Gratitude Changes Everything

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By Phil La Duke
Author

I Know My Shoes Are Untied. Mind Your Own Business!

Lone Gunman Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence

I was hammering away on my third book (working title) Blood In My Pockets is Blood On Your Hands,   Unlike the first book, which was a compendium of blog posts, magazine articles, and about a third new material, or my second book which was completely new material but has not yet passed my quality control standards (I don’t worry about typos and grammatical errors in blogs because I know it pisses a lot of you off) but in a book I think it diminishes the credibility.  This is not to say that my first book wasn’t rife with typos (it was) but once something has been published with typos I can’t really take them out. Anyway, Blood in My Pockets will be “a how to do it right”, as I see it.  I have been, rightfully accused of finding fault, without offering alternatives (although I would argue that telling you to knock it off is an alternative.)

So anyway, after working a 10-hour day, I slogged through the third book but was troubled by the news report of a worker dying after he fell into a vat of sulfuric acid during training. It weighed heavy on my mind because it was eerily similar to the death of a friend of a good friend of mine some 30 years ago.

It was in that state that I started writing about the importance of building resilience as part of the Competency section of the new book.  Rick Hanson Ph.D. writes about the importance of gratitude in resilience. Not just gratitude for what you have, but for what others have as well.  It reminded of the political climate where everyone seems to be screaming “WHY SHOULD I HAVE TO PAY FOR SOMEONE ELSE’S x? (for the record most people aren’t).

So at the risk of sounding overly soft, I want to say that I am grateful for the opportunity to criticize the shortcomings in safety and (with the exception of a few assholes who have tried to block me from speaking at certain conferences, or who shoot emails to my employer, or otherwise behave in a way that is likely to end badly for them (karma, they say, is a bitch)) that I have made one or two of you think.

I really gave it some thought and I have to say that I am grateful for each one of you who subscribes to the blog, who read even when I am mopey or irascible, or just plain mean-spirited.  Over the years I have had people quote me in at least three textbooks (that I know of), and have been interviewed more times than I can count, and numerous times my blog has been printed out and hung on the walls of factory floors, mining conference rooms, or Oil & Gas trailers. None of that would be possible without each and every one of you reading this right now, even if you hate me for writing it.

I’m grateful that in some small way I had the opportunity to make a difference. I was recruited to be thought leader and have been recognized as such by a lot of publications; ironically, it may cost me my job.  You can’t be a thought leader without making people nervous, but irrespective of that true resilience comes from being grateful in the moment.

My publisher warned me that as my books become more popular I would run the risk of losing my acerbic voice. That as I tried to sell books I would pander to my audience.  I told my publisher that she didn’t know me at all. So don’t look at this blog as a kinder, gentler, version of me, who in hopes of selling books is pandering to you, au contraire.

I read a post on LinkedIn that turned me around 180° just as I began to believe that there were fewer and fewer dumbasses in safety and reeling from the death of the man who fell into a vat of acid, I saw a post of a rack collapsing and like a classic domino effect bringing down the entire warehouse.  The poster asked, “What is the cause?” to which eager readers offered their opinions (bear in mind this is a 30-second video with no sound) as to root causes. A couple trotted out that C-word. It was the culture. What evidence did they have? Evidence? Who needs evidence I know what I saw? What precisely does culture look like in a 30-second video? Others blamed the operator, it was an error because he tried to squeeze through too small a spot and tapped the rack, which then fell like a house of cards.  No, genius, he did that on purpose and from what I saw it was a reasonable decision (remember in a Just Culture outcomes don’t matter.)

So on top of everything else for which I am grateful, I am grateful that the irresponsible and the water-headed are still alive, well and thriving, in safety. At least now I know I can go on grousing about things with some purpose, however misguided.

I am proud to announce that Marriah Publishing has published my second book, Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention.  This is all new material that cannot be found anywhere else. While homicide accounts for 10% of workplace fatalities this is a problem that can be easily prevented. Victims of domestic violence are disproportionately affected. Of women murdered in the workplace, 48% will be killed by a family member or domestic partner, while only 2% of men are killed this way.  I wrote this book at the request of my publisher, as there are growing numbers of “experts” who are treating random mass shootings (where the goal is usually a high body count) the same as single shooter events in the workplace (which tend to target a specific individual.) The research I did was eye-opening for me as I expect it will be for you too. This is one of the most powerful things I have ever written so I hope you will find it useful.

It can be purchased in hardcover or paperback at Amazon (US and Canada) or Barnes & Nobel (as it stands now B&N is only listing the hardcover but I’m told the paperback will be on sale this Monday.  It’s an important book on a serious topic as seen through my bleary-eyed lens.)

Of course, my first book is still for sale…

Did you like this post? If so you will probably like my book which can be ordered here I Know My Shoes Are Untied. Mind Your Own Business or on Barnes & Nobel.com.

Did you hate this post? Did it offend you deeply? Maybe you should organize a book burning (minimum of 150 books) but be sure you are only burning my book, I don’t want you to go to a used book store and buy a bunch of cheap books and stack mine on top.

The book is a compilation of blog posts, guest blogs, magazine article (from around the world) and new material. Much of it is hard to find unless you know where to look. A second and third book has already been green-lighted by the publisher (expect fewer reprints and more new material).

In all seriousness, I have been blogging for free (without sponsors or advertising) for over 11 years and I think I have earned a bit of revenue so buy a damned book.

 

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Just Terriers With A Rat

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

I don’t want to write. My mood is sour and my disposition is foul.  Writing this has become a chore and inevitably and increasingly I have people pressuring me what to say and what not to say.  Fuck it. This is MY blog, nobody thinks that there’s an editorial staff that meets to decide what I should say and shouldn’t say. This isn’t marketing, this is me talking to the handful of you with open minds (some of you who actually find benefit from what I have to say).  But of course, there is a fair amount of you who read this for the sole purpose of taking offense and frankly I am beyond being bewildered by that particular motivation if I offend you well then it serves you right for continuing to read it, and if you think it reflects in ANY way on you or what you stand for, get over yourself. No one out there thinks you have the imagination or insight to coauthor or edit me.

Some weeks or a month ago even I was listed by Thinkers360.com as one of the top 20 Thought Leaders in Culture. Last week someone shortened that list to the Top 5; I was fourth on that list.  I know many of you are thinking, okay, here it comes, yet another internet loudmouth who is blowing his own horn, in fact, if the past is any indication, some washed up loser who hung out a shingle in Australia (if you think I am talking about you I probably will) will send an email to someone he thinks matters to me in hopes of getting me in trouble, someone else will post hateful posts trying to goad me into an internet postwar, while still others will just post their dreck about how self-aggrandizing I am.

This shit used to really bother me, but I guess after all these years I’ve developed a thick skin. For the record, Thinkers360 has developed a patent-pending algorithm to determine who the top thinkers are, and yes, you have to apply to the website to be considered (and there is no guarantee you will be selected) but other than what you write, get published, how many social media interactions you have, and media appearances there is nothing one can do to be selected; it’s a point system and one I don’t quite understand.  It’s free, so if you want to be an expert apply and see if they select you. Be forewarned that they make their money by pimping experts out to reporters and industry, so they are fairly selective about who they bring on board—they are more concerned about THEIR reputation than yours—so prepare to have your ego bruised.

It would be easy to dismiss this crowd of dimwits as jealous of my success, but I can’t do that. You see I don’t think it’s jealousy.  These human colonoscopy bags don’t want what I have, there is no envy here. What motivates these people is to make themselves feel better about being lazy.  I achieved what meager success I have by hard work. I write voraciously, on my own time—late nights after long days, I ponder the issues in safety and corporate culture continually, I read and process what others write.  I speak at professional events for free and talk to the people there. And I am about to publish my third book.

Does this make me any better than anyone else? Any smarter? Of course not.  I haven’t met many people who work in the field of worker safety that couldn’t do what I’ve done or will do.  For the most part, the only thing stopping most people is that Safety, as a profession, is exhausting. Most people don’t want to put in a full day’s work in Safety and come home and think and write about it, that’s okay. I’d be lying if I said that the whole idea of safety doesn’t make me want to chuck it all and work as a short-order cook every once in a while, but I can’t.

I could bring up the deaths of my father, brother-in-law, both grandfathers, one great uncle, a childhood acquaintance, and all coworkers and friends of friends who died on the job as the one thing that brings me back, and I’m sure that these many losses have shaped who I am and drive me subconsciously to some extent, but that’s not it, at least not entirely. What keeps bringing me back is just when you think the field of safety is growing someone will trot out some snake-oil like a terrier with a rat in its mouth.  

I want to scream “it’s dead, drop it”. But they won’t. Our field is choked with mouth-breathers who continually rediscover the obvious and proudly trotting it out like they walked out in the rain and discovered wet. I’ve been described as passionate about safety, I’ve even been called a crusader. If I am passionate about anything, if I am crusading against anything is ending stupidity.

We live in a world where correlation is considered causation, where if you don’t like the facts you just scream fake news or media bias, where vendors will sell a customer a safety solution that some vacuous executive wants knowing full well that the solution all smoke without the mirrors,  and no one asks, because no one CARES, how the purveyors of bullshit make their money. Safety is the only discipline in Business where executives continue to authorize increased investment without knowing if the solution they are buying will do anything but cost money, and where the people in the function can be blissfully ignorant as to whether the money is reducing risk or just making charlatans rich.  Try being an Operations leader and going to the COO with a budget with a line item that says, “machinery and stuff”. AND when the COO asks for more information you just say, “it’s the right thing to do”. You wouldn’t just leave the office with a boot in your ass, you’d also be handed a pink slip. And yet, “we fund safety because it’s the right thing to do” is a go-to argument.

Try telling a COO that you don’t know how much your scrap is costing you, or that you have no clue what your payroll costs, or that you can’t tell how much you’re spending on…virtually anything except safety and see how long you still have a job. And WHY is this the case? And why if safety so sacrosanct do we continue to kill and cripple people in the workplace? Because it’s hard to calculate the cost of safety? No, I’ve done it dozens of times. The answer is simple, because if we took a real hard look at how much we spend on safety, and the value derived from those expenditures we might just find we could do it cheaper, faster, and without all the convoluted processes.  In short, we don’t want an answer, just a bigger budget.

So I guess the real difference between a lot of us and that terrier with a rat is that the terrier cares that he caught a rat and can see that his efforts are paying off.  He can prove he did his job well, so I guess we’ll just let him shake that rat a little longer. He’s earned it, and the thought of a dead rat makes me smile and all warm inside.

I am proud to announce that Marriah Publishing has published my second book, Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention.  This is all new material that cannot be found anywhere else. While homicide accounts for 10% of workplace fatalities this is a problem that can be easily prevented. Victims of domestic violence are disproportionately affected. Of women murdered in the workplace, 48% will be killed by a family member or domestic partner, while only 2% of men are killed this way.  I wrote this book at the request of my publisher, as there are growing numbers of “experts” who are treating random mass shootings (where the goal is usually a high body count) the same as single shooter events in the workplace (which tend to target a specific individual.) The research I did was eye-opening for me as I expect it will be for you too. This is one of the most powerful things I have ever written so I hope you will find it useful.

It can be purchased in hardcover or paperback at Amazon (US and Canada) or Barnes & Nobel (as it stands now B&N is only listing the hardcover but I’m told the paperback will be on sale this Monday.  It’s an important book on a serious topic as seen through my bleary-eyed lens.)

Of course, my first book is still for sale…

Did you like this post? If so you will probably like my book which can be ordered here I Know My Shoes Are Untied. Mind Your Own Business or on Barnes & Nobel.com.

Did you hate this post? Did it offend you deeply? Maybe you should organize a book burning (minimum of 150 books) but be sure you are only burning my book, I don’t want you to go to a used book store and buy a bunch of cheap books and stack mine on top.

The book is a compilation of blog posts, guest blogs, magazine article (from around the world) and new material. Much of it is hard to find unless you know where to look. A second and third book has already been green-lighted by the publisher (expect fewer reprints and more new material).

In all seriousness, I have been blogging for free (without sponsors or advertising) clearly damned near zero moral support from people who could and do benefit from my notoriety for over 11 years and I think I have earned a bit of revenue so buy a damned book.

 

Believing Something Doesn’t Make It True

shutterstock_1077151958By Phil La Duke

Author
I Know My Shoes Are Untied Mind Your Own Business
Lone Gunman Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence

A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed by Thrive Global about spirituality and the workplace.  I know many of you wouldn’t have me pegged as a spiritual person, so many of the people who happen upon my blog are such delicate flowers, looking to find offense and finding it even where it was not intended,  As someone once said, “You don’t know me, you just think you do”.

We fear that what appears to threaten our most cherished beliefs. And too often we attack what we fear. But if your faith is threatened by science you have no faith at all and are merely disguising your superstitions as divine truth.

After over 10 years of threats, insults, one bomb threat, and three specific death threats you get a little numb to it.  Why do people get so worked up by something that a stranger wrote? Do I really have so much power over you that you have to read something that inflames you? Or is it something deeper. Is it because I attack the Cult of Safety.  Those who have been brain-washed by a century of snake oil and malarky stand ready with lit torches and pitchforks ready to squelch anyone who dares question the Cult of Safety.  

I am meeting and speaking with more and more people who are questioning the validity of such things as, Life-Saving Rules, Fatality Prevention Programs, the Hierarchy of Controls, and even Heinrich’s cherished pyramid.  It is sending unsettling ripples through the safety community especially those who have grown fat shilling nonsense for 40 years. As these theories are questioned more and more safety cultists are growing more and more unnerved.  Like the 6-year old who wonders if he stops believing in Santa Clause if the gifts will stop coming, these safety cultists worry what will become of them when the pagan gods of safety are driven from the trade.

I get it.  I believe in the Scientific Method, and if science and logic prove that a belief is hokum, I will call it out as such.  I have often spoken of the futility of using logic to argue against an emotional state. We almost always trust our gut and the familiar, no matter how hair-brained and stupid, comforts us while change and new ideas scare us in ways more terrifying than we can imagine.

We take too much on faith when it comes to safety.  We believe in methodologies and approaches to safety that are little more than Urban Legends.  We have gotten to the point where we accept theories not because they can be scientifically proven, but because they cannot be scientifically disproven. So if I assert something that is patently not true, but sounds reasonable, and aligns with your world view you will accept it as fact even if I just made it up. Let’s take a look at some things that many of us believe despite no more scientific confirmation.  Take for example the assertion that awareness campaigns result in a safer workplace. It would seem like this is just good old fashion common sense and many of us would be content to leave it at that. I looked online and could not find a single scientifically valid study who that proved that awareness = safety. So for now anyway, the correlation between an awareness campaign and a safer workplace remains an unproven hypothesis.  To PROVE our hypothesis we would have to:

  1. We take a baseline of a population, in this case, the number of injuries.
  2. Next, we divide the population into two groups, the control group, (sometimes called the reference group) and the experiment subjects.
  3. We provide the experiment subjects an awareness campaign while providing nothing to the control group.
  4. In six months we check back in and determine again measure the injury rates.
  5. If the group of experimental subjects has a statistically significant reduction in injuries and the control group remains unchanged or worsens than even then the hypothesis has not necessarily been proven, but is considerably more credible.  
  6. The hypothesis is only proven when the experiment can be replicated by, other researchers, using similar populations and methods.

It’s worth noting that no such research has been done on awareness campaigns (at least as far as I can ascertain), but who gives a rat’s ass we like them so we do them.

I’ve heard the argument that just because one cannot prove that something doesn’t exist doesn’t mean that believing in it is wrong, and this is where safety as a religion is formed.  There are hypothesis so firmly believed without a modicum” of scientific proof that we “know” that they are true on faith alone. And that’s a problem for the field of Safety; a BIG problem. I can’t prove that Big Foot exists, and there have been reported sightings of the apelike creature in EVERY state in the US (including Hawaii—presumably the big guy took some time off from lumbering through the woods and decided to take some time off to surf.  

We stand on the shoulders of Dwarves.

I’ve heard it argued that the work of BF Skinner, Abram Maslow, and others are sufficient to essentially shortcut the scientific method.  That is true in forming a hypothesis, but it is absolutely untrue that the application of these men’s work can be asserted as unassailable fact without doing the same kind of research detailed above.

Ethics gets in the way

Why hasn’t this kind of rigorous research methods been employed to prove the efficacy of the Behavior Based Swindle? Why don’t we submit all of our most cherished beliefs to scientific scrutiny? Because we consider the ethical implications.  What happens if our hypothesis turns out to be dead-bang on, but in the course of proving that it is we kill or cripple four people in the control group? Ethically speaking, is it right to risk killing people just to prove our hypothesis is correct? Certainly not.

I am proud to announce that Marriah Publishing has published my second book, Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention.  This is all new material that cannot be found anywhere else. While homicide accounts for 10% of workplace fatalities this is a problem that can be easily prevented. Victims of domestic violence are disproportionately affected. Of women murdered in the workplace, 48% will be killed by a family member or domestic partner, while only 2% of men are killed this way.  I wrote this book at the request of my publisher, as there are growing numbers of “experts” who are treating random mass shootings (where the goal is usually a high body count) the same as single shooter events in the workplace (which tend to target a specific individual.) The research I did was eye-opening for me as I expect it will be for you too. This is one of the most powerful things I have ever written so I hope you will find it useful.

It can be purchased in hardcover or paperback at Amazon (US and Canada) or Barnes & Nobel (as it stands now B&N is only listing the hardcover but I’m told the paperback will be on sale this Monday.  It’s an important book on a serious topic as seen through my bleary-eyed lens.)

Of course, my first book is still for sale…

Did you like this post? If so you will probably like my book which can be ordered here I Know My Shoes Are Untied. Mind Your Own Business or on Barnes & Nobel.com.

Did you hate this post? Did it offend you deeply? Maybe you should organize a book burning (minimum of 150 books) but be sure you are only burning my book, I don’t want you to go to a used book store and buy a bunch of cheap books and stack mine on top.

The book is a compilation of blog posts, guest blogs, magazine article (from around the world) and new material. Much of it is hard to find unless you know where to look. A second and third book has already been green-lighted by the publisher (expect fewer reprints and more new material).

In all seriousness, I have been blogging for free (without sponsors or advertising) for over 11 years and I think I have earned a bit of revenue so buy a damned book.

 

When Is A Injury From A Work From Home Worker Work-Related

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

This week, while working in my home office, I rushed from my upstairs office to my front door. When I rounded the top of the staircase I lost my balance and fell from the top of the staircase onto my neck and elbow. I was literally airborne and quite nearly broke my neck.  I realize many of you might find it amusing or even gratifying that I nearly died in my office; enjoy the laugh. For those of you who are legitimately concerned about my well-being thank you. I can’t say I escaped unscathed and I was sore as hell yesterday but apart from the scrape on my elbow and a stiff neck feel okay.  (for the record, it was a rare occasion where I wasn’t wearing shoes having left the snow-caked boots that I usually wear this time of year at the front door.)

As I lay there, my breath completely knocked out of me I got to thinking: First, was I injured? And then If I was injured would I be covered by Workers’ Compensation.

It was an odd thought to enter my head—I have never even considered applying for Workers’ Compensation benefits, let alone collected Workers’ Compensation. Frankly, I have never given it much thought, after all, I reasoned, my company is very supportive of safe work and will always support me if I stop work because it’s too dangerous.  Add to that, that the work that I routinely do from home is more intellectually taxing than physically. For the record keeping my stairs clear of trip-hazards is a priority. It’s hard to explain except that I was focused on getting the business-related delivery because I had been anxiously awaiting it. My house was built in 1936 and the stairway is narrow and steep with smaller than steps in houses today. My theory is that in my haste I missed the top step and was flung heels over head to the 8-foot drop. I would say I was lucky, but lucky people win lotteries they don’t fall down stairs. Please spare me the lectures about what I should have done—he among you who has never been injured throw the first stone.

Still, I fell, and not only did I fall I somehow fell in such a spectacular manner that grabbing the handrail wasn’t remotely possible. I have a bump on my head, but my shoulder and elbow to the brunt of the force.  My neck was strained but I show no sign of internal bleeding so I knew it wasn’t an OSHA recordable. That’s when it hit me, that’s when I realized why my mind immediately jumped to Workers’ Compensation. It wasn’t that I was greedy for medical disability leave, it was because we now live in a climate where my company’s ability to bid on projects rely, in many cases, on whether or not our incident rate and DART rate are below a certain threshold.

Contrary to what some seem to believe I love my job and certainly don’t want to jeopardize my and its (mostly mine) ability to compete for the big projects. But what if…

Where does this unreasonable fear come from? Our company has a good safety record and certainly does its best (sometimes to the point of becoming maddeningly persistent) to make sure workers are safe. For example, my work as a Production Safety Consultant often takes me to areas where it is unsafe to travel, and certainly unsafe to break down. In those cases my insists that I a) inspect my vehicle daily to avoid any obvious breakdowns and have enough gas, b) provide my travel route to the office admin and c) text the office admin AND an office buddy when I leave the house and when I arrive on site.  (I also have to text if I am delayed.) To some that might seem a little ridiculous but to me it shows a genuine interest in my safety and well being. It made me feel engaged.

As it turns out in the US (and elsewhere) employers have the same burden to protect workers who telecommute as they do for workers in a traditional office.  But what constitutes working while at home? If I creep down to the kitchen for a snack am I on-the-clock or off-the-clock? Would I be considered? I was once injured in a hotel while working at for a former employer and when I reported it I was told: “that it wasn’t work-related because a hotel is a temporary domicile.” So the message I took away was: “we don’t care that you got injured”.  I thought that my (former) employer would at least consider it a near miss, but in too many instances companies are more worried about case management than on improving their safety performance.

This is a shame since the companies monitoring the safety performance of their contractor most assuredly don’t want to create a climate of under-reporting and while this is not the case at our company, or even most companies at an institutional level, who can say how an individual will take this message, and what’s more the contractor’s don’t have a choice—if their safety rates hit an arbitrary level they can’t bid. So you have a population out there that already may have a questionable safety culture and safety performance and you give them the biggest incentive to under report.  This is just another case of corporate fiats causing unintended and unwanted to consequences.

But let’s get back to the matter at hand: when does an injury in the home of a worker from a home office constitute work related.  I (by my own choice) work around the clock usually starting around 5:00 a.m. taking breaks and finish up about 9:00 p.m. It’s my choice, but the point is that as long as I get my work done and meet my goals there aren’t any working hours, so that can’t be a criterion, and even though any injury on a company’s premises would be considered work-related. My boss was very concerned about my injury for the record and wanted to make sure that I wasn’t doing the “blood in the pocket” game.  He told me repeatedly that if I felt the need to go to the doctor.

I could have easily been killed in this incident, so the least of my worries should have been whether or not my injury was recordable, but thanks to well-meaning but misguided companies, and vague guidelines from OSHA I did. Fortunately, since I know the recordable guidelines, and fortunately so does our internal Safety Director. But there may come a day when I am severely injured or die on the job while working from home? How ironic would that be?

I am proud to announce that Marriah Publications has published my second book, Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention.  This is all new material that cannot be found anywhere else. While homicide accounts for 10% of workplace fatalities this is a problem that can be easily prevented. Victims of domestic violence are disproportionately affected. Of women murdered in the workplace, 48% will be killed by a family member or domestic partner, while only 2% of men are killed this way.  I wrote this book at the request of my publisher, as there are growing numbers of “experts” who are treating random mass shootings (where the goal is usually a high body count) the same as single shooter events in the workplace (which tend to target a specific individual.) The research I did was eye-opening for me as I expect it will be for you too.  This is one of the most powerful things I have ever written so I hope you will find it useful.

It can be purchased in hard cover or paper back at Amazon (US and Canada) or Barnes & Nobel (as it stands now B&N is only listing the hardcover but I’m told the paperback will be on sale this Monday.  It’s an important book on a serious topic as scene through my bleary eyed lens.)

Of course my first book is still for sale…

Did you like this post? If so you will probably like my book which can be ordered here I Know My Shoes Are Untied. Mind Your Own Business or on Barnes & Nobel.com. Did you hate this post? Did it offend you deeply? Maybe you should organize a book burning (minimum of 150 books) but be sure you are only burning my book, I don’t want you to go to a used book store and buy a bunch of cheap books and stack mine on top.

The book is a compilation of blog posts, guest blogs, magazine article (from around the world) and new material. Much of it is hard to find unless you know where to look. A second and third book has already been green-lighted by the publisher (expect fewer reprints and more new material).

In all seriousness, I have been blogging for free (without sponsors or advertising) for over 11 years and I think I have earned a bit of revenue so buy a damned book.

 

 

The Value Of Nothing

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By Phil La Duke

Thanks to all of you who congratulated me for my work anniversary, six whole years at the same company. Hardly impressive, and while my company does its best to show its appreciation to the many talented people working all over the globe even the best of us can feel unappreciated and well…unvalued.  This is not to say that I don’t contribute value to the company, it’s just that—well let’s just say that there are some who don’t like what I write any more than most of you do and wish I would just shut up.  When a media group adds me to a list of their Global Thought Leaders the company isn’t exactly popping champagne corks. 

After working in safety—both on the inside of a company and providing outside services—for 20 years this month I have reached the disheartening conclusion that people place no value for things that they get for free.  My blog posts, which I have posted for free weekly for over 12 years get all sorts of traffic from all over the world. I refuse to do product reviews, accept money (as much as $100 per mention) for product placement, I do this on my own time and I do not accept advertisement (although WordPress will stick one in once in a while—my favorite  was a major BBS supplier whose add was placed (without my knowledge or consent) next to a blog I wrote that lambasted BBS. My free magazine articles (I don’t take money for the articles I write) are extremely popular. And I have spoken all over the world at a public venue one of which had the gall to expect me to pay admission to my own speech!

My book sales are pretty piss poor but that’s the case for all nonfiction books (a lifetime sales of 3,000 books is considered a best seller).  My second book was released January 1st and is all new material exploring workplace safety from single gun shooters, but I will be lucky to give them away.  My publisher keeps giving me pep talks but I’m beginning to feel more an more like just another sucker on the vine. Now granted, I found a publisher, hired a PR Manager, wrote 3 books and published 2 of them all in less than 6 months. I seriously doubt I will release the third one.

Just one of my posts drew over 13,000 views, but of that less than half actually read the article.  Apparently, people just want to be shocked and outraged. Nobody wants to learn, much less be forced to think about things or to have to consider another person’s opinion. We all want our delicate egos bruised, or are egos stroked, or to be made victims because the big bad blogger called us a bad name, or insulted our mentor, or used a vulgarity, or butchered grammar.

Too many of us would rather be victims than protect victims.  

If we focus on eliminating injuries, if we try against impossible odds to eliminate any chance of harm, what then becomes of us.

So for all of you out there looking to take offense, here it comes. I don’t think you give steaming pile of steaming pile of cat diarrhea about safety. I think you like playing the martyr and like to complain to your peers about how little support you get. You like to complain that Operations doesn’t support you, while conveniently forgetting that most of what they learned about safety they learned from you.

That’s all I can stomach of safety this week.  People place no value on the things they get for free and place the highest price for what they get swindled.  I should have been a liar and a thief, there’s more money and integrity in it than working in safety and the hours are better.

 

 

Misleading Indicators

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By Phil La Duke

In the last two months or so I have been engaged by multiple parties to talk about lagging and leading indicators. I don’t know what’s driving this conversation, however, I know there is a lot of confusion around this topic and so here I am most probably adding to the confusion.  Let’s start by level setting by establishing a common lexicon for this context.

Lagging Indicator: A element of quantitative data that provides information on safety performance, or a calculation designed to normalize injury data such that it is not skewed by the size of the population or differences in the hours worked.

Leading Indicator: An element of qualitative data that provides insight into potential failure modes that are likely to cause an incident.

There are, of course, some data elements that fall into that gray area between lagging and leading indicators.  For example, near miss reporting. The number of reported near misses is a lagging indicator, while the number of reported near misses per employee (an indication of worker engagement in safety) is a leading indicator, as it has been shown in numerous research study that there is a positive correlation between worker engagement and improved safety performance.

There are some essential questions regarding safety indicators that you should consider before drawing any specious conclusions:

  1. What is the corresponding leading indicator for the lagging indicator I am considering?

    Every lagging indicator should have a corresponding leading indicator because leading indicators tell us how we are likely to perform (and to a lesser extent how we are performing) while lagging indicators tell us how we have performed in that same area in the past. Without this correlative connection, we are dealing with unrelated or (at best tangentially related) elements; it’s like connecting your lucky rabbit’s foot with weather patterns—any correlation is simply coincidence.)

    So what might be some leading indicators for Total Injuries, Injury Rates, or Day Away or Restricted Time? To answer this you have to consider the activities that directly correlate to injuries.  Certainly, there are other lagging indicators that can help us, for example, the number of Safety Observation Tours, but we could also analyze the quality of the tours, by tracking the time it took to complete a tour, the average number of hazards found on the tour, and the time it took for a hazard to be corrected.  The leading indicators, in this case, are tracking the quality of the tour.
  2. Do I understand the expected total population of what I am tracking?

    One major issue in using Near Miss reporting is that you are dealing with a huge unknown, and that is, how many near misses actually occur and go unreported.  If you have two sites and one of them has 463 reported near misses out of 10,000 total near misses how do you compare that to the site with only 20 reported near misses out of a total population of 35 total near misses? Since we can never truly know the exact total population of the unreported near misses, I personally question the value of using near-miss reporting as an indicator at all. Without an accurate understanding of the full population, we cannot correlate the number of near misses to the risk of injuries, but we CAN make useful inferences regarding worker involvement using a population that we DO know, that is, the total number of employees.  So the value in tracking the number of near-miss reporting is questionable, the number of reported near misses by employees is a very good indicator of worker engagement which strongly correlates to fewer injuries and in some cases a decline in the severity of injuries.

  3. What am I really trying to learn?

    Far too often we collect data and present it without context, interpretation, or even a point.  We splash a chart on the screen and yell “viola!” and leave the audience to cipher out what the disjointed information means.  What exactly does this month’s injury figures compared to last year’s figures tell us and why is that useful? One year does not a trend make. Yet I have sat in meetings where one month’s uptick in injuries is scrutinized and analyzed as if there were some great revelation lurking just below the surface. Sometimes numbers don’t tell us anything. And unless we have a large enough data pool indicators don’t mean much of anything,  

    To paraphrase Stephen Covey, we have to start with the end in mind, what are we trying to learn about our process—forget predicting outcomes there are just too many variables and even if we could measure them all there would still only produce probability and depending on the population size (which, as I’ve said, we probably don’t really know anyway) we could have a very large ± margin of error, and despite our best efforts, as any good gambler can tell you, longshots sometimes pay off.

I’m not bad mouthing lagging and leading indicators, but I am questioning how many people really understand what they are telling us about our safety performance or the level of robustness of our safety processes.

I am proud to announce that Marriah Publications has published my second book, Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention.  This is all new material that cannot be found anywhere else. While homicide accounts for 10% of workplace fatalities this is a problem that can be easily prevented. Victims of domestic violence are disproportionately effected. Of women murdered in the workplace, 48% will be killed by a family member or domestic partner, while only 2% of men are killed this way.  I wrote this book at the request of my publisher, as there are a growing numbers of “experts” who are treating random mass shootings (where the goal is usually a high body count) the same as single shooter events in the workplace (which tend to target a specific individual.) The research I did was eye-opening for me as I expect it will be for you too.  This is one of the most powerful things I have ever written so I hope you will find it useful.

It can be purchased in hard cover or paper back at Amazon (US and Canada) or Barnes & Nobel (as it stands now B&N is only listing the hardcover but I’m told the paperback will be on sale this Monday.  It’s an important book on a serious topic as scene through my bleary eyed lens.)

Of course my first book is still for sale…

Did you like this post? If so you will probably like my book which can be ordered here I Know My Shoes Are Untied. Mind Your Own Business or on Barnes & Nobel.com. Did you hate this post? Did it offend you deeply? Maybe you should organize a book burning (minimum of 150 books) but be sure you are only burning my book, I don’t want you to go to a used book store and buy a bunch of cheap books and stack mine on top.

The book is a compilation of blog posts, guest blogs, magazine article (from around the world) and new material. Much of it is hard to find unless you know where to look. A second and third book has already been green-lighted by the publisher (expect fewer reprints and more new material).

In all seriousness, I have been blogging for free (without sponsors or advertising) for over 11 years and I think I have earned a bit of revenue so buy a damned book.

Putting Health In Health and Safety

doctor pointing at tablet laptop
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

By Phil La Duke

I’m hearing a lot about putting “Health” in Health and Safety, and while many of the efforts are well intended many of those are misguided.  Yes, people need to exercise more. Yes, people need to eat right, and yes people need to make healthy life choices like quitting smoking and drinking less alcohol and stop abusing drugs. All those things are wonderful, but before we tackle these problems maybe we should consider tackling some of the illnesses caused by our processes before we go butting into people’s personal lives, that is, their lives and liberties outside of the workplace.

My dad died of mesiothema. He didn’t die because he was careless, or stupid, or ignore the safety protocols. In fact, he didn’t sue his employer over the vehement protestations of his lawyers. “They didn’t know it was dangerous, the manufacturers lied to them just like they hid the fact that asbestos would kill me from us.” my dad, a fiercely anti litigious man told me.

My uncle, my dad’s older brother died recently, he was 95 and he was a living testament to a life well lived. My brother made a off-hand comment that because my uncle was two years my dad’s senior we had every right to expect that our father could have just as easily lived to this ripe old age, but instead he died 20 years premature because of the malfeasance of the manufacturers of asbestos who didn’t care who they killed in pursuit of the almighty dollar.  These murderers will never be brought to justice; hell even George W. Bush called lawsuits against asbestos manufacturers “frivolous lawsuits”. I pray every day that Bush suffers half as much as my dad did in the last year of his life; if there is justice he will.

In situations like this—where someone you love is taken from you—there is a powerful drive to blame someone.  I have reconciled myself that it wasn’t my dad’s foreman, or plant manager, or safety supervisor to blame for this. In fact, while documents have been produced that proves that the manufacturers knew of the dangers who is to say that my father would have been spared his fate had they immediately warned anyone working with asbestos of its dangers? It may well have already been too late.

So this week I am not going to chew anyone out. I am not going to wag my finger in accusation at anyone, but I would like to talk about our need to do more to apply the same drive and discipline with which we apply to worker safety to preventing work-place illnesses or the by-products of injuries. We know about black lung, and mesiothema, and green lung, and silicosis (which claimed by brother-in-law), but now nano-technology is a growing concern.  The stuff that we are being exposed to today could be killing us, and it may take two decades to even know the extent of the danger.

I was researching the Industrial Hygiene industry last week and found that there is very little information out there in terms of the size of the industry, the forecasts for future market demand, or even many firms with more than a handful of workers.  The industry is by all appearances dominated by mom and pop shops and even the large EH&S consultancies tend to relegate industrial hygiene to a subset of their overall safety services. Trust me when I tell you, where there is demand there are large firms elbowing each other for position to meet those demands.

Fighting industrial diseases has to be taken seriously BEFORE people get sick and die.  Look at the opioid epidemic—while not considered an industrial disease it is certainly often the byproduct of injuries (many people were injured on the job, prescribed narcotics and became addicted, only to be cut off and turn to heroin to feed the addiction.)  That’s how my ex-father-in-law, a boilermaker by trade, found himself addicted to heroin. When he died there was no autopsy. We don’t know whether the mesiothema killed him, or the lung cancer, or the drugs, but we do know that an absolutely preventable cause set things in motion.

Addiction spread through his family like a cancer—my ex-wife succumbed to her heroin addiction and was left to die by a drug dealer and a half-wit who refused to call for help after she overdosed because they would be arrested for possession and she died on the stained carpet of a shabby hovel somewhere in Detroit, leaving two grieving daughters to try to make sense of her shattered life.  What about personal responsibility? I’m not cutting her any slack, she chose to use and was fighting demons known only to her. But were it not for the root cause of her father’s injury, which led to prescription opioid addiction, which led to his heroin addiction, which led to the availability of heroin, which led her down a dark spiral that would ultimately end her life.

What can we do? Well, this is going to sound odd coming from me, but we need to become more aware of the unintended outcomes of our actions.  

Sometimes injuries kill us in an instant before we even have a chance to know it’s coming, and sometimes they kill us slowly, decades after the initial incident.  I have talked about my friend and colleague, Bill Sagy who, some 40 years prior injured his back while working as a steelworker. There wasn’t much medical science could do for him (is injury was to a spinal vertebra)  so Bill was forced to live much of his life with pain and the limitations that went along with it (his back would go out a couple of times a year and he’d need some time off, and prolonged sitting caused him discomfort) but he dealt with it without complaining for decades until his doctor told him about a laparoscopic treatment that would make it possible for him to live pain free.  I was about to hire him to work with me on a big project and called and talked to him about his back. He told me he felt great and that he wished he had had this surgery years ago. The next day he developed a fever, his wife rushed him to the emergency room where he collapsed into unconsciousness and was spirited into Intensive Care. He never regained consciousness and died two days after I talked to him and he told me that he had not felt that good since before his injury. There was no autopsy; the doctors attributed his death to an infection of some sort.

None of these fatalities—not my dad, not my father-in-law, not my brother-in-law, nor my friend and colleague—will ever show up on any workplace fatality statistic but just as sure as I am writing this they all were killed by their jobs and in the case of each of them, collateral damage that cannot ever truly be measured or grasped.

I am proud to announce that Marriah Publications has published my second book, Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention.  This is all new material that cannot be found anywhere else. While homicide accounts for 10% of workplace fatalities this is a problem that can be easily prevented. Victims of domestic violence are disproportionately effected. Of women murdered in the workplace, 48% will be killed by a family member or domestic partner, while only 2% of men are killed this way.  I wrote this book at the request of my publisher, as there are a growing numbers of “experts” who are treating random mass shootings (where the goal is usually a high body count) the same as single shooter events in the workplace (which tend to target a specific individual.) The research I did was eye-opening for me as I expect it will be for you too.  This is one of the most powerful things I have ever written so I hope you will find it useful.

It can be purchased in hard cover or paper back at Amazon (US and Canada) or Barnes & Nobel (as it stands now B&N has accidentally listed the hardcover for less than the price of the paperback with free shipping so I would jump on this before they catch the mistake UPDATE: B&N caught the mistake before anyone bought it so I guess if you snooze you lose. It’s just as well because I would have been losing money hand over fist.)

Of course my first book is still for sale…

Did you like this post? If so you will probably like my book which can be ordered here I Know My Shoes Are Untied. Mind Your Own Business or on Barnes & Nobel.com. Did you hate this post? Did it offend you deeply? Maybe you should organize a book burning (minimum of 150 books) but be sure you are only burning my book, I don’t want you to go to a used book store and buy a bunch of cheap books and stack mine on top.

The book is a compilation of blog posts, guest blogs, magazine article (from around the world) and new material. Much of it is hard to find unless you know where to look. A second and third book has already been green-lighted by the publisher (expect fewer reprints and more new material).

In all seriousness, I have been blogging for free (without sponsors or advertising) for over 11 years and I think I have earned a bit of revenue so buy the damned book.