Safety Is A Succession Of Giant Steps Backwards

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
Stop. Don’t Shoot!

Contributor: 1% Safer,

In 1985 I was working the line at Generalissimo Motors Fleetwood plant installing 1,600–2,000 seat locks (the metal part that attaches the seat bottom to its back) a shift. I screwed for a living and I came home sore. Quality was done by postinspection without any feedback, and despite The Big Three getting its collective ass handed to it by the Japanese its attempts at Quality were embarrassingly rudimentary.  

The companies KNEW they had to improve but really had no idea the steps they needed to take to get there.  First, they tried awareness campaigns. My favorite was ubiquitous signs that said DIRT FOOT. I took the sign literally because the plant was so filthy and I didn’t have the heart to tell them that not only were people’s feet dirty most of us were covered with a mixture of tool oil, metal shavings, and dirt of indeterminant nature from head to toe. But in actuality, DIRT FOOT stood for Do It Right The First Time (I don’t know where the two Os came from and assumed it was from an early sixties pop song—it was Motown after all.

When I would install one of the 2,000 parts incorrectly I would get a write-up. It made no sense. I didn’t do it on purpose and I didn’t think that it was reasonable that I would commit sabotage (a fireable offense that would almost certainly cost me my job). It felt like I was a dog who gets beat on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper a month after it got into the trash.  I protested but nobody listened.

Eventually, long after leaving GM, I was taught the Toyota Production System, Kaizen, and a host of other problem-solving tools by Toyota personnel and was tasked with being a charter member of my employer’s Continuous Improvement Team. I taught each and every employee these tools and lead problem-solving workshops.  It was an incredibly rewarding experience to solve these problems and to win over hard-core auto manufacturing teams. I saw the Quality function wither and die and a robust Performance Improvement function take its place.

Years later I found myself working in Safety and as Yogi Berra once observed, “it was like deja vu all over again.” Managers and supervisors routinely blamed the workers and used hackneyed awareness campaigns and incentive programs to get the poor stupid workers to stop hurting themselves.

Personally, I have always approached safety problems exactly as I would a quality issue; if the system breaks down you either hurt your people, your machines, or your products. All of these things are what the Japanese called “muda” (waste).  Waste is something that costs money and/or consumes resources but returns nothing of value, and except for an important life lesson, an injury doesn’t typically produce anything of value.

The parallel between Safety and Quality is that both started out in much the same place—the workers were the problem. But the two diverged from that point and quality got things done while Safety stood around with its thumb up its ass. 

Safety has  been chasing its tail ever since it ceased being a planning issue (construction companies used to budget for the number of workers seriously injured or killed in the same way they would budget for lumber or bricks. It was just a cost of doing business.)

Lately, I see a lot of chatter about the latest big thing in safety, but largely it’s the same old tripe.  A box of steaming feces is put into a different (or not so different) package.  Every couple of years new generations of snake oil salespeople keep regurgitating some new twist on Behavior Based Safety like a cat with a hairball, and trying to magically reprogram people so that they don’t make mistakes and therefore don’t get injured; it’s important and they either know this (and therefore are ripping people off) or they should know it.

What we should be doing is looking for a way to make the progress that the Quality Function has made—a relentless pursuit of improvement and a tenacious pursuit of answers. Many if not most of the tools are already there and easy to adapt to solving the problems that cause injuries:  reduction in process variation, mistake proofing, involvement of the workers in developing solutions, Gemba (going to the point of occurrence to determine causative factors),  looking, not for the single root cause, rather looking for interrelated causes and conditions that can act as a catalyst for injuries, repetitive why analysis, is/is not analysis and more. Not only will we be providing data to support our recommendations but we will be speaking the language of modern management and ultimately we will be contributing to the bottom line what more we will be able to prove and quantify it.

I’m not most people working in safety WANT to make things better. Given a choice, I think most of these people would rather just look busy than add any value to the organization.

Warning: The following may cause inquisitiveness and long-term exposure to it may make you smarter.

On December 2, 2022, my fourth book was published by Marriah Publishing. Stop. Don’t Shoot! is a painstakingly researched book on America’s number three fear (after being diagnosed with a fatal disease, and the death of a loved one). Like most of my books, it is filled with eye-opening facts and practical tips presented in a rude, curt, and irreverent style that many of you have come to know and appreciate. I called on many experts but two in particular to whom you should listen: Andrew Arena, who was head of Counter Terrorism for the FBI and was in the Oval Office with Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the other heads of the intelligence agencies on September 12, 2001; Andy has forgotten more about mass shootings and rampage attacks then most people will ever know, and Jonathan Gold, a gunshot survivor and President of the Michigan Chapter of Giffords Gun Owners For Safety. Both are pro-gun ownership and both believe that there needs to be more accountability for how guns are used. It is available by following the link above, and it will be available in a couple of weeks from Barnes and Noble, and on the overseas Amazon sites.

#phil-la-duke

Authority Magazine interview

www.linkedin.com/posts/activity-7007059767001051137-GdOP

My Newest Book

www.linkedin.com/posts/activity-7006667402671271936-8nl9

What’s Wrong With Amazon

Why does Amazon hire rude, entitled, snot bags to man The phones at their headquarters? Do me a favor call and ask them at +1 (206) 922-0880. Please share.

Seven Ways To Tell If BBS Is Right For You

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 P

As many of you know I rarely miss a chance to take a cheap shot at Behavior Based Safety so it might surprise you that I am writing an article that supports the use of BBS in some circumstances.  

There are indeed many circumstances where BBS isn’t just the right system it’s the ONLY system for you.  So how can you know if  BBS is the right system? By answering these five questions:

  1. Does my customer make me? There are many large, often global, customers who insist that—along with random drug testing—a vendor must have a BBS system in place.  Some vacuous, empty suit made this decision after his or her head was filled with nonsense by people who are faculty members of distinction from sixth-rate universities that churn out fecal books praising BBS more frequently than irritable bowel syndrome patient who had too much coffee after a hard night of tequila and bad burritos drops a load.  If you have read any of these books you know how apt the analogy is. These authors have never had to actually WORK in safety, nor have they run a safety department, in fact, none of them have actually been held accountable when their advice crashes and burns.
  2. Does my boss make me? There are a lot of really stupid Safety Executives who can’t pour piss out of a boot with the instruction written on the bottom.  They want to command safety without knowing much about it besides the dreck that oozes out of professional conferences and is filtered by the people who actually attended the conference.  These bosses will LOVE BBS because its message is simple “it’s the workers’ fault.”
  3. Do I value activity over results? If you want to LOOK busy without actually doing anything of value BBS is the system for you. You collect quantitative data with the vigor and zeal of a squirrel gathering acorns for the winter. But you don’t understand what the data means. What’s more, you don’t care. Your job is to make sure that supervisors watch workers and issue them a card for all the mistakes they made. You can make charts and display them in the break rooms or wherever you have the “safety meeting.”  And the best thing is you can blame the workers for getting injured and complain loudly about how overworked you are.
  4. Do I believe that people are gods, incapable of making mistakes? A central tenet of BBS is that 85% or 90% pr 95% of all injuries are the results of human error, and by extension carelessness, stupidity, fatigue, sabotage, and a host of other deliberate actions and poor judgments made by the worker. Of course, YOU have never done something while operating on autopilot.  You think about each step required to make a sandwich and you think about everything that could go wrong as you make the sandwich.  And when you drive, not only do you have to make a conscious decision about what to do at every traffic sign or signal, and have to consult the driver’s manual to operate the turn signal.  Nothing you do is automatic and all your decisions are perfect and based on perfect information.
  5. Do I understand the difference between philosophical safety and operational safety? Platitudes like “Safety is our number one priority”, “Safety is job one”, etc. are philosophical. Shy of the psychopathic drones in the workplace nobody would disagree that safety is better than rampant hazards run amuck. But Operational safety is results driven and seeks to fix the problems, not the blame.
  6. Do I have a lack of respect for the scientific method? Let me begin by explaining how the scientific method works. You select two groups from your population that have enough people to be statistically relevant (don’t freak out there is a website that will calculate all that depending on your margin of error). Next, randomly decide which group will be the experimental group and which will be the control group.  Next, you would, in this case, use BBS on the experimental group and do nothing different from what had been done to the control group.  After a couple of months, you compare the results of the two groups.  If the experimental group shows meaningful improvement but the control group shows no improvement BBS has worked. If however,  both groups have either shown no improvement or meaningful improvement then BBS did not make a difference.  If all of this sounds confusing or like a waste of time, then BBS is right for you.
    Here is the point where I should mention that trying to do these kinds of experiments on actual people who could actually get seriously injured is incredibly unethical and behavioral scientists are notorious for making dubious decisions when it comes to ethics so trying to employ this type of experiment is of questionable value.
  7. Am I lazy? I once had a client whose safety manager would completely end a conversation with “I don’t know” he was as lazy as a neutered housecat. He was always late for work and always left early.  He LOVED BBS because it required so little of his time, but actively resisted an organizational development initiative because he was held accountable for doing his job.  

So as much as I criticize BBS there are still a lot of good uses for it if you can answer yes to one or more of these questions it might just mean that BBS is a good fit for you and your “organization”.

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 & 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.

Just after finishing my last book, Blood In My Pocket Is Blood On Your Hands (a book that everyone who LOVES BBS should read) I began writing a book on mass violence. It has taken me 2 years to write it because I reviewed mountains of research and true experts on the subject (one of which is a friend of mine from high school who, as it happens, is retired from the FBI where he was Special Agent In Charge of Counterterrorism (which included domestic terrorists like the idiots who are shooting up schools and concerts and…well you get the point). The name has morphed but we landed on “Stop. Don’t Shoot!” it’s fascinating reading and will be out very soon I promise. I am worried about the proliferation of so-called experts telling people to do the dumbest things imaginable during a rampage attack and you should be too. My book isn’t the only book out there on the subject it’s simple the best. Look for it coming soon.

—Thanks, Phil

#attitudes-toward-safety, #behavior-based-safety, #behaviour-based-safety, #bullshit, #free-porn, #phil-la-duke, #safety, #worker-safety

Three Weeks Ago I Killed My Brother

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

My brother Tom was found dead in his driveway (probably higher than Cypress HIll at a pre-Grammy party) of an apparent massive heart attack.  He was 67 and apart from being dead, he was in excellent health. But if I finally succumb to the tidal wave of stupidity mixed with red algae and raw sewage that is Behavior-Based Safety, I killed him.  But first a bit about my brother the human being who was taken from us too soon.

Tom died about a quarter-mile from the house in which we grew up in Hooterville.  The Hooterville police speculated that Tom was perhaps getting ready to mow his lawn.  It was a fine piece of detective work—the lawn was freshly mowed and he lay dead with his glasses lying between him and his lawn mower. It doesn’t take a forensic expert to determine that Tom wasn’t about to mow his lawn a second time. My guess is that he was on his way to his dig or to dinner.

Tom was a complex person, at times open and others intensely private. He worked at Great Lakes Steel for years working a swing shift and waking him up when he was working midnights could LITERALLY get you killed. When the mill closed Tom had every intention of going back, but when they issued the return to work order he confided in me that he would rather retire than go back to a swing shift (“swing”  makes it sounds fun but it isn’t).

When Tom retired he spent most of his time on archeological digs.  Tom was a self-taught paleontologist and was consulted by some of the most noted paleontologists in the U.S.  His work proved the existence of Paleo man in Michigan 10,000 years earlier than it was previously believed. He wrote at least one paper that was published in a scholarly journal and has a generally accepted theory (named for him) about how he was able to find Paleolithic artifacts in an area that was believed to be covered in water. He was an engaging speaker and highly sought after among this crowd of nerds.

Tom and I shared a love of storytelling and we talked about music, food, history—just about everything. I learned so much from him. He is the primary reason I don’t do drugs—he warned me about the harder drugs when I was ten, apparently believing that I was ready to head to the Hooterville heroin shooting gallery.

He was a star high-school athlete and played college football until he lost his financial aid because of a shoulder injury.  His latest hobby was writing crackpot articles (his words not mine) to the New York Times just to screw with them.

When Tom and I became adults we eventually became incredibly close. Tom and I differed on politics but could discuss them maturely with no acrimony. It helped that Tom thought social media was for idiots who needed to be told what to think.  I’m sure he wasn’t talking about me but yeah, the rest of you…

Tom had many, many friends of all ages and descriptions; and he also had a notable number of enemies, but what great man doesn’t?  (Tom loved that the asshat that tried to get Hooterville to condemn his house so he could swindle it away from him) died suddenly one Thanksgiving.) 

Tom was absolutely the least materialistic person I have ever known. His shoes and clothes were held together with duct tape, and he lived in squalor that is the thing of legends; it absolutely defies description. I know, I lived with him in a sort of a weird hippy commune while I was married and unemployed; fun it was not.

Tom loved animals more than most people.  I don’t mean that Tom really loved animals (though he did) more than other people loved animals, I mean he liked animals more than he liked most people. He could be kind and he could be vicious; he had a cutting wit that makes mine look kind and bland.

He spoke his mind and never suffered fools lightly, while at the same time being generous to an extreme. He loved burritos and was an excellent cook (although he never cooked at home).

I was always puzzled when people worried about “Big Brother watching them” I would always say, “What’s the big deal, when my big brother watched me he would get high and listen to music and let me do whatever I wanted.” Mostly my brother was a human being who was loved by his family and friends—just like the people injured and killed in the workplace. He didn’t, as they don’t, need some armchair psychologist clucking tongues at the fact that the behavior failed and not the hackney BBS system they are clinging to like it was their first born infant.

But according to what seems to be the majority of the Safety Industry and their zombie-like devotion to the cult of Behavior-Based Safety (or the derivative du jour) I killed my brother.  I could have been out there observing him while he worked. I could have coached him not to die. I could have made a crayon drawing reminding him how much his siblings, nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and nephews loved him and didn’t want him to die.  We reject the idea that sometimes people just die; that when one’s number is up it’s up.

Make no mistake if the logic of BBS is sound then I killed my brother, as did my other siblings, cousins, and well anyone who didn’t intercede. So now along with the void and sadness and loss, I have to feel the guilt of killing him. Or does this fetid pile of manure only apply to the workplace? If so why are we driving so much of it toward “safety in the home”. 

Many of you reading this will explain it away with a wave of disdain and think, “this guy just doesn’t get it.”  Well, this guy does get it. What’s more, I feel all the pain and uncertainty of someone close to me dying suddenly. No witnesses and no autopsy means no answers, just like when someone dies at work.

BBS isn’t science. It is a shame of the lowest order.  Nobody ever asks WHY a person behaves unsafely they merely lay a wreath of blame on the injured or deceased person.  Some say you can’t really put a price on human life, but the BBS consultants and firms have put a price on a single human life and they will money grub while deflecting blame. According to the logic of the dimwitted devotees of BBS, all gun violence could be ended by simply reminding people not to go on a rampage attack; the whole philosophy is garbage but since it’s easy to monetize and convince simple-minded executives that all you need to do is to condition workers to salivate at a bell every time you have a pizza party.

Oh, and I didn’t kill my brother and I miss him terribly.

Don’t mourn my loss—celebrate the man who I had the absolute privilege to have in my life for all these many years—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Most of all he lived life on his own terms and adventured through a life well-lived.

Tom was the smartest person I ever met. Now I guess I am.

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, and 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.

#behaviour-based-safety, #blame, #phil-la-duke, #safety, #the-blame-game, #worker-safety

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