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Speaking of Precision

Speaking of Precision is a knowledge preservation and thought leadership blog covering the precision machining industry, its materials and services. With over 36 years of hands on experience in steelmaking, manufacturing, quality, and management, Miles Free (Milo) Director of Industry Research and Technology at PMPA helps answer "How?" "With what?" and occasionally "Really?"

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Ten Points Worth Sharing--Cleveland Area OSHA Director Howie Eberts

Posted October 15, 2016 1:00 PM by Milo
Pathfinder Tags: osha safety tips

We attended a presentation at WIRE-Net by Cleveland OSHA Area Director Howie Eberts. Howie did a great job of giving attendees a thoughtful, human view of how and why OSHA does what it does in his district.

Informative slides were the foundation of his talk, but the takeaways revealed some interesting insights into our joint (Companies and OSHA) efforts toward employee safety.

We all have shared responsibility for safety.

1) Safety is important- not just for ourselves, but also for our families that are counting on us.

2) On the job fatalities have declined substantially from 1974 to the present- but there are still too many.

3) Most OSHA inspections are conducted without notice.

4) In Cleveland region, 85% of inspections are a result of employee complaints.

5) Be very careful posting photos on your websites or literature- If someone is obviously in the shop without wearing their required PPE…

6) It‘s your company-

  • Why wouldn’t you want to have a prepared written plan for how your company will respond to a serious injury or fatality?
  • It’s not unreasonable to assert your rights
  • You DESERVE to be treated with respect
  • So do our Field Agents
  • How you treat our officers is on you

7) OSHA does have the right to interview your employees privately

8) To prove employee misconduct you need to prove all four:

  • You have a work rule
  • The rule is communicated to all employees
  • You monitor compliance
  • You issue discipline for noncompliance

9) If the agent tries to expand the scope and you don’t understand why, ask them to clarify why, if you still don’t understand, ask to speak with Howie

10) The facts show that the most dangerous thing that any of us do involves a motor vehicle; roadway incidents alone accounted for nearly one out of every four fatal work injuries.

We took a number of specific actionable tips and insights away from his presentation that we’ll be sharing exclusively with our PMPA members.

Photo credit: http://www.medinacountysafetycouncil.com/

Wire-Net: https://www.wire-net.org/


Editor's note: CR4 would like to thank Milo for sharing his blog, which can also be read here.

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#1

Re: Ten Points Worth Sharing--Cleveland Area OSHA Director Howie Eberts

10/16/2016 2:34 AM

Things I have noticed about OSHA while working.

1. The worse the offending company is the less random inspections they get.

2. When inspections take place certain employees are always given tasks that will keep them as far away from the inspector as possible.

3. Realistic potential and rational review have little to do with most inspections.

4. When an inspection takes place over a specific concern specific employees most closely related to and likely to have reported said concern will lose their jobs 'for unrelated reasons' shortly after.

5. Not discouraging an employee from doing something dangerous to get a job done isn't wrong until caught. Then the employee will be found to be at fault.

6. Safety is priority one unless there is actual work that need to be done.

7. Injury is acceptable when it's not someone in management that is getting injured.

8. Work logs and security video tampering that is a fireable offense is only only a offence when there is no accident and related definable blame to hide.

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Re: Ten Points Worth Sharing--Cleveland Area OSHA Director Howie Eberts

10/16/2016 8:12 AM

I have been on the on the front lines as an hourly employee, as a supervisor,as a manager,and as a government employee and independent/government contractor,and have accompanied OSHA on many inspections.

IMHO:

I have seen it all,but I have not seen everything.

The one most likely to get away with violations are the government institutions,and large corporations.

There is no way to pull a “snap inspection” on a government agency.

Access is limited and anyone entering must pass through a guarded gate,where guards must verify their identity and of course,they must place a phone call for authorization.

It will take a while for their call to be returned.

During this wait time,the ant colony goes berserk,scrambling to eliminate,hide,or obfuscate possible violations.

But you can't hide them all.

There was one particular OSHA inspector I remember that could sniff out a hazardous chemical from “a mile away”,and he found lots of violations behind locked doors.

“OH! Is that door locked?Let me find the key.”

You know the story.

Employees were made(forced) to sign a JSA,yet required to perform work that violated the caveats they had signed off on.

For example: Two electricians walking out to a job: “Hey..you two guys split up..it doesn't look good,looks like you are goofing off.”

And the JSA stated that no electrician should work alone on anything except low-voltage.

I know personally of at least one fatality resulting from this violation,and I am sure there are many more.

Emergency exits were chained shut or blocked,even though they were alarmed and monitored;

Many horror stories associated with that one,with burned bodies piled against a chained emergency exit.

A lone electrician working on 3 phase power problems,with no PPE,etc,etc.

Employees working on 4160/3 phase with no means to test the high voltage side of the circuit.

Old electrical panels with no means of locking out breakers.

OSHA is just 4 upper case letters to a lot of large companies.

OSHA does a lot of good,don't get me wrong,but big money still prevails in most cases.

“OK guys,form a circle and point to the guy ahead of you.”

Willful, blatant disregard for safety should be punished in a top-down chain of command method,with the highest rung of the ladder getting striped sunlight ,and paying penalties from their personal,not corporate accounts.

Then the finger pointing would stop,and then the focus would be on real safety.

“Put the fizz where the trouble is.” a friend of mine used to say.

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#3
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Re: Ten Points Worth Sharing--Cleveland Area OSHA Director Howie Eberts

10/16/2016 10:23 AM

One of my first jobs was like that.

Every 'surprise inspection 'seemed to be known days ahead of time to which we spent that time hiding everything there was that violated the safety rules of the company and more.

The part I found to be so stupid is had that time been spent fixing the problems we hid the cat and mouse game would have never needed to be played but it was made clear by my boss that 'I clearly didn't get it'. That eventually lead to my termination over some very questionable reasonings.

That was where I started learning about how good employees with legitimate concerns over how their job is done and whatnot seem to always get put on work details that will keep them as far away from any outside inspection personnel as can be found. It was done to me many times over the years.

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Re: Ten Points Worth Sharing--Cleveland Area OSHA Director Howie Eberts

10/18/2016 4:53 PM

The one most likely to get away with violations are the government institutions,and large corporations.

Maybe because the large corporations take safety seriously. At least in the pharmaceutical industry, that is so. To get into a major to work on a panel or wiring system you helped build on a process skid, it is a good days adventure. First the drug tests, then the 6 hour safety seminar.

So you finally are allowed to enter, then the steel toes shoes are checked, as is the hard hat and gloves. Better be up to date on arc flash, even if you are working on 120VAC. Ladder work and scaffolding - definitely to the OSHA manual. Same with confined space entry - no OSHA inspector would nail the majors I worked for on that issue.

I've been to one where their safety department expects the same full rubber suit and gloves as you would wear for a 480V 100A panel to open a 20A 120VAC UL508A control panel. Kilocalories are a tad bit low at that voltage/current. Protection - yes. Full rubber suit - not by OSHA standards. I won't tell how I got that panel modified.

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Re: Ten Points Worth Sharing--Cleveland Area OSHA Director Howie Eberts

10/16/2016 10:35 PM

Every year, same week, same amount of days, the DOT, does road side inspections.

These inspections are always done at the same rest areas and scale houses.

The trucking companies are always notified weeks ahead of time, the dispatchers are able to pre-plan pick-ups and delivery routes around the inspection sites.

Even though owner operators, with their freshly washed and waxed, chrome glistening large cars ( big rigs ) routinely get stopped all the time, companies like Fed Ex and UPS get waved through, ( paying bribes and giving large contributions to police benevolent funds ) get the green light and never get a field inspection.

I drove for fed ex ground freight for 6 months, pulling a couple of pup's round trip from Rialto to Columbus.

I never, ever got stopped at a fixed or portable scale, road side inspection or by any peace officer, even though the truck averaged between 70-80 mph, in all states.

I learned that these two companies, transport the payroll checks for 95% of all municipal, state and governmental entities.

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Re: Ten Points Worth Sharing--Cleveland Area OSHA Director Howie Eberts

10/18/2016 3:59 AM

Another vehicle they never stop:

Greyhound buses.

Those dogs have overdrive trannies that will blow right by semis doing 80+ on the interstate.

Truckers hate 'em.

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Re: Ten Points Worth Sharing--Cleveland Area OSHA Director Howie Eberts

10/18/2016 10:40 AM

The reason they are not stopped is because they are the only national bus transportation service.

Just like Amtrak is the only national train service.

And if there was only one airline, then they wouldn't be stopped either.

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Re: Ten Points Worth Sharing--Cleveland Area OSHA Director Howie Eberts

10/18/2016 1:08 PM

And if there was only one airline, then they wouldn't be stopped either.

Uhhhh...stop an airplane in mid-flight - just a tad bit difficult, isn't it?

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