Tag: Tailgate Topics

Simplifying Tasks to Improve Worker Safety

The prevailing wisdom is that experience prepares you for what’s to come – that if we have done something in the past, we are better prepared to handle it when we must do it again. For the most part, I think that is accurate. It is the reason we tell our young children not to touch a hot stove, and, as they get older, we caution them not to drink too many happy hour specials. We have been there, done that, and we know the results were not always ideal. But, as with most things, there are exceptions to the rule. For example, I am currently teaching my youngest child to drive. This is my second...

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Powered Industrial Truck Safety

In the utility industry, we use various types of powered industrial trucks – also referred to as PITs and forklifts – to perform various applications. This equipment is used in material handling in warehouse operations as well as in field construction and maintenance operations. Safe operation of a PIT is critical to avoid injury, death, and material and equipment damage. For the year 2020, OSHA reported that forklifts were the source of 78 work-related deaths and 7,290 nonfatal injuries involving days away from work. From 2011 to 2020, OSHA statistics reveal that an average of 7,243 forklift...

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4 Questions for Continuous Improvement

As Jim, the owner of the company, walked the job site with the head of safety and quality, he said, “You know, we’ve made big gains in safety, quality and production, even as we’ve grown over 200% the past couple of years, but things have plateaued, and I don’t know what to do.”  This may sound familiar, or maybe you’re on the other end of the spectrum – it seems that you are headed down the wrong path or perhaps have even hit rock bottom. The solution to both problems is the same: ask these four questions.  Question 1: What’s Good?   We want to double down on the good. We want to figure out...

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Chainsaw Safety Practices for Rights-of-Way

We all enjoy watching television or listening to music at home, perhaps while eating a hot meal or drinking a shake we made in the blender – all activities made possible through the wonderful power of electricity. But our enjoyment is dampened when the power goes out, which is sometimes due to a fallen tree or fallen branches breaking electrical supply lines. To help remove the debris and restore electrical services, line crews often use chainsaws. They have become essential tools, but it’s no secret that operating a chainsaw can be hazardous if the user doesn’t follow safe operating procedures....

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If I Could Do It All Over Again

Being retired from a 32-year career as an electrical lineman, I sometimes catch myself asking the question, “If I could do it all over again, what would I have done differently?” Then I start to think about how my shoulders ache on these cold Minnesota nights because of the arthritis in them. That pain is probably due to jacking up wire with a hoist thousands of times, or cutting steel guy wire with a big bolt cutter, or not using proper body mechanics when dragging heavy tree limbs while clearing rights-of-way for our power lines. I also think about the two artificial hips I have because I...

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The Rule of Should

I have been working in the health and safety realm for many years, and I enjoy sharing with others the experiences I’ve had and the knowledge I’ve acquired. I often distill my know-how into short pieces of advice that get my message across without sounding too preachy. Over the years, some people started calling my one-line safety slogans “RLisms,” and today I want to share with you two RLisms that go together. RLism Number One  The first RLism is that no one purposely violates a life-threatening rule. Now, most of you are aware of someone who was seriously injured, or worse, when a rule or...

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Plan on Going Home Tonight

Do you plan on going home tonight?  It’s probably something you don’t really consider as you go about your day. And if someone asked you, you might think, “What a weird question,” and then say, “Yes, of course.”  But stop for a moment. Think about those words: Do you plan on going home tonight? You come to work, you do the job, and then you walk back out that door to go home. But in between entering and leaving, you did what? Hoped you would make it home?  Hope is not a plan. In fact, not having a plan is exactly what puts us on the path to an accident. So often we hear someone say, “I wasn’t...

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Creating Good Safety Habits

A journeyman lineman is aloft in his bucket, helping a co-worker install a new transformer on a utility pole. For a second, his mind wanders to the argument he had last night with his wife. Then, suddenly, he hears his co-worker asking for help repositioning the transformer, which is now suspended in the air, attached to the boom winch line of the line truck. In response, the journeyman lineman overreacts and operates his bucket controls too quickly, hitting and lifting the bottom of the transformer. The sling loosens and comes off the lifting eyes, causing the transformer to drop to the ground....

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Strategies to Handle Workplace Conflict

“Jack, the people issues are just getting to be too much,” the foreman said. “If it’s not the landowners and members of the public throwing fits and coming into the work zones, it’s our own people getting into conflicts. At best it’s a distraction that steals our focus, and at it’s worst it becomes violent.” The superintendent replied to the foreman, “I hear you, Billy. Let’s come up with a plan on how to deal with this.” Three Important Questions In this month’s Tailgate, we’re going to review answers to three important questions related to workplace conflict and violence, and then we’ll look...

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