World Cup (of Safety)


world coffee cupAs the World Cup starts in Brazil, the world really does come together. Even if just for the sake of sports, learning a “new” game, or having a reason to scream in a pub at 5am. This morning I’m thinking about my safety friends outside of the United States. Often, photos from foreign countries are used in training, usually for a laugh. I do know that I have professional safety friends in my network, and I’m making it a point this year to reach out to them and expand my safety worldview.

Safety Culture is a term that is commonly misused. Some executives think that Safety Culture is something you can buy, a program a consultant can write for you at an hourly rate. This is one way to FAIL at having a real Safety Culture.

There is an accepted, normal, and collective Safety Culture that is desired by companies. There are certain things it seems everyone is after –

Top Management Commitment

Supervisor Accountability

Employee Empowerment (or Engagement or Involvement)

I know there are more, but others I could think of boil down to the three elements above.

Even if you are well-versed in Safety Culture, it’s elements, and all things safety – I encourage you to step back and evaluate your Corporate Culture. Look at your company as a whole. Identify what makes your company’s heart beat, mottos that are used by the most respected supervisors, a theme that pervades every corporate or site meeting. These are things that have been part of your company for YEARS. Your company already HAS a culture and you as the safety professional need to work with it. Identify how safety is already part of that culture, you’ll be surprised. If you are seeking a Safety Culture, this where you need to start. Inject safety into the already established standards at your company. Do not reinvent the wheel – it is just not necessary.

Your company’s cup is already full of what has been brewing for years – take a sip and stir in safety to enhance it. Then pass that cup around!


10 Toddler Toys from the Dollar Store


I love the dollar store. My local one is called $.99 Only, so even better, everything is LESS than a dollar. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by all the super crafty toddler toy and activity ideas on Pinterest. Yeah, I pinned them. I had good intentions! 

On my weekly dolla store balla outing, I loaded up my cart with the usual cheap awesome pantry items (artichoke hearts? yes please), and bought the following items for Miss Moselle the Toddler to play with:

1. Plastic Spiderman plate with sections. Yes, there was a pink option available with Dora or someone on it, but girls can have superhero stuff too. Fun for sorting things like tiny stuffed barnyard animals.

2. Bright pink plastic colander with handle. It’s a drum, it’s a hat, you can even swat the cat! 

3. A turkey baster. The bulb is fun to squeeze, it makes a puff of air, and can be fun with water play later.

4. A whisk. She played with this in the cart at the store. It makes a great light sound when you hit it on things, like the cat, if you can catch him.

5. Mickey and Minnie maracas. OK, so these are actually meant to be toys. They aren’t too loud, the package says ages 3+, so supervision required. 

6. 102 glass marbles. DANGER! These are only safe where she can’t access them, so they’re inside a tightly screwed shut bottle. A bottle that she never drank out of, I have LOTS of those. The marbles are LOUD, so this is a special toy.

7. A 3-pack of bright sponges. Fun for the tub or for Tupperware with small amounts of water. We love water play, but mommy has learned to gauge how much water to put in the container to correspond with how much cleaning I feel like doing that day.

8. Bubbles and huge bubble wands. The dollar store has all of their spring toys out now. Bubbles can be used year-round, so stock up!

9. Puzzles. She’s too young, but there was a great USA puzzle with state capitols on it, so I snatched it up.

10. Earth’s Best Toddler Biscuits. Not a toy, but they keep her occupied for a bit and they don’t have sugar like graham crackers, ginger snaps, and other hard biscuit type food she likes to munch on. Much cheaper at the dollar store than regular stores. 

I hope this helps someone out! Once my little girl turned one, mastered her walking, and now continues to develop her personality and walking speed – she is terrifying, in the best possible way. 


OSHA’s Top 10 – C’mon Now!!


The OSHA Top 10 List of most frequently cited violations for 2013 is making it’s rounds on the internet recently. 

Doesn’t it look familiar?! Do you even pay attention to it anymore? It’s a must-have list for those of us that conduct safety training, it’s an attention-grabber for those new to OSHA stats and safety philosophy. It’s a good introductory slide; a “this is why you’re here” bit of trivia. 

Let’s look at it a little differently as we navigate 2014 and safety at our workplaces.

The official Top 10 is posted here at OSHA’s website:

1. Fall protection, construction

We all know falls are the number one cause of death in construction. It’s been that way for years. Falls are the first cause of death you list when you recite the Focus Four: Falls, Electrocutions, Struck-by, Caught-in. 

Evaluate your workplace for fall hazards (duh), and make sure you are employing ENGINEERING controls FIRST. Remember, PPE (harnesses and lanyards, etc) are your last resort. Think outside the box, think of different work methods you can use to avoid working at heights. These work methods will probably help your production too, just sayin’. 

2. Hazard communication standard, general industry

You guys, there’s no excuse for this one to be #2 from 2013. You ALL should have been conducting HAZCOM training last year AT LEAST to meet the GHS standard requirements that were “due” by December 1st. 

Assess your workplace for chemicals and other hazards that are covered by the HAZCOM standard; identify what training needs to be done; identify times to conduct that training and get it done. Repeat next year. If this hasn’t been done in awhile, consider calling a consultant to get a unbiased look at what your facility or jobsite really needs.

3. Scaffolding, general requirements, construction

OK contractors, when you’re working off of scaffolding (because it’s a solid engineering and administrative control for preventing falls), what are your best practices? Do you have your own scaffolding that limps from job to job, forcing your people to make-do with the parts they have that don’t fit together? Are there more 2x4s and tie-wire on your scaffold than original coordinating components? Consider renting scaffold systems or upgrading your owned scaffolds. It’s a lot more pleasant to put erect scaffolding that is in good condition. It also saves time and money to not have to repair something each day before personnel can work off of the scaffold. 

Consider using scissor and boom lifts instead of scaffolding in appropriate situations. For example: why require your crew to erect a scaffolding for four hours to do four hours worth of work off of that scaffold? Put them to work right away by renting or using an owned scissor or boom lift.

4. Respiratory protection, general industry

You know when you’re doing your assessment for HAZCOM as stated in #2? You’re also identifying substances and hazards at that stage that could present a hazard to your personnel’s respiratory systems. There are multiple OSHA eTools available on building your Respiratory Protection Program. If you already have a favorite respirator brand or vendor, they have similar tools available and can help you at most stages of implementation. Lean on them and use their resources. Often, a vendor or brand rep will come to your site to provide assistance if you’re a paying customer using their products.

5. Electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment, general industry

This is another topic that OSHA has published extensive eTools to help business. Electrocutions are the 2nd leading cause of death in industry, so OSHA is very interested in making sure you are aware of how to minimize your risk. For sites that sub out or hire electricians, you still should have a written program that addresses electrical hazards with provisions for those subcontractors and for your own people to follow. If you frequently work with electrical subcontractors, ask them to put on an educational session for your employees on electrical safety. It’s very effective to receive safety training from your peers.

6. Powered industrial trucks, general industry

I can nearly recite 1910.178 word for word. I have created many training programs on the topic, yet I’ve never driven a forklift. I’ve had great success in delivering meaningful and efficient PIT training by partnering with a seasoned operator. Identify someone or multiple people on your site who are experienced PIT operators to work in concert with your training staff, i.e.: someone like me who has never farted in a forklift seat (as they say), to develop a practical instruction program for your PIT operators. Contrary to what many think, you can conduct your PIT training in-house with your own personnel, there is no need to outsource as long as you allot the time for your own people to conduct good training. This training could last anywhere from two to eight hours depending on your facility or site needs. Training must be done for EACH TYPE of PIT your personnel are required to operate. Make wallet cards that note each type of PIT the crew member is certified to operate, it looks cool, everyone likes wallet cards, and it proves you have met the standard. 

7. Ladders, construction

Ladders continue to be a well-used and abused piece of jobsite equipment. Basic ladder safety must be reinforced often: select the right ladder for the job, inspect the ladder, do not use ladders in poor condition, ladders are not work platforms, etc. Since just about everyone has a ladder at home, this valuable piece of equipment is taken for granted and used without thought. Remember to not assume general knowledge on anyone’s part, get back to basics when you speak about ladder safety with your crews.

8. Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), general industry

Similar to electrical, make sure you have written procedures that apply to your employees as well as contractors who will work at your site. Get specific with each LOTO task, do not rely on a vague written program, reviewed once a year, to cover every situation. If any task deserved a thorough task hazard analysis, it is LOTO. It is important for all involved parties to understand the order of shutdown and restart and everything in between. 

9. Electrical systems design, general requirements, general industry

See #5 above.

10. Machines, general requirements, general industry

You’re probably thinking GUARDING when you read this one, and you’re likely correct. Equipment must be operated the way the manufacturer intended with all of the pieces the manufacturer made it with being intact. It’s as simple as that. If your personnel are Mickey-Mousing something, that machine should be taken out of operation until the proper repair or replacement can be made, no excuses. You and your company will not gain anything by forcing equipment to limp along when it is not in manufacturer-intended condition.

If you found this helpful, let me know! I will publish a follow-up post on safety tips related strictly to OSHA compliance later this week.

Spilling my Safety Secrets, Part 2


Where my girls at?? This post is aimed at you. Don’t worry guys, it is for you too, if you are willing to think outside of the hard hat a bit.

Since day one of my career as a safety professional in (mostly) construction, the question I’m most commonly asked is “what’s it like being a female in your field?” The question is asked in multiple ways, so I’m paraphrasing because sometimes the question comes off horribly!

My short answer – it is great! I know the asker is always looking for more drama in my response, but it REALLY has been great. I’ll explain why, and hopefully you can glean some lessons off of my experience that you can put to work for you – female or male – general industry or construction.

1. People expected that I didn’t know anything.

This was because I am female AND came straight from college, two strikes! I’ve walked onto projects not knowing a single thing about the work, we ALL have – that’s part of the learning process. It is only magnified by the fact that construction is a dynamic field with new building methods, terminology, and tools always emerging. My big secret when you’re in that new situation? Ask questions!

As a female, I could ask all kinds of questions that a male in my position may have been looked down upon for asking. I learned quickly that men love to talk about their jobs. I continue to learn so much in my career by simply asking “what are you doing?” The answers have helped me craft detailed activity hazard analysis documents, specialized training programs, and allow me to confidently communicate with jobsite personnel, superintendents, project managers, and executives.

The males in my field are assumed to have a working knowledge of the tools and processes of the trade because they’re men. At the beginning of my career, I assumed this general male knowledge too. That perspective changed when I found myself teaching a group of 25 crane operators the basic parts of a crane!! Remember the old phrase “never assume, it makes an ass out of u and me?” If you are to succeed in safety, you must live by this. NEVER ASSUME. It’s literally dangerous. If you must assume something, assume that no one knows anything. Or as we say in construction, “common sense isn’t so common.”

I’m not suggesting that you walk around arrogantly thinking everyone is a dummy! Approach each situation as a teachable moment to save embarrassment on both sides. Practice this often so that you can learn your natural approach that works for you.

Those of you who come from an academic background vs. having come up through the field ranks can have a disadvantage. The field personnel may see you as less knowledgeable. You’ve got to listen first, and then offer corrections or education. If you don’t listen first, you will be perceived as a bookish know-it-all and be immediately written off. Take some time to learn and show appreciation for those who have been working in trenches, literally, their entire career.

2. Everything was brand new.

When I attended my first safety committee meeting of the Associated General Contractors group in San Diego, I think there was one other woman at the table. This was just over 10 years ago. Even though these were modern times, a woman on the jobsite in a safety role was still relatively new. When everything is new, you can do exciting things.

I lived by the phrase “if you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.” Because I was new to the jobsites, the crews expected there would be new ways of doing things, so they were more receptive to new policies. I had to work to maintain their initial reception, but not having the initial pushback for the sake of pushing back in most cases was helpful.

For either gender, you must maintain that dynamic by following through. When the guys would ask me for help, like getting them face shields that fit their hard hats or ensuring better access to gloves that wear out quickly – I followed through and that endeared me to the workforce. Whether it was things or information, always follow through. If you can’t get it or don’t know the answer, tell them the truth and then get back to them. Always.

3. Show that you care.

The men on the jobsites looked to me as someone who cared, like a mother figure. This is the foundation of why being a female on the jobsite is not that bad, caring for the safety of others is a mostly natural position for a woman. I’d often say “I actually care about you guys!” during safety meetings and training. It’s a funny thing to say, but it really is how I feel. I will always fight for those in the construction industry, they are often overlooked or taken for granted. I care about you!!

If you don’t naturally care about the safety and well-being of the personnel at your site, this may not be the right job for you. If you aren’t viewed as a caring person, male or female, you must find what your natural approach is. Safety for the sake of education, pride, or other motivation – I’m not going to judge, use what works for you.

I’m looking forward to your feedback on this subject. I’m already planning a Part 2.1!!

Facebook, Feminism and the Mommy Wars


I can’t even remember the tweet that triggered this thought, but it’s something that’s been swirling around social media for a while. Facebook, feminism, and social media’s role in the Mommy Wars. My quick thoughts…


No, I’m not on social media ALL day. Though, I’ve been accused of this. Sure, my social media windows are up on my laptop as I’m getting other work done and oh yeah, chasing my darling kiddo around the house all day. I NEED those social media outlets. I NEED to check-in throughout the day with other work/stay-at-home moms. It keeps me, and us, sane. I’m quite sure that their social media use mirrors mine – while on the toilet, and brief sneaks at the screen throughout the day while our darlings are not looking. 


Social media has helped me become a better person. I am totally guilty of rolling my eyes and silently judging as I scroll through posts and videos from other parents on TwInstaVineBook. I view every scroll as an exercise in self-improvement. Slowly, and some days it takes longer than others, I remember to stop judging and to accept my fellow parents as they are. We are all trying to survive, raise good kids, and earn a living. What works for others doesn’t work for me, or I’ve chosen a different way. Big deal. Social media has provided this look into other people’s homes, and it’s up to us to be nice about it. When the urge hits you to roll your eyes, just click “like” and give your friend a boost instead.


The Mommy Wars don’t exist. Well, if we all think that, then we will make it so. I love that I’m parenting in the age of the internet. Instead of picking up the phone to ask silly questions, I turn to my girlfriend Google. There is a blog dedicated to every parenting style that you’ve ever heard of. Or NEVER heard of. I approach the internet like a buffet. All of the different parenting styles on cloth-draped tables, waiting for me to spoon up a bit of attachment parenting with a side of 80’s playpen parenting and a dollop of cry-it-out (not too much, thanks!). As long as we all refuse to be put in boxes and just consider ourselves PARENTS, the Mommy Wars don’t exist. 

I’m keeping this short to give my work/stay-at-home mom friends a quick boost, not an agonizing read. Thanks for keeping me sane, giving me ideas, and helping me to be a better person (all while on the toilet at 5am). I hope your darlings nap today.

Boxing Day memories


I googled “Boxing Day” last night, just to make sure I knew exactly what it was for today. That act triggered a childhood memory. If you’re an 80s child, you may have a similar memory. Remember how we used to look things up in encyclopedias? Maybe your parents had a set at home, they were probably a few years out of date, so they weren’t your go-to source on things like Russian states. If you were curious about something, you waited until your next library trip. You may have gone to the public library with your parents – when your mom  lets you loose and tells you to meet her back at the checkout counter in 30 minutes. Or, you had to wait until your classroom’s weekly day with a one-hour period at the library to work on your school projects and maybe have time for your side fun projects like learning about flowers or checking out a Nancy Drew book (this 80s memory is from a girl OK?). 

The library didn’t make it easy to get information. You had to know the language of the library – the Dewey Decimal system. Don’t be a turd and go to the librarian to ask  them to do the work, they’d send you over to the card catalog anyway. The typed and handwritten guide to the library, but only if you knew how to use it. Don’t ask me to remember THAT for you right now, I have long forgotten about the DD System!

It is pretty cool now to have a tool like Google, or your preferred search engine, to scan the entire internet for you when you want to know something. I find that when I learn something using Google, Wikipedia, or other internet source, the knowledge is quickly gained and not usually retained. My old, rusty, encyclopedia knowledge remains. I believe everyone is a kinetic learner – some combo of auditory, visual and hands-on. The new way of learning through the internet only taps one of those means of learning, so the info isn’t easily retained without making the knowledge live beyond the screen. 

Elementary schools are getting iPads. Entire college courses are done online. I know I’m old-school because I feel that something is lacking. I can tell there are gaps because I’ve got work experience with the younger generation. Wikipedia tells me I’m a Millennial just like them, but within this Generation Y, there’s us 80s-born adults, the 90s-born “kids” and the 00s-born “babies.” At any given workplace we have all of the above plus the baby boomer generation working together. This mix is great when there’s free-flowing communication and lessons are shared among the generations. I learned so much from seasoned superintendents about construction processes, equipment and planning. I was able to teach some of them how to use type quicker, use Xcel formulas, and which apps were best for work and fun. When the generations don’t work together, the workplace is awkward and doesn’t run as efficiently. As the 70s and 80s children are taking over the management and executive positions, I see the strengths of each generation culled out more meaningfully. 

In social situations, we have the “greatest” generation mixed in, evidenced by your grandma being on Facebook. I’ve seen this only as a positive and a way to keep family history alive and shared. I’ve sent photos of old recipes to cousins, scanned photos from the 1940s and older to share and duplicate, and of course FaceTime and Skype have become verbs in my family. 

Boxing Day is a day that in countries outside of the US, the tradespeople and other service folks are given gifts from their bosses to thank them for their work throughout the year. It also means after-Christmas day sales. That’s my tradition, so I’ll be out shopping today, stocking up on holiday items for next year when my Generation Z baby turns 2.

7 Real Talk Tips to Prevent a Cyber Attack on Your Wallet


Hi, my name is Abby, and I’m addicted to Target. 

I shop at Target in California as if it’s an amazing feat that a Minnesota company has a store out here. I have had great success in proselytizing many SoCal natives into Target devotees. I like to think that people behind me in line are so wowed by the discounts I earn through coupons, the Target Cartwheel app and my Target Red card that they download the app while they wait and sign up for a Red card immediately. Target should really be paying ME.

I was just a little bummed to hear about the recent data breach at Target that is supposed to impact nearly 40 MILLION Target shoppers who swiped a card of any kind at a Target between Thanksgiving and December 15.

To the people who are horrified that this can happen, I’d like to introduce you to my ghost of a Christmas past. In 2005, my debit card information was stolen in a similar manner as the current Target hack, but from my bank’s ATM. An inside job, just as they’re reporting the Target scheme is. I didn’t notice until 3 days later, when the hacker had thoroughly cleaned out my account. Back in those olden days, there were no smart phones with bank apps that you could check multiple times each day like I do now. 

To the people who are horrified, please look at a calendar. We are approaching 2014. Take control of your credit, debit, and your banking information. 

To the people who are horrified, here are some easy tips so you can shop at Target, or anywhere, again with no fear:

1. Look at your bank account information at least once each day. In times like now, if you know you could possibly be a victim, look at that activity closely. The folks who pulled this Target scheme will take or spend small amounts of money in the hopes you won’t notice and cancel the card, thus canceling their fun. If they get away with some small charges, they’ll go for a big one. My debit card was hacked a few months ago, the weird charge was $45 with the CA Fish and Wildlife Fund. Something benign, but undoubtedly fraudulent!

2. Change your passwords and PIN frequently. Yes, it’s a pain in the ass. But, the hackers get into the keypads that you swipe your card into and can somehow figure out your PIN and then they take your card # and PIN and make their own card. Crazy huh? So, change your PIN. 

3. Monitor your credit report. There are many ways you can pull free credit reports throughout the year. There’s multiple sources of credit reports, at least three big ones: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. That’s 3 free credit reports for next year. Using apps like Credit Karma will monitor your credit all year and allow at least one free credit report. 

4. Choose “credit” when the clerk asks you “credit or debit?” This way, you don’t need to key a PIN into the keypad. 

5. Don’t sign your cards. A further precaution after choosing credit, in stores where their policy is to actually LOOK at your card: if you did not sign the back, you will be required to show ID that matches the name on the card. 

6. Do not let your card out of your sight! This is a tough one, especially if you’re going out to bars or restaurants. You can take the chance, or plan ahead and have cash. Or, let one of your friends send their card off into space to open a tab if you must!

7. Plan ahead and pay in cash. It’s fun to walk around with some cash. It’s also a secure way of conducting transactions. I’ve found that carrying cash also helps me budget a la Dave Ramsey’s envelope system. No card or PIN needed, just that paper yo. 

I realize these tips aren’t earth-shattering and you may have heard them before. How many times do you have to hear them before you finally DO something?? (yes you, go now!)

I don’t follow all of these tips all of the time, but I most definitely follow some of them most of the time.

Lifestyle factors help – when I was going out to bars and restaurants all the time, sending my card behind the bar or behind the server’s curtain, I had at least 3 times that my card was hacked and $500+ was stolen. Fortunately, my bank is/was awesome and put the money back on the card immediately once the fraud was reported. Again, that was a few years ago, olden times. Now, cyber hacking of cards is so widespread. The fraud response is a little slower and not as customer-centric. YOU must take control and monitor your accounts and be proactive. Your bank is a business and your security is not necessarily their priority. 

Let me know what tips you plan to do right away or if you have any of your own tips. 

Good luck!