Hey Idiots You’re STILL Worried About the Wrong Stuff

shutterstock_1267812370 (1)By Phil La Duke
Author
I Know My Shoes Are Untied Mind Your Own Business and
Lone Gunman Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence

Two weeks ago I wrote about how we were  worried about the wrong things and we are STILL worried about the wrong things.Yes COVID-19 is a serious threat, but the more serious threat is stupidity, panic, and hoarding, and we need to put the HEALTH back into Health and Safety.

I posted the CDC list of the most common causes of death, they are (the numbers are from 2017 the latest available):

Top 5 causes of death in the US (according to the CDC):

1) Heart Disease (647,457)

2) Chronic Lower Respiratory illness (160,201)

3) Stroke (146,388)

4) Lung Cancer (145,932)

5) Alzheimer’s Disease (121,404)

But by all means, let’s panic over COVID.

To be clear I am not advocating that anyone should not take reasonable precautions. But if you have a healthy immune system and hoard disinfectants, wipes, hand sanitizer and other preventive supplies you are making things worse.”

I was surprised by the blow back. A couple of smug puss bags pointed out that these aren’t communicable diseases. True fact. So continuing that logic, it means that you most likely WON’T die of a communicable disease, in fact, unless you have a compromised immune system and aren’t elderly you won’t die from COVID-19. 

As I mentioned last time the Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that as many as 49 MILLION people will get the flu this season (not counting COVID), and 20,000-50,000 people will die in the U.S. from the ordinary, run-of-the-mill influenza. At this point in history, where social media and dim-witted politicians make up facts as they go, the corona pandemic has captured the imaginations of people worldwide. And why? Because you might get sick? You might have a heart attack and die, or die in traffic, but somehow, dying of a disease that doesn’t spread that easily and probably won’t even make you sick has done what scores of terrorists have failed to do—create a worldwide panic.

When I posted the top causes of death I had a fair amount of panicked and irrational people snipe at me because (those aren’t communicable diseases).  Well the point is you are more likely to die from noncommunicable disease then you are from COVID or anything else. Gun violence by suicide is a top ten cause of death. The argument is that people didn’t choose to get a communicable disease. Far enough, but I doubt many people will choose to get long-cancer, or have a heart attack, or get emphysema. Did their lifestyle choices contribute to their afflictions? Maybe, perhaps even probably. But plenty of them did not. People sometimes die of Lung cancer because employers allowed them to work in conditions where they would breath carcinogens. COVID is spreading rapidly, but not as rapidly as it may seem.  In the United States many asymptomatic people are getting tested and that is giving us a clearer picture of the extent of the problem. We don’t have accelerated growth (according to my doctor) we have accelerated testing and the number of cases will start to jump exponentially as more and more people are tested. This is not a reason to panic. We don’t need the emergency room clogged with hypochondriacs and causing a rush that choke our hospital resources and cause truly sick people to have to wait for hours for something that should take minutes.(Not unlike when Chick-a-Filet opened a restaurant near my house causing a four mile traffic jam to get in there—it’s just mediocre chicken people and those of you horcking it down are well on your way to the number one cause of death.

My message is that we need to stop hoarding, (It is easing, I only saw one hoarder when I went out to get some groceries that I needed. ) The man in front of me was buying 10, 5 gallons of bleach and 4 bottles of window cleaner. I remarked on it after he left, but my wife observed that maybe he was cleaning up a murder scene.

My point is, yes by all means stay home, wash your hands frequently, and socially distance yourself but for the love of all that’s Holy remember (God help us) we are also supposed to be health professionals we need to do more:

  • Avoid posting disinformation that does nothing more than spread panic and rumors.
  • Fact check, through the CDC or  WHO (the health organization not the band).
  • Discourage people from hoarding (except my book which I noted can be used as toilet paper in a pinch). In fairness those who are hoarding soap and toliet paper are likely using it for the first time and honestly don’t know how much they will need.
    Hoarding is selfish, stupid, and deprives people who need the materials; it’s akin to dressing as a woman to escape the sinking Titanic, or resorting to canabalism—you may survive but ultimately you have to live with yourself. My daughter and her family had nearly run out of groceries because she works as a caregiver to a elder care facility and is working round the clock (she can’t just duck out to buy groceries.) My wife had to go to four different stores (travelling over two hours one way) to buy groceries. So those of you who absolutely NEED to panic, do it by screaming at your television set and stop hoarding. 
  • Keep things in perspective. This is not the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918. We know what causes it; they did not. Public awareness is far greater than it was then. COVID tends to be hardest on people with underlying symptoms the Spanish Influenza was harder on otherwise healthy. Basic hygiene will kill the virus,not so the Spanish influenza. Yes this is a health crisis, but medical (that includes EH&S) professionals have to stop fomenting fear. Roosevelt said we have nothing to fear but fear itself, well in this case there is plenty to fear but nothing to panic about. Panic does nothing but make people do irrational things and get people killed.
  • Stop telling people to keep one hand on handrails.  The purpose of a handrail is so that you can reach out and stop a fall, it was never intended to be in continuous contact with people’s hands.  Instead, encourage people to keep their hand that is closest to the handrail free and hovering about four inches above the rail.
  • Eat foods that make you gassy.. Becoming flagellant will facilitate social distancing.
  • Don’t buy baby wipes because you can’t find toilet paper. Young parents have it rough enough without you gobbling up your supplies.
  • Don’t be an asshole.  I saw on the news today that despite all the bars and restaurants, college students are still descending on Florida cities for spring break. As one future Senator said, “If I get COVID I get it. But I am not going to miss partying because we’ve been planning this for months.  What will it take to get through to these people? Martial law.
  • Don’t quote any fact or figure on social media that does not come from the CDC or the WHO.  Your wife’s maid of honor who went to Harvard and owns her own biomedical firm is not a credible source. Every urban legend begins with, “my friend’s husband is a cop and he told her and she told me.” Stop spreading nonsense.  There are plenty of newscasters doing that. And when you see a questionable claim research it and debunk the ones that are specious claims.
  • Be a leader.  This is the time and appropriate situation for Health & Safety personnel to step up and lead, in their words and in their deeds.  By refuting hysteria and easing the minds of the panicked masses. This won’t last forever, and without sounding ominous, this isn’t the last global crisis we’ll face.  Face it with courage. Face it like a grown up.
    There are a lot of people looking to us to 

This is a great opportunity for the Health and Safety community to do real and widespread good.  We don’t often have an opportunity to save lives but in this case we actually do. Don’t disappoint me and don’t disappoint the people (not just workers, but friends, neighbors, and our family) by teaching them the right way to act by acting the right way.  We need to reassure people that by taking some basic precautionary measures. Please people be smart a lot of folks are counting on you.

Today in Michigan we had the first COVID related death of a person in his 50’s, the chief medical officer for the hospital system said, “This many had underlying medical conditions that contributed to his death, but this sadly is not the last death from this disease we will see. With that said, I want to reassure everyone that while many people will get sick, many more will not. And of those who do get sick 85-95% will survive. Please call your doctor if you feel like you have symptoms and follow medical advice.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Hey Idiots, You’re Worried About the Wrong Things

shutterstock_1267812370 (1)

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

Yesterday I returned to Detroit, the Paris of the Midwest, from Hollywood, the Paris of Los Angeles.  I had trouble getting a hotel and paid a premium on my airfare, not because of last-minute planning, but because there were four conferences in town and there was a premium placed on hotel rooms and airfare. The conferences were all either canceled or truncated. The coronavirus scared away all the conventioners, and now airlines, hotels, and cruise ships (the worst form of transportation since the Nazi boxcars) are worried that Plague doesn’t ride a white horse, after all, it has a first-class berth on a Carnival Cruise ship.  

The fear of the coronavirus is sheer panic, and it is bringing out the stupid in people (Corona beer reputedly has seen a 28% fall in sales—but hey they got off cheap, does anybody here remember AIDS chocolate weight-reducing candy? 

First, some facts, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that as many as 49 MILLION people will get the flu this season, and 20,000-50,000 people will die in the U.S. from the ordinary, run-of-the-mill influenza. But at this point in history, where social media and dim-witted politicians make up facts as they go, the corona pandemic has captured the imaginations of people worldwide. And why? Because you might get sick? You might have a heart attack and die, or die in traffic, but somehow, dying of a disease that doesn’t spread that easily and probably won’t even make you sick has done what scores of terrorists have failed to do—create a worldwide panic.

I rode to and from LA with a planeload of people many of whom were wearing everything from surgical masks to dust masks.  Maybe it made them feel better, but it offered no protection from the coronavirus. I saw a photo of a signing warning people to:

  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Avoid contact with people with flu-like symptoms.
  • Avoid unprotected sex with farm animals.
  • Don’t touch your face.

I had to wonder, aren’t there ALWAYS a good idea?  I went to the men’s restroom and for the first time in history, the line to use the urinals was shorter than the line to wash your hands. I skipped that line; my dirtiest body part was easily the cleanest thing in that restroom. These people scrubbed their hands raw. I wash my hands more than your average Mafia Don so a big thank you to the brain trust who thought up that tip.

I also avoid people who are noticeably sick, but then I avoid a lot of people for less rational reasons.  As for having unprotected sex with a farm animal, I have yet to partake. I’m not judging those of you who are into that sort of thing but maybe I just haven’t met the right one yet. Even then I wouldn’t think of having sex until we were in a committed and monogamous relation before expressing my love physically; I’m old fashioned that way. I know full well that I will get a torrent of hate mail from the many safety personnel who enjoy a good swine buggering but since when do I shy away from a fight.  On a related side note, I AM an internet ordained minister so if you and that special “comfort” animal of yours want to make it official I can make that happen. As for the last tip, I will touch my face anytime I damned well please. How in the name of all that’s holy am I supposed to shave without touching my face? 

So while people continue to thumb there nose at workplace violence they will run screaming from a sneeze.  This weekend I finished my third book, Blood In My Pockets Is Blood On Your Hands,   but as long as I have the ability to shill my last book, Lone Gunman: Rewriting The Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention I’m going to keep preaching. I am mystified at how rational people can freak out over this but ignore workplace violence.

Can someone please explain to me why a virus that almost certainly won’t infect you inspires such abject terror while the possibility of a deranged worker killing you, or your wife, or your girlfriend, or you daughter, or that pig you’ve been kanoodling is far more likely to be killed.  You people have got it all wrong workplace violence CAN and at some point actually MAY kill you or someone you love, and the coronavirus statistically will not. But don’t let me stop you from worrying about the absurdly improbably and dismissing workplace violence because “it won’t happen here”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

#corona, #coronavirus, #domestic-violence, #panic, #preventing-workplace-violence, #prevention, #safety, #swinefucking, #workplace-violence, #workplace-violence-prevention

CEU-less and Clueless. Certified or Certifiable?

shutterstock_1156570792By Phil La Duke,
Reverend, Shaman, Grand-Master Psychic, EIEIO and  Author

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

There are people in safety with letters after their names and those who don’t and the two groups seem to hate each other. I get it. For years safety was the place in the organization where you put the people so useless that they could even work in HR.  The reasoning seemed sound at the time: even this dope can’t foul up this job. Then somewhere along the way safety got…complicated. The safety occupation got organized into safety organizations that warred on each other like the Jets and the Sharks—that’s right, like two nerdy gangs that didn’t fight so much as dance around singing—but gangs of oafs none-the-less. I recently severed ties with all Safety Organizations and don’t feel any less informed than when I was active as a member. I’ve eaten the garbage omelettes that are the National Expos. Each year the same omelette and more-less the same garbage with only the most cosmetic changes to ingredients.  So why do people go? Well for starters it’s a boondoggle—the locations are in Orlando, San Diego, Chicago, New Orleans, but you don’t see many in Little Rock, or Oklahoma City, or Parma. 

But if you were to  ask (or read the requests to attend that are  made to the attendees’ bosses) you are likely to see the rationale for attending is simply to retain the precious certifications by getting Continuing Education Units (CEUs).  

The idea of certifying safety professionals grew out of the perceived need to differentiate between safety professionals who were good at their jobs from those who were as useless as the nipples on the tits on a ceramic bull. Ostensibly this is a good idea, and kudos to all those who have earned those letters at the end of their names, I have my own certifications, albeit none conferred by the shadowy body that churned out over 100,000 safety certifications since 1969!

It took me considerable time to find much information about the Board of Certified Safety Professional, a not-for-profit organization that sets the criteria for ten different safety certifications. I don’t particularly have any issue with this or any other certifying body—most of my presentations have been eligible for CEUs. But here again we have a relatively small group of people controlling what safety personnel learn and are able to demonstrate; they define for many what holds value in the world of safety.. The board is composed of a small cadre of safety personnel, some academics and some who hold leadership positions on the largest safety organizations in the U.S. (which strikes me as something as a conflict of interest) and still others who sell safety products or solutions. So what’s the problem? CEUs.. 

Most, if not all, require the people holding these certificates to get more education yearly. This makes sense in some occupations, for example teaching. Teachers have to obtain CEUs to keep their teaching certifications. You may not realize it, but science, history, and other courses can change a lot as new discoveries are made. We don’t want teachers who received their certifications 45 years ago and have not kept up with advances in education.

None of that matters, and I don’t give a hoot about whether someone has letters after his or her name. I have advised several young safety personnel to get certified just to make themselves more marketable, I have advised others not to pursue said certifications because they have distinguished themselves with a storied career full of achievements. 

So what am I wound up about? Safety personnel have gotten so engrossed and obsessed with getting Continuing Education Units that they have completely lost track of the intent, which, at the most superficial glance, is to keep up with advances in the field.

Let’s examine the great advancements in the field of safety? Heinrich’s Half-witted Pyramid? Behavior Based Safety (which is just a rehash of the aforementioned pyramid), I don’t think there has been a truly significant advancement in safety since the introduction of the Hierarchy of Controls.  So what in the ever living name of crap are we expecting safety professionals to learn? Maybe we should re-brand CEUs as Continuing Expense Units. Think about it, it’s accurate—the conferences you go to and pay (or have your employers pay) to attend cost money. This is just another meaningless requirement that forces people to jump through hoops to retain a certification that they have already fulfilled the requirements (arbitrary as they may be) and demonstrated through testing mastery of an arbitrary topic deemed by the few to be important to the many.

So what should be done? If you want a certification (especially those who don’t have a college degree in Industrial Hygiene, Worker Safety, Organizational design or with limited work experience) get one, but if you have a resume rife with accomplishments that demonstrate true application level knowledge of important elements in safety I say, SCREW renewing your certification. Spend your money learning things that are useful to YOU.

Don’t waste your time sitting in a conference room listening to a speaker who is only doing what you are doing (credentialing as its known on the speaker circuit). As much as the certifying bodies and professional organizations desperately want you to believe that you MUST keep that certification, give it up. We need to stop letting a handful of pompous cretins control this whole occupation. People bemoan the lack of professionalism in the field of worker safety well quit bitching and DO SOMETHING end this parasitic relationship between maintaining certifications that don’t mean anything to most people.  If you are struggling with getting a job without one sure get the certification, but otherwise ask yourself why you feel the need to let a group of less than 20 people dictate what you should know and what has value.  We have to throw of the yoke of the Safety Thought Police (trademark pending, get certified today!) and start acting like grown ups.

I am not advocating  that you stop learning, nor am I advocating for you to stop trying to find innovative approaches to safety, but your certification is only as good as the body that conferred it and your CEUs are only as meaningful as the education that your receive—the tools and practical solutions you gain.  I used to work in training I have a number of dubious certifications: I am reverend and shaman in the Universal Love Church of Michigan, Eastern Rite, Trenton Synod, Lake Erie Monarchs chapter, council of 1997 (I had a schism with the Universal Life Church of Modesto California) check out our Facebook page. 

I am legally allowed to perform marriages (except in Florida because I am not a notary), affirmation of love ceremonies for those who cannot or wish to not marry legally (think marriage to a farm animal or a television set), damned people to hell for all eternity, baptize people, hear confessions (I can’t grant absolution but if you want to tell me your sins I will listen) but, and they  were EMPHATIC about this, I cannot perform circumcisions. I made my own certificate. I am also a certified Grand Master Psychic (I know what your thinking, no really). Each of these are printed to look very official and I might add are much more professional looking than the fourth-grade art project that is my State of Michigan Certificate of Training Design & Development (conferred by the University of Michigan; it’s a completely legit AND I don’t have to jump through the CEU hoops to retain it. Apparently U of M decided I was smart enough, or at the very least they were done with me.

For God’s sake people read a book. Speaking of books…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#bbs, #bcsp, #board-of-certified-safety-professionals, #ceu, #continuing-education-units, #dumb-ideas, #dumb-ideas-in-safety, #safety, #safety-certifications

The Shadow Of The Leader Can Be A Cancer On The Organization

shutterstock_1025080732By Phil La Duke

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

Let me make this as clear as my meager writing skills an make it: if you can’t lead then you put yourself, your workplace, and your organization at risk. If people can’t trust you to watch out for your best interests then what would make you think they would consider for a second looking out for you or the company’s best interests?

Leadership is perhaps the most important element in creating a safer workplace.  We don’t talk about it much, but beyond physical safety, don’t organizations have a vested interest in providing more than just physical safety. What about emotional safety—the safety where you are free from worrying about losing his job, or where you don’t feel that you can be frank with your boss without repercussions? Or the safety of having your boss stand up for you and defend you from unfounded attacks instead of throwing you under the boss? In other words, doesn’t an organization have the responsibility to respect and value its employees enough so that the employees work for more than a paycheck?

If your boss isn’t looking out for you, how can that boss expect you to do anything more than to look out for your own interests?  Too many leaders in too many organizations are stuck in a 1982 mentality where the economy was so poor that if workers didn’t like the job they had the very real decision as to whether or not to quit and risk not being able to find another job or just stay in a toxic work environment and put up with the crap.

In military conflicts, there is the concept of “fragging”. Typically fragging refers to deliberately killing an officer or leader while in a firefight so that it looks like an accident.  Why do troops kill their own leaders? Self-preservation; the troops come to believe that the only way to survive is to kill off the ineffectual leader. The troops lose confidence and respect for the leader and for a few, they see this as the only way out of harm’s way.

So what is the equivalent of fragging a leader in the corporate world? Well, actually there are more than one equivalent. One is to undermine your boss’s decisions by second-guessing him or her at every step. Another is to poison the well through gossip and innuendo. I once worked for a completely and utterly incompetent boss who would give ridiculous direction that was truly detrimental to the company.  Here is how the staff followed her instructions. One was completely passive-aggressive, making her second guess every bit of                  

How does respect work? It’s not a trick question. Respect is, in my opinion, one of the key elements in engagement, and by extension, a key element in safety. It’s tough to be engaged in your work when you are treated with contempt and you know by the way you are treated that your boss or your colleagues don’t respect you.

Recently a friend confided in me that he told his boss that he believed that he was not treated with respect by him.  “Respect has to be earned” he snarled back. My friend is literally weeks from retirement with a full pension and is probably a little looser with his language than someone more junior.  He responded, “You have that backward. The way I was raised is that you respect people until they say or do things to you that takes away a measure of that respect. I have been respectful to you, but for whatever reason, you seem to believe that I have to give you a cause to respect and value me.

So there you have it: some people believe that you don’t have to value or respect someone unless they earn it and others believe we should respect people based on their humanity. I happen to believe we should be respectful to people until they show themselves unworthy of that respect.

The funny thing about respect and value is that you don’t have to VERBALLY tell someone that you respect them. The way you feel about someone is pretty difficult to conceal, and if you don’t value and respect someone telling them that you do makes you a hypocrite. So what does all this have to do with safety? A lot.  If your supervisor makes you feel like your opinions don’t matter, that you’re too stupid to contribute anything important, or generally treats you like something he scraped off the bottom of his shoe, it makes it tough to focus on your work. And when you aren’t focusing on your work you are more likely to be injured or to injure a coworker.

I’ve said it so many times that I feel like I am getting blue in the face. While it is important for safety personnel to respect the population for which they are advocates, it is far more important that the executives, partners, department managers, and line managers respect the workers. Little slights, like telling someone to shut up, whether you use those exact words, or marginalize an employee by scheduling meetings and then canceling or rescheduling them, or failing to follow up on an issue, or just plain ignoring the employee.  All of these things are disrespectful and demonstrate that you don’t value the employee.  

When it comes to valuing an employee it should be pretty simple, after all, you must have seen some value in him when you hired him, right? At what point did you take it for granted that this person would just come in and do his job and be happy with the paycheck.

So what does this have to do with lowering injuries in your organization? Everything.  Think of the damage the disrespected employee can do to your organization? Everything from absenteeism to out-and-out sabotage is often rooted in an employee’s opinion of his or her boss and the relationship the employee has with the employer as a whole. But beyond everything, who cares what their bosses think when their bosses have no regard for the person as an individual?

How many of us working in safety get push-back from workers who say, “This company doesn’t give a hot, runny, steaming, pile, of goose crap about my safety? What would motivate them to feel that way, much less say it? Most of us working in safety care about the safety of the workers and most that I have seen have a great rapport with the safety group, so where is this coming from? Leaders. Leaders who belittle. Leaders who think that because they are white-collar workers that they are somehow better and of greater value than the “great unwashed” or whatever name they give to those they perceive to be their intellectual inferiors.

This is no great revelation that incompetent and indifferent leaders make the job of the safety personnel more difficult—hell we feel it more acutely than anyone.  How anyone can respond to  “my boss doesn’t care if I live or I die” with a straight face when we know that what the worker is saying is true?

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#business, #feedback, #safety-leadership, #toxic-leadership

What I Believe About Worker Safety

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

I can only speak from my perspective.

I am, I admit a git of an irascible iconoclast. This week I will (God willing and the creek don’t rise) finish my third book, Blood In My Pockets Is Blood on Your Hands and it is a more cohesive book that methodically shoots down the snake-oil (to answer the many devotees of BBS, but more than that, it’s about getting things right.  I am also making good progress on my fourth book, Loving an Addict: Collateral Damage Of the Opioid Epidemic.  My point isn’t to shill my books although seriously it wouldn’t kill you to pick up a copy or two—the process is expensive, even though I am not self-published, promoting books and trying to get you cheap bastards to part with $15 bucks is expensive, so the exact release dates aren’t yet available.

But in writing these four books I found myself waxing introspective and contemplating the nature of the safety occupation. So this week I give you my manifesto:

  1. No One Wants To Die.  So many people in safety act like they are working a suicide hotline.  Do you think workers are so despondent that they deliberately risking their lives in hopes of dying? Do you think that people herald the arrival of a crippling injury as the best thing that ever happened to them? People assume that the work they are doing is safe. We teach the Hierarchy of Controls to people who don’t need it, and what’s more, we do too little to work the top of the Hierarchy and knowing rely on the most ineffective controls. Why don’t we just make dying in an injury against the rules? Problem solved.
  2. Individual Accountability For Safety Is BULLSHIT. I am sure I will get some self-righteous safety goofball that will trot out the “safety is everyone’s responsibility” with the conviction of someone who walked out in the rain and thinks he has discovered wet.  Am I the only person who can make the decisions to save my life? Yes, I believe so. Is my employer responsible for ensuring that if I make a wrong decision I don’t get killed or that I don’t kill someone else? Yes, I believe this as well.  Blathering on about how people have to take more responsibility for their safety is lazy safety, and blaming the victim.
  3. When It Comes Down To People Verus Process, Process Always Win. Your process isn’t designed to hurt workers and if it does it has not been properly mistake-proofed.  The basic premise of mistaking proofing is to prevent mistakes through engineering and where it is impossible to prevent a mistake, measures are taken to ensure that no one who makes a mistake is seriously injured. But fixing the process—hell, for most people even finding the process flaw—is too hard, too expensive, and too much work.  It’s far cheaper to buy a coffin and a tombstone.
  4. Demming’s 14 Points Of Management Are As Relevant to Safety As They Are To Quality.   I devoted about a third of I Know My Shoes Are Untied. Mind Your Own Business where I address all 14 Points, and you know what, not only are they applicable to safety, but they specifically tell people to stop doing many of the most cherished practices in safety. If you want an eye-opening view of Deming on Safety read the book, but let me sum it up—the workers have a lot more power and influence (and brains) than most safety folks so stop treating them like idiots,
  5. Safety Begins With Respect. If you don’t respect the people whose safety you are charged with increasing get out of the business. I am sick and tired of people describing workers as “imbeciles” “the great unwashed” and even “yard monkeys”. I once had a movie director say to me (when I called him Mr.) “Phil, please don’t call me Mr. we all go by our first names. It’s not one of those contrived “Mr. So-and-so is my dad” thing. Look around, we have over 130 people working here, and no matter what their position, they play an integral role in this production. Believe me, we watch every penny so if we didn’t need them they wouldn’t be here. As far as I’m concerned we’re all equally important because if we all don’t do our jobs we fail.” That had a profound impact on me—not because I didn’t believe it before, but because I have never encountered a successful company how employed people who weren’t viewed as essential. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and when budget time comes, the need for a person’s continued employment is closely ruthlessly examined with the cold heart of a Mafia Don. No one is more important than anyone else. No one’s life is worth less than anyone else’s.
  6. Safety Begins With Competence. We spend too much time reacting to issues than we do avoiding them.  We give a poorly trained veteran the task with training the raw recruit and then call him a dumbass when he does something wrong, even dangerous. Safety professionals need to admit that they don’t know jack about effective training and skills building.  The law may require certain training courses but it doesn’t provide any kind of direction of exactly what constitutes acceptable training. Quality should never be measured out in time or butts in seats.’
  7. Relying On Common Sense Gets People Killed.  The concept of common sense is widely and ironically misinterpreted.  Common sense is the shared and universally accepted knowledge of a population.  A family, example tends to have a strong common sense because it is a relatively small population. A company has far less common sense because of the diversity in background, values, beliefs, and the larger population. Any sentence that begins with “I should have to tell someone….” or “is it too much to ask for a little sense?” Indicates a clueless person. Yes, you should have to tell someone… and yes it is too much to expect anything that you haven’t explained. Assuming that someone knows better than to walk under a suspended load, climb into a confined space, or wear the proper PPE gets people injured and killed.
  8. Operations and Management Are Not The Enemies Of Safety. I hear the same complaint over and over again: management won’t support us and Operations does what it wants; they never listen to me.  If you feel that way get out of safety because you most likely suck at it. Operations, Management, Executives need a reason to listen to you, and if you can’t communicate a convincing “What’s In It For Me” (WIIFM) than no one should listen to you. I wouldn’t listen to you.  Adults need to know why and what’s more they have to BELIEVE the reason.’
  9. Safety Guys Don’t Keep People Safe, Nor Should They.  When I train a safety person I tell them to erase “I save lives” and “I’m here to keep you safe”.  My job is to help people to make informed decisions about their safety. These are grown-ups and if I can be persuasive in my arguments about the risks I can help them make better decisions and influence the safety of the workplace.
  10. My Job Is To Empower Production. Just as I shouldn’t see Operations and Management as the enemy, they shouldn’t see me as such.  My job is to help keep the cogs turning, and when someone gets hurt things tend to grind to a halt. So my job is to empower production by making sure that things run smoothly and no one gets hurt.
  11. Professional Conferences Should Be Places of Learning and Peer-to-Peer Sharing, Not A Place For Credentialling. My first public appearance was at Automation Alley where I spoke to a group of six people all of whom were people I knew.  I did it because I was ordered to by an unreasonable employer. That was in 2006 and I have presented every year since most at multiple venues; some were paid by my employers and some I went into my own pocket to finance.  What I have noticed over the last 14 years is the conference organizers becoming more commercial. There are a handful of people who select the topics and the speakers for each conference and this is leading to a homogenization of thought.  This why I have basically quit the speaker circuit and opt for private engagements. YOU CAN’T BE A THOUGHT LEADER BY TELLING PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT TO HEAR OR ALREADY BELIEVE. I began to feel pressured to try to guess what the conference planners wanted to hear instead of what I felt needed to be said. So essentially we have a cadre made up of the safety establishment controlling what is said, heard, and believed.  I’ve paid the price for being outspoken and saying things that people don’t want to talk about, the ASSP turned down my books because they didn’t like my tone and also were concerned about my citations. For the record, I always post the sources of the facts I assert. I don’t cite my opinion, because doing so is assinine. The final word was, “your tone is not what our readers are used to.” So basically, I got a lesson in writing from a man who ends a sentence with a preposition.  I hope I never get used to getting colonoscopies (although I do enjoy posting pictures of my colon—go ahead and Google it; there’s a Google search that will keep your boss guessing.) but I am still going to get one as is medically necessary because I care about my health. Shouldn’t professional organizations encourage diversity of thought?
    This is an outmoded model. Professional conferences should have more activities designed to include the participants in the presentation. One organization has cracker barrel sessions where there are 20–50 tables for five people. One person presents a single-point lesson with no PowerPoint presentations. The presenter has five minutes to present at which point a bell rings and presenter stays and the people move to a new table. The exercise lasts for 90 minutes so you can easily attend 15 sessions. Another organization has an exercise called 30 presentations in 90 minutes. Each presenter has a carefully timed 3-minute presentation to make—30 single-point micro learnings back-to-back; you’d be surprised how much people can say when you put them on short-fuse time-limit. Other conferences have ice cream socials, the professional equivalent of speed dating instead of death by PowerPoint, or the tired old ramblings of the perennial keynotes with nothing to offer except infomercials for their new book which is just a retread of their last book.  Anyone who has ever attended Elliott Masse’s annual Learning conference can attest that Safety Conferences are pedestrian exercises in boredom. We have put so much emphasis on getting our Continuing Education Units (CEU) that we’ve forsaken the continuing learning. 
  12. We Are Not As Smart Or Enlightened As We Think We Are. I think an outgrowth of this homogenization of thought is that a good many of us have to stop being life-long learners and moved to be preachy boors force-feeding their beliefs down other people’s throats. I appreciate the irony here—I am both. There is nothing wrong with engaging in this intellectual circle-jerk amongst ourselves, but when we start thinking we know better than the people in our organizations we become the universal mother figure with all the psychological issues associated with it. The organization sees us with the same love and respect that Ed Gein had for his mother. 
  13. The Safety Function And The Continuous Improvement Should Be Combined. Of all the things I believe, I’m sure this will get the most frothy results. Please send all threats of violence directly to my personal email, and be sure to include your home address that way it will make it easy for you to act on your threats. I promise not to kill you when and where you sleep. So why do I expect so much resistance to this idea? Simple: I have never seen an organization where these two groups who, on the surface at least, have the same goals, didn’t overtly or covertly despise one another.  It wouldn’t take much to combine the teams and use continuous improvement tools to solve safety issues, investigate injuries, and fix the system flaws. So why the acrimony? Safety feels like if the two were combined the safety functions will become superfluous and be eliminated, or worse yet they will be relegated to doing reporting and buying safety glasses. For their part, the continuous improvement teams always seem to miss the connection, or if they do see the connection they want to run the show, and nobody wants to play second fiddle,
  14. If We Want To Be Taken Seriously As A Profession, We Need To Be More Professional. One must ask oneself what has gone so horribly wrong in life when they start taking lessons in professionalism from me. That’s fair. But for the love of all that is holy, safety personnel can’t even agree on the most basic terminology for safety, we decry the lack of common sense when there is no common sense whatsoever in this occupation. Ask four safety people to define the word “hazard” and you will get 12 different and conflicting opinions. And it doesn’t end there. We argue over how to do an incident investigation or if behavioral observations work, shit we argue whether or not the sky is blue
  15. The Workers Tend To Know What Can Hurt Them More Than We Do. The height of hubris is to think we know more about how a job can be safely done than the people who do the job day in and day out. We may know how the job works on paper, but the person who does the job for a living knows all the subtle nuances to the job. We can work in partnership with them to lower operating risk, but only if we are prepared to fight for the changes in the work, instead of dismissing the opinions of the workers as ill-informed.
  16. Safety Is Quackery But It Should Be Science. Much of safety is based on the questionable writings of a bigoted, insurance man, who allegedly interviewed production supervisors on their opinion of the most likely causes of incidents that happened ten years prior.  If he took notes he lost them, and therefore there can be no peer review of his work. Scores of people have built on the quackery not to further our understanding, but to defend their business model based on this malarky. If this foundation is to be believed then it applies equally to all industries, all of the world’s cultures, and is universally true. This isn’t science this is religion, and it is defended with the zealotry of religion. Despite this belief, I have heard safety personnel tell me that I couldn’t possibly understand their issues because my experience is with companies who build cars and they build trucks, or because they work in mining and my experience is in oil and gas, etc. etc. etc. So which is it? Is BBS universally applicable or is every industry, neigh every workplace so incredibly unique that no outside innovation could possibly work here.  We might as well hang signs outside of the conference halls that say, “Scientific Method Not Welcome Here.”
  17. Until we don’t have workplace injuries we need to butt out of people’s home lives. I am sick to death of this Safety 24-7 bullshit.  When our workplace is so absolutely free of hazards that no one ever gets hurt, hell when the risk of injury in our workplace is so low that the odds of someone getting injured are a statistical anomaly then, and only then, do we have the right to talk to people about safety at home. Who in the name of (fill in the expletive)  decided we have that right? What presumptuous bastard decided that we had the standing to tell employees how they should behave on their own time? We don’t OWN these people! The arrogance and hypocrisy of safety 24-7 os staggering and I will not promulgate it.

So there it is. This is why I question whether or not it’s time for me to leave safety. The enfeebled are treated the same as geniuses. The snake-oil salesmen are treated the same as innovators. The practitioners of witchcraft are treated the same as scientists and scholars, Are field is one where facts are subject to a vote, and we like it that way. We are children playing make-believe while grownups’ lives are on the line.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

I Have A Legal Right To A Safe Workplace

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

Throughout the world, governments have passed laws requiring employers to protect their workers from foreseeable and recognized hazards, some are more stringent than others, but none puts an extreme burden on employers (in the UK the government uses the term “practicable” which is different from practical i. In very basic terms, practical means easy or reasonable whereas practicable means it is possible, or that it can be done.

Since the regulations’ requirements, all have, at their cors, the EMPLOYER’s duty to provide a safe workplace, I won’t go into the subtle and nuanced differences between Canada, Australia, the UK, the EU, et al, and deal with the U.S. General Duty Clause:

Please note the typos in the following quote from the OSHA General Duty clause

  1. “Each employer —

  1.  29 USC 654

shall furnish to each of his (sic) employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees;

(2) shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act. 

(b) Each employee shall comply with occupational safety and health standards and all rules, regulations, and orders issued pursuant to this Act which are applicable to his own actions and conduct.”

The grammatical errors notwithstanding, the OSHA General Duty Clause would appear to place the onus for maintaining a safe workplace equally on employer and employee alike, but according to a spokesperson from OSHA in an article in Health and Safety Today, 

OSHA does not fine workers for workplace safety violations. … Instead, the spokesperson said the OSH Act “places the responsibility to provide a safe and healthful workplace on employers, who are required to comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under the act.”

So where does that leave us?  It establishes a legal requirement for EMPLOYERS to ensure a relatively safe place to work, but it effectively leaves EMPLOYEES off the hook when it comes to safety. It has been interpreted that “recognized hazards” doesn’t mean recognized by the employer but that are generally recognized by industry as a whole.  Furthermore, since there are no legal ramifications for an individual who does not comply with the act, it is endemic to the employer to protect workers. 

So why do we continue to yammer on about the worker’s individual responsibility to work safely? I am not disputing that working safely and minimizing the risk of injury is an individual’s moral and ethical responsibility (not to in the individual’s best interests. However, is a law with no penalties really a law? And if there are no penalties for a worker who violates the law, can we in good faith really consider it a law.

My belabored point is this. EMPLOYERS bear the responsibility for worker safety not the individual.  I can hear the mummers of “scriledge!” and the lighting of torches and sharpening ofpitchfork tines. I can smell the tar and feathers. But consider this: if the law requires employers to provide a safe work environment, and requires workers to follow all safety requirements, it by extension requires companies to discipline workers for not following safety rules.

Before you go out and start firing workers for unsafe acts, you need to consider what the term “employee” means under the law.  In too many workplaces we talk about leaders and employees, but anyone that is employed by the company is covered under this statute. So it’s not just the misbehaving frontline worker that should be disciplined but the supervisor and manager who knew, or should have known, that hazards were present in the work area and did nothing about it.

I know of several companies where if an employee violates the Control of Hazardous Energy Policy (formerly Lockout Tag Out) isn’t followed the employee is put on unpaid disciplinary leave, as is his or her supervisor, the supervisor of the area where the violation occurred, and in some cases the manager.  For some, it’s two weeks without pay and in at least one case it’s a month. I know plenty of people at all levels who don’t believe for a moment that jail time for a fatality will never happen to them, but a month without pay? That’s not only conceivable but for many, it’s fairly likely. This provides a strong motivation to play by the rules and encourage others to do the same. Gambling with your wages shouldn’t be more unacceptable than gambling with someone’s life but apparently, it is.

Now I like to briefly circle back to the idea that a person doesn’t have a legal responsibility to save his or her own skin.  You may not like it, and as I have said, this doesn’t obviate any moral or ethical obligations to work safely, but that’s where we stand so maybe we should be focusing more on the organization and less on the individual.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Smells Like A Safety Meeting

shutterstock_157734158By Phil La Duke
Author
I Know My Shoes Are Untied Mind Your Own Business and
Lone Gunman Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence

Dark House Brewery, a microbrewery based in Michigan has a beer that is called “Smells Like A Safety Meeting”.  You might think that this is a compliment to all the hard working men and women in the safety field; if you do you would be dead wrong.  In many workplaces, sneaking off to smoke marijuana is referred to mockingly, as “going to a safety meeting.” Given that a brewery would name a beer after the practice one can logically assume that this euphemism is not uncommon.

Sadly, the fact that people mock safety people isn’t shocking. I get derisively called, “Mr. Safety” by family and friends more often than I would like, and as a good friend of mine offered during a discussion about how a group of us hate strangers talking to us on a plane, “I don’t have that problem. As soon as I sit down I tell the person next to me that I am a safety consultant and that shuts down any further conversation.”  It’s good that we can laugh at ourselves, but too few of us can, and even more of us provide continually fodder for mocking, ridicule, and even out–and–out hostility toward us.

Ostensibly it doesn’t make sense. Why would people mock and ridicule a profession whose sole purpose is to reduce the risk of injuries; in effect, to ensure that whenever possible people won’t get hurt? Unfortunately, in a practical sense we make it easy to see why many people hold us up for ridicule.

“I Save Lives”

In my book, I Know My Shoes Are Untied. Mind Your Own Business, I reprinted a post that I posted on my blog. The post was a fictional letter from all the workers who died on the job to safety professionals. I also wrote a fictional letter from the safety guy to the dead workers in response.  My intention was to post the former the first week and the latter the following week. Well the uproar that ensued from the first post was truly shocking. Safety professionals told me they hated me, some threatened violence, some just lobbed insults. I was so ticked off that I toyed with the idea of not posting the response, but I hate being manipulated so I decided not to change my plans. When my publisher told me that my book was too long, I cut out the response to the letter. I am petty, and this was my pathetic revenge. 

The whole intent of the exercise was to demonstrate to our shared occupation that if we say we save lives we must hold ourselves culpable for the deaths of the people on our watch.  We delight in saying that we save lives but recoil at the slightest hint that we are in anyway responsible for the deaths of workers. We can’t have it both ways.

I take on some of the Myths (or lies if you prefer) that we safety folks tell ourselves and each other and the biggest one has to be that we save lives. I for my part do not save lives.  I provide workers (at all levels) with the information that they need to make informed choices about the risks they take and their safety. In other words, I help people save their OWN lives.  I have skills, and training, and experience on which to draw so that I can have conversations with individuals to help them make their own decisions. I hope what I have to offer, but I also LEARN from these conversations. 

Ridiculous Precautions

Everyone working in safety has their pet peeves when it comes to a hazard.  As I have explained to people who ask about the origins of the title of my above mentioned book safety professionals—particularly those who learned it on the job—there are some pretty dopey things safety professions insist people do.  My favorite is “use the handrail, always maintain three points of contact on a staircase.” Well….as I learned while working in healthcare, having continuous contact with the handrail spreads germs and poses a health threat. The proper way to ascend or descend a staircase is to keep the hand closest to the rail hovering above the rail so that if you trip you can quickly grab the rail and prevent yourself from failing.  Anyone who has seen the (often remarkably gruesome injuries) from people cut from splintered wood or jagged metal on handrails can attest to the fact that in many cases the practice of glomming your hand onto the rail is anything but best practice. I speak from experience. I was once seriously cut on my hand from a handrail, so I’m not prepared to argue the case. There are plenty of trivial, ridiculous things that we require people to do and they KNOW that there is not a good reason for them to do them. Furthermore, there are often arbitrary requirements that we impose out of ignorance (something that LOOKS dangerous but in actuality is less dangerous than the requirement—think wearing cotton gloves around a spindle.  In other cases we make a rule that is more about ease of enforcement than it is about safety. Take for example safety glasses. Too often the rule is everyone must where safety glasses when in this area, but the law doesn’t dictate that requirement, the organization decides that it is too difficult to suss out which employees are doing what activities and who are legally required to wear safety glasses and who are not. We simplify things by saying everyone must wear safety glasses. We justify it as for everyone’s safety but if we are truly being honest it is for OUR convenience. Don’t get me wrong, I support this approach, but we should at least be honest with people and tell them that it’s too tough to get people to wear safety glasses depending on each person’s individual activity situation. Instead we dig in our heels and try to defend the rule. We also don’t do a very good job of explaining why the rule exists sometimes just because we don’t think it’s important and other times because we just flat out don’t know.  But a fundamental tenet of adult education is that you have to provide them the What’s In It For Me (WIIFM) or the learner will tune you out. And what we do, or should be doing, is teaching people to make informed choices about their safety. And this may startle you, but “you won’t get killed or maimed” isn’t enough of a WIIFM for most people. We should we not speed? Because it decreases our reaction time and when some idiot does something stupid you have more time to react. When I tell someone to drive safely I usually add: there are a lot of idiots out there on the road. Taking a moment to explain WHY a rule is in someone’s best interest is your best bet for getting them to comply.

Soft Headed Parenting

Years ago I was working safety on a construction site, and one guy kept announcing my arrival in a mocking tone with “OK everybody the safety guy is here. We better all follow the rules so we don’t get in trouble” or something similarly belittling.  After about three times I approached him when he was alone. “Writing anybody up today?’ he asked through the kind of smug smirk that makes you want to slap him so hard that his mouth ends up so far behind his head that it requires plastic surgery to ever get it back into position.  I told him, “I don’t know what your problem is and I don’t care. But you need to know, I aint your mama, I aint your daddy, I aint your boss, and I aint your friend. In fact, I don’t even like you, not even a little. If you were to die on the job today it wouldn’t affect me in the least. BUT, I won’t have you undermining the advice and notification I am giving the other people who value their lives and safety, so you can knock off your bullshit.” I walked away and, being me, realized that while the guy was a complete waste of skin who was more valuable to society in parts (a cornea transplant here, a kidney transplant there, you get the drill) he was still my customer and while the customer isn’t always right, the customer is always the customer.  So when he approached me the next day and asked to talk to me privately I was more than a little filled with dread. He said, “look, I’ve never had a safety guy talk to me like that, and I want to apologize. I realize what I thought was just joking around was really hostility toward safety. You have a job to do and I think you really want to do it well so I would like to just start over.” We shook hands and from that day on he was a huge safety advocate. Too many people feed into this parent-child dynamic and it gets in the way of our jobs. We come to represent every authority person that people hate and they respond accordingly. Treat people like grown ups even when they act like children and you will soon have a more functional relationship with your contingency.

Pretending We Have Authority and Power We Don’t Have

Safety cops complain that they “catch people in the act” and nobody supports them. That’s because we don’t have the authority or power to fire anyone and we have overplayed our hand. The offending person has called our bluff and we had squat.  What’s worse is many of us think that we have power and authority that we don’t have. The best we can do is be tattle-tales and run to their bosses, who like as not will only tell them not to do it again. These are grown people and they know far better than many safety professionals that there is nothing we can do to them.  Remember screaming, “You’re not the boss of me as a kid?” well that’s what their thinking if not outright saying it.

We Can Do Better

I am hoping that all of you reading this and see some element of yourself in these archetypes that you will do your best to break out of that mode and become something that people won’t make fun of and mock.  We need to be the resource that we always have claimed to be; we need to be coaches and mentors and evangelists for safety, not in an abstract way, but in a practical way. We need to teach people to question what they are doing and why, we need to persuade people to forget about the easiest way to do the job but the safest way to do the job.  It won’t be easy, but if it was than any idiot could do it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

#consulting, #culture, #i-know-my-shoes-are-untied-mind-your-own-business, #lone-gunman-rewriting-the-handbook-on-workplace-violence-prevention, #peace, #repairing-the-reputation-of-safety, #safety, #training, #violence