This Is Not A Political Post

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By Phil La Duke
Author
I Know My Shoes Are Untied Mind Your Own Business and
Lone Gunman Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence

My home state of Michigan has been in the international news lately. People are tired of being locked down in their homes and being unemployed.  Frankly, I question that second part of that statement. My suspicion is that people would be gleefully unemployed if they could return to the ass grove they’ve spent shaping on the neighborhood bar stool or spend four hours sitting in a restaurant cradling a bad cup of coffee ogling a waitress who is way out of their leagues but who puts up with their lewd innuendos enough for them to think they just might have a shot.

For those of us in the Safety Field, the yowling of the barely literate Constitutional scholars turned epidemiologists that are so desperate for a haircut that they show up at the State Capital with long guns and menace elected officials and block hospital entrances while waving Nazi and Confederate flags sound awfully familiar.

“They can’t make me wear PPE!” “I have a right to…” and “I’m not gonna do it” are all things that the belligerent blowhards on the frontlines of our workplaces have said to us at least once, and probably dozens of times. And just as the State Police did nothing—not so much as check the long-gun toting “protestors” open carry or concealed weapon permits—so to do the managers of the Safety belligerents they have the power and authority to intervene but too often they don’t want to “make a big deal out of things.”

An ex-colleague of mine once said in frustration (after a long day working with a client that just couldn’t wrap his mind around what we were trying to accomplish in safety) “safety boils down to risk tolerance and decision rights” and that is exactly what both these situations hold in common.

Let’s start with some level setting:

Risk tolerance is the amount of peril you are personally willing to endure in pursuit of a reward.  Some people may refer to risk tolerance as a risk-to-reward ratio but let’s just keep it simple. We all have a risk tolerance and it is highly dependant on circumstance, situation, and experience.  We typically make decisions without giving a lot of concentration figuring out whether it’s worth the risk, in fact, most of our risk tolerance is subconscious—we do things that carry risk in the commission of the act—like the fetid pustule who blew a stop sign while texting while I was on my morning dog walk.  We have individual risk tolerances, organizational risk tolerances, and community risk tolerances at all levels of government.  Our risk tolerances are typically codified into laws, safety regulations, or corporate policies.

Decision Rights, on the other hand, are the circumstances under which we are entitled to act outside of the rule (for our purposes I will use the term “rule” to refer to any rule, law, norm, regulation, ordinance, or limits.)

No process, no policy, no past practice can cover every contingency that may arise in the completion of a task.  It is inconceivable that a worker would ask permission every time a job requires a decision so we give workers (usually informally) the right to use their own judgment to solve a problem.  Unfortunately, unless we establish limits as to the extent to which the worker can improvise, we essentially give the worker carte blanc, and that can be deadly. 

Decision Rights can be tough to define and articulate.  Does the worker have the right to use a ratchet instead of a standard wrench? Probably. Does the worker have the right not to wear a harness when working at heights because he’s only going to be up there for a minute? Absolutely not. So where is the line? In the case of safety, the only acceptable decision rights any worker has are: to violate a safety rule when following it would create a greater danger.

For example, driving when the traffic flow is 15–20 kph over the speed limit.  You can obstinately refuse to exceed the speed limit and increase the risk of injury to yourself or others or you can keep up with the flow of traffic.  Depending on where you live you may or may not have this decision right, but the opposite is certainly true—if the road conditions prevent you from safely operating your vehicle you are, in most jurisdictions, required to slow your rate of speed even if it falls below the minimum speed required by law. 

It is precisely because the limits of one’s power to deviate from the standard are so frequently vague or not identified at all that gets us into trouble.  I have heard so many people say, “they can’t tell me that I can’t…” in the workplace that it drives me to distraction.  YES, THEY CAN. Unless you have a contract (either as an individual or under collective bargaining) you have a choice comply or say goodbye.  It’s that simple.  You have no legal recourse unless your employer has violated the law. So yes, in most cases they can force you to work overtime—to a point, you can refuse and be fired, or you can quit, but save for the threat of loss of employment again as no laws are broken they can force you to work overtime.

And yes, both your government and your employer can limit your liberties, where need be, to protect others.  When your actions violate a safety policy and rise to the level of recklessness you can and likely will be fired.  Why because you are so beloved by your employer that they want desperately to keep you alive? No, because your depraved indifference constitutes a threat to others.  But you aren’t even allowed to endanger your OWN life in may places. Seat belt laws are in place primarily to save your life. Motorcycle helmet laws, limits on fireworks, using street drugs are all there for YOUR protection. These laws exist to protect people too stupid to take reasonable care to protect themselves. Personally, I see an upside to fewer stupid, reckless people but there are people out there who care more about the survival of these sub simian imbeciles than I do. 

The question before us are these: Do we know and communicate the reason why one needs to exercise caution when completing a task (build a case for decreased risk tolerance) and do we discipline those appropriately for wantonly disregarding their own or others’ safety? Because if we can’t answer these questions we have already given up.

Stay safe and stay healthy

WARNING: What follows may just teach you something but you won’t get any CEUs for it, you’ll just be better educated and informed but seriously who wants or needs that?

Some time ago, I read an article in the Metro Times (a Detroit Weekly) about a Facebook group essentially dedicated to encouraging attacks on women, Democrats, Muslims, and LGBTQ persons.  There were hundreds of specific threats of violence.  You don’t have to buy my book, but I wish you would.  But if you want to help follow this link.  Search LinkedIn to find out where these people work and encourage their employers to fire them. This isn’t a political statement, I would react the same way if people were saying that White Heterosexual Christian Men were the targets.  Purveyors of hate need to feel real-world consequences.  All it takes for evil to triumph is for good to do nothing.

Violent acts begin with violent thoughts that turn into violent posts on social media. How long are you going to continue to throw your hands up and say, “what can I do?” My second book, Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention. answers this question. This is all new material that cannot be found anywhere else. In light of all the talk and panic around gun violence, and the shamefully bad advice some “experts” are giving I hope some of you will read it and pass it along to your executives and HR leads (go ahead, expense it, they will be glad you did.)

Before you dismiss this as yet another shameless plug for my book I want you to ask yourself these questions:

  • What if anything is my employer doing to reduce its risk of a workplace attack?
  • Do the people who are doing the hiring at my workplace know the warning signs of a workplace attack?
  • What can I do to prevent workplace violence?

If you don’t have the answer to any of these questions, use your Amazon gift card to buy the book. It can be purchased in hardcover or paperback at Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

I should warn you, this isn’t a book that is pro- or anti-gun ownership rights. The book has extensive sections on spotting an unstable employee (some people’s lives will take a dark and desperate turn long after you have hired them but there are always signs), the types of work environments that tend to trigger these events, and I recently returned from Dublin, Ireland where I spoke on how companies can leverage technology to protect workers from workplace violence.  But all the books, and magazines, and speeches in the world won’t change a damned thing if you keep thinking that it can’t (or probably won’t) happen to you or someone you love. You can bet your life that we will see more similar shootings in the weeks or months as people who are currently at the brink of sanity see the news reports and think, “now’s the time”. WAKE UP, PEOPLE!!!! This book is peppered with the sarcasm, self-deprecating humor of the first book, but it also makes use of my extensive knowledge of violence prevention in the workforce (that I gained as head of training and OD for a global manufacturer.) You should buy it. Seriously I’m not telling you how to live your life but you should buy it. Okay, I AM telling you how to live your life, just buy the damned book.

Of course, my first book is still for sale, and is ALSO available in the eBook format you might rightly ask yourself, why on God’s green Earth would I read a book that contains previously released material? Simple, like the rain-forest and the polar bears my work is disappearing from the web very quickly.  All but a handful of my works for Facility Management Magazine are gone, and you can basically only go back two years on my blog (eight year’s worth of my work that ranges in quality from magnificent to mindless dreck.) And besides, about a third of the book is newly written material that cannot be found anywhere else. So buy it. People who have read it say that it belongs in everyone who works in safety’s library. It will teach you, entertain you, and make you want to read more it can be ordered here I Know My Shoes Are Untied. Mind Your Own Business or on Barnes & Noble.com.

As always, Read. Learn. Live. Share. Inspire

 

What I Learned From Shelter In Place

 

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By Phil La Duke
Author
I Know My Shoes Are Untied Mind Your Own Business and
Lone Gunman Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence

I am writing this with the full understanding that relatively few of me really care what I think, and that’s OK.  I don’t take advertising for this blog and derive next to no income from my books so whether or not your care what I have to say doesn’t really matter. Most of you would rather read something that upsets you so you can run your blubbering lips about what a horrible person I am.  So anyway, after six weeks of lockdown, 23 hours and 40 minutes a day in my house with a trip for groceries every 10 days or so. I am on furlough for a “maximum’ of 90 days starting almost a month ago.  If the word “maximum” was put into my letter to reassure me it failed.  To me, it’s sanitized message was clear: if after 90 days business hasn’t improved I will be out of a job. I’m eligible for unemployment payments and Federal Relief but haven’t seen a payment despite the contention by the Department of Labor’s website that I have been paid. 

When you’re in my situation there isn’t much to do but think.  My writing assignments (which are unpaid but gave me something to occupy my mind) have dried up and my latest book is at the editor and I haven’t yet started my next book. I fear I am slowly losing my mind.  Yesterday I barked questions at a television commercial and found myself irritated that it wasn’t answering and this morning while making my breakfast omelet I told a piece of sausage that had rolled off the cutting board to “grow up”. Then I went to a grocery store which was like a circus of dysfunction that filled me with a murderous rage.

As I sat in my easy chair things started to come in to focus and a saw for the first time some ugly truths about my fellow humans:

 

  • People are whiny, selfish cowards. I saw a meme recently that read something to the effect that Ann Frank was cooped up with seven other people in a cramped attic for over two years and people here are complaining that they can’t get a hair cut after less than six weeks. I don’t have any symptoms of COVID-19 and neither does my wife and yet we observe the rules of social distancing. My wife, an exseamstress who sewed hot air balloons for a living before returning to school to pursue her master’s degree,  has turned her talents toward making masks (although we both know that the whole idea is to keep rude bastards from sneezing on others and offers NO protection against the disease) because the demand is so great. She makes dozens of them for panicked family and friends and charges nothing. THESE MASKS ARE WELL CONSTRUCTED BUT USELESS, but she makes them, to shut up the frightened people around her.
    People hoard toilet paper and masks and medicines—not because they are needed or scarce, but just because they MIGHT become scarce.  People are ready to fistfight over the last bottle of hand sanitizer. When all this is over I hope these people are as disgusted with their behavior as I am.
  • People Value Celebrity Over Ethics.  I wondered for a long time how so many people can still support Trump—If you do I don’t want to hear from you, you won’t be changing my mind, but you will be picking a fight—when so many negative things have come to light about him.  I used to think these people were just bigots and idiots, but then I came to realize this isn’t about his competence, it’s about his celebrity.  You can call him a failed game show host all you like but the reality is some version of The Apprentice ran from 2003 to 2013 and drew audiences of tens of millions of viewers.  I have to believe a larg1e portion of those people watched because they liked watching Trump. He doesn’t have political supporters he has fans.  I am a big fan of The Beatles and when one music critic described John Lennon as a wife-beater it pissed me off, then I cooled off and decided I didn’t care. I DIDN’T CARE? That’s insane.  I somehow compartmentalized my brain so that John Lennon, the domestic abuser wasn’t the same John Lennon who wrote Strawberry Fields.  It makes no sense, but somehow I was able to come to peace with it by ignoring it.  I’m not sure what any of the Fab Four could do to make me abandon my love of The Beatles, and the only smart thing a guy I knew from high school ever said was, “you can’t argue with opinions”.
  • Business Owners Will Always Choose Profit Over People.  I work in consulting and when you work in consulting you are only as good as the money you bring in, so on some level, this wasn’t any great revelation. I also have worked in safety for over 20 years and have seen companies with less a moral compass than Josef Mengele so I was shocked that I could see anything that would shock me.  Yet small businesses—so heralded as a godsend to workers everywhere—were awfully quick to throw their workers under the bus and then use that as an excuse for begging for money from Big Government that they were denouncing 6 months ago.  So many people would trade every person in the state of New York, for a rebound in the stock market that it makes me deeply sad.
  • People Are Children. Even before Trump screamed “FAKE NEWS” every time someone said something he didn’t like, people were believing whatever they like.  You can try to blame Zuckerberg’s famous pig, but before that, it was message boards, and before that it was tabloids, and before that it was gossip.  We are terrified sheep who comfort ourselves by turning to a news source that tells us what we want to believe, and we really want to believe some stupid shit. We have no one to blame but ourselves and that pisses us off so we find someone to blame (personally I blame the Albinos). No one asks for a source anymore, and even fewer check to ensure the source exists and is credible. If we can’t shout down reality and become a fill-in-the-blank denier we just attribute it to some vast conspiracy.
  • Blame Makes The World Go Around. “We need to put God back in the government” “the damned ‘libtards”/wackadoodle conservatives” are ruining this country”.  What about looking inward and asking, “what am I doing to make this situation better?” (at least I wrote 397 (give or take) articles for Authority Magazine whose charter is something like stories that inspire and bring joy into the world.  It’s not much, but every little bit helps, and I gave it to you for free. You’re welcome, you ingrates. Not everything is part of a vast conspiracy to take your gun or to turn the word atheist or to drill oil in your drinking water. Stop being a victim and start making the world a better place.
  • Social Networking Is Neither.  I knew for a long time that people feel perfectly comfortable saying things to people on like that they wouldn’t dare say to another person’s face. So (and it wasn’t my idea) I going out for a beer with friends who were locked up too.  It was wonderful, the conversation was pleasant, the drinks were cheaper and no one had to worry about drunk driving.  There has been a lot of ugliness and vitriol on Facebook in particular. Tune out. Turn off. And have a phone conversation or a virtual beer with people.

 

So I guess when it comes to it, I guess I didn’t learn very much that I didn’t already know, but I did gain a deeper understanding not of who we are as people, but why we do what we do as people. (Although I did, apparently, learn that my breakfast sausage can be pretty damned immature.)

And I was pleasantly surprised by the exceptions that prove the rules.  Several of my LinkedIn friends reached out to me, some of whom I have never met and with whom I haven’t spoken.  It was great.  The conversations were long and deep and meant a great deal to me.  In one we talked about community. How we have lost that sense of caring for our neighbors just because they are our neighbors and that’s the right thing to do when you live in our communities. So I guess I learned one thing: there might just be hope for us after all.

Stay safe and stay healthy

p.s. would it kill you to buy a book? Seriously, my books are half the price of the cheapest safety books out there.  You just read this for free and I got NO MONEY coming in, at least a couple of book sales would cheer me up.

WARNING: What follows may just teach you something but you won’t get any CEUs for it, you’ll just be better educated and informed but seriously who wants or needs that?

Some time ago, I read an article in the Metro Times (a Detroit Weekly) about a Facebook group essentially dedicated to encouraging attacks on women, Democrats, Muslims, and LGBTQ persons.  There were hundreds of specific threats of violence.  You don’t have to buy my book, but I wish you would.  But if you want to help follow this link.  Search LinkedIn to find out where these people work and encourage their employers to fire them. This isn’t a political statement, I would react the same way if people were saying that White Heterosexual Christian Men were the targets.  Purveyors of hate need to feel real-world consequences.  All it takes for evil to triumph is for good to do nothing.

Violent acts begin with violent thoughts that turn into violent posts on social media. How long are you going to continue to throw your hands up and say, “what can I do?” My second book, Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention. answers this question. This is all new material that cannot be found anywhere else. In light of all the talk and panic around gun violence, and the shamefully bad advice some “experts” are giving I hope some of you will read it and pass it along to your executives and HR leads (go ahead, expense it, they will be glad you did.)

Before you dismiss this as yet another shameless plug for my book I want you to ask yourself these questions:

  • What if anything is my employer doing to reduce its risk of a workplace attack?
  • Do the people who are doing the hiring at my workplace know the warning signs of a workplace attack?
  • What can I do to prevent workplace violence?

If you don’t have the answer to any of these questions, use your Amazon gift card to buy the book. It can be purchased in hardcover or paperback at Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

I should warn you, this isn’t a book that is pro- or anti-gun ownership rights. The book has extensive sections on spotting an unstable employee (some people’s lives will take a dark and desperate turn long after you have hired them but there are always signs), the types of work environments that tend to trigger these events, and I recently returned from Dublin, Ireland where I spoke on how companies can leverage technology to protect workers from workplace violence.  But all the books, and magazines, and speeches in the world won’t change a damned thing if you keep thinking that it can’t (or probably won’t) happen to you or someone you love. You can bet your life that we will see more similar shootings in the weeks or months as people who are currently at the brink of sanity see the news reports and think, “now’s the time”. WAKE UP, PEOPLE!!!! This book is peppered with the sarcasm, self-deprecating humor of the first book, but it also makes use of my extensive knowledge of violence prevention in the workforce (that I gained as head of training and OD for a global manufacturer.) You should buy it. Seriously I’m not telling you how to live your life but you should buy it. Okay, I AM telling you how to live your life, just buy the damned book.

Of course, my first book is still for sale, and is ALSO available in the eBook format you might rightly ask yourself, why on God’s green Earth would I read a book that contains previously released material? Simple, like the rain-forest and the polar bears my work is disappearing from the web very quickly.  All but a handful of my works for Facility Management Magazine are gone, and you can basically only go back two years on my blog (eight year’s worth of my work that ranges in quality from magnificent to mindless dreck.) And besides, about a third of the book is newly written material that cannot be found anywhere else. So buy it. People who have read it say that it belongs in the library of everyone who works in safety. It will teach you, entertain you, and make you want to read more it can be ordered here I Know My Shoes Are Untied. Mind Your Own Business or on Barnes & Noble.com.

#covid-19, #i-know-my-shoes-are-untied-mind-your-own-business, #lessons-from-the-pandemic, #lone-gunman-rewriting-the-handbook-on-workplace-violence-prevention, #were-sick-alright

Things Can’t Go Back To Normal

shutterstock_1391023127By Phil La Duke
Author
I Know My Shoes Are Untied Mind Your Own Business and
Lone Gunman Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence

Well, it’s week three of my 90-day unpaid furlough and who knew that “unpaid” would be taken so literally? I filed for unemployment and my claim went through without a problem, it is even listed on the Michigan Department of Labor’s website as paid, not once but twice! That’s good news, except that I haven’t received any money.  There is no getting through to the people who could give me answers and that—coupled with the fact that I live a scant five miles from a hospital that is still treating COVID-19 patients but has no more room in the morgue and (I wish I was making this up) are stacking corpses like cords of wood on shelves, or propped up in chairs, and another two weeks locked up in my house is driving me batshit crazy.

One night in the middle of watching television, I went upstairs and shaved my head.  Clearly not the act of a rational man, but it seemed to make sense at the time.

I did a lot of writing. I finished book three: Blood In My Pockets Is Blood on Your Hands and that is now being edited I wrote four articles for Authority magazine, one for HSME (which is worth reading if it sees print), one or two articles for Thrive Global and have yet to write an article for the OS&H on the changes likely to the occupational health and safety profession. I’m also resuming work on my fourth book, Loving an Addict: Collateral Damage In the Opioid Epidemic.

A lot of people seem to think I am rolling in money, but you don’t get rich writing books—you make other people rich. And the net sum total of my income from blogging, and authoring articles is zero (less expenses) so one cannot really make that up in volume. I chose to write to share my view of the world with those who are interested.  I quit my job as a newspaper reporter years ago because it didn’t pay a living wage, so I had no delusions about making a fortune selling my writing.

What has this to do with anything? Nothing…and everything.  In the course of writing  “Pockets”, I was exploring incident investigation and emphasizing the power of context.  So I just wanted to provide you with some context for what I am about to write.

I have been asked to write about the “new normal” by a variety of publications, to whit, what will the world look like after the COVID-19 mania subsides; what lessons will we learn.  I am no prognosticator, but I will share this with you: things will never be normal again and frankly nor should they be.  Normal was never that great.

Safety has sloughed along at a snail’s pace Sure we can pat ourselves on our collective back and talk about all the wonderful things we’ve done. We can extoll all the wonderful progress we’ve made and talk discuss all the wonderful theories from all those great thought leaders, but in the end, I think we all know it’s bullshit. People still operate under extreme risk and we’ve added a shit ton (sorry I don’t know the metric conversion) of bureaucracy or as one colleague calls it “administrivia”, and yes people still die in the workplace.  We can lie with statistics. We can make the simple complex. Ultimately though, we aren’t very good at taking the theoretical and making it practical.  I would call safety a laughing stock, but nobody’s laughing.

I look at yesterday’s normal and I wonder just what Safety as an organizational function is. Safety isn’t a science. Science requires hypotheses which are scrutinized by peers tested and proven or disproven through experimentation. Safety isn’t an art, where some innovative visionary creates something intrinsically beautiful that grabs the onlooker at a visceral level and elicits some deep reaction. So what is safety? A swindle? In many cases yes. A burden? In the minds of many business leaders, it most certainly is. A necessary evil? I wouldn’t call it an “evil”, not even the colloquial sense…it’s more like a necessary banality.

I’ve taken guff for referring to Safety as a profession.  On one hand, I want to push back, because in my mind “profession” could be anything that pays the rent. But on the other hand, it’s tough to defend a group of people who act so unprofessionally, so I have just taken to calling the people who work in safety “safety guys” or “safety personnel”

So going back to normals doesn’t work for me.  We have a great opportunity to make Safety MEAN something.  And please don’t preach to me about a nomenclature. Dog crap on my shoes smells the same even if I call it “nature’s bounty” or “all-natural fertilizer”.

I don’t know what the future holds, but it has to be better than this dystopian present, we have to come together and agree on some basic truths of safety while divesting ourselves of the snake-oil that spews non-stop from people more interested in selling their souls than in improving our chosen trade.

 

Stay safe and stay healthy

 

WARNING: What follows may just teach you something but you won’t get any CEUs for it, you’ll just be better educated and informed but seriously who wants or needs that?

 

Some time ago, I read an article in the Metro Times (a Detroit Weekly) about a Facebook group essentially dedicated to encouraging attacks on women, Democrats, Muslims, and LGBTQ persons.  There were hundreds of specific threats of violence.  You don’t have to buy my book, but I wish you would.  But if you want to help follow this link.  Search LinkedIn to find out where these people work and encourage their employers to fire them. This isn’t a political statement, I would react the same way if people were saying that White Heterosexual Christian Men were the targets.  Purveyors of hate need to feel real-world consequences.  All it takes for evil to triumph is for good to do nothing.

 

Violent acts begin with violent thoughts that turn into violent posts on social media. How long are you going to continue to throw your hands up and say, “what can I do?” My second book, Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention. answers this question. This is all new material that cannot be found anywhere else. In light of all the talk and panic around gun violence, and the shamefully bad advice some “experts” are giving I hope some of you will read it and pass it along to your executives and HR leads (go ahead, expense it, they will be glad you did.)

Before you dismiss this as yet another shameless plug for my book I want you to ask yourself these questions:

  • What if anything is my employer doing to reduce its risk of a workplace attack?
  • Do the people who are doing the hiring at my workplace know the warning signs of a workplace attack?
  • What can I do to prevent workplace violence?

If you don’t have the answer to any of these questions, use your Amazon gift card to buy the book. It can be purchased in hardcover or paperback at Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

I should warn you, this isn’t a book that is pro- or anti-gun ownership rights. The book has extensive sections on spotting an unstable employee (some people’s lives will take a dark and desperate turn long after you have hired them but there are always signs), the types of work environments that tend to trigger these events, and I recently returned from Dublin, Ireland where I spoke on how companies can leverage technology to protect workers from workplace violence.  But all the books, and magazines, and speeches in the world won’t change a damned thing if you keep thinking that it can’t (or probably won’t) happen to you or someone you love. You can bet your life that we will see more similar shootings in the weeks or months as people who are currently at the brink of sanity see the news reports and think, “now’s the time”. WAKE UP, PEOPLE!!!! This book is peppered with the sarcasm, self-deprecating humor of the first book, but it also makes use of my extensive knowledge of violence prevention in the workforce (that I gained as head of training and OD for a global manufacturer.) You should buy it. Seriously I’m not telling you how to live your life but you should buy it. Okay, I AM telling you how to live your life, just buy the damned book.

Of course, my first book is still for sale, and is ALSO available in the eBook format you might rightly ask yourself, why on God’s green Earth would I read a book that contains previously released material? Simple, like the rain-forest and the polar bears my work is disappearing from the web very quickly.  All but a handful of my works for Facility Management Magazine are gone, and you can basically only go back two years on my blog (eight year’s worth of my work that ranges in quality from magnificent to mindless dreck.) And besides, about a third of the book is newly written material that cannot be found anywhere else. So buy it. People who have read it say that it belongs in the library of everyone who works in safety. It will teach you, entertain you, and make you want to read more it can be ordered here I Know My Shoes Are Untied. Mind Your Own Business or on Barnes & Noble.com.

Stir Crazy

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By Phil La Duke
Author
I Know My Shoes Are Untied Mind Your Own Business and
Lone Gunman Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence

I have been cooped up like a convict for nearly six weeks. It’s called “shelter in place”, and to date, it is really the only effective way to keep COVID-19 from running rampant. I was placed on an unpaid furlough by my employer, an act of mercy really, since the time is finite, and I get to keep my medical benefits and qualify for unemployment benefits.  No money is coming in yet, and I had to take an emergency disbursement from my 401K which realistically means that I will have to work until I die.

I live in one of the hardest-hit areas of the world: Detroit. The Renaissance City, well with morgues so choked with bodies that corpses are literally being stacked on shelves in storerooms or seated in chairs I will have to wait to see the renaissance. Funerals are a luxury and only 10 people can attend, it doesn’t matter, as most of the dead will likely end up buried in a mass grave in potters field.

Things are looking dire, and yes, I live in one of those States where half-wits are marching defiantly on the capital demonstrating their “Second Amendment” rights (it’s the first amendment that grants the right to assembly you drooling imbeciles) at the urging of an egomaniac would-be dictator who is seemingly calling for armed insurrection. I don’t care what your politics are, shelter in place is working. But people who are angry because they can’t get their hair cut or go fishing are storming the Bastille and that’s just stupid.  They KNOW they can’t be sick because they don’t FEEL sick. But I’ve seen the bodies. I know the science, I want to tell these people to shut up and stay home. I want to tell people that the more we disobey the order the longer it will be necessary.

I am in lockdown for approximately 23 hours and 40 minutes seven days a week (I spend 20 minutes walking my dogs and keeping the required social distance), except when I get go o the grocery store (once a pain in the ass that feels like a vacation) and watch idiots wearing faux PPE (dust masks and disposable gloves which offer about as much protection as having a pitbull accompany you to bite all the COVID viruses you encounter) it shouldn’t bother me. If it brings them peace of mind what is it to me? But if you have read my work before I cannot abide deliberate and willful ignorance.  Now the CDC is recommending masks in public. Wearing a cotton mask to keep viruses in our out of your lungs is akin to deciding to put a screen on your windows to keep out mosquitoes and flies, but when you get to the store all the screen has been bought up so you buy chicken wire, reasoning that some protection is better than none. Well, it’s not. In fact, wearing makeshift PPE isn’t better than nothing it’s worse. 

But none of this is what I wanted to talk about.  What do I do during lockdown? I work out. I write. I work out some more. I watch daytime television and I slowly lose my mind. Basically,  the same thing inmates do in maximum security prison except even they get to join gangs and get tattoos. As if I were an inmate pondering my life’s mistakes, COVID is everywhere. Facebook is one raw nerve with people shouting over who’s at fault.  I have written four articles on some aspect of COVID in the last three weeks and have been asked to do another due in ten days.  There is no escaping this. And every television commercial starts out by reminding me of the hell we are in. Screw you Pizza Hut,  you are not essential, but then neither am I.

I wrote two articles about worrying about the wrong things, and I stick by them. We are still worried about the wrong things. People are panicked and doing stupid things. Things that endanger us all.  I am not worried about getting COVID. If I die I die. But I take the precautions dictated because I don’t want to accidentally infect or kill someone. 

A friend of mine and I had a virtual beer where we both threw back a few while doing face time on our phones.  It was a facsimile of normal and I was surprised at how powerfully it helped my sanity. For a moment, a moment too brief, I felt like I wasn’t going through this alone. Another close friend of mine lost his job. Permanently.  This wasn’t about payback, it was about an insecure creep of a boss who saw an opportunity.  I talk to him when I can but he’s really down.

While my wife and dogs are locked up with me, but even so the isolation is slowly killing me.  I wonder what this is doing to people who were suicidal or clinically depressed before all of this. I was working at home for 7 years and had many coworkers who I considered friends. Only one has called to see how I am doing. I’m not angry, but I feel the kind of disappointment one feels when one realizes that the people who he thought were his friends just aren’t.  Intellectually I recognize that they have their own lives and worries and problems, but emotionally I battle a depressive funk. A weird mood that eats at me.  

Part of the problem is the law. I am forbidden (at the risk of losing unemployment payments that I am yet to receive) from talking business, and apparently, that is all I had to offer these “friends”.  Would it kill someone to send me a text, or have a virtual beer, or pick up a phone?  I guess that’s asking too much.  They all have their own crosses to bear and I just don’t cross that threshold.  My stepmother died some weeks back, before the COVID pandemic.  She exhibited all the symptoms and went from being in reasonably good health to dead in a manner of weeks. Right or wrong, I believe that’s what killed her.

I feel like I’m whining, and maybe I am, but social isolation is affecting my mental health. I am an extrovert. I need companionship. I need to get out. Truth be told I never left the house that much before all this, but the idea that I CAN”T leave the house, that I can’t do any work, and that my finances are in ruins makes me despondant.  But despite these needs, I know that I have to continue my lockdown until the “panicdemic” subsides and certainly armed insurrection isn’t the answer. But for sanity’s sake, reach out to someone who is locked down.  Not only can we get through this together, but we can ONLY get through this together.

Stay safe and stay healthy

WARNING: What follows may just teach you something but you won’t get any CEUs for it, you’ll just be better educated and informed but seriously who wants or needs that?

Some time ago, I read an article in the Metro Times (a Detroit Weekly) about a Facebook group essentially dedicated to encouraging attacks on women, Democrats, Muslims, and LGBTQ persons.  There were hundreds of specific threats of violence. You don’t have to buy my book, but I wish you would. But if you want to help follow this link. Search LinkedIn to find out where these people work and encourage their employers to fire them. This isn’t a political statement, I would react the same way if people were saying that White Heterosexual Christian Men were the targets.  Purveyors of hate need to feel real-world consequences. All it takes for evil to triumph is for good to do nothing.

Violent acts begin with violent thoughts that turn into violent posts on social media. How long are you going to continue to throw your hands up and say, “what can I do?” My second book, Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention. answers this question. This is all new material that cannot be found anywhere else. In light of all the talk and panic around gun violence, and the shamefully bad advice some “experts” are giving I hope some of you will read it and pass it along to your executives and HR leads (go ahead, expense it, they will be glad you did.)

Before you dismiss this as yet another shameless plug for my book I want you to ask yourself these questions:

  • What if anything is my employer doing to reduce its risk of a workplace attack?
  • Do the people who are doing the hiring at my workplace know the warning signs of a workplace attack?
  • What can I do to prevent workplace violence?

If you don’t have the answer to any of these questions, use your Amazon gift card to buy the book. It can be purchased in hardcover or paperback at Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

I should warn you, this isn’t a book that is pro- or anti-gun ownership rights. The book has extensive sections on spotting an unstable employee (some people’s lives will take a dark and desperate turn long after you have hired them but there are always signs), the types of work environments that tend to trigger these events, and I recently returned from Dublin, Ireland where I spoke on how companies can leverage technology to protect workers from workplace violence.  But all the books, and magazines, and speeches in the world won’t change a damned thing if you keep thinking that it can’t (or probably won’t) happen to you or someone you love. You can bet your life that we will see more similar shootings in the weeks or months as people who are currently at the brink of sanity see the news reports and think, “now’s the time”. WAKE UP, PEOPLE!!!! This book is peppered with the sarcasm, self-deprecating humor of the first book, but it also makes use of my extensive knowledge of violence prevention in the workforce (that I gained as head of training and OD for a global manufacturer.) You should buy it. Seriously I’m not telling you how to live your life but you should buy it. Okay, I AM telling you how to live your life, just buy the damned book.

Of course, my first book is still for sale, and is ALSO available in the eBook format you might rightly ask yourself, why on God’s green Earth would I read a book that contains previously released material? Simple, like the rain-forest and the polar bears my work is disappearing from the web very quickly.  All but a handful of my works for Facility Management Magazine are gone, and you can basically only go back two years on my blog (eight year’s worth of my work that ranges in quality from magnificent to mindless dreck.) And besides, about a third of the book is newly written material that cannot be found anywhere else. So buy it. People who have read it say that it belongs in everyone who works in safety’s library. It will teach you, entertain you, and make you want to read more it can be ordered here I Know My Shoes Are Untied. Mind Your Own Business or on Barnes & Noble.com.

As always, Read. Learn. Live. Share. Inspire

 

#coronavirus, #covid-19

I Am Not A Good Man

Art LaDUke

By Phil La Duke
Author
I Know My Shoes Are Untied Mind Your Own Business and
Lone Gunman Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence

Yesterday was my deceased father’s birthday. He died 18 years ago and had he lived he would have turned 94 had he lived.  His older brother passed away two or three years ago at the age of 95 so it is not out of the question that my dad, had he not been exposed to asbestos because the manufacturers of asbestos concealed the dangers of working with it from his employer. My father-in-law also died from mesiothema and was a contractor to my father’s employer. My father never blamed his employer nor did my father-in-law.  My father was anti-litigious, In fact, when we learned that my mother died from a faulty pacemaker ten years earlier than he and we were asked to join a class-action suit, he told my siblings and I that he would not be suing and he hoped that we too would not join the suit. “We could each probably make a bunch of money from this,” he told us “but medical science gave us 30 years with your mom that we wouldn’t have had. (my mother was one of the first women to survive surgery to remove a tumor on her adrenal gland circa 1967) And where do you think this company will get the money to pay for this settlement? Profits? No, they will take it out of research, and taking money from them would potentially save lives.”

My dad was a good man.  That’s what I remember about his funeral…people repeating over and over again that single and yet powerful phrase. The funeral parlor was so packed with people that we had to open not one but two extra rooms just to accommodate the many people who came to mourn him, to pay their respects, and to tell us about the many ways he had helped them.  One grief-stricken old man had to be restrained by his friends because he was shaking my father’s corpse vigorously; refusing to accept his death. He was led away weeping openly, inconsolable in his grief.

People are using the word “hero” a lot these days.  My dad was not a hero. He would have been the first to correct anyone who called him that. He helped people when he could.  As a child, we lived next door to a house that looked like the Radley house. A woman who was eccentric to be polite, crazy as a shithouse rat to be accurate, owned the house, tired of it and abandoned it.  It was one of five or six. When my dad met a man who was down on his luck with no place to go, he offered to broker a deal with the woman and help the man fix up the house so he would have a place to live.  My dad told him that he couldn’t live with us as he had seven kids in a three-bedroom house and couldn’t have a stranger living there. The man moved on despite my father’s urgings. Sometimes a person has a journey to make and it’s his or her journey to make alone. My dad wasn’t much for second-guessing other people’s choices. My dad was, after all, a good man. In the end, he died a horrible death—between chemotherapy and the cancer that literally smothered him slowly to death, it was not the ending that a good man deserved.

The settlement we received was a pittance (not that any amount of money would be fair competence for the loss of my dad) because the government felt it was important to protect these companies from going out of business.  In today’s world where privately held companies extort pay cuts from their workers to “share the pain” so they can keep their jobs, I am reminded all over again that some companies deserve to go out of business.  To cry poor mouth in hard times by asking for donations from your workforce to save a company in which they have no equity is criminal. Before the plague the job market was very tight and it promises to be again.  Don’t ask me to sacrifice for the good of the company in exchange for something I already have. Companies need to be held at least as accountable for their misdeeds and stupidity as individuals. So no, I won’t soon forget these companies who were spared a fate they deserved for killing my father.  I will remember George W. Bush dismissing these lawsuits as frivolous and pray every day that DubYa is smote by God and given an agonizing,  painful death, hopefully from something an employer hid from him. My father was a good man, he would forgive. I am n to a good man because I will NOT forgive.

People tell me I’m a lot like my dad, but we both would disagree. I suspect my dad would be deeply disappointed in how I turned out: foul-mouthed, mean, sarcastic, and belligerent toward my colleagues. I am NOT a good man.  I am not passionate about saving lives or about helping safety personnel do a better job; I’m passionate about driving the soft-headed mouthbreathers out of a function that worships stupidity like a pagan idol. I’m passionate about ending ignorance in people who cling to a lack of knowledge like it was the only lifeline keeping them from plummetting to their death.  I’m passionate about opening minds and challenging closed minds. But where my father was respected, I am dismissed or despised, and the more I am the louder I get, an ever-expanding windbag.

So what prompted all this? I am putting the finishing touches on my latest book this week.  It’s less about how we as a function are doing safety wrong and more about how to do it right. A handful of you will buy it and really enjoy it. Most of you won’t. I don’t blame you, I have been telling you you’re stupid for a decade and a half.  I used to think that book sales were slow because most of you are cheap bastards who won’t shell out $15 bucks for a book, but that’s not it. It’s because I am not a good man. This is isn’t self-pity, I’ve been on unpaid furlough for a week, but this isn’t self-revelation. No, when I sat down at the computer to write this week’s blog I had intended to write on a subject that will be included in the book: Continuous Improvement tools that are useful in Incident Investigation and in developing a Safety Strategy when I realized that I didn’t address the very real challenge in safety: industrial illness. Something that killed my dad, my brother-in-law, and my father-in-law, and yet in my arrogance, ignorance, or just plain stupidity neglected to address. Sorry, Dad. I am not a good man,=

Stay safe and stay healthy.  The only one looking out for you is you.

WARNING: What follows may just teach you something but you won’t get any CEUs for it, you’ll just be better educated and informed but seriously who wants or needs that?

Some time ago, I read an article in the Metro Times (a Detroit Weekly) about a Facebook group essentially dedicated to encouraging attacks on women, Democrats, Muslims, and LGBTQ persons.  There were hundreds of specific threats of violence. You don’t have to buy my book, but I wish you would. But if you want to help follow this link. Search LinkedIn to find out where these people work and encourage their employers to fire them. This isn’t a political statement, I would react the same way if people were saying that White Heterosexual Christian Men were the targets.  Purveyors of hate need to feel real-world consequences. All it takes for evil to triumph is for good to do nothing.

Violent acts begin with violent thoughts that turn into violent posts on social media. How long are you going to continue to throw your hands up and say, “what can I do?” My second book, Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention. answers this question. This is all new material that cannot be found anywhere else. In light of all the talk and panic around gun violence, and the shamefully bad advice some “experts” are giving I hope some of you will read it and pass it along to your executives and HR leads (go ahead, expense it, they will be glad you did.)

Before you dismiss this as yet another shameless plug for my book I want you to ask yourself these questions:

  • What if anything is my employer doing to reduce its risk of a workplace attack?
  • Do the people who are doing the hiring at my workplace know the warning signs of a workplace attack?
  • What can I do to prevent workplace violence?

If you don’t have the answer to any of these questions, use your Amazon gift card to buy the book. It can be purchased in hardcover or paperback at Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

I should warn you, this isn’t a book that is pro- or anti-gun ownership rights. The book has extensive sections on spotting an unstable employee (some people’s lives will take a dark and desperate turn long after you have hired them but there are always signs), the types of work environments that tend to trigger these events, and I recently returned from Dublin, Ireland where I spoke on how companies can leverage technology to protect workers from workplace violence.  But all the books, and magazines, and speeches in the world won’t change a damned thing if you keep thinking that it can’t (or probably won’t) happen to you or someone you love. You can bet your life that we will see more similar shootings in the weeks or months as people who are currently at the brink of sanity see the news reports and think, “now’s the time”. WAKE UP, PEOPLE!!!! This book is peppered with the sarcasm, self-deprecating humor of the first book, but it also makes use of my extensive knowledge of violence prevention in the workforce (that I gained as head of training and OD for a global manufacturer.) You should buy it. Seriously I’m not telling you how to live your life but you should buy it. Okay, I AM telling you how to live your life, just buy the damned book.

Of course, my first book is still for sale, and is ALSO available in the eBook format you might rightly ask yourself, why on God’s green Earth would I read a book that contains previously released material? Simple, like the rain-forest and the polar bears my work is disappearing from the web very quickly.  All but a handful of my works for Facility Management Magazine are gone, and you can basically only go back two years on my blog (eight year’s worth of my work that ranges in quality from magnificent to mindless dreck.) And besides, about a third of the book is newly written material that cannot be found anywhere else. So buy it. People who have read it say that it belongs in everyone who works in safety’s library. It will teach you, entertain you, and make you want to read more it can be ordered here I Know My Shoes Are Untied. Mind Your Own Business or on Barnes & Noble.com.

As always, Read. Learn. Live. Share. Inspire

 

#death, #furlough, #hero, #industrial-illness, #mesiothema, #worker-safety

Let’s Learn From COVID and Do Better Next Time

shutterstock_234929374By Phil La Duke
Author
I Know My Shoes Are Untied Mind Your Own Business and
Lone Gunman Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence

Week one after COVID and I am simultaneously tired of hearing about it and starved for information. Unlike many of you, I work from home every day (well except when I am in the field) so I am not feeling the relentlessness of being cooped up.  I still walk my dogs and attend meetings virtually not much has changed but the looming uncertainty. My former employer of several jobs ago didn’t handle the Great Recession well. He promoted me to Executive Director and then immediately cut all executive pay by 20%, he cut benefits drastically and I ended up unemployed for a total of 10 days, but it was pretty scary.  I was afraid of the worst possible scenario living in the street and never finding work again. A lot of you might be feeling the same way now.

Perhaps the most disturbing thing about this Pandemic is how woefully unprepared many countries were for this. We missed the leading indicators (I work for a global firm that, to date, has handled things in my opinion pretty darned well) and for many, this was a China problem, then it was an Italy problem, Then it came to our doorsteps and we panicked. How could we not see this coming/ the time to build ad hoc hospitals and producing more ventilators is not when the hospitals are already overwhelmed, but well before it does.  The time to limit the number of vital supplies is BEFORE the hoarders have gutted everything not after. The time to educate people on how to protect themselves against infection is BEFORE the infections are spread. We flat out blew it on this crisis but the real question is have we learned enough to do better next time.  I think we have, I hope we have, I pray we have.

Last week my publisher and my PR Manager insisted I write something about COVID-19 and against my better judgment I did.  Neither of them liked it much. It was too dark, too bleak, too negative, and too long. I don’t like having my material edited. If you read this with any sort of regularity you will understand why. When I am writing something I am writing to you. I am writing something personal to someone I don’t know. Some people like it and some don’t.  But, in this case, I acquiesced and reworked the opening paragraph and cut out three paragraphs at the end. I hate to admit it but the changes they wanted me to make made it better. You can read it in Thrive Global Magazine here: Panic In the Time of Pandemic. iI’s not my usual, visceral attack on something, but I really wanted to bring hope to those of you who are worried about how your world will look after the dust of the pandemic settles. We fear the unknown precisely because it is unknown. 

Many of us can’t wait to get back to normal, but that just isn’t going to happen.  COVID-19 caught much of the world with its pants down and many CEOs and business owners have never faced a challenge of this magnitude.  We can hope that they learn from this and we each as individuals should learn from this crisis. I would hope that we all don’t just return to business as usual because as much as I would like to reassure you, this isn’t the last global crisis we are likely to face.

In every part of the world, in every business, in every household, we should learn that our social norms as it pertains to our response to crises need to change.  If companies expect sacrifice and loyalty from their workforce now they have to sacrifice and show loyalty to workers in bad times. If we are all in this together then how can we act as if it’s “every man for himself”? How we behave now whether as a worker or a business leader will determine how things are going to be when all this is over.

Leadership, true leadership, doesn’t come from managing in good times. No, true leadership is formed in the crucible of crises. We need to do more to protect people who are self-employed, work in the gig economy, or are otherwise left vulnerable when business dries up.  We need less corporate greed and more social safety nets. I hope things never go back to normal, I hope we emerge stronger, smarter, and a more compassionate world.

But for now, all we can do is wait. 

Stay safe and stay healthy

WARNING: What follows may just teach you something but you won’t get any CEUs for it, you’ll just be better educated and informed but seriously who wants or needs that?

Bored, cooped up? Order one of my books and learn a thing or two.

Some time ago, I read an article in the Metro Times (a Detroit Weekly) about a Facebook group essentially dedicated to encouraging attacks on women, Democrats, Muslims, and LGBTQ persons.  There were hundreds of specific threats of violence. You don’t have to buy my book, but I wish you would. But if you want to help follow this link. Search LinkedIn to find out where these people work and encourage their employers to fire them. This isn’t a political statement, I would react the same way if people were saying that White Heterosexual Christian Men were the targets.  Purveyors of hate need to feel real-world consequences. All it takes for evil to triumph is for good to do nothing.

Violent acts begin with violent thoughts that turn into violent posts on social media. How long are you going to continue to throw your hands up and say, “what can I do?” My second book, Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention. answers this question. This is all new material that cannot be found anywhere else. In light of all the talk and panic around gun violence, and the shamefully bad advice some “experts” are giving I hope some of you will read it and pass it along to your executives and HR leads (go ahead, expense it, they will be glad you did.)

Before you dismiss this as yet another shameless plug for my book I want you to ask yourself these questions:

  • What if anything is my employer doing to reduce its risk of a workplace attack?
  • Do the people who are doing the hiring at my workplace know the warning signs of a workplace attack?
  • What can I do to prevent workplace violence?

If you don’t have the answer to any of these questions, use your Amazon gift card to buy the book. It can be purchased in hardcover or paperback at Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

I should warn you, this isn’t a book that is pro- or anti-gun ownership rights. The book has extensive sections on spotting an unstable employee (some people’s lives will take a dark and desperate turn long after you have hired them but there are always signs), the types of work environments that tend to trigger these events, and I recently returned from Dublin, Ireland where I spoke on how companies can leverage technology to protect workers from workplace violence.  But all the books, and magazines, and speeches in the world won’t change a damned thing if you keep thinking that it can’t (or probably won’t) happen to you or someone you love. You can bet your life that we will see more similar shootings in the weeks or months as people who are currently at the brink of sanity see the news reports and think, “now’s the time”. WAKE UP, PEOPLE!!!! This book is peppered with the sarcasm, self-deprecating humor of the first book, but it also makes use of my extensive knowledge of violence prevention in the workforce (that I gained as head of training and OD for a global manufacturer.) You should buy it. Seriously I’m not telling you how to live your life but you should buy it. Okay, I AM telling you how to live your life, just buy the damned book.

Of course, my first book is still for sale, and is ALSO available in the eBook format you might rightly ask yourself, why on God’s green Earth would I read a book that contains previously released material? Simple, like the rain-forest and the polar bears my work is disappearing from the web very quickly.  All but a handful of my works for Facility Management Magazine are gone, and you can basically only go back two years on my blog (eight year’s worth of my work that ranges in quality from magnificent to mindless dreck.) And besides, about a third of the book is newly written material that cannot be found anywhere else. So buy it. People who have read it say that it belongs in everyone’s who works in safety’s library. It will teach you, entertain you, and make you want to read more it can be ordered here I Know My Shoes Are Untied. Mind Your Own Business or on Barnes & Noble.com.

As always, Read. Learn. Live. Share. Inspire

 

Feeling Helpless? There Are Things You Can Do

shutterstock_1667211508

By Phil La Duke
Author
I Know My Shoes Are Untied Mind Your Own Business and
Lone Gunman Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence

Epidemiologists are giddy with delight. The Hundred Year Pandemic is upon us and we are in the midst of a major flu epidemic. They called H1N1 the next killer pandemic, then avian flu, then Zika virus, then Ebola (not necessarily in that order),  they have been waiting in eager anticipation for this to happen for 100 years since the Spanish Flu killed (literally) God knows how many. Seriously, check out this article in Wired by Farris Jabr Covid-19 is Not The Spanish Flu . Influenza pandemics tend to happen about once every year and frankly we were due. But before we get any deeper into this let’s level set by defining some terms. “Pandemic” and “epidemic” are two different things although washed up actors settling to be News Readers (as the Brits so much more accurately call them) read grim statistics without context and use the terms interchangeably.   Vanessa Caceres, a contributor to the magazine U.S. News and World Report, explains it better than I can in her article What’s the Difference Between an Epidemic and Pandemic? The new coronavirus disease, COVID-19, has moved from epidemic to pandemic. What does that mean?  According to Caceres, “An epidemic is a rise in the number of cases of a disease beyond what is normally expected in a geographical area, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Frequently, the rise in cases happens quickly.” while a pandemic “A pandemic is used to describe a disease that has spread across many countries and affects a large number of people. Neither the CDC nor the WHO specify how many countries or how many people need to be affected in order for something to be declared a pandemic.” So Covid-19 is both, but as the articles point out, so are a lot of diseases we don’t worry about.

We needn’t panic. For once I am going to be the voice of reason.  First the bad news: If you are elderly and/or have a compromised immune system COVID-19 is pretty nasty and if you get it you will likely die, but being elderly, you are likely to die soon anyway so don’t waste your time fretting over something you can’t control.  Take extra precautions; I still see elderly people out shopping in grocery stores. You are playing Russian Roulette with a deadly virus, and there are people who will shop for you, you can order online and have food delivered. Why are you risking your lives?

Now for some good news. Most people who get the disease will not die—getting the flu is no picnic and you may be praying to die but for most of you, you will have to wait to meet the Grim Reaper. So let’s keep things in perspective and not panic.

In my experience panic is caused by fear and the feeling of a loss of control.  We become irrational and behave in a manner that places ourselves and others in danger. So stop being selfish. 

You aren’t completely out of control, and here are some things that you can do while you are cooped up and feeling fearful.

    1. Exercise basic Health Hygiene. I am not going to get into the particulars but staying away from sick people, washing your hands frequently, and not licking hotel remote controls is something you should ALWAYS be doing. Hell I turn into Howard Hughes when I travel I practically wear Kleenex boxes on my feet. You don’t have to scrub your house with bleach (unless you are cleaning up a crime scene, and for the record, with all that’s going on this might be the optimal time to commit murder. I am not encouraging you to kill someone but if your mind’s made up, maybe now’s the time.
    2. Eat right.  I saw an old woman literally use her arm to swipe all of the ramon noodles off the shelf into her overladen shopping cart filled with overly processed food that were pretty much devoid of anything vaguely nutritious. Sure the food she was buying would last a long time, but so does the dog crap in my backyard and I am not about to eat it (even though it is probably more nutritious). Eat a balanced meal and foods high in antioxidants (fresh fruits, beans, dark leafy vegetables, Google it if you don’t know what foods are good for you.)
    3. Cook.  Really cook, don’t just microwave something from a can. Really cook.  I’m not saying you have to grind your own flour and churn your own butter, but get off your lazy but and cook nutritious food.  The choice is either healthy or easy and just in case you haven’t heard it, we are in an epidemic and a pandemic. Staying away from junk food is a good idea.
    4. Avoid mental junk food.
      While we’re on the subject of junk food, avoid the junk food posted on social media. Panicked people want only one thing, to spread their panic and be reassured that their panic is justified.  Check facts, dispute rumours and false claims. Be the voice of reason instead of another panicked member of the social media mob. Or better yet, stay off social media.And remember the most credible sources on this subject are the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the WHO (the World Health Organization, not the band.)
    5. Practice Social Distancing. This is one that has me riled. I saw on Reuters news a report that college students were ignoring the warning and going to Miami for Spring Break.OK imbeciles, listen up. social distancing isn’t just about you. You may be a carrier. You may be asymptomatic but contagious. You could be spreading the virus to the most vulnerable populations. You feel great now? Good, let’s see how you feel with a police nightstick upside your head. I know your mommy raised you by repeatedly telling you that you are a special, special boy or girl (you decide). But speaking for us who grew up with parents who told us we weren’t all that special and we’d eat what they were cooking, YOU’RE NOT SPECIAL.  This is the time for sacrifice and that might mean that you forgo spring break (the bars and restaurants are closed, it’s really tough to buy roofies, and your chances of getting laid were better back in Ohio.) 
    6. Read. You know how you have been putting off buying my books because you have such a backlog? Well now is the time to read the stack of books you just couldn’t get to (I expect an uptick in sales, don’t make me come over to your house and cough on you.). Seriously, reading a good book or two will make you feel better and help take your mind off the madness around you. Just be sure you read something positive—geez, how many times can I plug my books?
    7. Exercise.  Cooped up at home? Assemble that treadmill that has been sitting in your garage since the holidays and work out.  No home gym equipment? Do push ups, jumping jacks, or skip rope (no rope? Skip imaginary rope—I have to because skipping actual rope scares the bejesus out of my dog—the point is that all of you who have been too busy to exercise can now do so.  Exercise will help build your general health and help you fight the diseases (there are more viruses and bacterial disease out there).
    8. Stop hoarding.  There is nothing wrong with the water (except in Flint) so there is no good reason for you to hoard it. For the love of me I don’t understand people hoarding toilet paper;if I run out I will use a dryer sheet. Not only does it clean me up but it softens my butt and reduces static cling (not previously a problem, but an ounce of prevention) as an added bonus my flagellence freshens the air. Seriously people, knock it off. You are depriving medical professionals of masks that they need (and frankly most of you don’t have a clue how to use them. Just like the “I gotta die of something” idiots ignoring social distancing your selfishness is putting others at risk.
    9. Pray or Meditate. Meditation or Prayer will bring you peace and relieve stress. Relieving stress is an important factor in maintaining a health immune system.  Are you an Atheist? Agnostic? Don’t feel left out. You can pray to me; seriously what can it hurt. Check out The Universal Love Church Facebook page; it’s dedicated to the church I founded, all donations must be in the form of acts of kindness.  It’s really the act of praying or meditating that will make you feel better. As for believers, pray like crazy.
    10. Be Optimistic and Laugh. Laughter isn’t the best medicine despite decades of claims by The Reader’s Digest, but it will help you gain some perspective. And don’t catastrophize (worrying about the worst possible scenario) take comfort that one way or the other this will be over relatively soon. Finally, optimism is a choice, and there is plenty of things to be optimistic about:
      1. We know what causes it. This is huge.  The cause of other epidemics and pandemics are often unknown for months making the disease difficult to combat and to save those afflicted.
      2. We know how it is spread.  Knowing how a disease is spread makes prevention far easier.  Some of us remember the hysteria of the AIDs crisis with people speculating that it could be spread by mosquitoes, and not knowing that a transfusion of tainted blood could cause one to be infected.  Until the actual HIV virus was identified AIDS was an almost certain death sentence.
      3. Soap and Hot Water Kills the Virus. This is not a virus that is difficult to avoid catching as noted above basic Health Hygiene will generally keep you safe unless someone coughs right in your mouth in which case you have my permission to beat them til they bleed.
      4. We have a test for the virus. Even though the number of cases seem to be going up, many experts believe that this is more a function of more people exhibiting minor symptoms being tested so more cases can be identified and appropriate measures can be taken.
      5. The virus mutates slowly.  One of the major challenges in combating AIDS was the relatively quickness of the virus mutating.  A slowly mutating virus means it is easier to create an effective vaccine. It will still take awhile to create a vaccine, but it is a reason for hope.
      6. You don’t have to feel guilty about visiting elderly relatives.  If you were dreading a visit with your elderly relatives now instead of feeling guilty you can be proud that you aren’t risking infecting them.\

Stay safe and stay healthy

WARNING: What follows may just teach you something but you won’t get any CEUs for it, you’ll just be better educated and informed but seriously who wants or needs that?

Some time ago, I read an article in the Metro Times (a Detroit Weekly) about a Facebook group essentially dedicated to encouraging attacks on women, Democrats, Muslims, and LGBTQ persons.  There were hundreds of specific threats of violence. You don’t have to buy my book, but I wish you would. But if you want to help follow this link. Search LinkedIn to find out where these people work and encourage their employers to fire them. This isn’t a political statement, I would react the same way if people were saying that White Heterosexual Christian Men were the targets.  Purveyors of hate need to feel real-world consequences. All it takes for evil to triumph is for good to do nothing.

Violent acts begin with violent thoughts that turn into violent posts on social media. How long are you going to continue to throw your hands up and say, “what can I do?” My second book, Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention. answers this question. This is all new material that cannot be found anywhere else. In light of all the talk and panic around gun violence, and the shamefully bad advice some “experts” are giving I hope some of you will read it and pass it along to your executives and HR leads (go ahead, expense it, they will be glad you did.)

Before you dismiss this as yet another shameless plug for my book I want you to ask yourself these questions:

  • What if anything is my employer doing to reduce its risk of a workplace attack?
  • Do the people who are doing the hiring at my workplace know the warning signs of a workplace attack?
  • What can I do to prevent workplace violence?

If you don’t have the answer to any of these questions, use your Amazon gift card to buy the book. It can be purchased in hardcover or paperback at Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

I should warn you, this isn’t a book that is pro- or anti-gun ownership rights. The book has extensive sections on spotting an unstable employee (some people’s lives will take a dark and desperate turn long after you have hired them but there are always signs), the types of work environments that tend to trigger these events, and I recently returned from Dublin, Ireland where I spoke on how companies can leverage technology to protect workers from workplace violence.  But all the books, and magazines, and speeches in the world won’t change a damned thing if you keep thinking that it can’t (or probably won’t) happen to you or someone you love. You can bet your life that we will see more similar shootings in the weeks or months as people who are currently at the brink of sanity see the news reports and think, “now’s the time”. WAKE UP, PEOPLE!!!! This book is peppered with the sarcasm, self-deprecating humor of the first book, but it also makes use of my extensive knowledge of violence prevention in the workforce (that I gained as head of training and OD for a global manufacturer.) You should buy it. Seriously I’m not telling you how to live your life but you should buy it. Okay, I AM telling you how to live your life, just buy the damned book.

Of course, my first book is still for sale, and is ALSO available in the eBook format you might rightly ask yourself, why on God’s green Earth would I read a book that contains previously released material? Simple, like the rain-forest and the polar bears my work is disappearing from the web very quickly.  All but a handful of my works for Facility Management Magazine are gone, and you can basically only go back two years on my blog (eight year’s worth of my work that ranges in quality from magnificent to mindless dreck.) And besides, about a third of the book is newly written material that cannot be found anywhere else. So buy it. People who have read it say that it belongs in everyone who works in safety’s library. It will teach you, entertain you, and make you want to read more it can be ordered here I Know My Shoes Are Untied. Mind Your Own Business or on Barnes & Noble.com.

As always, Read. Learn. Live. Share. Inspire