Opportunity

When opportunity knocks at my door it better have a warrant. Here is the video podcast which has no video because after one look at me they decided it would hurt circulation

http://safetyjusticeleague.net/the-podcast

The Safety Thought Police

Author: I Know My Shoes Are Untied! Mind Your Own Business. An Iconoclast’s View of Workers’ Safety.
Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention
Blood In My Pockets Is Blood On Your Hands

Contributor: 1% Safer

I haven’t been writing much lately, well that isn’t exactly true. I have been writing a lot.  I am working on three books simultaneously and writing articles for Entrepreneur and Authority, but they aren’t the kind of topics or tone people are used to seeing here. So I thought I would put a burr under the establishment and address the real problem of the Safety Circle Jerk.

Dissent is essential to intellectual discourse and unfortunately, we have scarce little dissent in the world of worker safety.

I have been openly critical of the homogenization of thought perpetuated by “professional” organizations but I haven’t yet mentioned academia.  Let me begin by taking another jab at the “professional” organizations that are anything but professional.  Someone once had the great idea that people who had the word “safety” in their titles ought to know at least a little something about safety. This is, was, and will always be a great idea…in concept. I say “in concept” because the execution of the idea has been C– work at best. 

What was once meant to ensure that the people responsible for implementing safety programs were indeed qualified—either because of college education, certificate program, or years of experience—for the job for which they were hired. Like most certificate programs, many of these required Continuing Education Units (CEUs) which in my opinion are essential for keeping safety practitioners apprised of the latest breakthroughs in the field of safety.

Unfortunately, the thirst for CEUs has led to a stampede of people who only care about checking the box.  They don’t care if the topic of a speech is accurate, thought-provoking, or useful as long as they get that all-important CEU.  There are people out there who don’t give a damn whether or not they learn anything, gain insights into a complex issue, or even that they get ideas on how to solve a problem with which they are struggling. And for the record, this is not me crying “sour grapes” of my many years as a speaker at the national events I have never once not qualified for the award of CEUs.  But here is what irks me: professional organizations are the people who decide what courses qualify for CEUs. So there is at very least an ethical concern here if not an outright conflict of interest.

I contacted ASSP about having my books available for sale at their annual national meetings.  I received a condescending note that in effect read that the reviewers didn’t like my tone or “lack of professionalism”.  In my mind, the only criteria that should have mattered were whether or not the books were on the topic of safety, not whether or not the self-proclaimed intelligentsia of safety liked the book or not.  I wasn’t asking for them to endorse my books (I rather prefer that they don’t) just put them on a table and let people have an opportunity to buy them.  You can dismiss me as throwing a fit because they didn’t like my book. Maybe I am, but it pisses me off that these self-important, pedantic, waterheads are trying to restrict the diversity of opinion.  I have to ask myself how many other speakers and authors are the ASSP thought police trying to suppress? 50? 1,000? 10,000? Do they actually think that what they offer for sale (and by the way they would take the lion’s share of the proceeds so if you are thinking this is about money, think again) is somehow an endorsement? All it is is an endorsement of multiple points of view.

I cannot shake the feeling that I am no longer welcome as a speaker, contributor to their magazine and that my books cannot be offered through their online bookstore has more to do with my attack on the big lie of BBS and my criticisms of their most cherished heresy Zero Injuries than my tone and level of professionalism. My books deal with issues facing safety (I Know My Shoes Are Untied Mind Your Own Business), workplace violence prevention and how it connects to domestic abuse (Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention), and the danger of safety incentives (Blood In My Pockets Is Blood On Your Hands).  I can only assume that since ASSP has blacklisted me (although they deny it) they are in favor of poor safety practices, workplace violence, programs that lead to fraudulent injury reporting, and anything else that contradicts the opinions of the corporate sponsors.  The thought police have decided that it is better to have conferences, events, and magazine articles that are based on Pol Pot’s reeducation philosophies than they are on fomenting intelligent debate on cherished, sacred, safety practices. 

The first step toward a dictatorship is to destroy anyone who disagrees with the status quo.  But who gives a rat’s ass as long as the safety drones get those precious, precious CEUs. At least once a day I read or view something that flies in the face of what I believe. In every case, I ask myself are these sources wrong, or has my own belief-set blinded me to the truth.  If I decide that they are indeed wrong, I ask myself, are they completely wrong? If so, why? What argument would I make to demonstrate the problem with their messages? If I find that they aren’t completely wrong, I try to determine the kernels of truth on which I can build something. 

For the record I’m not special, I am not above anyone, I’m smarter than some and dumber than others, but it worries me that these voices are silenced in favor of toadies who agree just to be accepted. As for the National Safety Council, they are beneath contempt. They are more bordello than any sort of organization—leering salaciously at any corporate sponsor they can con into being their John with a couple of bucks who is bereft enough of any self-respect that he will ignore the disease-ridden to give in to his prurient carnal proclivities no matter how repulsive. Coastal is a sponsor and coincidentally a “partner” of the cult of personality that is Scott Gellar. Doctor Gellar is a perennial speaker who has been regurgitating his same poisonous nonsense for the last two decades—but despite complaints of those who attend the NSC is not about to deny him a choice speaking spot—this is what they want you to believe.

Okay, so now let’s take a look at academia. Let me start by saying that there are scarce few college professors who teach safety and who never set foot on a workplace floor.  Many (and since I haven’t done the research I can’t prove that most, but I suspect it to be true) are either adjunct faculty or left the work world and moved into academia.  

Life in academia isn’t easy. A student can complain about you and even tenured professors can be shown the door.  Some complaints should be taken seriously, but a complaint by a student that he or she didn’t like the message or that the professor was not speaking politically correctly should not.  Learning is often about challenging what you believe and making you uncomfortable.  Too many good professors have been forced out of their jobs by the safety circle jerks and this creates another generation of people who come into the field with their brains stuffed with the sanitized view of the world promulgated by the safety thought police.

I have a State of Michigan Certificate in Training Design and Development (Adult education which I thought would be dirty—you know, like the “Adult” film industry.) that I earned from the University of Michigan.  Unlike my other degrees that I have earned (no one has offered me an honorary degree) that taught me very little about how to actually do the job, this program was actually very helpful, and the fact that I was working full-time while earning my degrees. I could actually separate the highly applicable from the theoretical bullshit. But if all one is exposed to is the theoretical bullshit and never is exposed to any dissenting point of view what then will become of Safety?

But there is a sinister side to the course work in the college Safety curriculum. Here again, we have a handful of individuals spouting what they believe and ONLY what they believe. How many of you have met a newly indoctrinated college grad who knows EVERYTHING? And they know that they know EVERYTHING because a single professor told them that he or she was going to teach EVERYTHING that was worth knowing in the field of safety. This isn’t a course in basic anatomy that (with hopefully the scantest of exceptions) doesn’t have conflicting theories regarding the names of the bones in the human hands, and yet it is taught this way. College is supposed to teach critical thinking skills. These sham organizations are supposed to reinforce these critical thinking skills and teach people how to apply these skills but they are merely “pay-to-speak” informercials for whatever the “organization” wants you to think. And if there is anywhere where people need to sharpen their critical thinking skills it has to be the safety function.

It is said that when you sell hammers the whole world looks like a nail. Well I say, the only way to sell bullshit is to make sure that it is the only option offered, and when it is the only thing available you will be grateful to have bought (because of the CEUs) it but that does not change its basic nature or its source now does it?

An executive at my last company (who hired me and was my first boss) once caught a lot of flack because I bad mouthed a particular safety philosophy that more than one of the firm’s key clients (read: spends millions and millions with the firm) I didn’t mention the company for whom I worked, nor the client, nor any information even remotely close to giving away the parties tangentially involved. The other executives were on my boss’s boss’s boss like flies on shit. He was nonplussed and said, “We hired this guy for his thought leadership and you don’t get to be a thought leader by telling people what they want to hear.” I still feel good that he defended me and my work, but more than that I feel good that he got what I was about and understood that conflicting opinions are not only acceptable but essential.

Dear Readers:

I have been writing this blog since 2006 and have been very resistant to accepting advertising revenue for it.  Some of you may think that I’m stupid for doing so, but I just don’t think I can remain impartial on the topics I address if I am receiving revenue from advertisers that are selling something with which I am philosophically or fundamentally against. 

It gets to be a drag writing post after post week after week, especially for no compensation—people tend to see things that they get for free as having no value.  So if you enjoy this blog I hope you will consider buying one or more of my books.  I don’t make much on these books (the perils of being actually published versus self-published) but I gauge my relevance (rightly or wrongly) based on my book sales.  If you have already purchased one or more of my books, thank you.  You have my heartfelt gratitude and what you hopefully see as at least a book that was worth the purchase price.  But even you can help me if you are so inclined by writing a review of my book (even if you hated it) on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, or even in a LinkedIn Post.

And no, I won’t hold it against you if you just continue to read the blog and occasionally find the opportunity to think about what I’ve written,

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.

#assp, #attitude, #behavior-based-safety, #behaviour-based-safety, #culture-change, #fabricating-and-metalworking-magazine, #national-safety-council, #phil-la-duke, #safety, #safety-culture, #worker-safety

Nobody’s Perfecct

By Phil La Duke 

Author: I Know My Shoes Are Untied! Mind Your Own Business. An Iconoclast’s View of Workers’ Safety.
Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention
Blood In My Pockets Is Blood On Your Hands

Contributor: 1% Safer,

“When I was a young man I was given a check for a million dollars. I tore it up and went to the top of a mountain to contemplate the mistakes of mankind. One man in particular.

—Joe Martin, Cartoonist

There is a scene in the film “A Clockwork Orange” where the anti-hero Alex is forced to watch violent images while essentially being tortured.  Screaming in horror, his eyes held open and his head affixed to a device to ensure that he could neither close his eyes nor look away.  The dystopian experiment was to transform Alex from a man who loved rape, robbery, home invasion, gang fights, and “ultraviolence” to a law-abiding and productive member of society. Unfortunately, the experiment in extreme negative reinforcement also destroys Alex’s only socially acceptable passion, the music of Beethoven.  The experiment at first blush seems to be an unqualified success, sadly, it leaves Alex completely defenseless; his aversion to violence means he cannot fight back.

I suppose you could dismiss this as yet another “science gone mad” film (or novel) but it reminds me of the field of Safety.  From CEOs to Safety Interns those responsible for safety relentlessly refuse to admit that anything could possibly go wrong if people would just stop doing stupid things and follow the rules.  Since the dawn of time humanity has tried to recondition human beings to make a better primate, to create the quintessential human, wise beyond reckoning and without a flaw.  The sheer audacity, hubris, and stupidity of trying to re-engineer the essence of humanity seems laughable. And yet we in the field of safety just can’t resist tinkering with the human mind in an effort to eliminate human error. 

Some of the water heads in the field want to use basic classic and operant conditioning to change human behavior (see the opening paragraph). After all, if you can teach a dog to salivate by ringing a bell, why can’t you teach people to lock machinery out before entering the kill zone? Let me begin by saying that even though I have always accepted Pavlov’s experiments with his dog as absolute truth I’m skeptical that Pavlov proved causation and simply not correlation.  How do we know with absolute certainty that the dog wasn’t responding to Pavlov’s body language, or that the dog was just wondering what the creature he named “Lanky Goofball” was up to? Relax, I’m not accusing Lanky Goofball or his dog of any malfeasance or suffering from cognitive blindness. Anyway, dog and man are both long dead so there isn’t any point in looking for answers.

Other attempts to re-engineer the human brain are more subtle or understated. Recently, a pedantic turd of a Ph.D. candidate posted a study on LinkedIn that had the grand reveal of all reveals that “the use of agentive language increases blame whereas nonagentive language is less likely to produce blame”. No shit. Passive voice has been used to deflect blame since the invention of language, oh and the author hated that people used the word “nonagentive” and “passive” interchangeably.  If you are like me you might be wondering what IS the difference between passive voice and nonagentive speech. Don’t spend precious time trying to find one, “agentive” is a linguistic term that means the verb has someone specifically performing said verb, and “passive” (in the context of “passive voice”) is where the subject of a sentence is acted on by the verb so active voice, in contrast, the noun performs the verb.  That clears it up nicely right?  Essentially passive voice is the language of cowards, dopes, and the ill-prepared.  If you don’t know the answer or if you don’t want your audience to know the answer, then you use passive voice.  Let me illustrate: “I was listening to music when I wrote this post” is written in active (agentive) voice whereas “music was listened to when this post was written” is nonagentive and passive.  Are you frustrated yet? Are you wondering who could possibly be bored enough to care? Well, welcome to my world.

The author of the post, yet another safety flunky much like myself, was advocating that we in the Safety field should use passive voice to avoid the blame game. Multiple someones will make a fortune shilling this crap to business leaders. Why is it so important for people laboring in the Safety field to have people think they are smart? It just puts up unnecessary and dangerous barriers.

Pardon my blasphemy but sometimes things are someone’s fault. A specific person did a specific thing and things got real. As a kid, I was the type to poke the hornet’s nest. If a hornet stung me (and yes they did many times) it didn’t stop me from doing it again. It taught me to be quicker and had a lot of useful information about hornet behavior. (I once accidentally urinated on a rotten log filled with wood bees (that’s what we called them on the farm but they are actually hornets) and learned that you really have never seen motivation until you see the fierce dedication of a swarm of pee-soaked hornets.) I’m not saying you can motivate people by urinating on them, but then again maybe I am.  

If an employee is habitually late and instead of a written reprimand you squirted the offending employee with a spritz or two from a spray bottle of your urine? I’m postulating that you will have a highly motivated employee. Unfortunately, you probably aren’t motivating the employee to show up for work on time.  Therein lies the problem of trying to create behavioral change. Is there a possibility that the person will learn from the urine spritz and be on time? Of course. Is there a possibility that the person will grab the bottle from you and force you to drink its contents? Or to quit on the spot? Or report you to your boss and get you fired? Or…any of a million possible outcomes? Please take a moment and discuss this with your friends, family members, or colleagues and ask how they would respond to being doused in urine for being late to work. But DAMN those were some motivated hornets, they made Africanized Killer Bees look like ladybugs. AGAIN DON’T SPRAY YOUR EMPLOYEES WITH URINE. In short, people will respond to stimuli in wildly unpredictable and often dangerous ways.

Not all attempts to reprogram or control people’s decision-making have been completely unsuccessful. When I was invited to speak at the Canadian Society of Safety Engineers (CSSE) the keynote speaker was ethnobotanist Wade Davis who delivered a fascinating talk about cultural extinction caused by the written word (damn the Sumerians). He began his speech by saying that he was “best known for writing a book that was adapted into “the worst movie in history; absolute shit.” If you think I’m blunt you need to hear Dr. Davis speak. He went on to say that his speech would have nothing to do with safety, but owing to his work as a National Geographic photographer he would show us some pretty cool pictures. And cool pictures they were, projected on three giant screens—just the memory of that spectacle makes me want to take the stage again it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As it turns out Dr. Davis wasn’t even supposed to talk, or at least he wasn’t the conference planner’s first choice. It was a lot like when Tom Waits appeared on the satirical talk show, “Fernwood Tonight” where Waits was a guest solely because he was found in the Fernwood drunk tank—never underestimate the power of availability on short notice.

According to his bio, “In April 1982, ethnobotanist Wade Davis arrived in Haiti to investigate two documented cases of zombies—people who had reappeared in Haitian society years after they had been officially declared dead and had been buried. Drawn into a netherworld of rituals and celebrations, Davis penetrated the vodoun mystique deeply enough to place zombification in its proper context within vodoun culture. In the course of his investigation, Davis came to realize that the story of vodoun is the history of Haiti—from the African origins of its people to the successful Haitian independence movement, down to the present day, where vodoun culture is, in effect, the government of Haiti’s countryside.” In short, zombies do exist and they were used for manual labor.” so all you BBS fanboys don’t lose faith, completely controlling your workers is within your grasp! You just have to figure out the miasma of Haitian immigration law.

Everyone makes mistakes, and it’s a good thing that they do.  Mistakes help us to rapidly adapt.  Our subconscious minds are testing the safety of moving away from the norm.  If you touch a hot stove you don’t want to have to engage in the mental exercise of “hmm… I smell burning flesh. What should I do?”

Imagine that you are a sea bird nesting on a sandstone cliff overlooking a beach. You have good nesting areas protected from the elements, fantastic mating choices, and no predators. This is paradise but it is a fragile utopia. If you change any one of these intricate elements you end up extinct unless you can rapidly adapt.

Mistakes are key to our ability to quickly adapt. Mistakes are just experiments (often subconscious) that don’t turn out as we expected. If it weren’t for mistakes a lot of us wouldn’t be here today.  Mistakes and poor life choices are why a lot of us got into this God-forsaken field. So mistakes are good.  We always focus on the negative outcomes but seldom celebrate the serendipitous discoveries. A good portion of continuous improvement is because the person performing the task found a shortcut, but we shudder at the very idea of that. Columbus’ introduction of the Americas to Europe (it’s difficult to use the word “discovered” when referring to two continents on which a tenth of the world population was living) was a mistake; he was looking for a route to India but lucky for him he made this mistake since he had grossly underestimated the size of the Earth and were it not for his arrival in the Caribbean he would have likely starved.

We are programmed to fail so that we might recognize success. Instead of looking for the “why” maybe there is value in looking for the “what?” as in what did you learn from this? For example, I learned never to pee on a hornet. 

People will always commit errors, make poor choices, and engage in unreasonably risky behavior—that’s why we enjoy roller coasters and ghost stories.

Think SAFETY (Someone Always Fails Especially The Young.)

—15,330 days without being stung by a urine-soaked hornet let’s get pizza.

Dear Readers:

I have been writing this blog since 2006 and have been very resistant to accepting advertising revenue for it.  Some of you may think that I’m stupid for doing so, but I just don’t think I can remain impartial on the topics I address if I am receiving revenue from advertisers that are selling something with which I am philosophically or fundamentally against. 

It gets to be a drag writing post after post week after week especially for no compensation—people tend to see things that they get for free as having no value.  So if you enjoy this blog I hope you will consider buying one or more of my books.  I don’t make much on these books (the perils of being actually published versus self-published) but I gauge my relevance (rightly or wrongly) based on my book sales.  If you have already purchased one or more of my books, thank you.  You have my heartfelt gratitude and what you hopefully see as at least a book that was worth the purchase price.  But even you can help me if you are so inclined by writing a review of my book (even if you hated it) on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, or even in a LinkedIn Post.

And no, I won’t hold it against you if you just continue to read the blog and occasionally find the opportunity to think about what I’ve written,

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, 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.

#hornets

Are You Getting Screwed By The Gig Economy?

By Phil La Duke 

Author: I Know My Shoes Are Untied! Mind Your Own Business. An Iconoclast’s View of Workers’ Safety.
Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention
Blood In My Pockets Is Blood On Your Hands

Contributor: 1% Safer

Alright let’s get it out in the open right now: I have neglected writing the blog, I know how selfish I have been by not regularly providing you with content for free; what can I say? I’m a jerk.  On the other hand, I did make a commitment to myself and to you that I would only write when I had something to say, and to quote NWA, “Yo Dre, I got something to say.”

For the last three years or so I have been writing articles for Authority magazine. I am complimented for my insightful and thought-provoking questions. In these articles, I interview everyone from self-important blowhards too stupid or lazy to follow instructions to captains of industry from the complete spectrum of industries.  I must admit most of the ones who make it to print are really interesting people.  Except for life coaches.  Seriously, who in the fuck has life so figured out that they have the hubris to coach others to a better life? (And this is from a guy who has worked as a consultant for half his life! These people typically don’t have the wisdom of Jesus, or Muhammed, or Buddha, or Confucius, or that God gave geese for that matter. But that will not stop them from hanging out a shingle and hornswoggling people out of their hard-earned cash by claiming to be the urgrund of all wisdom and success.

My interviews tend to be part of a series—from 5 Secrets of Women of the C-Suite to my latest series that just concluded: “5 Trends To Look For In The Future of Work.” I can’t claim much credit for these stories since all I did was write 80% of the questions and edit the final submissions (they get edited two more times after that so they are not even close to as visceral, snotty, and raw as what you see here.)

These insights—across a broad array of topics and people—have taught me some valuable and disturbing things about business and business leaders. For starters a lot of them don’t write particularly well nor do they follow directions with any sort of prediction accuracy.  When asked what U.S.-based celebrity would you most like to have a private breakfast with (entertainers, sports figures, business leaders, and politicians routinely read the magazine—not my stuff necessarily—and there have been cases where notable public figures have reached out and met with my interview subjects. One dullard wanted to have lunch with Albert Einstein.  I said I would do my best but she needed to bring a shovel as he had been dead for many years.  To my surprise, the magazine printed my response. Anyway…

The most upsetting thing I learned in my interview is the prurient excitement with which many business leaders view the “gig economy”.

I am not a gig worker but a lot of people working in the field of Safety are indeed gig workers. Sure I have side hustles—writing books, speaking, sitting on oversight boards—but my primary employment as a W2 employee at a contract house. I essentially work for one of the major studios and that’s all I’ll say because I want to keep working for the studio. So what does it mean to be a gig worker? A gig worker is someone who is employed to complete a specific task or project and once that project is completed they move along to the next project.  If a traditional employee ascends the corporate ladder then the gig worker packs up his or her tool kit and heads off to the next gig.  

Many “entrepreneurs” love the gig economy and certainly, many more business owners are thrilled to pay someone to come in and do a job—whether it be to mow the lawn or to give a workshop on process improvement. Why? The entrepreneurs like the freedom from the tedium of doing the same job for the same company as days turn into months that turn into years that turn into decades. Employers, on the other hand, love that they don’t have to pay employment taxes, Workers’ Compensation Insurance, or any benefits whatsoever. 

Unfortunately, too many people are being forced into the gig economy and most are unprepared for the prospect-bid-deliver-prospect circle that is necessary to prosper as a gig worker.  As one gig worker put it: “I have to track the bear, hunt the bear, shoot the bear, skin the bear, and drag the bear back home. The problem” she explained, “is that while I am hunting, shooting, skinning, and dragging the bear, no one is tracking the next bear.” I hope it was a metaphor but either way she was right.  All of these steps require a different skillset and one person seldom possesses all or even most of them. Gig workers, by necessity, tend to be specialists and while it is more expensive to take your dog or cat to a licensed veterinarian to have it spayed or neutered (honestly, do we really NEED two words for that process) instead of doing it yourself after watching a YouTube video isn’t it worth it? For years businesses have pecked away at specialty trades in favor of utility workers.  In some cases, it might be okay to have a carpenter/electrician/plumber but in other cases, it’s just stupid.  The broader the work the more an individual needs to know to do the job correctly and that includes safely. I don’t work with a “handyman” to save a couple of bucks; I hire licensed, insured, and bonded journeymen contractors who know how to do the job.

The pandemic showed how tenuous most people’s social safety net was, and gig work won’t, at least in the long run, help improve this problem. In the long run, gig workers will increase their prices to cover their benefits and the pendulum will swing to the other extreme—businesses will find that it’s cheaper to keep generalists on hand to do work and to build loyalty and a sense of belonging in their workforce, but I fear that day is far off—of course when I worked for the Devil he used to dismiss planning with an offhand, “in the long run we’ll all be dead”.

So how is the gig economy going to screw you (if it isn’t already)? Well…we already are seeing a good share of this because of the pandemic:

1. A shortage of workers.  Hanging out a shingle and going out on your own is scary and more than a lot of people don’t want to live under the uncertainty of working from gig to gig.  Live isn’t a Steinbeck novel and proponents of the gig work want us to go door to door begging for rags or to sharpen our knives for a penny or two. In the meantime, people will continue looking for full-time positions that just aren’t there.

2. A shortage of customers. Domino’s Pizza is experimenting with driverless delivery vehicles (I wonder if they will still reek like pot?) while Walmart mulls whether or not to replace cashiers with self-checkout kiosks.  Henry Ford didn’t invent the automobile, and some argue that he didn’t invent the assembly line, but what is not in dispute is Henry Ford invented the middle/consumer class.  Henry Ford’s greatest contribution to history was his delta-star idea of paying a wage that would virtually assure that his workers could and likely would buy the very product they were making.  But driverless delivery vehicles don’t eat pizza and kiosks don’t buy groceries. One mouth breather IT executive pointed out that someone will have to program those kiosks so while the cashier job is going away programming jobs will replace them.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 3,379,100 people were employed as cashiers in 2020; it won’t take that many programmers to develop the code for these kiosks. In fact, there are computer programs that now can write code, faster and more accurately than humans, so the other dimwitted Silicon Valley dipstick who suggested that “everyone should learn to write code” is even dumber than his suggestion. Kiosks and driverless vehicles don’t need safety supervisors.

3. A shortage of jobs.  This may seem counterintuitive because the solution to a shortage of workers would seem to be fewer jobs. But the jobs created will require specific skills that are not likely to match up with the skills of the displaced workers.  I remember when Detroit was crippled with unemployment as unfair business practices by Japanese firms (and mismanagement and arrogance by the executives—suck on that Tom—of the Big 3) sent the U.S. car companies into a tailspin.  Since many of the high seniority workers were put into the job bank (a jointly funded program that essentially leased workers to other industries or charities.)  The host company would pay the UAW-Big 3 what they ordinarily pay for the services and the workers would go to work.  I didn’t have enough seniority to get into the job bank but I was relieved.  Someone decided that it would be a good idea to have auto workers work at Taco Bell. As it turned out, my ex-colleagues colorful lexicon of expletives and complete disdain for a supervisor with a Napoleon complex who reeked of Clearasil. The result was predictable and it blows my mind that nobody has made a movie about it. The workers could not quit working or they would lose their job bank benefits. Imagine a college sophomore trying to force a hung-over badger to fold a burrito to spec against its will and you have some idea how things went.

4. OSHA doesn’t give a crap about the safety of gig workers. Time was when we could call down the wrath of the government by invoking the General Duty Clause but it doesn’t apply to gig workers and even work-from-home workers are basically out of luck when seeking the help of OSHA. Gig work will be the death of Safety workers, pundits, and plebians alike. If I sound like an over-caffeinated Chicken Little I’m a safety guy; it’s my job.

5. Massive income inequality.  The profits realized by automation and the gig economy will not likely be dispersed equally.  A handful of small firms will get fabulously wealthy and the economic bell curve will turn into the economic hourglass.  Artificial intelligence has matured to the point that McKinsey Global Institute has estimated that (AI-enabled) automation will eliminate 73 million jobs by 2030. What is even more alarming is that the majority of these jobs will be white collar jobs.  A lot of people poo-pooed this scientific and respected research but the fact remains that job growth is completely out of whack with this decline.  Marie Antoinette famously said, “let them eat cake” (she didn’t really say that.  Apparently, there were two types of bread at the time, one the kind of bread that the peasants ate and another that was more of a coffee cake. Poor Marie lived a sheltered life and when she was told that the peasants had no bread she honestly didn’t understand why they couldn’t just switch to the pastry.)  She was married at 14 and executed at 37, polite to the end her last words were “Pardon me, sir, I didn’t mean to” after she stepped on the foot of her executioner. Carnegie, Rockefeller, the Astors, and others understood history and the dangers of income equality and endowed foundations, built theaters, museums, and libraries. 

This might sound like liberal ranting and fear-mongering, but history has shown that when income inequality rises to a certain level revolution comes.  It can be bloody like the French and Russian revolutions or driven by social reform like the U.S. saw under Teddy Roosevelt. I have been seeing more and more disturbing tweets advocating for a progressive agenda that includes universal income (everybody gets a couple of grand a month to do nothing), student loan forgiveness, and other even more radical measures to take from the rich and give to the poor.  Don’t worry unless you’re worth upward of $100 million you don’t have anything to worry about.  But with one side storming the capital and the other side looking for the mother of all handouts we just might get caught in the crossfire.

Dear Readers:

I have been writing this blog since 2006 and have been very resistant to accepting advertising revenue for it.  Some of you may think that I’m stupid for doing so, but I just don’t think I can remain impartial on the topics I address if I am receiving  revenue from advertisers that are selling something with which I am philosophically or fundamentally against. 

It gets to be a drag writing post after post week after week especially for no compensation—people tend to see things that they get for free as having no value.  So if you enjoy this blog I hope you will consider buying one or more of my books.  I don’t make much on these books (the perils of being actually published verses self-published) but I gauge my relevance (rightly or wrongly) based on my book sales.  If you have already purchased one or more of my books, thank you.  You have my heartfelt gratitude and what you hopefully see as at least a book that was worth the purchase price.  But even you can help me if you are so inclined by writing a review of my book (even if you hated it) on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, or even in a LinkedIn Post.

And no, I won’t hold it against you if you just continue to read the blog and occasionally find the opportunity to think about what I’ve written,

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.

#attitude, #attitudes-toward-safety, #automation, #gig-economy, #phil-la-duke, #worker-safety

Who Is Funding Your Thinking?

Who’s Funding Your Thinking?

By Phil La Duke 

Author: I Know My Shoes Are Untied! Mind Your Own Business. An Iconoclast’s View of Workers’ Safety.
Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention
Blood In My Pockets Is Blood On Your Hands

Contributor: 1% Safer,

“I’ll believe in anything you want if there’s a paycheck in it”.

—Winston Zeddmore, “Ghostbusters”

It’s been a rough year. I’ve lost a lot of friends and family to COVID-19 (yes they died of this disease—I had one asshole ask me for an autopsy report from my stepmother who died of the disease—or politics which severs relationships as surely as death does.  The solitude of lockdowns doesn’t really affect me. I used to spend 80% of my time on the road and the rest of my time working from home. As much as an extrovert as I am, being alone doesn’t bother me

So the fact that I miss speaking engagements may be surprising to some of you. Let me clear up a common misperception: I did NOT retire from the public (or private speaking) . I quit speaking 

at conferences because the demands from the water heads that run these organizations kept increasing and the benefits kept diminishing.  What’s more, they don’t want me as a speaker.  The Nimrod Safety Conference (NSC), the self-proclaimed arbiters of all safety thought, explained to me that while my sessions were consistently well attended and well received, it had changed the process for selecting speakers.  It now divides returning speakers into one of four quadrants based on the participant evaluations.  The speakers that received the lowest half of the evaluation scores were eliminated from further consideration as speakers. The remaining speakers were further segmented, the top 25% of highly evaluated speakers were essentially automatically assured a speaking spot while those who were above fifty percent but below 75% were (and they didn’t put it this way) selected as fill-in speakers.  Screw that.  I may not be everyone’s favorite speaker but I won’t be a fucking consolation prize.  I shell out a ton of money to appear (while my employer will generally allow me time off to speak all travel expenses are on me) and speak and I think that after speaking ten times at the NSC a modicum of gratitude is due.

As for the American Society of Safety Punks (ASSP “we put the ass in ASSP) I submitted my books for inclusion for sale in the association’s book store.  The books were soundly rejected with the explanation that, “these aren’t the kind of books our members want to read.” So apparently I can come and speak for free but I can’t sell my books in their bookstore. 

This got me thinking (my wife and I have a standard response to this kind of statement courtesy of the movie, “Rounders”. It is “you’re thinking now Grandma? That’s HUGE! We use it so often that when one of us says anything about thinking she or I will pause and say, “okay say it”) is it right, or wise, or appropriate to have a handful of intellectually constipated buffoons determine the topics to which we have access? What difference does it make to ASSPholes whether you buy my book from their books stores? It’s not like they are recommending them.  Furthermore both the ASSP’s and NSC’s selection process for speakers, books for sale, and keynote speakers amount to a cabal of a handful of halfwits to force their agendas down our throats.  Take for example the categories on the application for being a speaker for the NSC.  One category is Behavior Based Safety.  Tell me one of the big sponsors isn’t making bank on this horribly stupid approach to worker safety.

All opposition to the ridiculousness spewed by Scott Gellar et al is being driven out of mainstream safety. Facility Safety Magazine editor Chris Sandford transitioned from his role as editor-in-chief to the helm of the publisher’s original magazine,  Alan Quilley is dead, George Robotham left us before him, Jim Leeman retired from writing and was unjustly forced out of his teaching position at Tulane University, the great Dave Johnson was pushed out of his editor-in chief-role at Industrial Safety and Hygiene Magazine (ISHM) to make way for a younger less experienced person who I am certain has her pronouns on her business cards (for the record I am not going to misuse pronouns (them instead of him/her) either invent a new pronoun—I suggest “em”—or better yet stop talking about me behind my back and you won’t need pronouns.  I was asked to introduce myself by saying my name, my pronouns, and where I was from. I told them my pronouns are Mr. La Duke, or his majesty.)

Dave Collins the undisputed curator of all things safety has devoted most of his professional career to his incredibly useful www.safetyrisk.net the most comprehensive and fair-minded safety resource bar none has thrown his hands up in disgust at the intellectual wasteland that LinkedIn has become.  LinkedIn used to be a useful forum where neophytes could participate (actively or passively) with truly great thinkers in safety, risk, performance improvement, and a host of other useful topics.  But now it is the creepy “Single-White Female” version of Farcebook (I’m currently in Farcebook jail because you can apparently collude with foreign governments to tamper with U.S. elections, destabilize fragile African governments, and encourage bullying to the point where teenagers are killing themselves but you can’t use the term “throat punch” without being barred for 30 days by some algorithm. You can appeal but another algorithm will return the same result, and if you appeal from there you will get an automated message that tells you that they have too many appeals so chances are your explanation won’t ever be seen by an actual human being, or what passes for a human being in Zuckerberg’s famous pig’s world.) And finally, Dr. Robert Long, an expert in risk and author of many books on the topic has left LinkedIn presumably never to return.  As one of my contacts messaged me about my criticism of LinkedIn by saying, “I only go on to LinkedIn to see what those two Australian guys have to say,” referring to Collins and Dr. Long. I found this statement telling. Even Kimberley De Selincourt got married, had a child (who she refused to name after me) and took an extended leave from “Health and Safety International Magazine” which feels more like an early retirement.

So who IS making the decisions regarding who speaks and writes for the associated magazines of the professional organizations? Well the current president of ASSP is Bradley D. Giles who earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Southern Illinois University–Carbondale if that school sounds familiar you might have heard of it because that is where E. Scott Gellar earned his Ph.D. in psychology. Southern Illinois University is ranked #263 in National Universities in contrast to my alma mater, the University of Michigan–Dearborn, (the Harvard of Dearborn) was only ranked 31st and it received a “C” grade. I’m not knocking a C, in fact, a C was the answer to many of my academic-themed prayers. I’m sorry that was petty and mean-spirited but so am I, and besides the quality of the education one receives is often more about the student’s discipline and desire to work hard of which I had neither. The point I am laboring to make is how impartial vis-a-vis Dr. Gellar and his philosophy is Mr. Giles likely to be? Don’t get me wrong, I know plenty of gaping assholes who graduated from my alma mater, but I still think I am generally biased toward people who graduated from UM-Dearborn, and I don’t think I am alone.

There is a real danger in having the two most popular Safety organizations looking to push one school of thought over all others.  These organizations should stop trying to homogenize thought and the philosophies of Safety.  I’m not even saying that there is a deliberate conspiracy to squelch any dissent but it sure feels like it. 

Years ago I worked for a global business consultancy and someone (probably my clinical imbecile of a boss) sent my blog to the CEO who freaked out that I was criticizing God knows what (how much do you think the company paid in wages to have the CEO reading my blog that’s some damned good “executiving.” A real top priority)? and this set in motion a shit storm of epic proportions.  Fortunately for me, one of the American executives said, “I’m not going to tell him what to write or what not to write. You don’t get to be a thought leader by telling people what they want to hear.”  This is precisely what the monetization of the professional organizations has devolved into—” if we court controversy we risk offending our customers” (don’t delude yourself into thinking you are seen as “members” except maybe in the vulgar slang sense of that word.) Well, I may be an ass. I may be rude, crude, and obnoxious but I aim for the gut because if something doesn’t elicit a visceral response nothing will change and change is desperately needed.

Silencing someone with whom you disagree is just stupid.  You won’t learn anything from doing so and you won’t teach anything either. I was always hassled by my boss about my blog.  He once insisted that I remove a reference to my first car as a Ford POS. For the love of FUCK! It was a 1976 Grenada and calling a piece of shit was the nicest thing I could say about it, and yet, this boob thought that the engineers who slapped this hunk of junk together were still on the job some 43 years later and much less they would not only be pissed off but they would be pissed off enough to kill any business we were doing with them.

So what does all this mean? Where is the next generation of dissidents? The Safety Justice League (a name given to them not a name they selected) to a person has suffered greatly because of their resistance to buckling under to the pressure to challenge the status quo.  We need more people to show some intestinal fortitude and challenge the stupidity out there and to pick up the mantle of discontent with Safety and cockamamie ideas and models and junk science and…well you get the picture.  And frankly, someone among these fresh-faced earnest young safety professionals need to step up and not only tell me that I am full of shit but argue coherently as to WHY my ideas are wrong-headed. The greatest compliment anyone can pay me is “I don’t always agree with you, but you always make me think.”  I don’t need anyone out there to be a safety drone that agrees with everything I have to say. I change my opinions (just not about my first car) as any thinking person should when confronted with an argument that makes sense.

Someday, perhaps someday soon, I too will die and only my words will remain.  Will they just be footnotes to the accepted theory of safety? The rantings of a barking rat who never had anything nice or complimentary to say about people who tried so hard? I can get a brain-damaged howler monkey to try hard, results are what matter. If you tried hard and failed then you just wasted your time and mine, and perhaps that will be my legacy—he tried hard and accomplished nothing. Anyway, I will be dead so it’s not exactly a top priority as far as shit about which I have to worry.

Dear Readers:

I have been writing this blog since 2006 and have been very resistant to accepting advertising revenue for it.  Some of you may think that I’m stupid for doing so, but I just don’t think I can remain impartial on the topics I address if I am receiving  revenue from advertisers that are selling something with which I am philosophically or fundamentally against. 

It gets to be a drag writing post after post week after week especially for no compensation—people tend to see things that they get for free as having no value.  So if you enjoy this blog I hope you will consider buying one or more of my books.  I don’t make much on these books (the perils of being actually published versus self-published) but I gauge my relevance (rightly or wrongly) based on my book sales.  If you have already purchased one or more of my books, thank you.  You have my heartfelt gratitude and what you hopefully see as at least a book that was worth the purchase price.  But even you can help me if you are so inclined by writing a review of my book (even if you hated it) on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, or even in a LinkedIn Post.

And no, I won’t hold it against you if you just continue to read the blog and occasionally find the opportunity to think about what I’ve written,

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.

#assp, #dissent, #national-safety-council

Let’s Blame God

By Phil La Duke 

Author: I Know My Shoes Are Untied! Mind Your Own Business. An Iconoclast’s View of Workers’ Safety.
Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention
Blood In My Pockets Is Blood On Your Hands

Contributor: 1% Safer,

“Dear God, hope you get the letter and

I pray you can make it better down here

I don’t mean a big reduction in the price of beer

But all the people that you made in your image

See them starving on their feet

Cause they don’t get enough to eat from God”.—”Dear God” XTC

I didn’t enter the Safety field via the usual route, which I assume is running away from home, being picked up by a stranger at a bus depot who treats you nicely and when you tell him that you are hungry and have no place to stay and no place to go.  He takes you home and feeds you and gives you a place to sleep and lets you play video games all day and do pretty much what you want.  Then one day things turn ugly and the once kind stranger becomes aggressive and threatening. He lets you know in no uncertain terms that it’s time you earn your keep—or else. The next thing you know you are the safety specialist on a construction site, or factory floor, or a warehouse, or in a mine, or some other workplace.  You didn’t have a choice other than to take a job in safety or live on the streets. No, mine was a much different journey.

My first experience with safety was when I was working the line at the General Motors Fleetwood Plant in 1985.  There weren’t any safety people to speak of and if you did get hurt you were sent to medical and examined by a doctor who would give you an aspirin and treat you like the malingering oaf that he assumed you were. This left an indelible stamp on my impression of the Safety trade—I later learned that the safety practitioner was a failed beautician and brother of one of the plant’s area managers.  He did nothing which is just as well because judging from my interactions with him he did nothing well.

After leaving GM in a Stalin-like purge that closed 16 plants and permanently idled nearly 20,000 workers. I went back to college—I was accepted by the University of Michigan-Dearborn (the Harvard of Dearborn according to some) on a clerical error and earned my degree in Adult Education. My first grown up job was in Training (some industrial educators bristle at the term “training” saying “you train dogs, you educate people” to which I reply “you might not mind your sixth grade daughter getting sex education at school but you probably don’t want her getting any sex training.”) but the pay was low and for the next ten year or so I moved around a lot in my career.  I found I had a real knack for Organizational Design (my degree required us to take classes in business, organizational development, communication, education) and spent decades fixing broken companies. Contrary to popular belief, companies typically start out running well and then break, rather they struggle with growing pains; they are top performers for a while and soon find out that the accountant who is great at handling cash flow for a $500K company can’t handle the cash flow of a $10 million company.  I did a lot of succession planning, make-buy analysis (deciding whether it was more economical to train an existing worker or to hire an outsider who already has the requisite skills.)

The company I worked for had a long history of contempt for training; it was seen as a waste of time and resources.  I learned that to survive I needed to: quantify the cost of the problem, quantify the cost of the solution, determine the amount of  the return on investment and length of time when the company would see it.  My job required me to use hard numbers, facts, and the wisdom to take credit when an executive praised an accomplishment and dump the blame on some hapless idiot when things went sideways.

I was trained by both Toyota and BMW in creative problem solving and developed a class in problem solving for our company. I wasn’t a “warm and fuzzy” trainer who fixed things with weasel words and hugs. I wielded facts like a meat cleaver. What you thought meant less than shit, but what you could PROVE….well now, that was gold.

So when the phone rang and my friend and ex-coworker called and asked me to come and work for a company that was going to take a large, global company from being the worst in safety to being the best I laughed and said, no (expletive) way. I told him flat out that I was in the business of change and safety was in the business of handing out Bandaids, kissing boo-boos, and essentially acting blindly with no regard to the scientific method or facts. Eventually he told me that they needed me because they wanted to start a “safety revolution” that would rival the quality revolution of the ‘80s.  I was intrigued and joined the team a short while later. We applied many of the problem solving tools to safety—after all, what is safety but solving problems.  A system flaw either results in damage to the machinery, the product, the workers, or the customer experience.  It seemed like an apt fit.  And I have spent my life since that time trying to convince dullards that one cannot sit and postulate a theory—based only on myopic anecdotal information, apply it universally to all people in all cultures (not corporate cultures ACTUAL societes) and spew out hackneyed books that will be palatable to the the dimwits who plan the professional conferences.  These people effectively determine what most of us will hear, read, and attempt to put into practice.

Years ago, when I was a Global Business Consultant, I referenced my first car (a 1976 Ford Granada) as a Ford POS.  To describe it as such was to insult actual pieces of feces.  He worried loudly and went all the way to his boss’s boss to complain.  On hearing the complaint the man in question who hired me said that he didn’t think the engineers of the infamous crap wagon were still employed—some 40 years later, but furthermore, you can’t be a thought leader by telling people what they want to hear. I would add you can’t learn anything by hearing people tell you what you already know…but what does any of this have to do with God?

So many people in safety believe that causation is always linear, that is to say, an incident is caused by something, which is caused by something, which is caused by something, until the answer is: the operator, customer, or end user screwed up.

I got thinking (at my house this statement almost always is followed by a quote from the movie “Rounders”, “you’re thinking now Grandma? that’s HUGE!”) what if we used this method to the penultimate conclusion? Let’s try it:

Problem Statement: Operator attempted to free a part without locking out

Cause: The machine was jammed

Why #1:  Why was the machine jammed?

Cause: The part was incorrectly loaded into the machine causing it to jam

Why #2: Why was the part incorrectly loaded into the machine?

Cause: The worker was a careless, lazy, oaf who screwed up.

Why #3: Why was the worker a careless, lazy, oaf who screwed up.

Cause: Because nobody is perfect, it is the nature of being human to make mistakes.

Why #4: Why is it human nature to make mistakes?

Cause: God created man in his image but for some inscrutable reason made man a deeply flawed creature.

Why #5: Why did God create something that was doomed to make errors

Cause: Because God has a sick sense of humor.

I know this will rankle some “true believers” and others will roll their eyes because “I’m not doing it right”.  Well tough. The truth is when you use the 5-whys the point isn’t to delve into a singular line of causation, and if we do that pretty soon it’s like having a frustrating argument with a three-year-old who counters every explanation with “why?” until you are ready to scream “just because.”

Why are we so quick to expect perfection from others and so slow to admit that we don’t know the answer? Because admitting that we are wrong is hard, and blaming the failings of others is easy. I used to have a client who was a safety supervisor who would say, “I don’t know” and the conversation would end there.  Everyone knew that he had no intention of doing any sort of further investigation.  What’s worse is we all accepted it.

But think of how absolutely freeing it is to blame things on “an act of God”.  I had a belligerent conference attendee challenge me with, “some injuries are just an act of God” to which I answered, “if God is actually out to kill you I can’t help you, and if he is looking to kill your people…well, there’s not much you can do about it.”  There’s not much you can do about it—take a moment and reflect on that; really let it sink in. If there’s not much you CAN do about it, then there’s also not much that anyone can EXPECT you to do about it. You don’t even have to pretend to work on it—there’s not much you WILL do about it and if you get challenged on it you can always blame God.  It’s God’s will that this injury occurred, and if it is God’s will that this injury occurred then might it not be God’s will that all injuries occur? And who are we to question God’s plan? I’m no theologian but I’m pretty sure that blaming God pisses him off so if you want to blame anyone why not blame Cthulhu? It will confuse management and you won’t have to exercise analytical skills.

p.s. anyone who comments that they will pray for me loses a testicle.

Dear Readers:

I have been writing this blog since 2006 and have been very resistant to accepting advertising revenue for it.  Some of you may think that I’m stupid for doing so, but I just don’t think I can remain impartial on the topics I address if I am receiving  revenue from advertisers that are selling something with which I am philosophically or fundamentally against. 

It gets to be a drag writing post after post week after week especially for no compensation—people tend to see things that they get for free as having no value.  So if you enjoy this blog I hope you will consider buying one or more of my books.  I don’t make much on these books (the perils of being actually published verses self-published) but I gauge my relevance (rightly or wrongly) based on my book sales.  If you have already purchased one or more of my books, thank you.  You have my heartfelt gratitude and what you hopefully see as at least a book that was worth the purchase price.  But even you can help me if you are so inclined by writing a review of my book (even if you hated it) on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, or even in a LinkedIn Post.

And no, I won’t hold it against you if you just continue to read the blog and occasionally find the opportunity to think about what I’ve written,

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.

#attitude, #attitudes-toward-safety, #behavior-based-safety, #phil-la-duke, #root-cause-analysis, #safety, #safety-culture, #worker-safety

Snake Bit: This Time the Snake Oil Salesmen Have Gone Too Far

Photo by Pixabay  from Pexels

By Phil La Duke 

Author: I Know My Shoes Are Untied! Mind Your Own Business. An Iconoclast’s View of Workers’ Safety.
Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention
Blood In My Pockets Is Blood On Your Hands

Contributor: 1% Safer,

For more than two decades I have written this blog and railed against what I see as the greatest threat to worker safety—snake oil salesmen. For those unfamiliar with the term, a snake oil salesman was originally used to describe a fraud who traveled 19th century America selling potions that consisted of ingredients that ranged from the innocuous to the out-and-out lethal.  The seller would claim that the exotic ingredients, for example, snake oil, would cure anything and everything that ails you. The snake oil salesmen were quick-talking swindlers who were long gone before anyone could hold them accountable for the damage they caused. By the time someone got sick, the snake oil salesman was off to the next town with the rubes lining up to be suckered.

I have encountered many a snake oil salesman in the world of Safety, from the ex-coworker who stole the intellectual property of my employer, swapped one word from the offering (even retaining the logo), and sold it as his own, to smug academics who wrote a book or two on how Behavior-Based Safety and blaming the injured was the way to a safer workplace, to the con artists who saw a speech on culture and rebranded themselves as cultural transformation architects.  All made promises that they could not deliver, but hey, caveat emptor!

This week I received the following from a publicist trying to get me to write an article about a new shoe for healthcare workers.  What follows is absolute, cut-and-paste truth, and it is terrifying that anyone—any person, company, or french poodle could ever present this as truth:

I won’t use the names of the person or company to abet the guilty. Please note the capricious boldface is all on her.

To: Phil La Duke

From: Unethical and clueless Public Relations Pukebag

Subject: New type of PPE: footwear protection that was needed even before the pandemic

Date: September 14, 10:02 a.m.

Hi Phil:

Healthcare workers around the US are have been waiting for a footwear solution to protect them from contracting diseases via their feet on the job: this was a danger to them even before the pandemic. The feet are the forgotten, disease entry-point. 

 Contaminated shoes transmit COVID-19 and many other diseases and infections–including HIV, Hepatitis B & C, syphilis, etc.–which result in illnesses and even fatal outcomes, for healthcare workers and their family members. 

Consider this: After over 1 year in a pandemic, there has not been even 1 single provider of protective PPE footwear; but there is now. 

Healthcare workers across the country and locally, and members of the National Association of Nurses and other nursing education foundations, are excited about (BRAND) and are wearing them. 

(BRAND), is new PPE Footwear® that was created by (Name Drop), a former Hollywood luxury shoe designer who immediately pivoted from making A-list celebs shoes, after a family member of his almost died last year, from COVID-19.  

Can I interest you in a conversation with (Founder) and nurses and doctors who are advocating for shoe PPE, about the issue of proper, head to toe COMPLETE healthcare worker protective gear?

When I challenged the efficacy of the claims that these shoes prevented people from contracting COVID-19 and/or syphilis the publicist sent me a follow-up email with a link to a study that essentially said that medical facilities floors were hotbeds of infectious bacteria (not for the record, viruses).  

I worked in healthcare for several years and even wrote a course on infection control, so this is not a subject of which I am completely ignorant, so let’s apply our keen problem-solving skills and dissect this email, shall we?

  1. Healthcare workers around the US are have been waiting for a footwear solution to protect them from contracting diseases via their feet on the job: this was a danger to them even before the pandemic. The feet are the forgotten, disease entry-point.” There have been footwear solutions that protect healthcare workers from contracting syphilis through foot contact for CENTURIES; they’re called shoes and healthcare employees are required to wear them in pretty much any hospital. Furthermore, in clean-room settings (intensive care, operating rooms, etc.)  employees are often required to wear disposable booties over their shoes to further control the spread of infection. 
    This claim took me back to my high school days where I had a class called  Sex and Human Relationships. The faculty always referred to the class as “Relationships” but the students dubbed it “Sex”.  I would deliberately go to my next class late, burst in and say “Sorry I’m late, I was having sex with Sister Judith”.  I did this at LEAST three times a week, and probably more.  I still thought it was funny even after no one else did, but I continued doing it.
    Only a nun can make a class on sex boring, but Sister Judith gave it her earnest best.  One day I was talking about something completely off-topic (I want you to pause a moment and ponder the level of shear unadulterated boredom to which one has to sink to bore a healthy teenage boy with a conversation about sex) when an aggrivated Sister Judith, tired of talking over me, said, “Mr. LaDuke! True or false: you can get venereal disease from a door knob?”  I smiled and slowly leaned back in my chair—I couldn’t believe my dumb luck at having been given the perfect straight line—and said, “well Sister…that depends entirely on what you’re doing with that door knob.” I was sent to the vice principal’s office to tell the simpering weasel in a bad suit and worse toupee my latest transgression.  I started out by saying, “well I was in the middle of having sex with Sister Judith when…” just to make things worse. He stopped me and lectured me about something but his voice sounded like blah, blah, blah.  I didn’t learn much in that class but I did learn that one cannot get a sexually transmitted disease without…well…having some form of sex.  I am not in any position to lecture any of you on your prurient interests or sexual proclivities but let me just say this: if you are going to be touching the bottom of a healthcare worker’s dirty, dirty shoes in, with, or around your bathing suit parts, wear a condom.
  2. Contaminated shoes transmit COVID-19 and many other diseases and infections–including HIV, Hepatitis B & C, syphilis, etc.–which result in illnesses and even fatal outcomes, for healthcare workers and their family members.” This is obviously a scare tactic cooked up to bolster the specious claims.  For someone to contract COVID-19 from walking across a floor would require a person to cough virus laden water droplets and then have the healthcare worker walk through the puddle of mucus immediately remove his or her shoe and snort the bottom of it like a stockbroker snorting coke off an Vegas hooker’s ass. (Now THERE’s an untapped PPE market.) Even in this unlikely (I pray) scenario, the odds would be (according to a virologist who is on an oversight board with me) around 900,000 to 1.  So I am not saying healthcare workers should engage in such practices (hey the odds are better of getting sick this way than the odds are of me winning a multi-state lottery but I still buy a ticket.)
    I am equally incredulous about people catching HIV from foot to floor contact.  The HIV virus is incredibly fragile outside the body and is transmitted through blood to blood contact, or a couple of other body fluids that I really don’t need to mention do I? Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t suddenly found religion or matured in anyway, but let’s just say when I say I am going to put my foot in someone’s ass: a) it’s just a figure of speech b) I most likely wouldn’t be doing it to a sick person, and C) I would definitely be wearing shoes (or more likely books because they would hurt more) when putting a foot in someone’s ass.

I won’t address Hepatitis B and C because I don’t know enough about the diseases to offer an informed opinion on the subject. I will however say that if a single person ever died—or even contracted—HIV, COVID-19, Hepatitis A–Z it would be the lead story of every news outlet in the world; color me sceptical.

  1. “Consider this: After over 1 year in a pandemic, there has not been even 1 single provider of protective PPE footwear; but there is now.” Okay, this is technically true but still a big fat lie.  It is true that “there hasn’t been a SINGLE provider of protective footwear” but that’s because there are thousands.  I did a google search and it returned a result of 853,000,000 in 1.04 seconds.
  2. “Healthcare workers across the country and locally, and members of the National Association of Nurses and other nursing education foundations, are excited about (BRAND) and are wearing them.” So what? Healthcare workers across the country and locally (um…local to where exactly?) are wearing Nike tee shirts, or baseball caps, or latex catsuits, what exactly does this prove. Also, if there is a “National Association of Nurses”  (there are dozens of organizations that have some combination of those words in them) I couldn’t find it after an exhaustive web search (it’s probably one of those secret societies like the Masons—or the Mansons for that matter,)
  3. (BRAND), is new PPE Footwear® that was created by (Name Drop), a former Hollywood luxury shoe designer who immediately pivoted from making A-list celebs shoes, after a family member of his almost died last year, from COVID-19.” How is footwear a registered trademark? And I don’t buy for a microsecond that so foo-foo luxury shoe designer from Hollywood was so moved because “a family member of his almost died…from COVID-19.” In my opinion, he was far more likely that his business was done and he moved vulture-like into a business niché that would return a fast buck.  And there is NOTHING in the press release that would lead anyone to believe that he knows ANYTHING about making PPE or protective footwear. This is yet another case of someone solving a problem that nobody had.  He didn’t find a need and fill it, rather, he invented a fake need and now is trying to sell his wares under false pretenses. 
  4. “Can I interest you in a conversation with (Founder) and nurses and doctors who are advocating for shoe PPE, about the issue of proper, head to toe COMPLETE healthcare worker protective gear? Um…no, well not unless you want me to ream these people out for misleading people and coercing them into buying shoes that don’t really meet the OSHA standards for protective footwear. (no steel/composite toe or other appropriate protection). These shoes are coated with an “antimicrobial” coating. I suspect this is gobblety-gook since a microbe is microorganism too small to be seen with the naked eye and a virus is a submicroscopic organism that only reproduce inside the body of a living organism. Also, take notice that the publicist invites me to talk to nurses and doctors (not virologists) who are advocating for shoe PPE (a nonsense word combination I can’t believe anyone who knows anything about safety would refer to “shoe PPE”. What are we trying to protect shoes from? What’s next, glasses PPE? Hard Hat PPE?

Some people will dismiss me as an alarmist, or a crank, or just a jerk, but I am hard on snake oil salesmen—whether they promise to improve safety by blaming victims or through behavior modification or by magically changing the culture—because the money spent on this garbage could be spent on the basic things that make small incremental differences that eventually yield meaningful results.

If someone tells you that a safety solution is fast and easy, run as fast and as far from that person as you can.  Remember the snake oil salesmen (and women—sorry ladies I don’t mean to insult you by not insulting you) will always tell you (or worse you’re company’s exec) exactly what you want to hear, but when the con comes crashing down it will be you who takes the blame.

I get four or five solicitations a week to plug a product in this blog or in one of my articles on safety.  They offer substantial incentives, usually upwards of $100 for every mention, and up to $1,000 for a link to a website.  I like money. But I resolutely refuse to compromise my integrity for a couple of bucks.

I wrote Blood In My Pockets Is Blood On Your Hands so that people (those working in safety and those who aren’t) could implement a safety system that is about lowering risk and focusing on eliminating the things that hurt people.  In my typical genius, I released my book in the middle of a pandemic so you can probably predict how well the sales went.

So don’t just beware of the snake oil salespeople. Challenge them. Shout them down. Demand proof of their claims and ask for references.  It’s time to drive them out of our industry because at long last, they have gone too far.

Dear Readers:

I have been writing this blog since 2006 and have been very resistant to accepting advertising revenue for it.  Some of you may think that I’m stupid for doing so, but I just don’t think I can remain impartial on the topics I address if I am receiving revenue from advertisers that are selling something with which I am philosophically or fundamentally against. 

It gets to be a drag writing post after post week after week especially for no compensation—people tend to see things that they get for free as having no value.  So if you enjoy this blog I hope you will consider buying one or more of my books.  I don’t make much on these books (the perils of being actually published versus self-published) but I gauge my relevance (rightly or wrongly) based on my book sales.  If you have already purchased one or more of my books, thank you.  You have my heartfelt gratitude and what you hopefully see as at least a book that was worth the purchase price.  But even you can help me if you are so inclined by writing a review of my book (even if you hated it) on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, or even in a LinkedIn Post.

And no, I won’t hold it against you if you just continue to read the blog and occasionally find the opportunity to think about what I’ve written,

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.

#attitudes-toward-safety, #behavior-based-safety, #bullshit, #culture-change, #healthcare, #phil-la-duke, #ppe, #safety, #safety-culture, #snake-oil, #snake-oil-salesmen, #worker-safety

A Picture Tells a Thousand Lies

By Phil La Duke 

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Author: I Know My Shoes Are Untied! Mind Your Own Business. An Iconoclast’s View of Workers’ Safety.
Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention
Blood In My Pockets Is Blood On Your Hands

Contributor: 1% Safer,

If you have worked in safety for any length of time it’s a pretty good bet that you have been asked to put together a training on what hazards to look for, because grown men and women will look you in the eye and literally tell you that they can’t tell a hazard when they see one. I’ve always secretly believed that this was a delaying tactic—maybe if we tell the safety guy that we don’t know what we’re looking for he or she will get tired and stop asking us to look for hazards. But am I right? I don’t think so (I’ll explain why in just a moment.)

So typically we create training of some sort ranging from pretty good to absolute torture but one thing that almost all of them have in common is every course involves static photos completely bereft of consequences. We show a picture and ask, “is this a hazard? Or what’s wrong with this picture?

I once was conducting a training course on hazard identification in which we showed a picture and asked the class to identify and categorize the hazards pictured. The photo had been staged and had, ostensibly, ten hazards.  By the time I had administered the course five or six times the list of potential hazards had grown to over 50, and by the time the course was completed (about 9 months and 12,000 people) the list had grown to over 100.  Fortunately I had introduced the concept of “context” to the group so many of the newly discovered hazards were qualified as contextual (if x is present  then y would be a hazard). On the other hand some people hotly disputed that some things were indeed hazards “you don’t know if x is true”. They were even asking questions like “where is this workshop geographically?”, and “what is the temperature and humidity outside?” It was one of those great moments in a course where you could see the people applying concepts that you had just introduced and really enjoying doing so.

I work in the filmed entertainment  industry, “the industry” to insiders but I have ample experience working in oil & gas, mining, manufacturing, logistics, healthcare, maritime, and beyond.  While it is more overt in the movie and TV industry, to some extent things that look dangerous—even deadly—to the untrained eye are innocuous to those who are in the know.  In the entertainment industry things are SUPPOSED to look dangerous for the purposes of filming but are in fact harmless.  Take the layperson who called the fire department to complain about the dangers of 50 or so rusted and dented car batteries that we strewn haphazardly into a pile on the set.  The public safety officer arrived and was ready to start issuing citations, but only after a long, bellowing, sanctimonious lecture about the irresponsibility of whomever allowed this to happen. He walked off in embarrassment when someone picked one up and handed it to him.  It was made of styrofoam, deftly sculpted and painted to look like a corroded and leaky car battery. It was an honest enough mistake—the people who make props for a living are true artists—but a mistake nonetheless. 

Hazards are anything that can cause harm, but in most cases, hazards are just one element of a dynamic equation: Hazard+Interaction+Catalyst=Incident. You have a condition that could cause harm (hazard), an encounter with the hazardous condition (interaction), and a catalyst (for our purposes, something that sets an event in motion). This formula is routinely referred to as “context”. It is impossible for an injury to occur unless all three of these elements exist.

To protect workers from injuries  safety practitioners tend to focus on either eliminating the hazard or eliminating the interaction.  It is difficult to predict catalysts so attempts to eliminate (or mitigate the severity of) injuries are fairly rare.

One of the biggest problems in Safety is that there is always someone with some new bright idea usually based on either eliminating the hazard or eliminating the interaction (both to the exclusion of the other, or in the case of behavior based safety to the the exclusion of both.) Unfortunately, it is rarely based on scientific method or peer-reviewed scrutiny, and is largely the product of someone looking to make a buck, or an overly earnest Safety nerd who thinks “it sounds right”. We look for the easy solutions without regard to the basic solutions and the new and flashy over the time tested, but alas, I have wandered off point again.

The fact that the field of Safety has no fixed vocabulary complicates matters. Take the word system.  To the hazard control school system tends to mean (and I say “tends” because somewhere out there is a drooling imbecile who will want to argue the meaning) the process by which people work; the standard operating procedures. But to the interaction control school, the system is the values, mores, rituals, shared goals, and everything else that makes up a culture.

It’s tough to get anything done without explaining in practical terms what we mean when we say context.  How many of you, after encountering someone doing something INCREDIBLY dangerous with probable life-limiting or life-ending outcomes, have had the person shrug and say something akin to “I’ve been doing this for 46 years and I’ve never even had a close call.” This person isn’t distracted. This person isn’t forgetting that his or her family loves him or her. The person is behaving this way because after interacting with a hazard without the presence of a catalyst, has not suffered any negative outcomes AND experience not only is the best teacher it creates the most lasting and entrenched beliefs. No sign, no children’s poster, no amount of punishment, will convince this person that the act was unsafe.

I once confronted a safety professional who told me that all that I have just written was hogwash, I asked him if he had ever been killed in a car accident.  He looked a bit puzzled and finally said, “no, of course not.” I said, well by your logic you can NEVER die in a car accident because in your entire life you have been travelling in cars, you or the person driving the vehicle in which you were riding likely took risks and made errors, and you interacted numerous times with other motorists who were taking risks and making errors so what saved your life? The absence of a catalyst.

I would like you to try this.  Answer the following questions (silently if you aren’t alone)

  1. Have you ever driven a car?
  2. If so, have you ever violated a traffic law? (Speeding, texting, talking on the phone, had an alcoholic beverage or two, the list goes on and on)
  3. If so, did this cause you to crash your car?
  4. Have you seen other drivers engage in this kind of behavior?
  5. If so, did it result in an accident?
  6. Have you ever engaged in those behaviors while one or more OTHER drivers did as well?
  7. Did you get into a serious accident?

Fortunately for most of us the answer is no to #7 despite the answer to at least one of the other questions being “yes”. Okay let’s try another quick exercise.

  1. Is it safe to drive the speed limit in clear conditions and light traffic?
  2. Is it safe to drive the speed limit in inclement weather and light traffic?
  3. Is it safe to drive the speed limit in inclement weather and heavy traffic?
  4. Is it safe to drive the speed limit in inclement weather and heavy traffic when you are fatigued?

 The answers are all contextual and for most of us to truthfully answer we need more information to answer anything but “it depends”.  The conditions on which a situation depends in order for us to determine the risk of an incident is the essence of context and context is everything.

Dear Readers:

I have been writing this blog since 2006 and have been very resistant to accepting advertising revenue for it.  Some of you may think that I’m stupid for doing so, but I just don’t think I can remain impartial on the topics I address if I am receiving  revenue from advertisers that are selling something with which I am philosophically or fundamentally against. 

It gets to be a drag writing post after post week after week especially for no compensation—people tend to see things that they get for free as having no value.  So if you enjoy this blog I hope you will consider buying one or more of my books.  I don’t make much on these books (the perils of being actually published verses self-published) but I gauge my relevance (rightly or wrongly) based on my book sales.  If you have already purchased one or more of my books, thank you.  You have my heartfelt gratitude and what you hopefully see as at least a book that was worth the purchase price.  But even you can help me if you are so inclined by writing a review of my book (even if you hated it) on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, or even in a LinkedIn Post.

And no, I won’t hold it against you if you just continue to read the blog and occasionally find the opportunity to think about what I’ve written,

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.

#bbs, #context, #culture, #safety-culture, #system, #worker-safety

A Working Class Hero Is Something To Be

Photo by Josh Hild from Pexels

By Phil La Duke 
Author: I Know My Shoes Are Untied! Mind Your Own Business. An Iconoclast’s View of Workers’ Safety.
Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention
Blood In My Pockets Is Blood On Your Hands
Contributor: 1% Safer,

The problem isn’t that there are too many people working in safety who want to be heroes. The problem is that too many people working in Safety already think they are already heroes simply because they work in Safety.  This circular logic frustrates me beyond imagining, and has me yet again addressing the topic trying to penetrate the granite wall of these knuckleheads who go about clothed in self-righteous indignation for anyone who dare question his or her status as a hero.  So what does it mean to be a hero in safety? If saving lives is the measure we all fail, that is unless of course you literally brought someone back from the dead—some have, but not that many in worker safety.  Heroism isn’t passive.  We can’t be three steps removed from a lifesaving event and then claim responsibility for it. I have said it more than once (at least I think I have) that safety personnel don’t save lives. This riles some zealots who think that they have saved untold lives because they put together a booklet on swimming pool safety and nobody drowned.  To claim that this entitles the author of some schlocky pamphlet bragging rights for all those people who read said literature and didn’t drown is a specious argument to the extreme. Why not claim to have saved their lives because they weren’t killed by meteorites? (Assuming they read a pamphlet about how to avoid being struck and killed by meteorites.)

Even in situations where it really feels like we might have saved a life chances are we didn’t necessarily.  Take for instance the time I was on a large elevated platform and I interceded when a person who held a notably high position in the organization was absorbed in his phone and walking toward the ledge and potentially a 50’ fall.  I ran up to him and stopped him before he reached the edge and explained the dangers he faced and politely asked him to remain stationary when his mind or body was otherwise occupied. He thanked me and said, “thanks Phil, I know you are only looking out for my safety” to which I responded “screw that. I am looking out for my resumé. If you die I may never work again, and let’s face it, my resumé is spotty as it is.” He laughed and walked away.  A short time later I watched as he walked up to a colleague who was doing what he had done.  He smiled and yelled to me, “See Phil, I’m looking out for your resumé!” I laughed and thanked him.  I saved both lives right? Wrong.  Even though the first man was headed for what appeared to be certain death, there is no way of knowing with certainty that he would have been killed but for my intervention. He could have self corrected. He could have fallen but caught himself on the ledge. He could have fallen and survived having fallen on something that cushioned the impact. As for the second man, I can’t lay claim to having saved his life either.  I did take some pride seeing an immediate change in behavior and a growth in the awareness of the dangers, and even that this awareness changed—in a very small way—the culture and how it viewed safety but I don’t expect anyone to pin a medal on me just yet.  

Now there are Safety blowhards who will argue chain of causality but, they never seem to be around when it comes to chain of accountability. Safety can’t be passive and the problem with attributing passive influence on safety is that it is impossible to prove. So if you want to believe that you are saving lives without knowing the outcome, if you did nothing you are more than just delusional. You are also more annoying than having a mosquito fly up one’s nose.

I have also said that we are never at more risk than when we think we have conquered danger and can relax in the knowledge that we—more hero or demigod than mere mortal—have made the workplace completely and irrefutably safe.  These are two things I don’t see much room for to debate, but alas, no matter what I say some vacuous, vapid, human equivalent of the yellowish fetid discharge oozing from a raccoon’s rectum decides that he or she needs to hop up on the soap box of the self righteousness and tell me how horrible a person I am for not caring more about saving lives. It used to bother me, but after so many years of being called far worse by people I actually respect that I don’t let the incoherent grunting of the mouth breathers get to me (but I sure love to wind them up.) Two weeks or so ago an imbecile took umbrage at the fact that I questioned the juvenile thought process that Safety personnel somehow are endowed with the divine right and responsibility to dictate that employees must behave safely while off the clock. 

The imbecile in question was a South African consultant with a high school education and allegedly military experience as a medic. In her mind, these credentials made her expert in      consulting, environmental requirements, worker health, quality, and social responsibility. She was positively enraged when I countered her smug comment that she has saved hundreds of lives with “if you claim responsibility for people not dying you must accept culpability for the deaths of the people who you didn’t save.” She reacted like a baboon with a late stage brain tumor; spewing vitriol and making wild speculations about the credentials of anyone who disagreed with her simple-minded views.

This got me thinking (anytime I say this, my financé—quoting American History X will chime in with “you’re thinking now Grandma? That’s huge!) about how hubris is probably the greatest threat to worker safety.  The smug, self-congratulating slugs who sit around telling each other what a fine job they are doing. Nowhere is this better evidenced than at National Conferences and Expos where the Safety Sanhedrin (a handful of dullards who have never really worked in safety in a meaningful way) determines the handful of speakers who submit abstracts that support these idiots’ world-view of Safety. We have given these tight ass jerks almost absolute power over the discussion of, and even the distinction of being designated, an emerging topic.

We are not a profession, rather we are a loose confederacy of practitioners with myriad agendas and no real governing body to help us sort through the useful and the dreck. 

We are hucksters taking all the credit and none of the blame. We treat safety like a game of chance betting on red or black. All the while we seem to forget (or ignore) that as we try to distinguish ourselves as thought leaders, people are still dying on the job. 

The brain trust that considers such thing seems to have concluded that 

We want people to trust us but we need management to value our contributions because whether we are successful or not depends almost completely on the perceptions of managers, directors, and executives. We are subjected to absurd Key Performance Indicators like injury rates.  This is as useless a measure of the performance of a safety practitioner as the number of items bought is by a purchasing agent. So what do we get measured on? Realistically fantasy.  Cost? Sure we can fudge the numbers through case management but is that really the intent of safety? Number of injuries? Without having a clear idea exactly the risk level is we can’t honestly say if a given number or injuries are good or bad.

Then we have the “I save lives because I haven’t killed anyone lately” zealots.  They see themselves as social crusaders butting into the lives of workers when they are off the clock. They can identify themselves as heroes, hell they can believe that they are heroes with every molecule in their bodies but they can believe they are endangered sea turtles but that doesn’t MAKE them either heroes or turtles because in the final estimation they are not.

But there ARE heroes in Safety.  I won’t single anyone out but I know plenty of heroes working in safety.  For example, I had a friend call me up and ask me what he should do when he discovered that an extremely dangerous chemical was leaking and exposing workers.  He told the operations manager who did nothing. He told the executives who did nothing.  He asked me if he should blow the whistle.  I told him that I didn’t see much alternative but I added that even though the process was anonymous it wouldn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out who had dropped the proverbial dime on the company and he most assuredly would be fired on some unrelated trumped up grounds.  He went forward risking his livelihood and his ability to financially support his wife and kids but he did it anyway.  The government came in and fined the company and caused the company well-deserved reputational damage.  He put the needs of the workers he was paid to keep safe ahead of his own needs, the needs of his family, and ahead of his pride. He was out of work for a while but still defends what he did and never EVER does he call himself a hero for doing what he was paid to do.

In another case, a Safety Hero works tirelessly on a safety blog, he challenges the gelatin-filled heads of the snake-oil salesmen, he decries stupid theories and answers his detractors with fact-based responses that leave the idiots reeling.  But I honestly think he would kill me if he ever heard me describe him as a hero.

Then there is the woman who worked diligently as a safety manager fighting to implement theories that made sense, lowered risk and generally made the workplace safer. She also volunteered for one of the major professional safety groups.  Before long her pursuit of doing things the right way got her fired from her job and unceremoniously dismissed from her volunteer position.

And finally, the editor of a popular and widely read safety magazine was fired because he ran content that wasn’t the palatable, bland pablum that other magazines ran. He liked to make people think.  He believed that Safety needed to be shaken up and reset every once in a while. He fought to get some of the greatest minds in safety to write columns.

None of these people, not a single one, saved a life but they are true heroes nonetheless.  As for me, I am not a hero. I’m just a guy who likes to piss people off.

”So if you want to be a hero, well,  just follow me.”

—John Lennon, “Working Class Hero”

Dear Readers:

I have been writing this blog since 2006 and have been very resistant to accepting advertising revenue for it.  Some of you may think that I’m stupid for doing so, but I just don’t think I can remain impartial on the topics I address if I am receiving  revenue from advertisers that are selling something with which I am philosophically or fundamentally against. 

It gets to be a drag writing post after post week after week especially for no compensation—people tend to see things that they get for free as having no value.  So if you enjoy this blog I hope you will consider buying one or more of my books.  I don’t make much on these books (the perils of being actually published verses self-published) but I gauge my relevance (rightly or wrongly) based on my book sales.  If you have already purchased one or more of my books, thank you.  You have my heartfelt gratitude and what you hopefully see as at least a book that was worth the purchase price.  But even you can help me if you are so inclined by writing a review of my book (even if you hated it) on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, or even in a LinkedIn Post.

And no, I won’t hold it against you if you just continue to read the blog and occasionally find the opportunity to think about what I’ve written,

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.

#attitude, #attitudes-toward-safety, #behavior-based-safety, #culture-change, #heroes, #phil-la-duke, #safety, #safety-culture, #worker-safety

Where Does Safety End?

By Phil La Duke 

Author: I Know My Shoes Are Untied! Mind Your Own Business. An Iconoclast’s View of Workers’ Safety.
Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention
Blood In My Pockets Is Blood On Your Hands

Contributor: 1% Safer,

Photo by @victorpfreitas on Pexels

Okay, I started to write this last week but as I so often do these days I found myself in a sort of a funk; I get that way from time to time and truth be told I’m a fairly irascible and moody son of a bitch. So you are getting an amalgamation of thoughts wrapped ostensibly in the flag of what I do on my time away from work is my own business.  I know plenty of companies (and soft-headed safety crusaders) who want to keep me safe 24/7; while I am at work and while I am at home. I know of one safety imbecile who makes the proper use of condoms the subject of monthly tool box talks (an excellent topic if you are in the adult film business but a peculiar topic for a construction management company.) For more than a decade the rotting bowls of fruit that pass themselves off as safety do-gooders have been simultaneously  bemoaning their over-worked and under-appreciated subsistence and trying to insinuate themselves into the homes and private lives of their “people”. 

I’ll let the Lorax speak for the trees and I will speak for those of us who want the safety guy to mind his or her own business. Business, as in the job they are paid to do, which is to ensure employees a safe workplace as defined and required by law. I feel like Winston Smith sitting on top of his television because it was the only place that Big Brother couldn’t watch his every move. Before proceeding I should note two things: 1) my current employer encourages us all to make safer choices and walks the talk when it comes to allowing us all to safely decline work if it makes us feel uncomfortable or unsafe, and 2) I have had clients whose money I accepted to build programs to keep workers safe 24/7. I felt like an aging, syphletic truckstop hooker at the end of a 16-hour shift, but there has always been a fine line between consultant and whore—the principle differential being that you can generally trust the hooker to get the job done before trying to sell you the next one and a hooker doesn’t feel the need to shower like Karen Silkwood at the end of the shift.

So should our job extend beyond the four walls (actual or figurative—work with me here people) of our workplace? 

On the fourth of July every year, Americans celebrate freedom.  Unfortunately, many do so by getting blind drunk and setting off explosives, a practice they are neither bright nor qualified enough to even be in the area of said explosives. But many of those who don’t partake in this idiotic tomfoolery will fight like cornered rats to defend this stupidity.  And yet despite this streak of stubborn independence and resistance to authorities who have no business telling people what they can and cannot do on their own time and property, many soft-headed, mouth-breathing, Safety do-gooders want to intrude into the ostensibly private lives of their workers in an attempt to have them be safe 24/7 as if to say, “take safety home with you my precious children.”  

I resent the implication that my employer has a right to tell me that I need to work safely when I am at home, enjoying my vacation or holiday.  This week my fiancé and I redid the patio, which is to say I bought materials, schlepped heavy paving stones and bags of rocks into and out of the trunk of my car after which I  went inside to watch television.  It’s not just that I am lazy, it was 93° F outside, and I was more or less the financier of the project and hired muscle.  I did get injured while doing so.  While loading pavement stones into my car I accidentally pinched my left index finger. It hurt, but having some sanctimonious asshole give me feedback on my behavior would not have made it feel any better. 

I guess I am lucky.  I work with a team of top professionals who not only know and do their jobs, but are generous in helping me to navigate the idiosyncratic rules and procedures endemic to any organization.  My boss values you for my abilities and contributions and is a genuinely caring and kind person.  The organization truly values people over profits—recently I was asked if I had any reservations whatsoever about travelling, and was told to be honest because if I did have reservations my boss and the organization would figure something out. When me or one of my teammates makes a misstep my boss doesn’t yell and scream; he simply coaches us and tells us that he would have liked us to have handled it differently and then proceeds to tell us why. But that’s not why I think I am lucky. I’m lucky because no one expects me to save a life, or enforce a rule, or admonish the safety sinners.  I am there as a resource, a problem solver, a key advisor.  The old saying that “the show must go on” is rooted in the fact that everyone involved in the show gets paid whether the show goes on or not.  Do you think anyone who turned out for the April 15th evening showing of “Our American Cousin” got a refund just because the play didn’t finish? They didn’t. If someone is seriously injured or killed during a filmed production things grind to a halt costing hundreds of thousands or even millions because in that world, time really is money.

I remember when I was a consultant and one of my Johns said, “it doesn’t make any difference if someone is hurt at work or at home, if they can’t work at 100% capacity it affects us all.” I smiled and went to work±—I smelled blood in the air and stalked the “opportunity” as any amoral consultant would. But I should have said, “It makes a big difference you boob. The law requires you to do your utmost to create a relatively safe workplace. Anything beyond that is none of your business.”

Slavery is against the law so stop treating me like chattel. When you stop paying me you need to stop telling me what to do.  If I want to fornicate with pigs on the lawn of carnival, that is mine (and the pigs’) business.  I know that if I get arrested I might lose my job. But if so it should be because I can’t come to work if I am incarcerated and not because I didn’t use a condom while doing said pig sodomizing. 

You can make an argument that my prurient pursuits have reflected badly on the company (especially if we are selling pork sausage) and if my job has a morals clause you have every right to fire me, but otherwise mind your own business.

Seriously, I hate the fact that safety guys are held to a higher standard of personal safety simply because of our jobs.  When people point out the irony of me, a safety goof doing something unsafe I tell them that they need to pay me if they want me to advise them on safety and furthermore since they are not in the safety trade they can give me and the pigs some modicum of privacy such as it is.

Some of you will miss the message because of your bigotry against pigs, but that is precisely the point—mind your business and stop sticking your nose into the employees’ personal lives.  It really irks me that companies think that they have a right to keep us safe 24/7 ignoring the inconvenient reality that they aren’t even close to eliminating the risk of injuries in the workplace. So to all of you who want to keep me safe at home I say, remove the plank from your own eye before you try to remove the splinter from mine, or better yet just don’t you worry about my splintered eye, 

Dear Readers:

I have been writing this blog since 2006 and have been very resistant to accepting advertising revenue for it.  Some of you may think that I’m stupid for doing so, but I just don’t think I can remain impartial on the topics I address if I am receiving  revenue from advertisers that are selling something with which I am philosophically or fundamentally against. 

It gets to be a drag writing post after post week after week especially for no compensation—people tend to see things that they get for free as having no value.  So if you enjoy this blog I hope you will consider buying one or more of my books.  I don’t make much on these books (the perils of being actually published verses self-published) but I gauge my relevance (rightly or wrongly) based on my book sales.  If you have already purchased one or more of my books, thank you.  You have my heartfelt gratitude and what you hopefully see as at least a book that was worth the purchase price.  But even you can help me if you are so inclined by writing a review of my book (even if you hated it) on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, or even in a LinkedIn Post.

And no, I won’t hold it against you if you just continue to read the blog and occasionally find the opportunity to think about what I’ve written,

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.

#attitude, #attitudes-toward-safety, #behavior-based-safety, #behaviour-based-safety, #condoms, #culture-change, #phil-la-duke, #safety-culture, #worker-safety