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Editorial: It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt

My brother-in-law works for OSHA. Back in the day, before he was promoted, he was one of those OSHA folks you might have met. He went to facilities after an injury or death; he also conducted scheduled and surprise inspections for a variety of manufacturers—even the occasional molder. During weekend barbecues and other family get-togethers he’d regale me with tales of woe, stupidity, carelessness, neglect, and just plain misfortune in the American industrial and construction world. I’d hear about accidents both preventable and unforeseen and how little inattention it takes to wreak havoc in a manufacturing facility filled with heavy, automated machinery.

I am keenly aware of OSHA’s unpopularity among some molders. I’ve been in enough molder/moldmaker huddles to know that some of you view OSHA as more of a hindrance than help—that you see OSHA as a meddling, useless government bureaucracy that’s wasting taxpayer money. And I’ve been in enough molding and moldmaking shops to know that some molders, when they hear the word “safety,” think first about football and not about protecting the health of their employees.

But I’ve also been in enough molding and moldmaking shops to know that some of you understand, embrace, and promote the value of safety. And that understanding usually reflects itself in the health of the molder, the happiness of the employees, the cleanliness of the shop, and the satisfaction of the customer. This month we’re taking a closer look at some of the safety concerns molders face, and what the upside is for a molder who takes safety seriously. We’ve also thrown in some info on how you can actually work with OSHA—not against it—to improve safety in your shop, and all without spending a dime.

In the end, there is one truth that I’m willing to bet all molders know, perhaps secretly: You either deal proactively with safety and make it a vital part of what you do, or you will be forced to deal with it reactively. Put another way, what will it take for you to wake up and tackle safety concerns in your shop? Would you rather have OSHA and a dollar-seeking personal injury lawyer knocking on your door after an employee loses an arm in a machine that had its safeties bypassed, or would you rather get your shop in order and then invite OSHA in to prove that what you’ve done truly protects the health and safety of the employees and organization?

Pay now or pay later, and if you choose later, it’s dollars to donuts that you, your customers, and maybe an employee and his or her family will suffer all the worse for your neglect.
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