete or broken cycles. It’s almost overwhelming.

    As managers and Safety Advocates we must constantly evaluate the effectiveness of not just the program but of ourselves, are you in a rut? Remember the difference between a rut and a grave is about 3 feet. If we find that we are being crushed by the weight of the program, or the lack of one, then we need to find a way to involve more interactivity among the management, “safety starts at the top,” and employees. We all need to be held responsible for the safety of all at least within the confines of the space we work. safety committeeHow? Establish a safety committee. Train managers in safety auditing procedures. Ask for suggestions, or corrective actions for problem areas from employees, and please tell them not to worry about “Whistle Blowing” the law has them covered. We did discuss that in a previous blog. Lastly one very large part of all of this is to create incentive for individuals to maintain this safety environment.

    Like a computer we all need to re-boot occasionally, just make sure you’re wearing your safety footwear. Ok, so I might be the only one who sees the humor in that joke. Seriously take care of yourself as well. It’s important for not just your health but for the health of those who rely on you for their safety. It’s not just about compliance.

    If you have any questions about establishing a safety committee or safety auditing procedures, feel free to contact our safety experts at www.safetyinstruction.com

  • How Did You Know

    Late one night I was returning home on a narrow, winding, two lane road through farm country. It was rainy and the fog was thick, making it hard to see. Abruptly, there in my headlights, was what I believed to be a very large pig. Unable to avoid him I felt a sickening thud. I immediately pulled over, but couldn’t see anything. There was nobody else around and the weather was nasty, so I continued home. Shortly after getting on my slippers, there was a knock on the door. Who could it be this late at night? I opened the door and there stood two uniformed state Police Officers. They questioned me and wanted to know if I had traveled on state highway 21 tonight, and did I drive a red SUV. I had to admit that I did. “Sir” he said “we’re going to have to cite you for leaving the scene.” Curiosity got the best of me; I just had to know how they knew. The officer looked me in the eye “Well” he said “the pig squealed.”whistleblower

    So if you are an employee and you see and unsafe situation or something you feel crosses the line in violation of OSHA requirements, or general safety, do you know the correct protocol for reporting it? Of course if there is imminent danger to life etc., then you need to get help immediately! If not, then your company should have a line of progression or protocol for reporting issues whether it be machine guarding, environmental, trenching, confined space, and on and on. Talk to your HHS Person and volunteer to help. Take a course in “Process Safety Management.”

    So what if no one is paying attention? Or just doesn’t care. We see that in the OSHA News and fines every month. Now what? Call your OSHA Representative 800-321-OSHA. You are not the pig that squealed. You could be saving a life!! This is your responsibility! Further “Whistle Blowers” are protected not just in our industry but in our country in general. Don’t be afraid to get involved. You are also protected from retaliation. Know what your rights are under the “Sarbanes-Oxley Act”. Recently OSHA Trade News announced the final rule on procedures for handling retaliation complaints.

    Remember OSHA’s General Duty clause: Each Employer must furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.

  • Safety, It's Not a Spectator Sport

    Over the last couple of years, we’ve discussed a lot of safety topics relevant to work and play, employer and family, occupation and hobbies. Still the one quote that stands out in my mind is from a safety director in Florida named Jim. Jim was also in charge of news releases, and making arrangements for unsafe acts that went horribly wrong. In 2013, The United States Department of Labor reported 4,405 workers died on the job. Jim said these sobering words:

    “Safety is no joke when you have to stand in front of a widow.”safety is everyones responsibility

    In my personal life I’m a Father of six, and a Grandfather. I’ve also been in the United States Army Reserve USAR, and finished a short career there as a recruiter along with a close friend. Jack and I would visit schools and families looking for warm bodies to join us. This was during the Vietnam era, so we didn’t have a very welcoming crowd. We did however, find that the younger the audience, the more impressed they were with our uniforms, message and story.

    In our Church I’ve been a volunteer instructor for a long time, nobody is keeping score so I don’t know for how many years. I know my hair wasn’t the grey color I’m sporting today. These young minds are like sponges, they are full of life and anxious to learn. Last night my 6th graders arm wrestled with the pastor. As a father, it seemed when the kids were younger they were more ready to listen and learn, of course they had to wait till they were 16 to learn to drive a car, although there was a blurred line there.

    My experience tells me that skills need to be taught early and often. I would urgently request that as safety advocates, instructors, and providers, we need to continue to search for ways to convey the message, or preach the gospel, and make it stick. Safety is not a spectator sport!

    The safety industry offers so many more alternatives today for organizing and training, starting with behavioral training both online and in the classroom and up to date videos including gory stories. Safety training now reaches into our schools and hospitality industry. We need to remind and encourage our learners to take their skills from the classroom not just into the plant, school or place of employment, but home to their families where you are your children’s first and most important teacher. Don’t allow yourself or a member of your family to become a 2015 statistic.

    If you looking to revamp your safety program in 2015, let the safety experts at SafetyInstruction.com help. Contact us and we can help you make 2015 a safer year!

  • U.S.: A Country of Violence?

    Has the United States become a very dangerous place to work? Mad gunmen went astray, killed innocent people, and made headlines for the whole world to see. It is high time for the government to take notice of our public gun laws. But, the government alone can’t stop violence. It needs the people to take part. Read more from Mary Bailey on “Workplace Homicides Up 50 Percent in 2012.”

  • New Bill Aims to Protect Social Workers’ Safety

    Good news for social and human service workers: Massachusetts’ governor is expected to sign a bill that aims to improve workplace safety for social workers. These workers face both physical and mental health issues every day they are on the job. And since these issues are beyond their control, it has been a challenge to create workplace safety programs that can effectively address these risks. Here’s the full news story from Madeleine Rivera of Hudson Valley.

  • Benefits of Workplace Safety Are Still Being Ignored

    In recent years, the benefits of workplace safety have been proven and emphasized. The sad thing is, only a few companies are taking the time and effort to shape the most effective safety policies and guidelines. The same is happening in Australia. Read more on “Evidence Exists of Productivity Benefits of OHS but No One is Using It” by Kevin Jones of Safety at Work Blog.

  • Six Sigma and Workplace Safety: Is There a Relationship?

    The principle of Six Sigma, a business philosophy formulated in 1980s by Toyota Corporation, is to create excellence in the company by focusing on main processes and getting rid of non-essential processes or business elements. The question here is whether or not workplace safety is considered a mere supportive business element or one of the major processes. Mike Wilson gives a detailed answer here.

  • How Workplace Safety Saves Money and Jobs

    Upgrading safety equipment, following government’s safety guidelines to the last letter, and implementing safety policies can be costly. But, the costs should not be considered as expenses; rather, they should be taken as investment. Why this is so? Katherine Harmon explains why workplace safety is a ‘bottom-line booster’.

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