Slow down, you move too fast…

Yesterday I was on location for a great video/photo shoot project. The location was about an hour’s drive away from my usual starting point so it gave me plenty of time for observations. And anyone who reads this blog knows how I love to make observations. Here goes.

Aside from the massive volume of traffic, the thing I observed most were the dreaded orange barrels; you know, the ones that seem to pop up everywhere at this time of year and basically send you the signal that – unless you planned for them – you won’t make it to your destination on time. It’s funny how the sight of an orange barrel on the highway can immediately conjure up so many different emotions. Like the “Now, I’ll never make it on time” fear, the “Do they really have to do this in the middle of the day?” anger or the “Should have filled the tank before I left this morning” anxiety.

Here’s something else I observed – driving in a construction zone can be hazardous for both drivers and construction workers. Lanes are narrower; traffic patterns are different, people change lanes haphazardly and for most slowing down just doesn’t seem to be an option. The increase of activity on the highway can also lead to distractions. The statistics show that both injuries from construction zone accidents and the number of fatalities continues to increase.
Here are some important tips for increasing safety in highway construction zones.

·         SLOW DOWN – slow down to the posted speed limits. And then be prepared to slow down even more. According to the Federal Highway Administration – for a motor vehicle traveling at 50 mph – the stopping distance is 300 feet on a dry highway; 400 feet on a wet highway; and 1250 feet on icy pavement. That brings up the next tip.

·         DON’T TAILGATE – maintain at least a four second following distance in case of sudden stops.

·         EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED – be alert. Watch for workers entering lanes, other motorists suddenly changing lanes or the person in front of you suddenly hitting the brakes
·         ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS – don’t fool with the radio or your cell phone or try to grab something from the back seat. Pay attention. Follow instructions.

·         BE PATIENT – as much of an inconvenience that they may be, these work zones are necessary for properly maintaining our highways and keeping them safe.

It takes only 25 seconds more to cover one mile at 45 mph than it does at 65 mph. Slow down and be safe.

Posted by MJ Thomas

Wouldn’t it just be easier to follow the rules?

Safety rules, that is.  I mean really, wouldn’t it make more sense to follow rules designed to keep employees safe?  If you could avoid accidents, loss of life, damage to equipment and facilities, major fines, lawsuits, downed production time and loss of inventory wouldn’t you do it? Rhetorical question? Maybe, but in reviewing a number of industry magazines and safety items this week, I was totally taken back by the number of safety violations in the news; violations with some pretty disastrous consequences. With safety – especially at the workplace – cutting corners is never an option; or at least it shouldn’t be.

This month, OSHA’s new maximum fines go into effect. Fines are calculated by considering four elements – gravity of the violation, size of the company, good faith effort to comply and history of previous violations. Depending on the factors involved, the new penalties listed range anywhere from just under $9,000 up to almost $125,000. The highest fines go to the “repeat or willful violation” category. Let me say that again; the repeat or willful violation category. It’s scary that companies would willfully violate safety rules or repeat the infractions, but it happens. Hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that anyone would willfully violate safety policies.  Anyway, the hope is that the larger fines will serve as more of a deterrent to companies trying to circumvent the system. On the other hand, it is also important for the penalties to be administered fairly and consistently. Time will tell.

Posted by MJ Thomas

Hey Coach, what’s the game plan?

Tonight is the first pre-season game for the Cleveland Browns and I have to admit, as an avid sports fan I’m pretty excited.  A lot of moves and changes in the organization have set in motion what die-hard fans hope is the beginning of a new era; a season of more wins than losses; a renewed pride in the team and a winning mentality.

Great teams need great players, great coaches and a game plan. A game plan? Go figure. You need a strategy for accomplishing your objectives? You need a plan for winning? No, DUH! You sure do.

Imagine a team without a game plan. Let’s use the Browns for an example. Players take the field and get ready for the opening kick-off, the referee signals to start the clock and we are underway. BUT with no plan, no one knows what to do, where to go, what their role is, who they’re supposed to cover, where they’re supposed to run – basically you have total chaos. Not exactly a winning strategy. And you know what they say, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else!” You need one plan, one playbook, everyone singing from the same page and the flexibility to make changes to stay on target.

It’s the same for your business. What’s your plan? Have you shared it with your team members? Does everyone know where the business is headed? Do they all know their specific roles in your forward progress? Do you have buy in from everyone? Do you have a good system of communication to let your team know of any changes to the plan? Do you have checks and balances to track how the plan is working? Do you have the flexibility to change the plan if it’s veering you off course?

Repeat – great teams need great players, great coaches and a game plan. Make sure that your team knows what goal to aim for – because if you aim at nothing, it’s a sure hit every time.

Posted by MJ Thomas

Faster or safer?

When it comes to safety in the workplace, the answer is clear; safety, of course. I would guess we are all in agreement on that one. How well do we practice it? Let me explain. Everyone today is in a hurry; rush, faster, time is money. There is a lot of pressure to complete tasks in less time that it normally should take.  At those times, how many of us are tempted to take a short-cut?

For example, how many times have you crossed in the middle of the street because you didn’t want to wait for the light to change at the intersection? How many times have you gone into the plant without your safety goggles because they were in your office and you didn’t want to take the time to go get them?  Or say you need to get something off a top shelf and you don’t have a ladder handy. Do you take the time to get the ladder or do you try to climb up on the shelves? Or, how many times have you used the wrong tool on a job because it would take too long to get the right one?

In all these situations there’s that decisive moment when we choose to roll the dice or play it safe. Play it safe! Shortcuts create potentially dangerous situations; can result in accidents, mistakes, serious injuries, equipment and product damage, lost time and money and even worse. It’s not worth it.

Policies and procedures are in place for a reason. Follow them. The need to work fast should not override the need to work safe. Those few extra minutes it takes to do it the right way could save a life.

As Beverly Sills once said, “There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” Be safe.

Posted by MJ Thomas