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Workplace Safety and Health Law Blog

Posts from September 2013.

MLB.com ran a story on Monday about how Cardinals Coach Mike Matheny learned all that he could from various corporate leaders about “servant leadership” during the period between when concussions prematurely ended his career and when he took the helm of the storied cardinals. MLB.com acknowledges that Matheny inherited a the vaunted “Cardinal’s way” and a team fresh off of World series success, but he also has had to use a revolving list of rookies who have stepped up.

A senior HR professional recently posed this good question on a Linked In Forum. As with many good questions, the answer is that “it depends on the facts.” Here are a few initial observations before we get to the central question. . . .

Safety Professionals do a fine job of determining the “root causes” or “contributing factors” of incidents in order to prevent the next accident. Executives might apply this analysis to employee performance issues.

Of necessity, employers often analyze performance and attitude problems from the standpoint of ensuring that a termination is legally defensible. Let’s shift our focus and try to determine the contributing factors to employee performance or judgment issues, and start with an often-overlooked contributing factor … employee fatigue.

The New York Times and other publications are running articles pondering the end of the written version of the Encyclopedia Britannica and what that says about society. We were a “World Book” family, but I have waxed nostalgic about growing up in the 60’s in a small Georgia town where the encyclopedia was the only way to resolve family disputes or whip out a quick paper. No wonder families dropped a small fortune to proudly display those tomes.

My longtime friend, Linwood Smith, V.P. Risk Management of T.A. Loving Company selected this title for a presentation he asked me to make at last week’s Carolinas AGC combined Annual Safety and Human Resources Conference.

I just learned from Fred Walter at Walter & Prince LLP that Ellen Widess has apparently resigned effective immediately from her position as Chief of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, and is taking another post. No specific reason was given for her resignation. No press release appears to yet be out, but if accurate, this resignation could meaningfully affect the current approach taken by Cal-OSHA.

Many employees work alone at a customer’s site or on the road with no immediate supervision or the presence of a safety professional to check for hazards. Some employees, such as journeymen electricians and certified crane operators are trained to operate with minimal supervision. Other workers may be less trained or less equipped to individually analyze their setting. Unfortunately, both types of isolated workers may violate OSHA standards, and preventing that misconduct is more of a problem when employees are working alone.

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