Same Snake Oil, Different Bottle More on Preventing Workplace Violence

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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 I did something I seldom do before writing my blog post: I reread last week’s post. As I prepare to head to the American Society of Safety Professional’s Bay Area Technical Symposium my head should be on my topic (You’re Only As Safe As Your Weakest Contractor) but I just can’t get workplace violence out of my head.

Last month I wrote a bit about the two most recent workplace violence incidents and got a lot of feedback from people about how much bad information there is out there and how many fly-by-night experts in workplace violence have suddenly appeared on the scene

As I said, last week, I didn’t want to write the book Lone Gunman: Rewriting The Handbook On Workplace Violence  and I certainly didn’t want to plug it on my blog (this isn’t me being altruistic I want to sell books as much as any author, but owing to a SNAFU Lone Gunman didn’t go through my publisher’s quality control process and the result is a book that is so full of typos it could be an activity book.  I am acting quickly to correct the errors so if you are thinking of purchasing it (and why the heck wouldn’t you be?) my advice is to wait another couple of weeks for a corrected copy. In the mean-time, there are a lot of so-called experts spreading some really and truly dangerous advice about “how to survive workplace violence”.

The biggest problem is that many of these experts are seemingly lumping workplace violence events together with mass shootings into a broad category and therefore giving advice which is an excellent response to a mass shooting but a dangerously stupid response to a workplace attack.

Let me begin by establishing my standing to speak on the subject.  I honestly would be reading this and be asking myself, “what makes this crackpot an expert on workplace violence prevention?” and that’s a fair question, in fact, it is a question we should be asking about any author or speaker on any subject (in addition to what is this guy’s agenda?)  Before being dragged kicking and screaming into the world of worker safety I was head of training and Organizational Development for a global, tier-1 automotive supplier. We had two workplace homicides—although neither was technically a “workplace” homicide. In one case, the jealous husband of a woman who was having an affair with a coworker gunned down both parties as soon as they left our parking lot, and since they were neither on the clock nor on the property they didn’t show up in OSHA’s figures.  About a year later, an eerily similar event took place when a woman who was estranged from her abusive husband went for a drink after work with a male coworker. The husband followed the couple to the bar and shot them both dead in the parking lot. Again, this wasn’t on the clock or our property so it “didn’t count” as far as OSHA was concerned, but in both cases, it sent a panic through the people who knew the particulars and it fell to me to research how to better protect our company and our employees from this type of attack.  That research, coupled with copious research into the differences between mass shootings, “going postal”, and single shooter workplace violence. If that isn’t enough expertise for you to heed my advice stop reading, it makes no difference to me.

As for my agenda, well, as I said, I never wanted to write the book, and I never considered myself a feminist, but as I did the research I was horrified by a) the statistics, and b) the complete apathy shown by men when I shared those statistics.  I want us to start a dialog internationally about domestic violence that spreads into the workplace and how we can spot potential targets or perpetrators BEFORE we even hire them. Again, if you find that agenda distasteful in some way, quit reading.

But for those of you still reading I’d like to share some facts:

 

  • According to the Bureau of LaborStatistics homicide is the ninth leading cause of workplace deaths. For companies struggling to reduce workplace fatalities one would think that this would be a priority, but sadly in too many instances, this is not the case.
  • Homicide is the leading cause of workplace death for women. A male blogger, (I won’t mention his name because frankly, I think he is a misogynistic pig who doesn’t deserve the publicity) bitterly complains that “while the majority of workplace fatalities are men and nobody cares because they are men.”  He goes on to howl about the injustice of protecting women when men perform the riskiest work. Okay, it’s true most workplace deaths are men nor are they homicides, but according to Jacolyn Smith in an article on America’s most deadly jobs Forbes 10 Most Deadly Jobs this is how the jobs stack up:

 

  1. Logging workers
  2. Fishers and related fishing workers
  3. Aircraft pilot and flight engineers
  4. Roofers
  5. Structural iron and steel workers
  6. Refuse and recyclable material collectors
  7. Electrical power-line installers and repairers
  8. Drivers/sales workers and truck drivers
  9. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers
  10. Construction laborers

In addition to the obvious fact that these are jobs are clearly intrinsically more unsafe than other jobs, they are also jobs and industries dominated by men. So yes, it makes sense that more men die on the job when men are doing the riskiest jobs. This same article asserts that some jobs, like firefighters and police officers, are relatively safe occupations.

So if you are responsible for the safety of anyone in these 10 industries workplace violence probably isn’t as much a problem for you, but you’ve got your hands full with the risks you routinely face. That having been said, I think that it is a big leap for the knucklehead spouting that nobody cares about these deaths because the deceased are men.  I for one care about workers irrespective of gender, but I am not responsible for workers in these injuries, so I leave the commentary about their deaths to those who are intimately acquainted with the facts.

 

  • Women Are Over 20 Times More Likely to Be A Target of A Family Member or Domestic Partner Than Men.  Women are most vulnerable while at work in a typical workplace.  They may get a protective order and keep a violent abuser away from there home, their family and friends’ homes, but they are often reluctant to inform their employer of the threat.  This leaves the killer with knowledge of exactly when and where his target will be.

 

 

  • Mass Shootings and Workplace Violence Are Different.   A mass shooter is typically someone who—for whatever misguided reason— wants to kill a LOT of people.  He may claim to hate a certain race, creed, color, religion, or political affiliation, but in general, his (mass shootings are overwhelmingly male) goal is to amass as large a body count as possible. He also likely has an arsenal and a preference for “soft targets” areas where a large number of people gather, there is limited opportunity for them to escape, and few if any hiding places.  A workplace shooter is typically one of two types of people:
  1. The jilted lover. Women typically are murdered by an abusive domestic partner or family member.

  2. Life spun out of control.  Sometimes when things go south—the triggers vary wildly but divorce, financial hardship, personal or professional setbacks are primary causes—an individual may enter a downward spiral and a descent into drugs and alcohol that lead to issues at work and when handles poorly, the worker exerts the last bit of control he can muster and kills the boss and others he feels have wronged him.

 

There are clear and effective ways of preventing both of these kinds of violence in the workplace, but they are NOT the same as reacting to a mass shooting.  And taking advice from someone that doesn’t know the difference is worse than doing nothing.

I am not saying that there isn’t value in learning more about mass shootings, but in the context of worker safety, I think it is more important to protect yourself from the more likely scenario. Understanding the problem is the first step towards preventing it, and in my view, we owe our workers more than a “how-to-survive” guide and need to work to predict, prevent, and mitigate the risks associated with workplace violence.

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. But like I said, I would advise you to wait a week or two.

It can be purchased in hardcover or paperback at Amazon (US and Canada) or Barnes & Nobel 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.

 

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These Deaths Were Easily Preventable

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

I was about halfway through my third book a couple of months ago when my publisher called me and asked me what I know about single-shooter events in the workplace, and I told her that I knew quite a lot, having worked at three places that were the scene of such tragedies (two of the three had multiple events and I had to write and conduct training on how to prevent this from happening again,  She told me that she wanted me to shelve the book on which I was working and immediately get to work on a  book about preventing workplace prevention,

I didn’t want to write the book that ultimately was published as  Lone Gunman: Rewriting The Handbook On Workplace Violence  and I certainly didn’t want to plug it on my blog, so if you see this as a crass attempt to use recent events to promote the book you probably already know where I think and want you to stick it. But a couple of things have happened since I was out sick: 1) two weeks ago a lone gunman entered his workplace, armed, and gunned down five people and 2) yesterday my abstract On Preventing Workplace Violence for the National Safety Council was soundly and unceremoniously rejected.

Neither of these points surprised me, workplace violence begets workplace violence and we are in for a firestorm of these kinds of attacks.  These attacks are real, and they are as different from mass shootings are as serial killers are from people who shoot people in robberies. Workplace violence tends to be either what we saw in Aura, or the one exactly one month earlier in New Jersey was a lover’s quarrel turned deadly.  These are predictable and preventable but no one, not the least of which the National Safety Council wants to talk about, or more accurately, they don’t want ME to talk about it—it would appear that the NSC holds me in contempt with which I hold it.

I suppose this begs the question, is this a Safety issue or a Security issue.  Homicides are the 9th cause of workplace fatalities overall and is the #1 cause of workplace deaths for women, but this is a topic that is routinely overlooked in Fatality Prevention Programs. Of women murdered in the workplace, 42% are killed by a domestic partner or family member whereas only 2% of men who are murdered at work are killed by this demographic.  These are statistics that are routinely ignored and for the life of me I can’t figure out why,

As I read the accounts in sundry outlets I was disheartened.  The company had basically ignored one of the most basic tenets of my book: preventing workplace violence begins at recruiting.

What they missed

  • The shooter had a lengthy arrest record.  He was arrested six times.
  • He also had a felony conviction in Mississippi
  • He was fired but then allowed to later reenter the premises
  • He faced charges of domestic abuse
  • They took no precautions after he was fired despite reports that he became agitated because there was a Human Resource intern in the room.

So let’s take these one at a time:

  • The shooter had a lengthy arrest record.  He was arrested six times. The company claimed that they had done a  background check on him before he was hired. That may be, it’s unclear if his six arrests happened after he was hired. But as I warn in my book, a background check only tells you what the person has done BEFORE he or she gets the job, and you have to monitor the person’s behavior for signs of instability AFTER the hiring.  Too often that is ignored and it ends in violence.
  • He also had a felony conviction in Mississippi.  I’m all about second chances, but either this was missed on the background check or ignored.  Even someone who has been convicted and served time for a non-violent offense can be indoctrinated into a culture of violence simply by living in a correctional facility.  There are people who are reformed, and people who are not. If you hire an ex-con it is prudent to monitor him or her for violent tendencies.
  • He was fired but then allowed to later reenter the premises. Several reports said it was unclear whether or not the assailant had the gun on him or went home to retrieve it, which tells me that at very least he didn’t just pull a pistol and start shooting as the words, “you’re fired” left the lips of the HR Manager.  Immediately after his dismissal, he should have been escorted out of the building and off the premises. Law enforcement should have been alerted given his criminal history; under no circumstances should he have been allowed to reenter the building once he had left it.
  • He faced charges of domestic abuse. Here is a red flag if ever there was one.  Given that domestic abuse is a leading contributor of women murdered at work this should have tipped HR off right away. There is a national domestic abuse database that makes it simple to find people arrested for domestic abuse.  When the decision was made to fire this individual HR should have done some research to see if he was a violence risk. It might have saved their lives.
  • They took no precautions after he was fired despite reports that he became agitated because there was a Human Resource intern in the room.  There is a simple fix to this situation, remove the intern from the room. There were four other people in the room and the intern a) added no value and b) clearly made the situation worse. They may have seen it as a learning opportunity but if the poor kid learned anything he took it to his grave.
  • We don’t know the events that lead up to the firing of the assailant, but typically, it isn’t just one incident.  Workplace shooters tend to be in a downward spiral. In this case, his home life wasn’t the greatest (domestic abuse charges) and there were likely changes in his appearance, behavior, attitude, and work performance, that could have been handled in such a way that the assailant could have been given some sense of choice and compassion.  Killing your boss is the last act of a person who feels like they are out of options, interceding early and advocating instead of throwing the person out with the garbage might have prevented this.

To be clear, I have no sympathy for the assailant, killing the boss is almost NEVER the answer, but in this case, the gross stupidity in how this was handled is staggering.  

And I want you to think about this, somewhere out there is a man (statistically it is almost always a man) with a gun (and I am not taking a side here because someone who wants to kill can think of a thousand different ways to do it, but statistically in the U.S. 89% of these cases involve firearms) and feels like his life is going down the drain, is considering if not planning, a workplace homicide, How sure are you that it won’t be at your company?

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.

 

I’m too ill to write

By Phil La Duke

I’m sorry to disappoint but I have taken ill. No writing this week.

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.

 

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

shutterstock_133083437.jpg

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.