Your Safety Initiative? Ha! Theory vs. Reality

Heard a crazy story from a old schoolmate (I’ll call him Z) I caught up with a few weeks ago.
He works in a manufacturing job and is part of a union.
He changed careers a couple of years ago, and still getting the hang of it. Here’s how he got branded as a troublemaker when he believed the Corporate Safety Training. He told me NOT to mention company or industry, as it could only get him into more trouble. Lost all faith in fairness or ‘doing the right thing’ on the job.

See if this could happen in your company!

New job – full day training on safety where everyone was told:

1. It’s OK, if you have a safety concern, you can report it without fear of reprisal.

2. We care about you, about safety – it’s the most important thing.

3. If in doubt, go the safety route.

4. Then they went through safety procedures.

The Incident:

Z is working, boss comes over, says Z, help me move this steel pipe (rigged up). Z says, that’s over 100lbs, are you rigging certified, because I’m not, and yesterday they told us that’s a safety violation.   Boss says no, he’s not certified, but to do it anyway. Z says no, this is exactly what they told us not to do yesterday, and wonders if his boss was there. Boss gets angry, tells Z where to go, finds someone else to help him move the pipe.


Soon after, Z is working and over his head comes rigging with a massive steel pipe – it’s his boss, moving this pipe even though he can certainly see Z working underneath. Z stops work and gets out of the path. Boss tells him to keep working! Z refuses (not going to be crushed by a steel pipe for anyone). Boss says, you think you’re better than me? You after my job? You the big man? and more trash talk.  Z reports his boss. 

The Sad End

When he talks to the supervisor later, finds out his boss responded by badmouthing Z of course. Boss also reported Z for SLEEPING on the JOB, which is outrageous and not true. Supervisor agrees with Z, but doesn’t do anything about it.

Boss and Z have more words, Boss makes it clear he will will win and will make Z’s life hell if Z continues. Boss is Latino – all Latino workmates stop talking to XXX (who isn’t).  Things are tense, Z thankfully moves to a different crew soon after that.


Z = branded as a troublemaker within union/by line managers.
Z = no longer believes corporate BS about safety.
Z = learns you’re not SUPPOSED to think or take initiative and will be punished if you do.
Z = stops his errant behavior, toes party line, takes up no more causes.

Boss = not individually incented to care about safety.
Boss = gets in trouble if safety problems; doesn’t want them brought up or reported.
Boss = protects himself and his job from newbies.

Safety Initiative = good luck getting that reduction in safety-related incidents


I still want to write about compassion a

I still want to write about compassion and the free-market – if we get rid of government entitlement programs which is the moral thing to do, who steps in to fill the gap? The Gov’t programs have atrophied the non-profits who used to fill this role. So today, how do we help one another, recreate true community and avoid the brutality that is expected to come when the gov’t safety nets go? Seems to me that churches and synagogues used to be the natural answer, community groups that could care for those down on their luck. Am I right in thinking that fewer and fewer go to church, and we’re pretty isolated from one another – at least in our family, that’s the way it is. There’s some connection through the PTA, after school activities (superficial) and we used to have community through our co-op preschool (was wonderful).

1,000 Places to See Before You Die – Augh! So Annoying.

I watched a bit of a DVD of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, and there’s this WASP Ken and Barbie couple traveling the world on honeymoon seeing them all. First off:

1. I’m totally jealous – what the heck did they do to get this opportunity? Someone’s PAYING for their trip all around the world? It’s so unfair.

2. Why couldn’t they pick a couple with personality? These two don’t say anything funny, interesting, or memorable. They are polite and nice to everyone – super boring.  They are even polite and nice with each other. I’m not looking for a Survior episode, but a bit of animation would be nice.

3. Why did they pick a couple who look like they are used to getting everything they want? Why not pick someone who’s an artist or professional triathlete or business owner (yeah, a business owner who knows the value of a dollar, importance of motivating staff, interacting with customers, how to market a service or product). People who don’t dress and talk like they went to prep school and got their own car from their parents when they turned 16, spend thousands on clothes each year…Hmmpf.

4. I lived in France for almost 8 years, based in Paris. I traveled a lot. Watching the French part was terribly annoying.  Taillevent is NOT the best restaurant in town, though it’s been there forever and overlooks Notre Dame. And why have them eating alone in the restaurant? Why not have the real experience, which includes other diners around you, looking out at the sparkling lights and the Seine at night, having a rather snooty waiter serve you (I remember being afraid of making a mistake in front of our waiter).

I suppose it makes sense that they pick the most historic, well-known Paris sights.

But frankly, traveling is best when you go beyond looking at the buildings and learning about what happened there in the 1400’s. It’s about the people you meet!  Travel can be incredibly lonely and isolating if the only interactions with people you have are locals selling you tickets and serving you food.  And after a few churches or museums, they all blend together into one big mass that you can’t recall later.

I think that my “don’t-tell-me-what-t0-do” gene has fired up about this one!

Oh man, I’d LOVE to go back exploring through Europe. And Turkey. And Vietnam. And Peru…

HIPPA Breach!

I ran across this photo in a friend’s facebook album and almost fell out of my chair!  She’d taken a shot of someone’s funny last name on an IV bag. And posted the thing, with name, patient ID, on FACEBOOK!!  Is this a HIPPA breach?  

I’ve been working with a lot of hospitals, and have a basic understanding of the importance of keeping patient info confidential.

Now let’s hope I’ve doctored the image correctly to hide names! I wouldn’t want to be put in jail myself (after the recent case of the teenager convicted as a sex offender for sending nude photos of his girlfriend that SHE SENT HIM, I’m sure someone would be happy to convict me).

Don’t Start our Relationship with a Lie

I’ve needed to call a few contact centers lately, mostly for some type of tech support. One ISP I called several times always has reps with Indian accents answering the phone, so I’m convinced their call center is outsourced overseas.

The thing is they all have Western names – Eddie, Dave, Sam.  When the rep answers the call with “Hello, my name is Jim, how may I help you?” and their name is clearly not Jim, my thought is – what else are they going to lie to me about?

So the Contact Center has set up a mood of distrust with their customers – way to shoot yourselves in the foot before 10 words are spoken. 
It’s worth noting that this has nothing to do with them being foreigners or local (I’ve got nothing against outsourcing call centers – if people in India can do it well for half the price, they should be free to do so).

2 solutions I see:  

1. Don’t make them claim that it’s their real name. Have your reps say “Hello, welcome to XXX Customer Service. Please, call me Jim.” or:  “Hello, welcome to XXX Customer Service. My name’s Inderjit but please, call me Jim.”

2. Let your employees use a short version of their real names. “Hello, welcome to XXX Customer Service. I’m Nagendra but please, call me Nagi”.

What do you think? Would these work? Other ideas?

And does the initial lie bother you the way it does me?