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Workplace Safety and Health Law Blog

Posts in common sense and safety.

I’m a conservative free market, individual rights oriented, gun owning, evangelical leaning person who grew up in the hills of North Georgia. I deal with the Federal and State government every day and I believe that private organizations can better handle many government tasks. Have I established my credentials so that I can make the following statement?

In addition to my own blogging and interviews, Fisher Phillips is developing more resources to continually update and assist employers in responding to challenges in the workplace caused by Ebola or the fears that the disease engenders. Today, however, we'll again use the F & P Workplace Safety Blog.

First, for backgound, please review my two blogs this weekend; the first which provides an ...

I love reading the Economist and they justified my appreciation with an August 9 Obituary on Warren Bennis, who they rightly described as “the world’s most important thinker on the subject that business leaders care about more than any other: themselves.”

Location and price generally control office-space decisions. Even if you construct a new building or do extensive build-out, you probably have not devoted much consideration to whether your new space meets OSHA requirements.

You may access this recorded webinar from last Thursday where industry experts thoughtfully discussed staffing and recruitment challenges, training, cranes, and a host of other safety and labor issues. Not as good as being at the AGC meetings (hint), but a more candid and nuanced discussion than generally available from a webinar or audio presentation.

Until they receive an inspection, suit or citations many employers didn’t know they had problems or that current or former management dropped the ball. I realize that “to err is human,” but I’d rather see clients fix problems before OSHA comes on site or a union tries to organize employees. They save money and I feel as if maybe my preventive assistance helped. We all want to avoid headlines like the one I saw yesterday, “GM executive is the latest to see the light about safety.” Sometimes a mea culpa is not enough.

I saw some really good posts on forklift safety last week and want to share them below. Much like fall-protection and struck-bys in construction, the distribution and manufacturing employer cannot focus too much on forklift and pallet jack safety and compliance. Although related, strict compliance with the OSHA standards will not guarantee no accidents and well trained operators will not protect one from citations for missing a daily inspection, inadequate evaluation of an operator for a particular machine, or for failure to retrain an operator after an accident. The wise employer always thinks about both parallel tracks ... "safety" and "compliance."

Laura Stack posted an excellent INC. article, “You Can’t Stop A Polar Vortex, But You Can Be Ready For The Next One.” While I travel constantly, I live in Atlanta, so this is a visceral subject to me both as a “Catastrophe Manager” and as an Atlanta employer. When Atlanta businesses, government, and schools all decided to release everybody at the same time, I had a first hand seat to witness poor planning and decisions. My secretary got home at 2:00 a.m., my best friend at 5:00 a.m., and others slept in their cars or at Publix, Kroger and CVS stores who graciously let people sleep in the store. I was out to the wee hours rescuing people because I had a good vehicle and outdoor skills, which does not alter the fact that all of us were caught with our proverbial pants down. For a fascinating hour by hour description of Atlanta’s misfortune, complete with images of weather forecasts and communications, read “How To Prevent the Next Atlanta Snow Apocalypse” by the seasoned weather hands of Minnesota Public Radio.

Recently, at the SE Mine Safety and Health Conference, Sam Pierce, the new District Manager for the Mine Safety and Health Administration's (MSHA) Southeast District, provided the mine industry with a two-page handout titled "ABC's of Inspecting." (Attached below). Mr. Pierce indicated that he has distributed this to the field offices in the SE District and expects his inspectors to live up to the principles outlined in the handout. Mr. Pierce should be applauded for his efforts to improve MSHA's inspection process by setting out common sense guidance for MSHA Inspectors. Beyond its undoubted usefulness for Inspectors, however, mine operators should take time to review the handout and ensure that these tools are being incorporated into day-to-day operations at their facilities. While most mine safety professionals I have met are already doing the things I discuss below, your committment to health and safety is a daily task and there is always room for improvement.

In our competitive environment, every manufacturer struggles to do more with less and to find capital for “nonproduction” areas, such as maintenance, safety, training, housekeeping and HR. If done in a shortsighted fashion, the employer learns through painful experience the sacred law of “unintended consequences.” Plant Engineering magazine (yes, a lawyer can read such stuff) ran a brief instructive story on harm to production and profits resulting from gradually shifting almost all maintenance functions to production employees. You’re probably thinking that “I wouldn’t do that,” but many employers have eliminated certain housekeeping workers and relied upon production employees to clean up their area or machine. One of the contributing factors to the deadly Imperial Sugar combustible dust explosion was accumulation of material in work areas … in part because operators were supposed to clean up after their shift, and did not do so.

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