No matter what you sell, once you sell a widget the last thing you want is to see that item come back in the form of a return. It is bad for sales and it is a sign that a customer is unhappy. Fortunately, if you handle returns right, you can still convert that return into a sale to repair the relationship and save the bottom line. Here are 4 tips to help with this.
1. Understand the Problem – Usually, the issue with an item being returned is that it doesn’t serve the purpose it was originally intended for. By listening to a customer who is making a return, you can get to the heart of the issue and have an opportunity to offer an alternative product to meet that need or explain how the product does, in fact, meet that need. By simply understanding what the real issue was with the product, you will have a great opportunity to sell a more suitable product or save the original sale.
2. Establish a Return Merchandise Authorization – A Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) requires a customer to get permission to make a return. This means that you always have an opportunity to save the sale or cross-sell to a more suitable product when a customer wants to make a return. This is especially important for online retailers who may otherwise simply receive a returned package with no information on why the item was returned or how the company can make it right.
3. Stay Positive – As important as demeanor is during a sale, it is more important during a return. If you make the customer uncomfortable with a barrage of questions or arguments, you will lose any chance of turning the return into a sale. Instead, remain positive and empathetic, and employ strong active listening skills to keep the customer engaged and willing to discuss alternatives.
4. Offer Store Credit – Outline your return policy very clearly on your receipts or on your website. Within your return policy, make it known that there are a number of conditions which result in a store credit, rather than a refund. Then, offer a store credit to clients as a first offering. Many will simply take the store credit, meaning they will have to come back at some point to buy something. This can be a great way to convert returns without upsetting clients.
High rates of returns can slowly destroy a business. Fortunately, by following the above tips, you can fight the damage of returns and convert them back into sales.
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If you don’t travel for work frequently, packing for your business trip can seem overwhelming. Whether going for 2 days or 2 weeks, it can be hard to determine what you will need while there. Then, it can be hard to decide how to pack, and how much you will need. As such, here is a guide to help you through your packing experience.
Make a List
Decide what kind of clothes you will need, how many outfits you will need, and what other items you need. Consider how many meetings you will have, how many non-meeting functions you will have, and what you will be doing with the rest of your time. Will there be a need for a formal suit or will business casual work? Do you have time to change between formal meetings and drinks at night? If you have down time, will you be taking clients to see a show or sightseeing, or will you spend that time with a coworker traveling with you? If so, what will you need for that time? Next, think about your chargers, shoes, belts, medicine, and business cards. Finally, are you bringing a laptop? If so, make sure you have a pad and pen in your laptop bag, and any other specific tools or presentation materials you will need.
Packing for business is not the same as packing for a family vacation. Your downtime in the airport can be valuable time to tweak a presentation. Same goes for a long flight. And unlike a family vacation where you can travel comfortably, you may be headed straight to a meeting or getting picked up by a coworker or client from the airport, meaning you need to be dressed for success on the plane. Try to pack any necessary work items in your carry-on luggage, and everything personal in your checked bag. Also think hard about what you may need before you have a chance to unpack, because if your business cards are in your luggage, you won’t be able to get to them to hand out, if needed. Similarly, if you are on a long flight, you may need hand sanitizer, breath mints, and so on to get yourself ready without a chance to unpack. Finally, think about how many bags you are bringing. Where possible, cut down on your items to save a bag. Having that extra outfit might be nice, but lugging three or four bags through the airport is not. Especially if you have a coworker or client picking you up.
After you make your list and pack, go back over everything. The last thing you want to do is get there and realize you forgot your shoes, your suit, or part of your presentation materials. Make sure you didn’t cross off an item that you planned to pack but didn’t, or that you didn’t take something out you needed and forget to put it back in your bag.
By creating a list, you will be sure you have everything you need. By consolidating and packing smart, you will have an easier time at the airport and be able to get work done while you’re waiting. And by double checking, you will be sure you do not forget anything. By following these steps, you can focus on your meetings instead of your trip.
It is important to understand what your competitors are doing, what their market share is, and how you stack up to them. But it can often be hard to get any real insight into their processes, marketing, or client base beyond what they intentionally publicize. Here are 3 ways to help you maintain a competitive advantage.
1. Hire a Former Employee – The best way to get insight into the culture, marketing, or overall direction of a competitor is to hire a key employee of that company. If your competitor parts way with a key employee, you should immediately reach out to that person. If they were fired for cause or performance, you may not want to hire them, but many times people leave for reasons that won’t necessarily be an issue with a different employer. And at the very least, you can gain some insights during the pre-hire conversations and interviews.
2. Use Technology – Whether searching in search engines, scouring file sharing sites, or simply looking at their website, there is a plethora of information readily available to anyone who wants to look. Search engines can be a great way to find content about the business, either written by the company on other websites or about them by others. File sharing sites can be a great way to find content your competitor shared with team members but did not mean to be seen publicly. If they left it on there, however, it can be free game for you and an easy way to get insights. And finally, using their website against them can be easy. Look at what they are doing, what they are working on, and what their corporate strategy is. A lot can be learned by reading through the whole website – especially things like “about us,” where they share their vision.
3. Use Your Network – This can be personal or professional relationships. This can be family, friends, suppliers, or clients. Reach out to people and ask – you would be surprised what people will tell you without thinking twice. If you are both using the same distributor, that person could have some great insights for you that you can uncover without that person realizing what you’re really asking. The same can go for customers, who will often gladly stack up your products and services to the competition. Your competitors are bound to have similar contacts to you – use them to get information.
Using these 3 techniques, it will be easy to always maintain a competitive advantage, which is becoming more and more important in an ever-connected world.
A growing trend in the United States and elsewhere is to defer college acceptance for a year after high school to travel. This year off is called a gap year, and can be a wonderful opportunity for recent high school graduates to see the world, expand their horizons, and have a better understanding of what they want to do, professionally. Unfortunately if a gap year is not properly planned out in advance, it can quickly turn into a year off spent living at home with a few weekend trips. Then, instead of adding value to your life, you’ve simply wasted a year. So to help ensure this doesn’t happen, here are a few travel ideas for your gap year.
Probably the most common destination for those taking a gap year, Europe can offer an opportunity to expand your horizons culturally while also allowing you to work on another language (or two). Speaking more than one language can open a number of doors later in life, so spending some time in Europe learning through immersion can be a great opportunity. Similarly, many careers have roots in Europe, so seeing how business is done there can give a wonderfully unique perspective. And if nothing else, seeing the history of the nations across the pond will give you new perspective on life and your place in the world.
South America can be a great way to understand nature like you simply can’t in the United States. If Biology is your thing, there are a number of opportunities to volunteer on animal sanctuaries, in rain forests, and so on. Beyond the ability to learn about nature first hand, you can also work on your skills speaking Spanish or Portuguese, depending on where you go, which can be great for your CV and resumè.
If you are interested in volunteering, there are tons of opportunities in Africa. You can help build schools, teach English, or work with organizations that distribute food and medicine. Spending time volunteering in Africa will give you a new perspective on life and appreciation for everything you have. Many have attributed time spent serving in Africa to later successes, as they changed their views on everything as a result. And if you can find the time to step away from your volunteer work, taking a safari will be an excursion you will never forget.
Something many don’t think of when they plan a gap year is that the United States is massive. Life from one coast to the other can be very different. Spending a year seeing the natural wonders of the United States can be inspiring, as can learning the history of the nation’s expansion and changes. Taking a year to really learn about the United States can help you to understand a lot about the people who live here, their unique struggles, and the various businesses that are born from them. Traveling the United States can help you as you grow professionally.
No matter what you decide to do with your gap year, be sure to use it wisely. You will never get another year to travel, grow, and learn, so don’t squander it at home.
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Here's something a little different.
Many small business owners take on debt early in the company’s formation. This is a necessity to build inventory, build out a location, pay staff and contractors, and keep the business afloat in leaner months. At some point, the business will become profitable enough to start actually paying that debt down. And this is the moment where a business owner has a difficult decision to make: pay off that debt or invest the money.
Traditional thinking would be to pay off the debt and eliminate an obligation. This, in turn, will allow you to more aggressively save, invest, and expand later. Also, should you go through a time where the business is under financial stress, there is no onerous debt strangling you. For many, the prospects of a debt free business are too good to pass up, and for that reason they do not look beyond the debt reduction options available with that excess cash.
Another option, however, is to put that excess cash to work. This can be in the form of investing in the business or in non-business investments. For those who invest in the business, this can be in the form of expansion, additional advertising and marketing, exploring a new business line, or anything else that will lead to additional cash flow. They reason that the additional income from the sales will outweigh the cost of the debt in interest rate costs and monthly payments.
For those who look to external options, they may look at buying an ownership in another business, starting another business, buying real estate, or investing in the stock market. Each of these offers a unique way to turn that excess cash into much more money over time. Again, the reasoning is that the long-term growth of this money will outweigh the long-term cost of the debt obligations.
For some, the use of the cash for investments or expansion is the right idea. If you can make prudent decisions, your cash can grow exponentially. The debt, meanwhile, is a tax deduction, so the cost is actually less than the given rate, as you get some of it back in your taxes. The real way to calculate the best way to go is to figure out the true cost of the debt, which can be as simple as the annual interest cost minus the tax savings, and compare that to a projection of earnings on the cash used somewhere else.
So if you have a 3% interest rate, your effective cost would likely come out to somewhere between 1.9% and 2.4%, depending upon your corporate structure and tax bracket. So in most cases, you can outperform with your money elsewhere, allowing your money to work for you. If the debt is at 19.99%, on the other hand, then the true cost would likely be somewhere between 13% and 16%. This would be a harder number to beat with traditional investing methods (the S&P 500 averaged 7-8% per year in returns for the last 10 years and most real estate investors target 10-12% ROI). But a great business opportunity, or an opportunity to grow the business into a new area can easily yield returns that beat this cost. But remember, greater rewards usually come with greater risks.
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At the end of the day, you need to determine what your costs are on your debt and what your growth will be on the money if you don’t use it to pay that debt off. If there is a clear ability to make money investing, then you would be better served maintaining the debt. But if there is some doubt about the value of the investment, then it’s never bad to be debt free.
Business plans help business owners project revenue and growth, allow for future expenses associated with an assortment of potential future costs, and help them to stay on track for growth targets. Business plans help new businesses find success and successfully businesses reach the next level. Unfortunately, many small business owners have either never created a business plan or have not updated that plan for years. This can make it hard to see where the business is going and can make it difficult to track growth trends.
The main reason small business owners do not have or update business plans is they simply do not know how to create an effective plan, and as such do not understand or see the value in creating said plan. Fortunately, creating a business plan is not as complex as many think, and can be done without much difficulty for most small business owners. You start by assessing your business, today. Where are you in sales, year-over-year growth, margins, etc.? Next, consider your current target markets. Finally, determine your current goals and objectives for the current year.
Once you have this framework, it is time to start considering where your business will go. What are your projected sales for next year, the year after, and so on? Generally, you want to look out five years or more to see the trends. Next, think about the additional markets which you would like to enter. This could be additional demographics, additional regions, or a deeper focus on a current target market. Then, consider additional products or services which you plan to implement. Think about the costs to add them, the training required, the costs to market them, and the expected revenues which will come from them. Finally, consider any large projects on the horizon. This can be acquiring a facility, hiring additional staff, purchasing equipment, or even increasing the marketing budget. It can be anything which will require additional cash.
Now, you need to put this information together in such a manner that you can track your successes. If you plan to see a five percent growth in sales over the next two years, track it. Review your business plan at least quarterly, and make sure you are staying on track. If you aren’t, determine why and adjust your plan going forward. A small miss in sales today can lead to devastating results in three or five years – but by staying on top of your business plan, you will be able to account for it early and correct.
Business planning is not difficult if you approach it the right way. our lockout business has grown significantly over the past year by having a fluid plan in place. By following the steps laid out earlier, you will be able to create a fully functioning business plan in a short time which will help you to keep your business on track and help ensure long term success.
There are a number of third party organizations which will help with granting Minority- or Women-Owned Business certification status. The process for getting this status can be rigorous, and involves meeting a series of stringent requirements to prove your business is truly Minority- or Women-Owned, and not simply a situation where a spouse “owns” the business in name, however has no decision making abilities.
To qualify for Women-Owned Business status, your business simply needs to be at least 51% owned by women. Women also need to be the final decision makers. Once you meet these requirements, you can begin to look at certification. There are many companies which offer certification, some are targeted for private-sector use while others are targeted for government agencies. Further, there are different requirements for certification beyond the ownership status based upon which organization you get your status with. Finally, it is important to consider that these certifications are not universally accepted, so if there is a target company or government agency with which you would like to work, be sure your certification is recognized.
With all of that said, the question becomes: Why? Why go through this process for Women-Owned Business status? And the answer is that it opens up additional business markets for a business. Government agencies are required to meet requirements with working with businesses which are Women-Owned, so it can help in receiving government contracts. By partnering with the correct certifying organization, you can open doors to new government contracts you may never have known existed. Most agencies contract work in a number of fields, including communications, software development, data processing, HR, architecture, marketing, finance, and many others. There is almost no industry for which the government does not have a need.
On the private-sector side, meanwhile, many businesses choose to do business with Women-Owned Businesses. Not only because it helps them meet federal guidelines, but because they themselves could be Women-Owned Businesses. Further, certain certification companies inspect far more than just the ownership status, meaning you are certified as a business worth doing business with.
Applying for and receiving Women-Owned Business status can never hurt a business, however it can certainly open up new doors to new business opportunities. When going through the process, it is important, however, to be sure the organization certifying you is the one most relevant to what you want to do. Do your homework, then get out there and get certified. It just may be the best thing you ever do as a business owner.
Checkout a couple of our services such as Lockout Tagout and Industrial Safety Signs as an example of a strong Women Owned Business.
In the current economic environment, it seems to make more sense than ever for companies to merge with or acquire their competition. This has led to a number of instances where employees become entangled in the complications of a merger or acquisition, without any idea of what their job will look like, or an assurances they will have a job, when the dust settles. This can lead to low morale, reduced productivity, and ultimately to the best talent on your team leaving to go to other firms. And while there is a more negative sentiment among employees of a company being acquired, as there is a likely chance they will be dismissed or forced to change, even employees of the acquiring firm are going to have doubts, reservations, and new needs.
As a leader, it is imperative you quell the flames before they lead to a full-on panic amongst your team. This can be difficult, but if accounted for and if you go into it with your eyes open, you can maintain your staff, maintain productivity, and seamlessly transition to whatever is on the horizon.
The first step to successfully leading a company through a merger is to listen. Listen to your employees, listen to your HR representatives, listen to your client, just listen. Allowing employees and employee representatives to have a voice during the initial conversation and throughout the process will ease fears and tensions. Many of the anxieties employees will have will be groundless – but you won’t be able to clear them up if you aren’t listening to your staff.
You also need to set clear expectations and a process to get there. If a system needs to be replaced, set a reasonable timetable for replacement and put a process in place to cross-train the employees who will be utilizing it. If a team’s hours will change to accommodate a larger geographic region (instead of only covering the east coast, they will now support a national team, for instance), make that expectation clear, then set a process in place for transitioning schedules to account for the additional times.
When setting expectations and creating processes, try to be as quick as possible. Integrating systems, benefits, intranet sites, 401ks, etc. should be done as quickly as possible, and getting people all working under the same roof toward the same goal should, as well. The longer the employees of the acquired company remain under their old 401k, with their old benefits, and their old work tasks, the longer they will fear they will be let go – if you weren’t firing them, wouldn’t it stand to reason they would have been integrated into the new company?
Throughout the process, maintain a clear vision of what the end result will look like. Each time a major project is complete or a unit is integrated, share the successes with the team. This will help strengthen the culture at the company while building confidence in the end results. You want your team – your whole team – to live the culture of change. And that needs to come from the top.
Finally, be prepared for difficult decisions. While there may not have originally been a plan to let go of certain team members, when things are finalized that could change. If layoffs occur, if roles need to be reexamined, or if anything else comes up, be ready to clearly state what the new expectations are, why those expectations are in place, and continue to lead those who remain.
Internal customer service – or the customer service provided by employees to one another – can be quickly forgotten in a customer service plan. For many, customer service is simply the service provided to external customers, and as such how employees treat one another is not accounted for. Unfortunately, this internal customer service can have a huge impact on a business, effecting retention rates of employees, morale, external customer service, and efficiency. And all of that has a big impact on a company’s profits.
So now that the need has been identified, it is important to rectify it. The first step is to set standards. Create a list of expectations for dealing with internal customers, modeling it on your external customer service standards.
After you create your service standards and roll them out to your team, train them on proper customer service skills. Explain the importance of internal customer service to the company and to the employees, and explain the appropriate way to handle various situations. This is also the time to set expectations and set appropriate next steps for employees who fail to act accordingly.
Receive feedback from the employees who are interacting with one another. This can be through formal surveys or informally through dialogue with managers. No matter how you review the progress, it is important to gain feedback and track results.
Once this is rolled out and the employees have been trained on proper customer service, it is time to performance manage those employees who are not adapting. This can be with additional training, one-on-one coaching sessions with management, and may lead to termination. By having a formal performance management plan in place for customer service, which can be monitored by surveys or management review, you can ensure your employees are always giving great customer service.
By following these steps, you can ensure your company will have world class internal customer service.
Anyone who has run a small business can tell you that it is a full-time commitment. There are a lot of moving parts, difficult decisions to be made on a daily basis, and a never-ending list of things which will drain your time and finances, but help improve your business in the long run. So to most small business owners, the idea of running more than one business seems impossible. But for those who do, it can be an extremely lucrative decision, and one which mitigates potential risk and deepens your personal portfolio. So if you are thinking of opening another business, or you already run multiple businesses, here are 4 tips on how to succeed.
1. Ask for Help – We all have things we are good at, then things we are less good at. By understanding where you excel, you can focus on your strengths and hire people to help in other areas. This can include things like proposal writing, SEO, filing taxes, or managing payroll. If there is a cost-effective option out there, it might be worth the money to hire a firm or an individual to handle it for you, so you can focus on running the businesses.
2. Prioritize – Make lists, follow lists, live by lists. By creating to-do lists and sticking with them, you will be sure you get everything critical done today and are setup to have a successful tomorrow. Emergencies come up, whether with network issues, staffing issues, or client issues, there is bound to be a problem at some point. But by being organized and understanding what needs to be done today and what can be done tomorrow, you will be prepared to take on any challenges. You will also be sure you don’t forget to take care of something today that can’t wait until tomorrow.
3. Copy and Paste – If you’ve already got a successful model for invoicing, why change it for the next business? If you have a management structure that works, why re-work it? Look at your existing businesses and find what works that will be needed in the new business. By taking processes and models from one business and instituting them in the other, you are making your life easier and ensuring you will have success, at least in that area of the business.
4. No More Handouts – Most business owners spend time every day on activities which they know will never lead to business. Whether it’s spending an hour talking a friend through an idea, going to meetings that will never lead to business, or taking that prospect out to lunch for the fourth time this month, this is wasted time. Remember, if it isn’t helping you build your business, it is hurting your business.
It is never easy to run a business, let alone multiple businesses, but it can be done. And if you keep these tips in mind, you’ll have a fighting chance of success.
When you first came up with the idea for your business, what you really did was make a hypothesis about what would be successful. You based this hypothesis on a number of factors, I’m sure, but ultimately it was a guess. Many of the things which you predicted to happen likely did, while others may not have happened as you expected. Through the trial and error of starting your business, you likely made a serious of changes, some significant, to account for things that didn’t go as you planned. However, at what point is a more significant change in direction required?
1. Growth has Slowed or Stopped – If you have seen a significant reduction in growth, it is time to look at why that is happening. If it is a timing issue and things will correct in a few months, that is one thing, but if your numbers are going down while the industry is going up, you may need to consider a bigger change.
2. Your Competitors are Beating You – There is nothing wrong with seeing your competitors do well. It is when they do well at your expense that you need to worry. If you find that your customers are leaving to go to a competitor, or that your competitors are outpacing you significantly when they weren’t in the past, it might be time to figure out why.
3. Your Customers are not Satisfied – If your customer base is shrinking and going to a competitor, you want to know why. Similarly, if your customers are looking for a product you don’t offer, you may want to consider expanding. Customer wants are constantly changing, and you need to keep up with them.
4. Your Employees are Telling You – Depending on the size of your business, you may not have direct contact with clients, distributors, or even analysts. But those in your company who do will often have great insights into what your business needs to do to remain competitive. If your sales team is clamoring for a new pricing option that the competition offers, then listen. It just might save your business.
Making a significant change to your business can be hard, but when done right it can be just the move to get you past a plateau and continue growth. Inflexibility is the quickest way to see a profitable business go under, but by looking for these warning signs you should be able to stay ahead of any needed changes.
For small business owners, negotiations are crucial to success in nearly every aspect of their business. Most only think of negotiations when talking about price with a client or salary with an employee, however nearly everything a small business owner does which involves an interaction with another person, is a negotiation on some level. Obviously everything doesn’t require a long, drawn-out negotiation, however having the skills to overcome objections and close on something that leaves all parties happy can be the difference between a thriving business and one that is out of business. And while every negotiation is unique, here are some techniques which are nearly universal to every negotiation.
1. Know What You Want – This may seem obvious, however one of the main reasons negotiations go south is that the parties are not really sure of what they want. Set a list of priorities and keep them in mind during the negotiation – otherwise you could lose a good deal over a trivial detail.
2. Know What They Want – Make sure to carefully listen to what the other party actually wants. Too often, people negotiate based upon preconceived notions, rather than what the other party actually wants. Many times a small concession can get a large deal done, but the parties involved are only looking at their own interests. By understanding what the other person wants, you put yourself into a better position to deliver that and, in turn, get what you want.
3. Know What You Can Give Up – Negotiating is about compromising. If you need to be flexible, be sure you know where your areas of flexibility are. Don’t get bogged down in fighting for everything, sometimes conceding a small point will get them to concede something important for you.
4. Focus on Common Ground – Generally, the majority of what is being discussed is in agreement. Focus on that when negotiating points of contention. Sometimes, by looking at everything that is already agreed upon, it can be easier to compromise on whatever is left.
5. Put it on Them – Make them the focus of the conversation. This way, you are constantly reinforcing their benefits, rather than yours. Though subtle, this places a constant reminder of the reason why they want this deal to work out, rather than constantly working through why you want it to. This can make them more eager to complete the deal.
6. Know When to Walk Away – Not all negotiations end well. Sometimes, there is simply no workable resolution. If they need something you are unwilling to give, then it is time to walk away. You don’t want to get bogged down in a negotiation that has no possible resolution.
No matter what you’re negotiating, by keeping these techniques in mind, you might be able to tip the scales in your favor and leave getting what you actually want without giving up anything you can’t afford to.
When establishing lockout tagout policies and procedures, it is important to account not just for the policies and procedures being created at that time, but also how these policies and procedures will be updated and monitored going forward. Unfortunately, this second portion can be even more difficult than simply creating accurate, compliant policies and procedures.
When creating lockout tagout policies and procedures, you need to consult OSHA Standard 1910.147. This standard is difficult to work with; it is complicated, convoluted, and has a number of variables which make it difficult to create accurate, specific policies and procedures. This standard also makes it hard to account for the variables which could change and require updates down the line.
As such, many companies hire third party lockout tagout auditing firms. Companies which do this, however, leave control of their lockout tagout policies and procedures in the hand of an external company. And as such, they need to consult with the third party every time they change personnel, machinery, equipment, floor layout, or the location of the facility. This creates needless consulting costs and the potential for errors, as the actual standards and procedures are not maintained by the company.
Instead, a better option is our Factory Solutions Software. This is a web-based program which allows you to update your lockout tagout procedures anywhere there is an internet connection. You maintain control of your policies and procedures, while getting the peace of mind of a leading third party lockout tagout auditing firm monitoring them.
If you have any questions about monitoring policies and procedures for lockout tagout or about our Factory Solutions Software, please contact us. If you have anything to add about the importance of accurately monitoring lockout tagout policies and procedures, please leave a comment.
Any safety team which has to deal with confined spaces can tell you that they are extremely difficult to monitor, maintain, and keep compliant. These spaces are maintained by OSHA Standard 1910.146, which governs confined spaces and their permit entry systems. These systems are designed to control who does and does not have access to the space, when these people have access, who is monitoring said space, and how records of entrants are maintained.
But before putting plans in place to cover all of this information, a safety team must first determine whether a space qualifies as a confined space and if it needs a permit entry system. A confined space is a space large enough and so configured that it is possible for a person to bodily enter and perform work, has limited or restricted means for entry and exit, and is not designed for continuous employee occupancy. So assuming the space meets those qualifications, the next thing which must be determined is if the permit entry system is required. A permit entry system is required for any spaces which contain or have the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere, contain a material that has the potential for engulfing an entrant, has an internal configuration such that an entrant could be trapped or asphyxiated by inwardly converging walls or by a floor which slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross-section, or contains any other recognized serious safety hazard.
If in reviewing this, you determine your facility has a confined space with a required permit entry system, it is vital that you contact a third party occupational safety and health auditing firm to help you put an appropriate system in place. Not only will this safeguard your employees, it will protect your business from unnecessary fines.
If you have any questions about confined spaces, permit entry systems, or how any of them impact your business, please contact us. If you have anything you would like to add about confined spaces, please leave a comment.
The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Duffy Grain Inc. for eight safety and health violations, including two willful violation and six serious violation. They come in response to an inspection of a worksite in Columbus, WI in September of 2015. This inspection was initiated as part of the Grain Handling Industry Local Emphasis Program after a complaint was filed alleging unsafe working conditions. The citations are for violations relating to moving grain hazards inside bins, augers running when employees entered bins, inadequate machine guarding, a lack of confined space entry permit guidelines, respiratory hazards, personal protective equipment, and air quality hazards. These violations carry proposed penalties of $122,500.
"Sending workers into a grain bin with the auger moving is extremely dangerous," said Ann Grevenkamp, OSHA's area director in Madison. "Duffy Grain knows the precautions that needed to be taken to protect its workers, but failed in their responsibility to follow them. Someone's life and well-being should never be the cost of doing business."
As you can see from this example, OSHA will always follow up on a complaint, especially if the company in question falls into one of their Local Emphasis Program target areas. So if you own a business in a target industry, it is imperative you review your occupational safety and health policies and procedures to ensure you are in compliance should your facility undergo an audit. If you are uncertain whether or not you are in compliance, you need to contact a third party occupational safety and health auditing firm to help you ensure you are compliant.
If you have any questions about this inspection or if you have any questions about third party occupational safety and health auditing services, please contact us. If you have anything to add about this inspection, please leave a comment.