Author: David McPeak, CUSP, CIT, CHST, CSP, CSSM

David McPeak, CET, CHST, CSP, CSSM, CUSP, is the director of professional development for Utility Business Media’s Incident Prevention Institute (www.ip-institute.com). His experience includes operations management, safety and training roles. McPeak holds multiple safety and training certifications and has received numerous awards. He also has served as chairman of Task Team One of the OSHA ET&D Partnership, as a member of Incident Prevention’s editorial advisory board and as a member of the North Carolina Apprenticeship Council. Reach him at david@utilitybusinessmedia.com.

Frontline Fundamentals: Measure What You Want

Imagine this scenario: A worker seriously cuts his nose on the job. The laceration causes part of his nose, at the base of the nostril, to partially separate from his face. The worker glues his nose back together with super glue to prevent going to the doctor and having an OSHA-recordable injury. He then receives two rewards through the company’s safety incentive program. The first is an immediate reward when his supervisor recommends him for safety excellence because he prevented a recordable injury. This is followed by a financial incentive at the end of the year, when his work group is given...

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Frontline Fundamentals: Organizational Culture: What Caves Can Teach Us

If you were in a cave and someone yelled “Watch out for that stalagmite!” would you look up or down? If you said down, you are correct. Both stalagmites and stalactites are formed in caves by mineral deposits from trickling water. Stalactites result from water dripping from the ceiling. They hang down, typically are hollow, have smaller bases and form faster than their counterparts. Stalagmites are built from the ground up when water drips on the cave floor. They have a more solid structure with a larger base that takes more time to form. This imagery is useful when contemplating and discussing...

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Frontline Fundamentals: Responsibility for Safety

You are responsible for your own safety and the safety of others. Most people would say they agree with that statement, but do their actions reflect their agreement? Let’s consider that question in the context of the following incident investigation. The IncidentBob, who works in shipping and receiving, has just cut himself with his pocketknife while attempting to cut a zip-tie off a package. Randy, the shipping and receiving manager, is Bob’s immediate supervisor. Pam is Bob’s co-worker. Ron is the facility’s safety supervisor and is interviewing Bob, Randy and Pam as...

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Frontline Fundamentals: Risk Tolerance

A fundamental premise of working safely is that hazards must be identified and then controlled. Too many incidents occur because hazards are not identified, or worse, they are identified but ignored or tolerated. One of my favorite ways to introduce the concept of risk tolerance is to ask a Frontline class this simple question: “What are some things you might hear someone say before something really bad happens?” It always amazes me – and scares me – how open participants are when I ask this question. Typical responses I have heard include:• “We’ve done this a thousand times and no one has ever...

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Frontline Fundamentals: Controlling Hazards

“Get us a bucket truck, a rock and a hard hat. The rest of the class and I will meet you outside in 10 minutes.” Those were my instructions to a participant who, during a recent Frontline program session, challenged me as I was teaching the hierarchy of controls and explaining why PPE should be considered the last line of defense. The participant was adamant that he had always been trained that PPE is your primary protection and that if you are wearing it, you are protected and can work as you want. The rest of the group validated that was how they understood their training. This put us at...

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Multitasking vs. Switch-Tasking: What’s the Difference?

In computer terms, multitasking is the concurrent operation by one central processing unit of two or more processes. Interestingly enough, this is not accomplished because computers can perform multiple processes at once. They simply give the appearance of multitasking because they can switch between processes thousands of times a second. Multitasking applied to human beings isn’t much different. We have a central processing unit – the brain – and give the illusion of multitasking by switching between tasks performed in the same time frame, but not at the same time. I’m not proposing that...

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A Mirror: Your Most Important PPE

Look around your job site. There are hazards including suspended loads, moving equipment, heat, electricity, insects, falling objects, poison oak and traffic. Assuming you work for a company with an effective safety program, they have trained you in hazard identification and mitigation. Your mitigation plan to control some hazards includes PPE. You inspect it, store it properly and wear it as directed. In short, you protect it so it can protect you. You are covered in PPE from head to toe and ready to go to work. Or are you? Have you forgotten the most important PPE you will ever use – a mirror? You...

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The Value of Safety Certification

Certified. Qualified. Competent. What do these words mean and how are they interrelated? A customer of a utility contractor recently rejected an application from a safety professional who wanted to work on their project, stating he was unqualified. The safety professional had CSP certification and more than 20 years of relevant experience. He is obviously certified, and his experience arguably makes him competent, raising the question: Is it possible to be certified, competent and unqualified? During the same week, this contractor bid on another job that required a CSP on staff. So what, exactly,...

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