March 2nd is a Required OSHA Filing Date for All of Us in the Glass Industry
I know that safety is the number one goal of most companies in our industry, rightly so. No one wants an accident, no matter the severity. Small accidents tend to grow into serious ones—this is a proven fact. When I was running our company we were very strong on reducing accidents and eliminating as many obstacles as we could that could create an accident.
No matter your size, ease of walking and handling glass was the number one cause of accidents in our plant and, I am sure, yours. In a small company it is hard to create glass-free zones; in large companies this is the most important thing you can do. If you are primarily a metal house, make sure all of your machines have the proper guards and kickback prevention.
The single most important thing is management being behind a safe working plan. As a manager or owner, you should have a five- to ten-minute meeting, each week, discussing safety with all of your employees. If you have multiple shifts, have multiple meetings. Listen to your people when you ask are there any unsafe situations in your plant and work diligently to fix these.
Now comes March 2nd. This is the date by which most companies need to file electronically, the form 300A to OSHA. There are some industries which don’t have to file. We are not among these. All companies in the construction industry in the U.S. must file.
It is not a complicated thing to do. Go to OSHA.gov/industry/reporting. Follow the instructions. There is an area to click if you have questions. If you have the records handy, this should only take a half-hour at most. You still have to keep your handwritten log at your company even as you file this form and the two must match. If on the off-chance you forget to file and you are audited, this will be a serious fine added to whatever else an investigator sees.
First, I agree 100% – do not forget to file your OSHA 300a log.
That said, let’s be honest. Safety is not the number one goal for most of the glass industry. Certainly not any company I am aware of. The last two glass companies I worked for had life altering injuries last year.
Both of the injured people will never be the same. One lost an entire arm, and the other will have the fight of his life just trying ever walk again. And their leaders get to live with that on their conscience for the rest of their lives.
I have three simple questions for any business claiming “SAFETY IS TOP PRIORITY!”. FIRST- did you achieve zero injuries last year? Second – last year, did you at least reduce injuries by a minimum of 50% over the prior year? Third, does management spend the majority of their time talking about and working on safety?
If you can answer yes to any of these – CONGRATULATIONS – I believe safety IS the real “TOP PRIORITY” for your company. I would very much like to meet your leadership team and share ideas about how we can maintain zero injuries and go viral with those ideas in our great industry.
If you cannot answer yes to any of the questions above, ask yourself this question;
Is anything we make or do, or any amount of profit so important that it is worth people’s pain, suffering, mobility, vision, blood, limbs or even their lives? I am confident that you didn’t answer yes to that one.
Zero injuries is achievable! But doing the same thing every year over and over, and worse yet the same thing every other company around you is doing – and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.
There are tools and methods out there that work! If keeping employees from being injured is really your number one goal, find the tools and solutions and go do the hard work.
This one is truly black and white. Either safety is your top priority or is not.
This is one of the finest letters I have ever received. Thank you for taking the time to create this letter. I hope you continue to comment, or feel free to write me directly at: email@example.com.
Obviously safety is something I am very passionate about. I sent an email to your msn account with an attached e-book on safety and some thoughts about ways to help support the industry in making true progress in reducing injuries. Hopefully it didn’t get spam filtered. I look forward to talking with in more detail about this critical topic.
I wanted to share some further thoughts on this important topic. My words above may sound a little harsh to some – hopefully not too harsh – but they are intended to stir the pot and get people thinking. I am sure there are company leaders out there whose safety philosophy spans the entire spectrum from caring deeply about their employees getting injured to leaders who really don’t give it a second thought.
I imagine there are company leaders who really do care but have given up and aren’t really doing much about it, and/or company leaders who are trying but not significantly moving the needle. For those companies and their leaders, perhaps there is another question to ask that might help get some clarity on how to approach the issue and actually move the needle.
If you own or are a leader of one of those companies, think about the opportunity differently. Let’s assume for example, that for the last three years your company has not been able to generate a profit.
You’ve only been able to bounce around just above and below the break-even point.
What if being honest with yourself, you know based on those past trends and data that there is no reason to expect that to change in the future? You also know there are other companies just like yours who were/are facing the exact same issues preventing profitability that you are. And, you know some of these companies have been able to make changes that allowed them to move the needle significantly and are becoming more profitable each year.
What would you do then? Would you just keep doing the same thing you’ve been doing all along? Would you preach about doing better and trying harder? Would you put posters up on the wall saying “profitability is priority number one”? Would you form a committee of people who’ve never solved the safety puzzle to be responsible?
I think not. I think we know how to attack problems when it comes to profitability, quality, on-time-delivery and many other business challenges. Our injury prevention effort must start with the belief and conviction that it is possible to solve this. Then we do the same things to reduce injuries that we do to move the needle on those other business-critical metrics.
We would do things like recruiting someone away from one of those “successful” companies to learn how they do it. We would call our “successful” friends and contacts in the industry who own/run companies who do the same thing but in a different market (in other words they are not one of our direct competitors). We might look for other companies in other similar industries who have solved such issues before. We might look to learn from similar companies in other parts of the world. We might reach out to our local university to see if there were an expert who could help. We might look for a consultant with a proven track record in injury prevention. One thing is fairly certain – you wouldn’t just say “oh well, that’s just the way it is and there is nothing we can do about it”.
I really don’t expect that many companies will put safety before profitability. What I do hope is that those companies who really do care about their people but just don’t know what to do will start by truly putting safety on the priority list at the same level as profitability. Then think about it the same way, with the same conviction, confidence, intensity, urgency and determination.
If were to you think about reducing injuries as a necessary condition for the very survival of your company, I am confident you would find the tools to make progress. You would set aggressive improvement goals. You might assign your most trusted high performing superstar employee to own the effort to move the needle. You certainly would support that person and give them all the resources they need to do what needed to be done. It is your survival after all. You would apply the same priority, thought processes and tools you know how to use to move the profitability needle, the quality needle, the on-time-delivery needle….
It can be done – in your world, your industry, your company, your building, your workforce. It must be a priority on par with the most important metrics in your company, with resources and methods applied accordingly. Your company’s’ survival may actually depend on it. Certainly and literally the survival of the people you care about who are generating your profit depends on it.
Food for thought…
Hoping you can stay safe and injury free,