An Accident Waiting to Happen

 What causes injuries on the job, and how can they be prevented? Employers usually say that injuries are caused by “human error.” They say that workers wouldn’t get hurt if only they were more careful on the job.
        But that employer argument misses the point.
        Since we all are human and cannot avoid mistakes, it is the employer’s responsibility to provide safeguards so that mistakes don’t become injuries.
        A simple example involves machine guarding. Years ago, employers were not required to put guards on moving machine parts. When workers lost their concentration and got caught in a machine, management said they were hurt because they were “careless.” Now, guards are required and workers get caught in moving machine parts much less often. They’re still careless from time to time–we all are–but the safety protection keeps them from getting hurt.

        The following is a checklist for identifying possible changes needed to prevent injuries on your job. The same list can be used after an accident to show management how the real causes can be corrected.

  •        Are workers provided with too little time to do the job?

  •        Are tools or equipment inadequate or poorly maintained?

  •        Is there poor supervision?

  •        Is there enough help?

  •        Does the job involve an unsafe number of tasks?

  •        Does it require physical positions or a degree of effort that will contribute to accidents and injuries?

  •        Are stressful conditions that can contribute to accidents allowed to go unchecked? For example, too much noise? Vibration? Heat? Cold? Poor lighting? Exposure to chemicals that would cause headaches, dizziness, skin problems, or other irritation?

  •        Are staffing or procedures inadequate to prevent conditions in which workers will trip or slip on something, be hit by a falling object, get caught between two objects, come in contact with electricity, etc.?

  •        Do poorly designed or overly stressful work schedules make workers tired and less alert? Does management fail to provide all necessary protective clothing and equipment, and keep it in good working order?

  •        Is training inadequate or too infrequent?

        Management works hard trying to make us beleive that every accident and injury is our own fault. Think about the list above and how it applies to your job conditions. Old trucks, extreme heat and cold, falling objects caused by bad loads, the list begins to build when you take a good look at it.
        Always get the Union involved when you have an accident or injury before you buy into management’s line that everything is your fault. The Union can help you identify what is management’s repsonsibility and what is yours.
Thanks to IBEW Local 1613

Flexible Bosses Add Years To Workers’ Lives

Here is an interesting concept that I’m sure every UPS driver has already figured out. Upper management at UPS has not figured this out. Upper management thinks that stress makes people more productive. They spend millions of dollars on health and safety programs while ignoring the root cause of accidents, injuries and attendance problems. They wonder why workers call in sick every chance they get. Maybe the problem is not the workers, maybe it’s the slave drivers that run the company. Read on….

When it comes to keeping workers healthy and productive, a flexible boss may be the best medicine, at least according to a national study from the Work, Family and Health Network.

The 3-year study looked at wide range of jobs including retail, long-term elderly care, hotels and hospitality as well as several white collar firms.

“The study found a little give and take in the workplace can add years to a person’s life,” said CBS4 Medical Editor Dr. Dave Hnida. “Specifically people who worked in a supportive workplace had half the risk of heart disease than folks who worked places where they were treated poorly.”

The good workplace also had workers who slept better, averaging an extra 30 minutes every night.

“That extra sleep seemed to help those people — healthier overall with fewer infections,” Hnida said.

So what makes a workplace supportive?

“It’s flexibility in the workplace,” Hnida said. “Happier workers were given a lot of leeway to take care of sick children or to take time to attend school events and parent-teacher conferences.”

Many were given the chance to take vacation time in long chunks or lots of little ones, including an hour at a time.

Telecommuting and flex time also
made a difference in how employees perceived their work environment.

The “Center Over Allowed” Formula

     Most of you drivers have been hearing about the”Center’s over allowed hours” at the AM meetings these days. The idea being to Your a zero in their eyes!pump up production by giving you a number to beat. The interesting part about the “Over allowed hours” is the formula they use to get the number they announce. 
     No matter how far under you run, it equals zero. That’s right Zero. If you are 15 minutes “under”, that equals zero. If you are 1 hour “under”,  that equals zero. If you are 5 hours “under”, that equals zero.
     If you run “over”, they add it up. 10 minutes, plus 1 hour, plus 2 hours equals 3 hours and 10 minutes total “over allowed” for the center. 
     My point here is to let you know that under the system currently used to measure the centers performance, no matter how much you run “under”, you are considered a  “Zero” by management.

Driver 1- 1 hour over
Driver 2- 30 minutes over
Driver 3- 2 hours under
Driver 4- 10 minutes under
Driver 5- 50 minutes over
Driver 6- 4 hours under

Total Center over allowed hours- 2 hours 20 minutes

Hop-a-Long the “Super Hero”

     Here’s a short story about my observations during this week. We have a younger,  newbie driver in our center. She fought hard to get on driving this year, and had to endure layoffs through the summer this year, due to volume issues, and car cutting. Needless to say she appreciates it when she can work full time. In her interest to have the company work her on a daily basis, she has become a real fireball out there. She smokes any route off, to the tune of 2 hours under allowed. The manager would just sing her praises, and would be very upset if he had to lay her off. They would search high and low for a senior, pokey, driver to give the day off, just to keep her working. 
    Am I Still Super if I'm Hurt? All was well in “brown land”, until——— she came out of the truck, (three points of contact?) and rolled her ankle. In her interest of keeping working she has let them keep her driving, and working the pre-load, etc. under the guise of TAW. She finally came to me, (the Union steward), and complained that her ankle was not getting any better. I gave her the low down on workers comp. and advised her to get to the doctor and have it checked, and that she might be interested in staying home and giving it a couple of days rest, otherwise she may risk long term problems. You should have seen the dirty look from the division manager when she advised him she needed to be off on comp. Now she is very worried about how they will treat her since she is injured and now “damaged goods”.
     Everyone needs to remember, you are only a hero when the job gets done everyday, and you make no mistakes, or have no issues. Your past history means “nothing”, when something happens.
     Now, no matter what she does, she is tainted goods. She couldn’t be a hero without being hurt.
                                  There’s no such thing as a Gimpy Super-Hero!

Sweet Surrender

        I remember when UPS focused the spotlight on safet, but still pushed for production numbers, I got called into the office more and more frequently to represent drivers who had clandestinely been observed out on the route not using the methods. I think management has a quota of observations they have to do every month and some of what they see is alarming. Most drivers know what the methods are and they can demonstrate them pretty well on an OJS ride. But when they think no one is looking, they have a different way of doing things. They have what they feel is a better way, at least a better way for them, because it encompasses their own personal needs as well as the company’s needs. It’s often a less rigid version of the company methods, maybe not stopping behind the crosswalk, or not stopping at stop signs on certain streets or not using turn signals when pulling away from the curb. Some drivers don’t honk their horns when they back up unless they think management is listening.
        SurrenderMy methods were pretty good but not perfect, but I think they were better than most for a couple of reasons. One reason is that a steward is a target for some managers and so I tried to not give them reasons to write me up. Another was that I got reminded weekly of the importance of doing the job by the book when I was in the office with somebody else who was getting chewed out for not using all the methods. It was always a wake-up call for me. I’d go out that day and I try to rededicate myself to doing the job right. It would not be fair for me to tell my fellow driver that he has to use the methods if I’m not using them myself.
        Sometimes I ask myself why some drivers find it so hard to use the methods. Why do they fall back into the sloppy, easy ways that they find so comfortable even after being observed and criticized? One reason we all seem to have our own version of the 340 methods is because we are all just a little bull headed. We believe we have a better way, at least a better way for us. And if the company isn’t watching, then we use the better way. I used to be this way and sometimes I still am, but I believe there is a way that is even easier than my way. Some drivers won’t agree with me on this, but the road to true freedom and happiness is to surrender to the company’s wishes.
        Now surrrender is not a word most drivers like to use. Defiance is a better word to use when describing how drivers feel. And the company likes it’s drivers to have defiance. We don’t wait around for a signature, we go and get it. We don’t let a bad load overwhelm us, we conquer it. But when it comes to using our own version of the methods in defiance of what the company wants, we need to surrender.
        My dad used to say that the Russians actually had more freedoms than us because they had no choices and having no choice at all is true freedom. We need to adopt that attitude and apply it to the methods. Don’t think that you have a better way because the only good way is their way. Don’t feel that your way is easier because, when you get caught, then you have to start over and learn to do it the right way and form new habits that you should have been forming a long time ago. Learn to use all the methods for safe driving and all the methods for delivery and know true freedom. Freedom from discipline, freedom from injuries and accidents, and freedom from constantly looking over your shoulder wondering when you’re going to get caught.

It Never Ceases to Amaze Me

     It never ceases to amaze me how our Union membership can sit back, brag about what  they have, and how good they are. Yet when the time comes to back up the organization that sees to it they can live a solid middle class life, they go to their gun cabinet, or Bite the hand that feeds you!their church and defiantly state they can’t support a “liberal group” like the Teamsters Union. They will sit back and suck up every benefit negotiated for them, then bad mouth the very organization that oversees their health, and family life.
     The Teamsters have truly provided the freedom for them to enjoy all of their other activities without fear of job loss, or health coverage, or retirement benefits. They will listen to Glenn Beck, or Rush Limbaugh tell them that the Teamsters are crooked, and corrupt, and that they are being stolen from, and they will believe it. I don’t see these multi-millionaires feeding these Teamster familys, or paying these Teamsters insurance. All I see is their mouth in gear, and our gullible membership, with a blank stare, going “Yup, yup, yup”, or “mega dittos”, thanks for letting me be lazy and not think for myself.
     It’s amazing how people will go against their own self interest in the quest to boost their own ego. 
     Keep in mind that I am a huge supporter of the debate. It takes all sides to keep the world turning. I just find it amazing how keeping the world turning requires turning your back on the people that have your back.
     Just my observation, like it or not. 

Is UPS Going Too Far with ‘Direct to Door’ ?

     UPS has announced that it will begin delivering a little something extra next year. That something will be a packet of advertisements that will accompany some deliveries. So when you buy something online, you may be targeted for the UPS version of junk mail. Junk mail, the UPS way
     According to Marketing Daily, UPS is trying out the idea in select cities this Fall and will go nationwide with the program in 2010. “The offers will be packaged in a custom-designed “UPS Direct-to-Door Pak” — white with an image of a UPS delivery van — and delivered to residents in the test ZIP codes who are receiving a small package shipment that day. Each Direct-to-Door Pak can contain approximately 12 offers and samples from UPS customers. “
     “The samples will come in a separate, uniquely designed pack. The spokesperson says UPS developed the idea after doing focus-group research on direct-mail marketing that suggested people are too inundated with offers to notice them.”
     “The focus group attendees said they would feel differently about it if a sample package were delivered by hand by a familiar person. “They trust a familiar face, the UPS driver, and they are more likely to accept something from them that’s a surprise or gift.”
     What it sounds like to me is that UPS is going to soak the particfipating advertisers for what sounds like the latest greatest marketing idea. UPS customers will get something else to sort through and throw away. There is already skepticism that the offers will not be anything that isn’t available elsewhere, such as a Zappos offer to join their VIP Club. That offer is available to everyone on the Zappos website.
     Is UPS going too far with this new program? I don’t know but I do know I don’t like junk mail and I don’t like spam and this program doesn’t sound all that different.

A Tale of Two Cities

     This is a tale of two union organizing campaigns. 

     The first is at an AT&T facility in Burlington, VT.. AT&T does not interfere when it’s workers choose to talk to a union. The workers are allowed to choose whether they want to ignore the union, vote by secret ballot or just sign cards. It’s a lot like how life would be under the Employee Free Choice Act. This is a quick and easy read, check it out. It will make you feel good.

     The second story is not pretty. A WalMart tire facility in Kingman, AZ tried to unionize and learned a lesson in how life is without the Employee Free Choice Act. The mere mention of the word ‘Union’ at a WalMart store will get you fired. The kneejerk reaction from the corporate office is swift and brutal. This is an ugly story, but it shows why current labor laws need to be reformed. 

     The Employee Free Choice Act may be the next big act to take the stage in Washington. We all know what the stakes are in this fight. Will we rebuild the middle class with strong unions or will we condemn our children to low pay service industry jobs?

     This is a tale of two cities, but it’s also a tale of the Employee Free Choice Act.

Keeping You on Edge

     Ever wonder why you never seem to be able to fall into a day to day, hum drum life, as a driver? It seems like you are always under pressure from so many angles when trying to do the job. You think you are getting it done to the boss’s satisfaction, then you get hit from some other angle. Not enough lead cards. To many tracers. Production is off by 5 minutes. Driving the vehicle to hard. Not wearing the seatbelt. Not closing the bulkhead door. You’ve certainly heard all of these and many more.AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH 
     The company knows that keeping you on edge and stressed makes you run harder. They know you will hurry up so you can get in and tell them off. They know you go faster to avoid the inevitable tongue lashing, even though you’ll get it anyway. They know you will try harder to please them if they act like the abusive daddy.
     What’s a long time driver to do? Practice stress relief. In your mind separate your actual day to day job of driving from the ass chewing you get in the morning. When you are on the road, perform your job at a steady, even pace. Take time to smile at the customer , and exchange pleasantries. Pet the friendly dog. Notice the beautiful gardens and flowers on your area. Don’t let the job become the high stress, blood pressure raising, mad all of the time, nightmare the company wants it to be. Be sure to request your Union Steward whenever they want to talk to you.
     Life is to short to live a life of stress. The job can be wonderful. Take pride in what you do. Everyone is glad to see you. You are the answer to many of their problems. The company would have you act as a robot day in and day out. The fact is you are human, and you should treat other people as you would want them to treat you.
     If you’ve ever noticed, the company sells your customer relationships, even if they don’t support it. It’s important to remain professional in what you do, but don’t be afraid to let a little of your personality shine through. Don’t get sucked into the box monster, production whore you see around you. You won’t go the distance. Most of you have long term goals with this job. You are obligated to give a fair days work, for a fair days pay. That fair day does not mean you have to sell your soul to the devil.
     Telematics is designed to steal more of that soul. The whole purpose of the system is to give them something to harass you about, even though you are doing the job. The system allows them to pick any point, and use it against you. The system should be known as Harassamatics. They tell you it’s about safety, and seat belts, and backing. That’s a bunch of crap. It’s all about stealing your break time for their profit, and harassing you into a heightened state of frenzy about your job.
     Run your day like you should. Don’t internalize their harassment. Don’t carry it with you all day.
                                       You will have a long life, and career.

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