Good Wednesday morning,

WORTH READING: “The BP Cover-Up” in the September-October 2010 issue of Mother Jones. “We Mad as Hell – And we’re not going to take this!” in the August 23 & 30, 2010 edition of Newsweek. The meltdown of the JetBlue flight attendant who grabbed the intercom, announced his resignation, grabbed tow beers, and existed down the escape hatch came hours before Bureau of Labor Statistics stats signaled that companies may have pushed workers as far as they can go, according to the article by Daniel Gross.


House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) delivered a scathing attack on Democratic policies in a speech yesterday in Cleveland that included this statement: “Now is not the time to raise taxes on anyone, least of all small businesses that are the engine of growth in this economy.”

OK, simply substitute “now is not the time to increase regulation on anyone, least of all small business…” and you get the idea.

OSHA reform legislation has yet to make it out of the House, where Democrats enjoy (at least until the November elections) a comfortable majority, let alone make any progress in the Senate. You can be sure business groups will use Boehner’s argument that the current economic malaise or stagnancy or whatever is holding up growth is no time to be jacking up penalties and expanding the powers of a regulator like OSHA.


From a discussion on LinkedIn’s EHSQ Elite (#1 in Safety) forum:

“My company just finished implementing DuPont STOP training 2 months ago, its still in its infancy. We have a safety incentive program, monthly safety meetings with the entire company, strong LOTO & BBP programs, full day New Hire Safety Orientation, a monthly safety news article in the company newsletter, a monthly "Safety Smarts Challenge" word search or crossword that I create, a safety suggestion program, strong near-miss reporting program, 3 safety committees and a safety steering committee and on and on and on... but our injury rate is on the rise due to lack of awareness or failure to follow safety procedures including lifting, knife use, tripping up or falling down stairs, etc. Management wants to know what's up and what I'm going to do about it.

“Any suggestions for what can be done to raise employee awareness, in general, that isn't another meeting or game? I'm at a loss for what else can be added to our current programs to make an impact. I'm the only dedicated safety staff in a company of 675 so time is at a premium for me. Maybe I'm naive, I don't know.”

Power of the social nets: this plea received 85 responses. Here are a few samples:

“BUILDING THE SAFETY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM FOUNDATIONAL ELEMENTS USUALLY TAKE 18-24 MONTHS. We can attempt to influence safety performance through awareness programs but the gains are only sustainable if the foundation is there. In my experience, I have started by establishing two key foundational concepts; every incident indicates failure somewhere in our system and requires root cause determination with contributing factors (at least 2) and corrective actions tracked to completion, and the expectation that safety is a condition of employement.”

“We had one site which did not see any improvements for years in lost time accident rates, despite all kind of programs. After getting the managing director and thereby line management actively on board doing safety walks, the lost time accident rate dropped quickly. AFTER YOU GOT THE MANAGING DIRECTOR / SITE MANAGER SUPPORTING YOU, YOU NEED TO GET ALSO THE FOREMEN ON BOARD, they are the first line influencing what is important for the employees.”

“You have too much going on. A SHOTGUN APPROACH LIKE YOU HAVE NOW, TRYING TO TOUCH ON JUST ABOUT EVERY ASPECT OF SAFETY WILL NOT SHOW NEAR-TERM RESULTS. You need to drill down on what is causing the experience and focus on those specific drivers”

“WITH A ONE PERSON SAFETY STAFF (YOURSELF) YOU NEED TO BE A RESOURCE FOR THE COMPANY AND NOT THE ENFORCEMENT ARM. Start with the highest Executive and have him/her express visibly and constantly their value for safety and their desire for no workers be injured. Then have that message and actions repeated by the Managers and first-line Supervisors. The first-line Supervisors and Managers may need to have a meeting with the highest Executive to have the safety support and value personally told to them. Then develop an accountability system so that the first-line Supervisors and Managers are held accountable for the unsafe behaviors, conditions, and resulting injuries.”

“The biggest concern I see in the situation you describe is the fact that your management is asking what YOU are going to do about it. They should be (need to be) asking what THEY can do about it.”

“I suspect that if management are asking what you are going to do about your failing safety programme, they are labouring under the misunderstanding that H & S is your YOUR responsibility and not theirs. YOUR EXECUTIVE, AND I MEAN STARTING FROM THE VERY TOP, THE CEO, NEED TO BE LEADING BY EXAMPLE. If they walk past safety intransigences every day without comment, and they do in my experience, how can they expect their workforce to take health asnd safwty seriously?


That’s the subhed of an op-ed piece published August 22 in The Baltimore Sun.

Here is what the author, a law professor at Loyola University Maryland, has to say, in part:

“Business ethics courses tend to cherry-pick isolated examples of unethical behavior in the business world and insinuate that such behavior is inherent in all businesses. This ignores the reality of how markets work and misinforms students. Dishonest business people will be punished financially as customers cater to their competitors while suppliers refuse to do business with them. IN CASES OF NEGLIGENCE, SUCH AS THE BP OIL SPILL, CHIEF EXECUTIVES OFTEN LOSE THEIR JOBS, THE COMPANY IS SUED, AND THE FIRM'S STOCK PRICE PLUMMETS, as was in fact the case with BP. Such market feedback mechanisms do not guarantee ethical behavior, but they do reward it with customer loyalty — and profits. NO SUCH FEEDBACK MECHANISM EXISTS IN GOVERNMENT, WHICH IS WHERE MUCH LARGER ETHICAL PROBLEMS EXIST.”

Happy pondering…