Monday, July 28, 2014

Implementing Change in Safety Equipment


Change in the workplace is one of the most difficult tasks that management can face.  Change can be scary for everyone and, at times, seemingly almost impossible to implement.  For those workers that have been doing the same tasks the same way for several years, change just doesn't make sense. When implementing new safety or ergonomic equipment, I have heard workers say, “I've been doing this for (insert number) of years and I have never been injured. I don’t need any lift equipment. I know how to lift the right way.” Or “It’s faster to use my two hands.” 

When I talk to these workers, it is interesting to get the whole story.  They may have been injured from lifting in the past, but attribute the injury to age or trying to work too quickly.  The idea of changing how they work is too bothersome to think about. Considering that one shoulder or back injury can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars with surgeries and replacement workers, changing safety and lifting processes is a worthwhile project.  

According to organizational change expert, Peter Senge, “People don’t resist change. They resist being changed.” He offers an eight-step change process:
  1. Create a sense of urgency around the need for change. Management must provide a compelling reason to change.  Senge believes 75 percent of a company’s leadership group must agree with the need to change in order for the change to be successfully implemented.  If there are injuries from lifting or lack of equipment, show the data and show specific examples of how folks in the workplace have been affected by current processes that are not working.
  2. Form a guiding coalition. Strong leadership is necessary to help implement the change. If the team respects leadership’s input, it will be better received.
  3. Create a vision for change.  A vision must be created to enthuse employees.  What is the direct benefit to the individual?  What is the overall strategy to make their jobs better/easier? 
  4. Communicate the vision. Don’t let the message become stagnant during the process of change.  Leaders must continue to practice what they preach and lead by example. Don’t drop of a piece of equipment and expect it to be used.  Make sure there is proper training and follow up on how it is being used and how often.
  5. Remove obstacles. Training within the leadership group is critical.  EHS managers may need to work with store managers to get them on board.  Remove old equipment that workers may fall back on because it’s what they know. Old equipment will impede progress of training with safer equipment.  Make the change a compensatory benefit to the team.
  6. Create short-term wins.  Building momentum is a key to long-term success.  Employees will need to see a benefit within six to 18 months to continue positive progress.  In the case of implementing lifting devices, talk to the employees about how they feel at the end of the day/week compared to when they lifted materials for a full shift/work week.  Show store or team leaders the reduction of injury incidents over the course of weeks and months due to new processes.
  7. Build on the change. Don’t stop the progress after one win.  Team members may tell leadership what they want to hear, but are the new safety products getting used when leadership members leave the building?  Set goals and follow-up schedules for continued successes.
  8. Anchor the changes in the corporate culture.  Safely lifting in the workplace by using better processes and equipment must become part of the corporate culture in order to continue the “good” behavior.  Corporate safety managers and team managers/store managers must be on board in order for the change to stay.
Although change in the workplace can be difficult, it has become the norm. Bringing in tools to help your employees can greatly benefit the workers overall and, long term, benefit the company’s bottom line.

Thank you for your time and attention.  Let’s make it safe this Monday.

Nikki Lamb
Sales Manager, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Spray Paint Safety


Spray paint is modern convince that has vastly improved the looks and quality of life over the last half century. In 1949 Edward Seymour was credited as the inventor of spray paint by adding paint to an aerosol can. Unlike using a brush or roller the aerosol spray paint leaves a smooth and even coat of paint. It even works great for uneven surfaces and can be applied to a variety of materials including wood, metal, and plastics.

Aerosol spray paint has become extremely popular because of the low price, the ease of use, and the portability of the cans. Because of the popularity, it is easy for consumers to overlook the negative trade offs that come with this convenience. Listed below are the safety concerns that you should read before tackling that next DIY project.

Never puncture or crush a spray paint can. Spray paint works by adding a compressed gas to a can filled with paint. When the valve cap is pressed the expanding gas forces the paint out through the nozzle. You must be cautious to never puncture the can because the internal pressure will cause it to explode. Not only does this result in a huge mess but pieces of metal will fly in every direction. This shrapnel can cause serious damage to the skin or eyes of anyone nearby.  

Store spray paint in a cool location and keep away from direct sunlight. Excessive heat from a hot car, a fire, or directly sunlight can cause the gases within the can to expand. When the can gets too hot it will rupture.

Do not use spray paint near sources of heat or fire. Be sure to remove all sources of ignition in your spraying area. This includes open flames, sparks, cigarettes, and pilot lights from stoves and heaters. Spray paint is very flammable and will combust quickly and violently. 

Always use spray paint in a well-ventilated area and use a proper respirator. Always paint in well-ventilated areas. When painting in doors be certain to open doors and windows to provide air circulation. Wearing eye protection will keep irritating paint and paint fumes out of your eyes. Inhaling paint fumes will cause nose and throat irritation along with headaches, dizziness, nausea, anxiety, and depression. Prolonged exposure can even result in liver and kidney damage. A respirator mask is highly recommended and can be found at most local hardware stores. 

Keep out of the hands of children. Children under the age of 18 should not be allowed to use or play with spray paint. The risks associated with improper use of spray paint may not be understood by a child. Graffiti is another reason why people under 18 should not be allowed unsupervised access to spray paint. Graffiti is popular among teenagers and can cause extensive property damage.

By following these simple guidelines you should be able to stay safe and keep your DIY projects looking great. 

Thank you for your time and attention.  Let’s make it safe this Monday.

Brad Lindemann
Sales Coordinator, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Load Center


Unless you are a forklift operator it is unlikely you are familiar with the term “Load Center.” When using a lift truck or material handling lift such as a Lift’n Buddy it is vital to be aware of the load center to keep the machine stable. 

The easiest way to visualize the concept of a load center is by sticking your arm straight out. If you hang a weight from your elbow it will be much easier to maintain a straight arm than if you were to hang the weight from your fingers.  

This same principle applies to lift trucks. Let’s say a forklift is rated for 2000lbs at a 24in load center. This means the truck is capable of lifting a 48in pallet (24x2=48) that weighs 2000lbs as long as the load is against the back rest of the lifting platform. If you move the pallet away from the back rest the weight capacity will drop proportionate to how far out the load is placed. It is also important that the weight is uniform. If the 2000lb load has center of gravity near the front you will risk tipping the truck forward.  

Always remember that pallets and boxes may not be loaded to meet your lift trucks capacity ratings. You should always be mindful of your lift truck's capacity ratings, the weight of the load, and the weight distribution of the load. Operators that make a conscience effort to check these items will significantly decrease the chances of property damage, injury, or even death.   

Thank you for your time and attention.  Let’s make it safe this Monday.

Brad Lindemann
Sales Coordinator, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company