What goes up?

Remember the story of Isaac Newton and the apple? A young Newton is sitting beneath an apple tree when suddenly an apple falls and hits him on the head. Eureka! Gravity – the force of attraction by which terrestrial bodies tend to fall toward the center of the earth (per the dictionary, anyway.) What goes up must come down! Well, hopefully not always; especially in the case of warehouse safety.

All this leads me to today’s topic – warehouse safety. Nice transition, huh? I know it’s not the usual blog topic for the week, but it’s important, especially to all those working in a warehouse or manufacturing environment. And with a reported number of almost 600,000 warehouses in the United States, it’s very important. It’s top of mind because I presented a webinar last week on Pallet Rack Systems; how to know if they are safe, what to look for in an inspection, the things that make them unsafe and what happens when they fail. It’s scary.

Seriously, have you ever seen a rack system collapse? It’s brutal. When a system fails, the collapse is instantaneous; no time to recover once the chain of events has started. Rack failures create serious situations that can result in serious injury or worse, expensive product damage, equipment damage and lost productivity.

There are a lot of reasons a rack system fails - overloading, poor assembly or installation, lack of maintenance, hits from forklifts or lack of collision protection. The big question is how would you know if a rack system had been compromised? Answer? Routine rack inspections. Trained personnel should regularly inspect racks for any type of damage. Keep in mind – unsafe conditions are not always obvious.

We go to work every day expecting not to be injured. We expect a hazard free, safe working environment. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that this is the case. It’s important that we value safe work practices and safety programs and are proactive in our efforts to keep everyone safe.

Posted by MJ Thomas

Getting by with a little help from friends

The drive home from work every night offers a great opportunity to review the events of the day – what happened, what got done, what still needs to be done, approaching deadlines – all that good stuff.

These days, my plate, as they say, is very full. And I love it. I love the challenge of meeting multiple deadlines, juggling projects, creating new ways to promote our brand and our products, and just generally running crazed through the office. It’s like being one of those plate spinners; trying to keep any of the plates from falling and crashing to the ground. So far, so good. In fact, really good. It’s working because I am surrounded with great people – from co-workers, to vendors and suppliers, to friends and family – these are the people who bring out the best in me, challenge me, support me, push me to do my best work. It is a team effort. The secret to success is to surround yourself with a great team.

Now, everyone has their own idea of what identifies great people for them. Asking the following questions is what works for me.

For example, how do they treat others? Do they have a “can do” attitude? Do they have a sense of humor? Are they willing to go the extra mile? Will they challenge you? Do they ask a lot of questions? Are they always eager to learn? How do they handle conflict and challenges? Do they view missteps as opportunities or failures? Are they passionate about their work? Do they bring out the best in me?

You need create your own list of criteria; one that works best for you. Who do you want to be on your team? The people we surround ourselves with matter. They matter a lot.

Jim Rohn, entrepreneur and motivational speaker says, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Think about that for a few minutes.

Go team!

Posted by MJ Thomas

It only takes a minute – or less

There’s an adage that reads, “Write about what you know.” Lately, through personal experience, I’ve become somewhat of an expert on falls. Two days, two slip-and-falls, in the snow, off the back deck. At one time, I would have rallied nicely from both incidents; now not so much. It takes a little longer to recover but it takes a split second for it to happen. Thus, the focus of today’s blog.

Falls, the number one accidental injury, are no laughing matter, especially in the workplace. I did a little research on the topic and some of the statistics are eye-opening. For example, based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics information (2014), more than 260,000 private industry, state and local government workers missed one or more days because of injuries from falls. Workers compensation and medical costs associated with occupational falls are estimated at $70 billion dollars annually. Seventy billion dollars!  Slip-and-fall accidents also account for more than eight million hospital emergency room visits.

If you oversee safety operations at your facility, slips, trips and falls are a huge concern. A pro-active, employee engaging safety program won’t eliminate the incidents and injuries completely, but it will go a long way toward prevention.

Regularly monitor and eliminate trip hazards. If you can’t eliminate them, make them conspicuous; clearly identify them with signage, barriers, flashing lights, whatever it takes. Same thing at locations where there is a shift in surface level. Mark it clearly. The least little change in floor level can result in a worker taking a nasty fall. Make sure lighting is adequate in all areas; use ramps, rails and skip-resistant flooring where needed. Store materials properly; eliminate workers maneuvering through an obstacle course to get around them. Spilled liquids or debris on the floor? Clean it up. Don’t get sidetracked into thinking it’s something that can wait. It only takes a split second for someone to fall. Be observant.  Are people walking through the facility trying to text on their phones or distracted by other things? Are they racing through the facility or just not watching where they are going? Training is key; a standard program of rules and procedures communicated to all workers is a must.

I realize these suggestions probably aren’t anything new to you, but it never hurts to issue a gentle reminder.

Safety is a good thing.

Posted by MJ Thomas

Are you ready for some football? It’s in there somewhere!

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am quite a sports fan. So, it should be no surprise that this week’s blog is about Super Bowl 51 – sort of.  From somewhat humble beginnings in 1967 – the first game didn’t even sell out –  to more than one million expected to attend Super Bowl 51, the event has taken on a life of its own.

How did it all start? Well, in 1966, the National Football League and the American Football League merged. As part of the merger, it was agreed that the two leagues’ champions would play in a World Championship to determine the overall champion. Today, football isn’t the only competition on Super Bowl Sunday.

It’s almost like attending an extravaganza where a football game breaks out! The half time shows have gone from marching bands and drill teams to the likes of Bruce Springstein, Michael Jackson, Prince, The Rolling Stones, Bruno Mars and this year, Lady Gaga. Almost as many people watch the half time show as the number who watch the game. Didn’t half time used to be reserved for bathroom breaks and snack time?

And how about those commercials? If you think that’s not a competition, think again. Every company, every ad agency tries to outdo the others. With all the money at stake, advertisers keep their fingers crossed and hope their commercial is the one that makes the most impact. Think about this – at the first Super Bowl in 1967, a 30 second commercial went for $42,000. Today a 30 second spot is going for about $5 million.

There are Super Bowl parties hosted throughout the country in homes, taverns, restaurants, event halls and more. In fact, some are lobbying for the Monday after Super Bowl Sunday to be declared a holiday.

All this and I haven’t even really talked about the game. Ah yes, the game; the reason this all started in the first place. This year the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots face off for the right to be Super Bowl Champions: two teams who have battled the competition all year to get to this point; two teams who will leave it all on the field to prove themselves; two teams who will give it their best to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy. That’s what Super Bowl Sunday is really all about.

What’s my point? I’m not convinced that bigger is always better. When things get too big, they can get out of control. Bigger sometimes makes us lose sight of the goal – no pun intended – not just in football, but in life. The key in whatever we do is clarity and focus; focus on what’s truly important, what really makes a difference and to not let that get lost in all the trappings.

It’s less than one day, 15 hours and 55 minutes to kick-off. Are you ready?

Posted by MJ Thomas