Mar 31, 2005

Quest lets Gary Losey go....

It is always hard to see anyone of value lose there job. "We all wish you well and luck in your future ventures."


Huron Capital and Quest Specialty Chemicals Acquire Raabe Corp.

Detroit, MI – November 30, 2004 // Huron Capital Partners LLC, a Michigan-based private equity firm, announced today that it has funded its specialty chemicals initiative in Quest Specialty Chemicals in order to acquire Raabe Corporation. Raabe fit squarely in Quest’s coatings strategy to acquire companies that have developed unique solutions to the challenges of coatings application, surface protection and the bonding of flexible and rigid substrates. Based in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, Raabe is a leading manufacturer of custom matched branded touch-up paint and provider of private label aerosol paint filling services. Raabe’s touch-up products consist of ready-to-apply paints that closely match original equipment coatings and are used to repair the surfaces of industrial & commercial products along all points of the supply chain.

Michael R. Beauregard, a Partner at Huron, stated, “Partnering with Quest is consistent with our investment strategy of working with successful executives who have proven track records of building equity value. Through Quest, we have brought together strong operating and investment expertise to create a substantial player in the specialty chemicals industry. In Raabe, we found a solid core aerosol business serving a niche market with state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities. Raabe’s strong market share and talented management team are critical assets on which Huron and Quest plan to execute a specialty coatings growth strategy. Frederick A. Quinn, Quest’s CEO added “Raabe’s research and manufacturing base made it a unique platform on which to launch our coatings initiative. We expect to make complimentary acquisitions to their core business and to extend their capabilities into new applications. We are also pleased that David Wacker will continue as President of Raabe.”

Quest separately announced today that Gerard A. Loftus, who joined the Quest team in 2003, has been named COO & CFO of Quest. Mr. Quinn stated “Gerry will focus on the operational and financial aspects of our business. He brings a strong financial background and extensive operational experience in running specialty chemical businesses.” Quest also stated that it elected Carol E. Bramson to Quest’s Board of Directors. Ms. Bramson’s professional experience includes leading Banc One Equity Capital’s successful investment in Sovereign Specialty Chemicals.

About Huron Capital Partners LLC

Huron Capital is one of the leading private equity firms investing in lower middle-market companies. The firm typically invests between $5 million and $20 million in equity to sponsor management buyouts, recapitalizations, and corporate spin-offs of well-positioned companies having revenues up to $200 million. Huron’s strategy is to partner with strong management teams at niche manufacturing, specialty service, and value-added distribution companies that can be built through acquisition and organic growth. For further information, please visit Huron’s website at

About Quest Specialty Chemicals

Quest was founded and led by Mr. Quinn, a 30-year veteran in the specialty chemicals industry who has successfully built, acquired, and divested businesses in the specialty chemical industry. He has served as CEO of K.J. Quinn, President of Pierce & Stevens (a subsidiary of Sovereign Specialty Chemicals), and CEO of Royal Adhesives & Sealants. Mr. Quinn is a Graduate of the University of Southern California where he received both his undergraduate and MBA degrees.

For further information, please visit Quest’s web site at

October 4, 2004
For Immediate Release
Quest lets Gary Losey go.... with new ventures comes new leadership.

Mar 29, 2005

Why pay for training if you’re not going to implement it?

You Don’t Make Coffee If Nobody Drinks It

By Allan Mackintosh

I called on a former colleague once to find out what his company policy was toward training for managers. He told me that all managers undergo coaching training and that the model of choice is GROW (growth, reality, options, and will).

“I like this model,” he said. “It gives me a structure for my coaching whereas beforehand it was a bit haphazard.”

I asked him if he didn’t recall that we had been introduced to this coaching model almost seven years ago, and that we actually completed a refresher course three years ago with a another training company. His reply was telling:

“I have a vague recollection, and I believe I have the folders somewhere. But you forget that when I went through these courses I was new to the manager’s role and there was an amazing amount of change about due to restructuring together with changes of personnel and roles. There was no real time to digest the training and certainly no time to implement it! I never got any support anyhow!”

Avoid The Single-Shot Approach

Some companies have a training session for a few weeks and say, “they’re trained,” says Dave Anderson. “That’s crazy. It’s not a one-time payment. It’s an installment plan. Doctors and lawyers have to be continually trained; sales is a serious, high-paying profession.”

Salespeople should be like football players, he says. “They watch drills, study playbooks, practice all the time… and play very little. They’re not getting better on game day. For salespeople, game day is when they’re in front of the customer.”

Philadelphia-based trainer Linda Richardson concurs. “Companies should remember training is not an event. It should be a building block curriculum. One year, a company can do fundamentals, another year, sales presentations, and another year, negotiation. Programs need to be linked and salespeople need continuous reinforcement. When you have that combination, you get results.”

After seven years and three expensive training courses, the GROW model of coaching finally managed to be adopted by this particular manager. And I rate him as one of the better ones I have worked with!

Sales training that’s heavier on theory than practice and contains no sustained follow-up is a waste of time and money. How can lessons be implemented when participants, more often than not, return to their workplace and are immediately thrown back into regular routines and the pressure of quotas and workloads?

Make sure your training providers offer some form of follow-up support. You may pay extra for this, but it truly adds value. It can be face-to-face coaching, telephone coaching or simply an “open door” support line whereby participants can simply telephone or e-mail the provider. Avoid companies that deliver the training, hand over glossy folders and disappear.

Managers, too, are obligated to support salespeople who complete training at the company’s request. Discuss together what you hope they will learn. Once the training is over, a manager should help employees analyze how they fared against the objectives they set.

Most important, pinpoint how each salesperson will implement this learning into their work habits. What support can you provide so that the new skills become sustainable and the salesperson’s capability grows?

Industry spends millions on training (still not enough!) and much of it is wasted because trainers do not provide adequate follow-up support and managers do not make the time to set learning objectives and review these objectives with every intention of effectively implementing the new set of skills.

Allan Mackintosh is a professional management coach living in Scotland and author of The Successful Coaching Manager. Visit his Web site at, or e-mail him at

Mar 28, 2005

12 steps to better warehouse safety

Follow these guidelines to reduce employee injuries and minimize workplace disruptions.
Safety starts with you." This shopworn slogan often serves as the focal point for warehouse safety programs. Safety consultant and former OSHA manager Rick Kaletsky, however, begs to differ.

"While that's a good catch phrase, I have to respectfully disagree," Kaletsky says. "Safety can't start with the employee—the employer has to set the table first. They have to establish a training program, culture, and environment where employees can work safely."

Unfortunately, employers often fail to put that kind of effort into promoting safety. For some, it's a matter of insufficient time or resources. Others cut corners to save money. In the long run, though, creating a safe environment saves money by minimizing absenteeism, workplace disruptions, and equipment downtime while increasing productivity and employee satisfaction. And it doesn't necessarily mean spending a fortune. Here's a sampling of common-sense—and cost-effective—safety tips.

1. Practice "Ergonomics 101." Given the amount of manual labor that occurs in a warehouse, it's no surprise that OSHA, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has identified ergonomic injuries as one of the most common hazards for warehouse employees. "In terms of severity, ergonomic injuries are the most expensive and have the longest recovery time," says Todd Currier, health, safety, and environmental manager for Exel, the Columbus, Ohio-based third-party logistics company, and a member of the International Warehouse Logistics Association's ergonomics task force.

One of the simplest steps a warehouse operator can take is to continually preach and practice the principles of safe lifting. That means workers need to keep their backs straight, keep loads close to their bodies, and not lift, pull, or push anything over their shoulders, Kaletsky advises. Nor should they turn their upper torsos without also turning their lower torsos by moving their legs and feet, he adds.

2. Never get into a "closed" truck. Serious accidents can occur after a truck has been loaded, says Ralph Cox, a principal with Charlotte, N.C.-based Tompkins Associates. "That interval of time between when the warehouse has control of the truck for loading and when the driver has control of the truck for departure can be really dangerous," he says.

Cox knows of deaths that have occurred because a warehouse employee stepped into the back of a truck after it had been loaded and the driver had left for the dock office. When the driver, unaware that anyone was inside, returned to the vehicle and pulled away, the employee was thrown out of the vehicle. Two ways to prevent this kind of tragedy: Place a chain or sign across the dock door indicating that the truck is "closed." Or take the driver's keys and return them only after he has picked up the shipping paperwork.

3. Mark your territory. "Striping," or using paint or tape to mark out spaces to be used for different activities, can help prevent dock injuries. "My perception is that you can't do too much floor striping," Cox says. "It brings order and structure to the dock operation." Outlining work areas means everyone will know exactly where to perform certain activities. "The operation works the same way every day," Cox says. "You don't want to have your dock being used like a big work table where people just work wherever they can find space."

4. Make training mandatory. Any good safety program is based on effective education. That's why Exel requires new associates to undergo three to five days of training before they hit the warehouse floor. After that, they are assigned to mentors who show them the proper way to perform activities.

Training isn't just for new hires; it should continue throughout employment. And don't let employees talk their way out of training requirements, Kaletsky says. "Please don't let someone max out of training because they have or are alleged to have experience or knowledge with something. You want them to go to the training so that at least you know that they are not [continuing] bad habits."

How to make training interesting for people who think they've heard it all before? Joe Kelbus, principal consultant for the National Safety Council in Itasca, Ill., suggests that safety training be hands-on, visual, and "facilitated." "With a facilitated lesson, you spend half your time listening to a lecture and half your time in small groups talking, responding, and working hands-on," he explains. He also recommends administering pre- and post-training tests to ensure that a program was effective.

5. Educate everyone. It goes without saying that forklift operators must be trained. More effective is to train them on the same make and model as the truck they will be operating, says Kaletsky.

But drivers aren't the only ones who need education. "You also want to train the people working around them," suggests Kelbus. Sometimes, though, it's not enough to simply make order-pickers and other pedestrians aware of how to work around lift trucks. To minimize the chance of accidents, keep them separated. In cases where the same aisle is used for both picking and replenishment, Cox recommends, schedule the two activities for different times of the day.

Don't neglect to educate upper management about safety. Kelbus points out that many executives have never studied occupational safety and health. Safety, therefore, might not sit at the top of their list of priorities. The way to get it up there, says Currier, is to show management how safety will help achieve business objectives.

"Find out what's the reality of their work and what they're measured on—and it's not always cost," Currier recommends. "And then state your position in a language that your leadership understands."

Warehouse injuries6. Walk the talk. Approximately half of the unsafe acts that Currier has observed have involved workers who were not following existing policies, standards, or procedures. When that happens, it's time to follow up training and communication with action.

Kaletsky recommends applying a progressive disciplinary program if an employee doesn't follow the safety rules. "Once employees understand safety practices, they need to know that compliance is a condition for employment," he says. "This should in no way be merely an authoritarian effort. But you need to make it clear that if you do not wear your eye protection, if you're ripping electrical cords out of the receptacle instead of unplugging them by the plug, if you're driving a forklift too fast through cross aisles and not blowing your horn, you're going to feel it. You're going to feel it, for instance, by a day off."

7. Make safety a success measure. Another way to emphasize a commitment to safety is to measure it. At Exel, safety is considered to be a key performance indicator. "If there is [a safety-related] event during the day, then it was an unsuccessful day regardless of whether the truck went out on time," says Currier.

Exel also has made safety a part of employees' performance reviews. "All of management is measured on our safety objective, and this goes all the way down to the lead operator of the crew," Currier explains.

8. Empower your employees. Encouraging employees to report unsafe working conditions and actions goes hand-in-hand with enforcing and measuring safety compliance. Exel, for example, has empowered associates to stop an activity if they feel it is unsafe. "We've had associates turn off production lines or call me in the middle of night because they have been asked to do something that requires three people and they only have two available," Currier says. "In those cases, we work with the supervisor so that we are still able to service the client while maintaining our associates' ability to operate efficiently and safely."

Cox recommends setting up an anonymous reporting system for employees. In addition, Kaletsky suggests, question workers who are working in or around an unsafe condition. If employees are working around an oil spill on the floor, for example, ask them why they didn't report it (and make sure to remove the hazard).

9. Pay attention to near misses. Kaletsky recommends paying attention not just to accidents that cause injuries or illnesses but also to the "near misses." That will help identify safety trends or property damage that could lead to injury in the future.

Currier maintains that tracking only OSHA "recordables" or lost-time injuries won't provide a complete picture of workplace accidents. For example, he estimates that 7–10 percent of all injuries involve the eye, yet most of them are not severe and don't result in lost time or an OSHA report.

10. Exercise constant vigilance. Experts recommend conducting weekly or monthly safety inspections of the facility and of how employees are doing their jobs. Kaletsky takes this one step further. "You need to be continually monitoring what is going on in your facility," he suggests. "This doesn't have to be a formal system with columns, boxes, and guys' names. This is just keeping an eye on what is happening on the floor." His response to managers who say they don't have time to do that: "Well, you have time to stop and watch how some guy's lifting. You have time to make sure that access to exits and fire extinguishers is not blocked. It doesn't take that much time."

11. Bring in a fresh pair of eyes. When it comes time to conduct a formal safety audit, it can be very helpful to bring in an outsider, Cox suggests. "And I don't necessarily mean a consultant," he says. "It could be someone from another facility in your business. It could also be a peer from a DC just down the street who runs an operation that's similar to yours."

That "fresh pair of eyes" may notice an existing or potential problem that hasn't caught the attention of someone who sees it every day. That can benefit every facility, so managers can agree to reciprocate: "We'll look at yours, if you'll look at ours."

12. Don't just look for fault, look for cause. If an accident does occur, don't focus entirely on assigning fault. Instead, try to identify the cause. Kaletsky offers this example: Suppose a worker slips on a puddle of fluid. Rather than just say the injury was due to carelessness, find out why the fluid was there. "You need to ask, 'Where did that fluid come from?'" he says. "Did it drip from the roof? If so, then just cleaning it up won't be good enough—it will come back again. Did it leak from a forklift? Well, now you not only have that spot on the floor, but you also have one in aisle 7."

Finally, Kaletsky cautions against punishing an employee for getting hurt or sick on the job, without investigating further. "You do want to discipline someone if they broke a safety rule or do something blatantly unsafe, even if no one is injured," he says. "But if someone has four lost-time injuries, don't just discipline him for being accident-prone, find out what caused those accidents."

Profound consequences

Although creating a comprehensive safety program may take a significant amount of time and effort, the consequences of not creating a culture of safety in the warehouse can be profound—even more so than a missed shipment or a lost customer.

"When a major injury occurs, there are all kinds of repercussions," Cox observes. "There is what I can only call an 'emotional violence' that pervades the entire community. It goes through the company, the town, and, of course, the families. And it doesn't go away real quick."

© 2005, Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Logistics Management - OSHA's new approach to warehousing

OSHA's new approach to warehousing
The federal agency is choosing collaboration over confrontation when it comes to improving warehouse ergonomics.

If you mention "OSHA" to a warehouse manager, you're likely to get a frown in response. That's because relations between warehouse operators and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the government's watchdog on industrial safety issues, haven't always been friendly.

In the 1990s, OSHA began to crack down on violations, and in 2000 the agency developed a controversial set of ergonomics standards that met with strong objections from many industries, including warehousing. Congress repealed those standards in 2001, just weeks before they were to take effect. Without standards in place, it became harder for OSHA to issue violation notices—and for warehouse operators to know when they'd done something wrong.

That lack of certainty has prompted OSHA to change the way it works with business, an approach that promises to improve safety and reduce warehouse operating costs.

OSHA's new approach is based on four activities: best practices guidelines, enforcement, outreach and assistance, and a national advisory committee. As part of this initiative, OSHA has been forming cooperative partnerships, or "voluntary protection programs," with companies and has been soliciting advice from industry associations.

OSHA also has targeted warehousing and other industries with above-average rates of ergonomic injuries for participation in its initiative, says Rich Fairfax, director of the agency's enforcement program. One industry group that was very interested in working with OSHA is the International Warehouse Logistics Association (IWLA), an organization for warehouse-based third-party logistics providers. "For most warehouse operators, OSHA is a four-letter word. But we didn't want that to be the case," says Nathan Noy, IWLA director of government and legal services.

Last year the IWLA formed an alliance with OSHA. The alliance's goals are to collaborate on improving warehouse safety, reducing regulatory violations, and developing training and information programs.

Participants quickly decided that they should focus on ergonomics because the majority of warehouse safety incidents are ergonomics-related. IWLA members say they welcome OSHA's assistance in improving ergonomic practices. "What we applaud is that they are really trying to find a practical way to do that," says Ernie Harban, manager for training and loss prevention at third-party logistics provider Saddle Creek Corp.
Concrete Benefits

OSHA's outreach programs aim to produce concrete benefits for participants. Noy, for one, expects the alliance will help his group spread information on ergonomics to its members, which will reduce the likelihood of OSHA inspectors showing up on their doorsteps.

The agency has indeed issued fewer ergonomics citations in recent years than it did in the 1980s and early 1990s, says Prof. Donald Bloswick, an industrial ergonomics and safety specialist at the University of Utah. That's a good thing, he says. "I'd much rather see companies spending their dollars abating hazards than paying OSHA citations."

According to OSHA's Fairfax, participants in voluntary protection programs can indeed expect some breaks. If they do appear on OSHA's inspection list, the agency will defer an inspection and give the company time to develop and implement an improvement program.

It would be foolhardy, though, to put ergonomics on the back burner because OSHA is focusing more on outreach than on enforcement these days. "I think this would be a mistake for two reasons," says Dave Alexander, president of consultants Auburn Engineers. "First, you're still responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace. And second, if you're having enough injuries to be worried about OSHA, you should really be worrying about your pocketbook. You're probably paying a lot more money than you have to for workers' comp."
Four-Step Program

What type of ergonomics program should you have to make sure that you don't hurt your employees' backs—or your wallet? "The worst level of program is to be completely reactive, to only do something when someone gets hurt," says Tom Albin, an ergonomics specialist at Auburn Engineers.

Instead, many industry experts recommend that warehouse managers adopt the following four-step program for preventing ergonomics problems.

Step 1: Identify existing and potential problems.
Look at injury and illness records. If those costs average a few hundred dollars per person, per year, you probably have a pretty good ergonomics program, says Alexander. If you're spending several thousand dollars, you need to improve your program, he says.

Zack Koustandreas, vice president of consulting firm Ergoworks, recommends asking employees questions such as: Are you tired at the end of the day? Why are you tired? Which muscles are sore? "Is this a comprehensive and thorough analysis? No, but it will give you a hotspot—or two or three—that's a great place to start," he says.

Walk through a facility to see what the risk factors are. How far are people reaching? How much do boxes weigh? How many times are they performing a specific task? You can do this yourself, bring in a consultant or insurance company, or use OSHA's consultation service. Under the OSHA program, inspectors will conduct an inspection at no cost. If they find a hazard, however, you will be obligated to correct it.

Step 2: Train and educate correctly.
Good training is specific to each warehouse's unique operation. If it isn't, employees are likely to respond to recommendations with "yes, buts," according to Kim Monroe, president of Emmons Ergonomics Consulting.

Make sure training is practical and instructions make sense. "I can tell you to lift with your knees bent and your back straight, but if you've got to bend over to go into a slot, how are you going to do that?" says Albin. "If I train you to do something you cannot do, I've wasted your time and my money."

Step 3: Establish an effective injury-response program.
Encourage employees to report injuries and soreness early so you can identify problems before they become serious. It's helpful to work with a medical professional who is certified in occupational medicine and is familiar with your operation. If you don't have someone on staff, find someone who can visit your facility periodically.

Step 4: Earn continuing support for compliance.
Both employee involvement and management buy-in are critical to the success of any ergonomics program. "You really have to make sure that you have all your ducks in a row before you roll out the program, that you have management support and a certain amount of funding. That's the only way you can overcome resistance and skepticism," says Monroe.

And have patience. "You're not going to immediately see an effect on your injury and illness rates," Monroe warns. "In fact, when you first put in an ergonomics program, you might see your numbers go up because you have increased awareness and more people are reporting injuries early."

But stick with the program and you'll see improvements not only in the number of reportable injuries, but also in employee satisfaction.

Tips and Tricks for better warehouse ergonomics

Looking for ways to improve ergonomic practices in your warehouse? Here are some suggestions from warehousing experts:
  1. When building a mixed pallet on a forklift, leave the forks at waist height to avoid having to stoop to put a case down.
  2. Use a spring-loaded pallet holder. As boxes are unloaded and the pallet becomes lighter, the spring will raise the load; as boxes are added to the pallet, the load will be lowered. This will always keep the pallet at waist height.
  3. Design conveyors so they can be adjusted for people of different heights to minimize bending, reaching, and twisting.
  4. Use cushioned mats to relieve pressure on the back, legs, and feet from standing.
  5. Make employees take frequent breaks. "We don't allow people to stay on the job when a break comes. We really want them to leave the job and walk to the break room so that they can change their body posture," says Ernie Harban of warehouse operator Saddle Creek Corp.
  6. Rotate employees through different positions so they're not doing the same job all day long.
  7. Design pallet bays so items can be accessed from more than one side. This reduces reaching and stress on the body, recommends ergonomics expert Donald Bloswick of the University of Utah. This will effectively reduce storage space and thus will raise costs to some degree, but it won't require a lot of mechanization cost, he says.
  8. Educate your employees about workers' compensation rules so they understand how it affects their pay and employment conditions.
  9. Involve employees in improving working conditions. At Ford Motor Co., for example, United Auto Workers members are the plant ergonomists.
  10. If you don't have an ergonomist on staff, train your occupational health nurse, hygienist, or safety manager.
  11. Make containers easier to handle. This could, for example, involve switching to smaller packages or using boxes with handholds.
  12. Link your ergonomics program to other workplace initiatives, such as a Six Sigma quality program, to give ergonomics more visibility (and perhaps encourage more funding).

Ergonomics: Where Can I Turn For Help?

There's no shortage of information about ergonomics best practices, and much of it can be found online. Here are just a few examples:

OSHA's websitecontains excellent resources, including analytical tools, case studies, and operating guidelines.

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) website contains information about musculoskeletal disorders and a downloadable version of the institute's Elements of Ergonomics Programs.

Stone Wheel Works provides free, downloadable ergonomics-analysis tools that can help quantify and abate risk.

Washington State's Department of Labor and Industry includes helpful advice and case studies on its website.

Bottom Up Vs. Top Down Corporate Blogging

As business blogging becomes more widespread, two main approaches have emerged. There are bottom up bloggers and top-down bloggers ...

... and then there are a scant few companies who are in between. Each approach is vastly different.

Bottom-up blogging can either start organically or with an edict or blessing of the corporation. Famous bottom-up blogging corporations include Microsoft and Sun. Basically, this is blogging at its best. It's real employees dishing out the straight dope from the bowels of a corporation. It's unfiltered, fun and, for many, incredibly risky. However, when done right, bottom-up blogging can change a corporation.

The majority of blogging companies, however, fall into the top-down camp. They devise a blogging strategy with input from execs, communicators, marketers, HR, etc. They deliberately determine who will blog for the company on what subjects at what time and in what place. Famous top-down blogging companies include most major media companies, GM and Cisco.

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By Steve Rubel - Contributing Writer

Corporate Blogging Safety

Corporate Blogging Guidelines

Corporate blogging guidelines are fast becoming a staple (pun intended) of many company employee handbooks.

We keep hearing of more bloggers who have been fired for their on the job blogging activities. As work related blogs become more common, that number of terminated blogging employees is expected to grow.

As a proponent of business blogs, and of employees maintaining job related blogs, I think the concept of employee blogging guidelines is a good one.

Banning work related blogging activity, by members of the organization, actually hurts the business. By failing to take advantage of the blog benefits, including transparency, conversation and community building, and relationship development, a company blogging ban does more harm than good.

Think in terms of being reasonable, and trusting employees to act in the company's best interest, and the blogging regulations and guidelines can help everyone involved.

The organization must keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of company bloggers are helping the business to succeed and achieve its goals.

The employee is able to write relatively freely about the company. The business benefits from the relationships built with current
and future customers and clients.

Toby Bloomberg, of the highly informative Diva Marketing, has compiled a comprehensive list of company blogging guidelines.

By reading the various corporate blogging recommendations, from the list that Toby provides, your business can formulate blogging guidelines that help both the company and the employees.

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From: WebProNews Update - March 26, 2005
By Mark Fleming - Contributing Writer

Mar 17, 2005

Drunk Safety - For those who can't help themselves.

Posted by EHSmanager

New OSHA boss

No, he's not an expert in health or safety, but he used to be the lobbyist for Metabolife.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao announced on Dec. 14, 2004, the appointment of Jonathan Snare as the deputy assistant secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Administration, to replace the outgoing OSHA head John Henshaw. Although Snare will oversee the safety and health of 100 million workers under OSHA’s jurisdiction, it was not deemed important enough for significant media coverage.

Prior to joining OSHA, Snare was in private practice in Texas with Jackson and Walker, LLP, a firm whose web site boasts its areas of expertise include “union avoidance campaigns.” Snare was a paid lobbyist for Metabolife, the nation’s leading producer of ephedra products. Ephedra was finally banned after the FDA received reports of many deaths due to this harmful supplement.

As election operations vice-president of the Republican National Lawyers Committee, Snare helped organize and train Republican lawyers to go to South Dakota and other states to make sure that Democrats and Native Americans didn’t “steal the election.” He also served as general counsel to the Texas Senate Redistricting Committee and general counsel to the Republican Party of Texas.

It is clear what the future has to hold…

Industry News: Employer fined after messy chemical spill clean-up

After failing to take appropriate precautions following a chemical spill, Valmont Coatings-Oklahoma Galvanizing in Claremore, Okla., was cited by OSHA and fined $126,000 for safety and health violations that sent 18 employees to the hospital.

OSHA penalized the hot-dip galvanizing company, which is owned by Omaha, Neb.-based Valmont Industries, Inc., following an inspection that began last Aug. 31. Valmont Coatings, which employs more than 3,000 workers — about 100 of which are located in Claremore — was hit with one alleged willful and eight alleged serious violations for exposing employees to sulfuric acid during a clean-up spill from the rupture of a storage tank.

The alleged willful violation — issued by OSHA when an employer either knew that a condition constituted a violation or was aware that a hazardous condition existed and made no reasonable effort to correct it — was for failing to provide personal protective equipment to employees who responded to the acid spill.

The alleged serious citations included a long list of shortcomings:

# Failing to ensure that the premises were free from hazardous conditions such as exposure to concentrated sulfuric acid or being struck by debris caused by the leakage and/or rupture of a storage tank operating under pressure;

# Failing to develop and implement an emergency response plan;

# Failing to assure that the senior emergency response official took charge of the situation when the spill occurred; and

# Failing to train employees in emergency response operations.

The company has 15 working days to comply with or contest the citations. "

Industry News: Bush taps scientist to head EPA

President Bush nominated (03/04/2005) Stephen L. Johnson, a biologist and pathologist by training, to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Johnson, whose nomination must be confirmed by the Senate, is expected to push changes Bush wants in air pollution and clean water programs, the Associated Press reports.

A career scientist, Johnson becomes the first person in the EPA’s 35-year history to rise from within its ranks to the top job of administrator. His first task, according to AP, will be to sell air pollution regulations that are aimed at reducing mercury emissions from power plant smokestacks and other pollutants carried across state lines. These regs are due to come out within the next couple of weeks.

Johnson is also tasked with freeing Bush's top legislative priority, a "clear skies" bill that has been stalled more than two years in the Republican-controlled Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

That measure would impose mandatory ceilings on three of the biggest pollutants from power plants — sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury — but allow individual plants to exceed their shares by buying pollution rights. Environmentalists say the legislation would delay needed cleanups.

"If confirmed, it will be my distinct privilege to serve you and our nation to continue to advance your environmental agenda while maintaining our nation's economic competitiveness," Johnson told Bush during a White House ceremony.

Johnson would succeed former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, who last month became head of the Health and Human Services Department. Johnson would take the reins of an 18,000-employee agency with an $8 billion budget.

Bush wants to cut EPA spending by nearly a half-billion dollars next year, primarily from clean water programs. He wants to reduce by one-third the low-interest loans to states for water quality protection and decrease spending on replacing aging water treatment facilities and pipes by 83 percent.

The president said one of Johnson's top jobs also would be to "lead federal efforts to ensure the safety of our drinking water supply," saying the EPA has "an important role in the war on terror."

Johnson, 53, has been with the agency 24 years. He replaced Leavitt as acting administrator in January.

Questioning the EPA - Staff

President Bush's choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency isn't likely to face real opposition from Congress, but Steve Johnson, a longtime EPA staffer, should expect lots of questions from Maine's senators. They should expect detailed answers.

Although it is clear the Bush administration is moving forward with rules that weaken many environmental protections, it is important that these changes get as much scrutiny as possible. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins have long histories of providing such scrutiny and they should continue to do so.

The senators will likely ask why the administration proposed rules on mercury pollution that are not as stringent as possible, especially in light of last month's report from EPA's inspector general finding that the proposed mercury rules were developed by working backward from a predetermined standard favored by industry. The rule, announced Tuesday, calls for a 70 percent reduction in mercury emission by 2018. In 2001, the agency estimated that mercury emissions could be reduced by 90 percent if the best available technology were used.

Sen. Snowe recently joined with Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont in writing to the EPA last week to express their opposition to the mercury rules. "EPA's mercury proposals fell far short of what the law requires and that the proposed approach fails to protect the health of our children and our environment," the senators wrote.

Currently, 45 states have fish warnings for mercury, and EPA and the Food and Drug Administration warn women of childbearing age, nursing mothers and young children from eating more than six ounces a week of fish caught in local waterways. In Maine, 19 rivers and lakes have been under such advisories for a decade.

The senators should want to know how the EPA can continue to support the president's Clear Skies package, which was held up by a committee deadlock, when the existing Clean Air Act and other proposals would result in bigger and quicker reductions in pollution. The Clean Power Act, sponsored by Sen. Collins, would set a more rigorous timetable and allow for more local control, an important issue for Maine, which has had to go to court to try to compel the EPA to enforce existing pollution regulations.

On the issue of climate change, they will wonder why the administration has been slow to fund research into its causes and consequences. The Climate Stewardship Act, sponsored by Sen. Snowe, would set up a cap-and-trade system to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, the most prevalent greenhouse gas. It would require the head of the Environmental Protection Agency to develop rules to reduce emissions from the electricity generation, transportation, manufacturing and commercial sectors, which account for 85 percent of U.S. greenhouse gases.

Mr. Johnson is in the unenviable position of taking over an embattled agency in the midst of congressional wrangling over a cornerstone of the administration's pollution policy. Given the importance of recent and impending regulatory decisions, senators would be remiss if they didn't take this opportunity to express their concern and, often, displeasure with the agency's direction.

OSHA Identifies 14,000 Workplaces with High Injury, Illness Rates; Letter Looks to Proactive Steps

March 10, 2005

Approximately 14,000 employers have been notified that injury and illness rates at their worksites are higher than average and that assistance is available to help them fix safety and health hazards, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced Thursday.

In a letter this month to those employers, Jonathan Snare, acting assistant secretary of Labor for OSHA, explained that the notification was a proactive step to encourage employers to take steps now to reduce those rates and improve the safety and health environment in their workplaces.

'This identification process is meant to raise awareness that injuries and illnesses are high at these facilities,' Snare said. 'Injuries and illnesses are costly to employers in both personal and financial terms. Our goal is to identify workplaces where injury and illness rates are high, and to offer assistance to employers so they can address the hazards and reduce occupational injuries and illnesses.'

Establishments with the nation's high workplace injury and illness rates were identified by OSHA through employer-reported data from a 2004 survey of 80,000 worksites (the survey consisted of data from calendar year 2003). The workplaces identified had 6.5 or more injuries or illnesses resulting in days away from work, restricted work activity, or job transfer (DART) for every 100 full-time workers. The national average during 2003 was 2.6 DART instances for every 100 workers.

Employers receiving the letters were also provided copies of their injury and illness data, along with a list of the most frequently violated OSHA standard for their specific industry. Snare also offered the agency's assistance in helping turn the numbers around, suggesting, among "

Are You on OSHA's List?

OSHA has notified about 14,000 employers that injury and illness rates at their worksites are higher than average.

In a letter this month to those employers, Jonathan L. Snare, acting head of OSHA, explained that the notification was a proactive step to encourage employers to take steps now to reduce those rates and improve the safety and health environment in their workplaces. He also said that assistance is available to help employers fix safety and health hazards

'This identification process is meant to raise awareness that injuries and illnesses are high at these facilities,' Snare said. 'Injuries and illnesses are costly to employers in both personal and financial terms. Our goal is to identify workplaces where injury and illness rates are high, and to offer assistance to employers so they can address the hazards and reduce occupational injuries and illnesses.'

Establishments with the nation's high workplace injury and illness rates were identified by OSHA through employer-reported data from a 2004 survey of 80,000 worksites (the survey consisted of data from calendar year 2003). The workplaces identified had 6.5 or more injuries or illnesses resulting in days away from work, restricted work activity, or job transfer (DART) for every 100 full-time workers. The national average during 2003 was 2.6 DART instances for every 100 workers.

Employers receiving the letters were also provided copies of their injury and illness data, along with a list of the most frequently violated OSHA standard for their specific industry.

The list does not designate those earmarked for any future inspections. An announcement of targeted inspections will be made later this year. Also, the sites listed are establishments in states covered by federal OSHA; the list does not include employers in the 21 states and one territory (Puerto Rico"

Mar 7, 2005

Ergonomic developments in the work place change the way employees function.

An ergonomically designed workstation can help turn a cramped work environment into a comfortable, productive space. Adjustable chairs and computer accessories have led the charge in the changing workplace. By adopting these advances, facility managers have been able to author new guidelines in workplace comfort.

What We Sit On
Ronda Crenshaw, director of the national ergonomic group for the New York, NY-based Humanscale, says, "The square footage of offices in this country is shrinking. With the footprint and space of the office environment getting smaller, it is crucial that the things that people are interfacing with on a daily basis are highly functional and adjustable. It is even more critical that everything be ergonomcially set up, because everyone is working in a tight space."

One of the most important aspects of a comfortable workspace is the chair. This is were employees spend the majority of their time if they work in front of a computer.
Dan Morley, president/principal of the Elizabeth, NJ-based BFI, explains that the traditional approach to a seat is foam. "Foam goes in the seat cushion itself and can be molded in a variety of ways. If someone is going to be sitting for a long period of time, you don't want to have a rectilinear front to the chair, because it puts pressure on the bottoms of the thighs. The solution is to have a waterfall edge molded into the foam-where the front of the seat cascades down the front of the chair. Otherwise pressure on the bottom of the thighs will cause fatigue."

While a foam chair is a satisfactory choice, in terms of ergonomics, it typically only provides minimal levels of comfort. "At its most basic essence what a chair ought to do is support healthy posture, encourage movement, and require little, if any, effort for the person sitting in it to achieve those things," says Crenshaw. A foam chair will tend to meet these basic requirements, but if comfort is a high priority, a foam chair is a thing of past.

"In the past few years there has been a movement away from foam and fabric to mesh," Morley says. A mesh chair is made from a lightweight material that has no fabric on it and allows free and constant movement of air, thus reducing heat build up.

"Have you ever taken a family trip to the beach on a hot day?" asks Morley. "If you're riding in a car with leather seats, by the time you get there everything from the waist down is soaked. You get uncomfortable. The same thing happens in an office chair; it's the direct result of poor air flow."

Another benefit of using mesh material in chairs is entirely ergonomic. "A mesh material can create the contours of support that are appropriate for the people that use the seat," says Morley.

A mesh office chair has an added advantage, Morley continues. "Most of the mesh chairs I've seen are made of a plastic material, like nylon or polypropylene. It's very durable. You can pour coffee on it and wipe it down." Because a mesh chair is so easy to clean, there will be fewer calls requiring maintenance or replacement.

How We Sit
Just because there are a variety of tasks that are performed while working at a desk, does not mean that comfort and support should be sacrificed to accomplish them-a quality chair will quickly adapt to the needs of the user.

Once a good seat base has been established, other factors like height, arm rests, and lumbar support have to be considered. A chair can be comfortable, but if it does not promote good posture and comfort while working, the chair will fail to have a significant effect on workplace comfort.

Photo by Haworth, Inc.,
An office that is built with ergonomics
in mind can raise worker happiness and

"Another critical element of a good chair is height, particularly the ability to adjust the height of a chair," says Morley. "The whole idea of a chair is that it supports an employee with feet firmly on the ground and no undue pressure on the thighs."
In the past, the only way to adjust a chair was to hold the base still and spin it around. This took too much time, and as a result, most people didn't adjust their seats. Because adjustments weren't made, employees worked in poor position and could develop musculoskeletal disorders.

Today, chairs have abandoned spinning height adjustments for pneumatic approaches. Now all that an employee has to do is pull a lever, and the chair can be adjusted in a seconds.

Adjustments to the height of a chair are not the only modifications that can be made, however. During the course of a day, an employee will typically have to perform different tasks that require various body positions. "Not only do you want to adjust the arm pads in or out for use of the mouse or keyboard, but you should be able to adjust the height of the arms pads easily as well," Morley explains.

"The last thing to be considered in a good chair is the ability to make an adjustment to the lumbar area while seated," Morley says. In conjunction with adjustable height and moveable arm rests, a chair that is snug to the lower back will keep the user in a comfortable position and reduce the strain on the lower back.

Chairs designed to provide high levels of comfort are typically more expensive than a normal foam seats. However, a facility manager who values making employees feel at ease should make seating a high priority. A comfortable workstation will cut down on complaints and calls concerning the height of a chair or how to adjust it will decrease significantly.

Photo by Curtis Computer Products, Inc.
The 76532 Touch Arm by Curtis Computer Products, Inc. improves
worker comfort by offering flexibility.

A Changing Work Environment
Five or seven years ago, the thought of having a flat panel computer screen or laptop computer in nearly every workstation would have seemed ridiculous. To begin with, the technology was still being developed, and, perhaps more importantly, the price was exorbitant-especially when considering the scope of outfitting an entire office. Today, however, flat panel monitors and laptops are becoming increasingly common. And as computers shrink, so does the workspace. Since the office is becoming more cramped, keeping an employee productive can become difficult in small quarters. But new ergonomic technology can maintain proper posture and manage the work surface which helps mitigate feelings of claustrophobia.

"When someone sits at a workstation, there are two things that drive posture: where the eyes look to see work and the position of hands." says Crenshaw. A laptop can negatively affect posture. "If a laptop was sitting on a desk, in order to use the keyboard, an employee would have to pitch forward, lean both arms on the desk, and hunch over to see the screen. In this case, not only is there contact stress between arms and the desk, but the worker has also been pulled out of the back of the chair, which is no longer supporting anything." This all adds up to bad posture.

One solution for facility managers is a laptop holder. "The computer screen is at a better level so users can sit back," Crenshaw explains.

Having the laptop in a position that is natural to look at placates the first half of proper ergonomics: where the eyes look. "Our bodies follow our eyes. If someone does not have to strain to look at their computer-which is where most people spend the majority of their time looking-then a workstation is heading in the right ergonomic direction," says Crenshaw.

The second ergonomic consideration in the workstation is the positioning of the upper extremities. In order to be comfortable and ergonomically correct, there should be no contact between arms and desktops.

One solution is a keyboard drawer. According to Morley, if a drawer with a keyboard is placed 2" or 3" lower than the height of the work desk, it can be more comfortable for the user.

Once manufacturers noticed this trend, they began to offer devices called articulating arms. "These are flat surfaces that have the keyboard on them, but when you pull them out, the angle can be changed either positively or negatively," says Morley.

This may be beneficial to both employees and facility managers. By using an articulating arm, an employee is able to break free of a ridged workspace. Instead of being forced to set the keyboard in one place and at one angle, an articulating arm allows workers to determine what is most comfortable.

Photo by Humanscale
The L2 Notebook Manager places a laptop
into a proper ergonomic position.

A facility manager can appreciate the benefits of articulating arms in terms of workstation size. The arm is a flat piece of material that is attached to a moveable arm which is anchored to a desk. Combined with a laptop computer or flat panel monitor, the overall surface area that an employee will need to work can shrink significantly. "Now instead of a workstation that is 6' x 8', a facility manager might be able to reconfigure office size to 5' x 7'," Morley says.

Even though the workplace continues to get smaller, the comfort of employees is on the rise. Making the right decisions can have a positive impact on the workplace, says Crenshaw, "We try to achieve a high degree of functionality, and do it with something that is comfortable, and easy to use." This new way of thinking about the workstation has given rise to technologies that consider the needs of the employee. By adapting and accommodating to the needs of individuals, productivity continues to rise and facility managers can take part of the credit.