ProTips

The E-newsletter for Waste Industry Professionals

(No. 10, September 2004)

 

A guide to this month’s edition

1. Welcome

2. ProTips for Professional Development

3. ProTips for Operational Profitability

4. Topic of the Month: Safety

5. Quote of the Month

6. Ramblings

7. Announcements

 

Welcome

 

Welcome to Issue No. 10 of “ProTips, the E-newsletter for Waste Industry Professionals.”

 

This month’s newsletter is filled with tips and thoughts to help with your professional development and to manage your business more profitably. My purpose is to stimulate your thinking; the industry benefits most when we all do our best.

 

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If you would like more information about any of the topics discussed in this newsletter, or have any thoughts you would like to share, call me at 510.881.9440, or send an e-mail to ron@protoconsulting.com.

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2. ProTips for Professional Development

 

BKFYANYW…Last month I ended this section with the acronym IWICTOAABIC, which stands for I Wish I Could Think Of Another Acronym But I Can’t. Well, my good friend Leonard Vinci, with Innovative Waste Solutions, http://www.innovativewastesolutions.com, e-mailed me to say he couldn’t believe I forgot to mention BKFYANYW, Be Known For Your Actions And Not Your Words. I have it posted on the wall behind my desk. It’s a reminder to all, me included, that actions speak louder than words. If you have to tell someone how good you are or what you accomplished, maybe you’re not as good as you think you are, or perhaps what you accomplished wasn’t that great. The long and the short of this saying is to do what you do the best you can do it, and leave your publicity to others. As a corollary, don’t believe your own press. Just keep doing the best you can and the rest will take care of itself.

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YDGWYDYGWYN…You Don’t Get What You Deserve, You Get What You Negotiate - Dr. Charles L. Karrass, negotiator. When Leonard Vinci and I worked together, he had this posted on a bookcase as you entered his office. The saying was under a picture of two gentlemen shaking hands. These words ring true when you fail to get what you think you have coming. When something is important to you, make sure you have it in writing. If you are promised a future raise, a promotion, or guaranteed employment, don’t be timid. Ask your boss, or in some cases your boss’s boss, to put it in writing. When the time comes for them to make good on their promise, you’ll have it in writing, with no ifs, ands, or buts…and you can say with confidence, “I got what I negotiated.”

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IAAOOA…I Am All Out Of Acronyms, but I have one more tip for your professional development. No matter how calm, cool, and collected you are, someone or something is going to upset you sometime. It’s easy to get angry and vent your frustration, but it usually doesn’t do anyone any good--especially you. Most times it just makes things worse. The next time you feel that frustration building up politely excuse yourself, take a walk around the block, or a short drive to some quiet place. Compose yourself, then return to your office with a smile on your face. If you’re still upset, sit at your desk and write out your thoughts. Read them out loud if you can, but make sure no one can hear you. And absolutely make sure, if you write a letter, to not send it. Sometimes just the act of writing out your thoughts or hearing your own words is all you need to settle yourself down. The next time frustration nips at your heels give it a try; you have nothing to lose.

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3. ProTips for Operational Profitability

Lower raised equipment…When I started out in this business, I saw a sign that read, “Lower all raised equipment when not in use.” For some reason, I never forgot it, and I think of it every time I see a crane that’s not in use, because it’s never in the lowered position. I’m sure there’s a reason for it; I just don’t know what that reason is. That, fortunately, is not an excuse for not making sure all the equipment we use in our industry is lowered when not in use. That includes front loader buckets, lift truck forks, and any other equipment. The reason is simple--if the hydraulic system supporting the equipment fails, anything and everything in its path will be crushed; falling steel has no mercy. Protect your workers and the visitors on your site and “Lower all raised equipment when not in use.”

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Support raised equipment…Mechanics frequently work under raised equipment. It’s part of what they do. Fortunately, most of them know to support the equipment they are working under. The operative word here is “most.” Unfortunately, not all mechanics take the time to do this. The next time you walk through your shop, look for two things. First, is the equipment the mechanic working under well supported? If not, get the mechanic out from under the danger. Second, look at the condition of the support stands. Are they in good repair? Are they built for the job they are being used for? If in doubt, contact your safety advisor to help you get the right support stand for the job and train your mechanics how to use them correctly.

 

Don’t get under raised, working equipment…By now you know raised equipment can be dangerous, so you must be extra careful when you are walking or working around it. There is never a reason--nada--zip--zilch--for anyone to get under a piece of raised, working equipment. Whether it’s to take a short cut or to point out a problem, never, never, ever walk under a piece of working, raised equipment. If the equipment fails or the operator doesn’t see you, the ensuing accident can have devastating consequences. It’s just not worth the risk; stay out from under raised, working equipment.

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4. Topic of the Month: Safety

Safety is an attitude. You’ve read these words in this newsletter before. I first heard this phrase from Edward Maghakian, with Solid Waste Insurance Managers, http://www.ruleco.com. Edward is one of the preeminent safety experts in the solid waste industry. I, along with a lot of other folks, owe my safety attitude to him.

 

I’ve known Edward for more than 15 years, and I had a chance to work with him when we first met. He is a bright, articulate, and dedicated safety professional who never misses an opportunity to improve safe working conditions.

 

I caught up with Edward recently and talked to him about his favorite subject, whale watching. Just kidding--we talked about safety. I’ve repeated our conversation below; Edward’s comments were edited in the interest of space constraints.

 

RP: Edward, your famous line is “Safety is an attitude.” How can you tell if a company has a safety attitude?

 

EM: That’s easy. When you walk onto a facility you look for the things that shout safety. Are the drivers wearing safety vests or safety uniforms? Check out the dispatch office; is it clean? Are all the safety postings current and accessible by the crews?

 

Walk over to the shop; is the floor clean? Are the gas bottles stored separately and chained up? How are other flammables stored?

 

Look at the equipment. If the trucks are in disrepair and dirty, that is generally a good indication that management doesn’t care.

 

It doesn’t take long to find out if a company has a safety attitude. All you have to do is look around.

 

RP: What you’re saying is that actions speak louder than words.

 

EM: You bet! You can tell very quickly if a company has a safety attitude; just look around.

 

RP: What are some other things that need attention?

 

EM: Personal protective equipment (PPE) is very important; either employees don’t want to use it, or management doesn’t care. PPE is usually available, but often there is no policy enforcement. For example, some drivers still don’t wear high visibility clothing. The company provides the safety vests or shirts, but drivers don’t wear them because they claim they’re uncomfortable.

 

Sometimes I have to agree with the drivers about the value of wearing those flimsy safety vests; they can be a hazard. They are easily caught on door handles or other parts of the equipment. Tight fitting clothing is the best thing to wear when working around equipment.

 

RP: Are there still other safety issues that need attention?

 

EM: Yes, plenty. One of my pet peeves is shop cleanliness. The shop floor can be a real hazard. Grease, oil and other fluids spilled on the floor should be cleaned up immediately. They are not only a trip hazard; they are flammable. There are many sparks flying around a shop from grinding, welding, and cutting torches. A fire is a serious consequence from an errant spark. It’s tough to get the message across, but “clean as you go" is good advice if you want to maintain a safe working environment in your shop.

 

RP: Is there anything else managers can do to create a safety attitude?

 

EM: Two things communicate that you are walking your talk. Managers have to communicate their safety expectations often, and they must let their workers know how important safety is to them personally by practicing what they preach. Accidents don’t just happen to the other guy. If you don’t practice safety, one day you might be the other guy.

 

As far as managers walking their talk, when they are out in the yard, they should wear a safety vest. When visiting drivers on the route, they should have a safety vest on when getting out of their car. If they go into a hardhat area, they need to wear a hardhat. Managers should follow the same safety procedures as their workers; it’s that simple.

 

RP: Thanks, Ed, for your safety tips. Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

 

EM: Safety is an attitude that takes time to develop. To have a true safety attitude, you have to practice and talk safety all the time. Safety doesn’t take a vacation.

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5. Quote of the Month

 

“The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital”.

-Joe Paterno, Football Coach

 

This quote is not just for athletes; it’s for all of us. You can’t will yourself to success; you have to prepare for it. Whether it’s a negotiation or a presentation, if you want to succeed, you need to prepare. Success doesn’t give you a choice.

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6. Ramblings

 

Did you watch any of the Olympics Games in the last two weeks? Wow! There were a lot of cheers and jeers, and a lot to learn. The best part, for me, was that I didn’t have to follow the games too closely to learn the lessons of the Olympics. All I had to do was read the newspaper headlines or watch a little TV.

 

So, what did the 28th Olympiad teach me? I learned that “stuff happens,” it’s important to never lose focus, and that big, tough guys have feelings, too. It’s hard to choose which lesson was the most interesting.

 

Keep in mind that most of these athletes have trained for years, some for almost a lifetime, to be the best in the world. Some athletes are rewarded for their efforts, but most are not. Some lose only because there is someone better at any given moment. Others miss the gold because they lost focus or “stuff just happened.”

 

Take, for example, the saga of Matt Emmons, the New Jersey native who was shooting in the three-position rifle competition. All he needed was to just get close to the bull’s eye for the gold medal. Unfortunately, he shot at the wrong target. How in the heck do you do that?

 

Read the reports and you learn that he lost focus. He changed his ritual of looking at the target number through the viewfinder, then lowering his sight to focus in on the target. He actually skipped his cautionary step and just looked at the target before pulling off the shot…WRONG! This guy has several national and international titles. He is an in-control competitor. Why did he change his winning procedure? Who knows? Maybe this one belongs in the “stuff happens” category. To quote John Madden when he was questioned on this event, “Bummer.”

 

Talking about “stuff happens,” what about the Brazilian runner who was leading in the men’s marathon when some goof ball came out of the crowd and tackled him? He lost his lead, obviously, but kept on going. Valderiei Lima finished third. He could have cried foul, but exhibited character, saying, “This could happen anywhere.” Imagine losing the gold medal and still keeping a positive attitude! Oh, by the way, there was a full moon rising when the incident happened. That definitely puts this one into the “stuff happens” category.

 

Rulon Gardner, the big 265-pound Greco-Roman wrestling champion, took the gold medal in the 2000 Olympics in Sidney. Tragedy struck soon after, though, when he smashed his wrist and one of his toes had to be amputated because of frostbite after a snowmobile accident. He fought his way back to take the bronze metal in these games. Mind you, Greco-Roman wrestling is not the most exciting sport to watch, but Rulon was awesome--strong and quick.

 

After he won his match for the bronze metal in these Olympics, he retired from wrestling. Tradition has it that when you retire from Greco-Roman wrestling you unlace your shoes and place them in the middle of the ring. With all of the cameras focused on him, the big guy plopped down in the ring and untied his shoelaces. Emotion filled his eyes. He kept pulling at his shoes, but they seemed to resist his effort, as if they knew this was the last time. Finally, he got his shoes off and placed them in the center of the ring. Rising, he couldn’t contain his emotions any longer; tears streamed down his cheeks. He tried furiously to wipe them away, but they just kept coming. He waved to the crowd, turning each time, until he said his goodbyes to the whole stadium, and walked out of the ring into the hugs and tears of his coaches and teammates. I’m sure that whatever this big guy does in the future, he’s sure to be a champion.

 

Who says big guys can’t cry?

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7. Announcements

 

“ProTips, the E-newsletter For Waste Industry Professionals” is produced and distributed monthly by R.J. Proto Consulting Group, Inc. I encourage you to share it with your colleagues and friends. You may reproduce this electronic newsletter in whole or in part, as long as you include the correct copyright notice (at the end of this newsletter), with a link to my website, http://www.protoconsulting.com.

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If you would like more information on any of the above topics, call me at 510.881.9440 or send an e-mail to ron@protoconsulting.com. Please visit my website at http://www.protoconsulting.com for more ideas on professional development and operational improvements.

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Your submissions are always welcome. Send them to ron@protoconsulting.com. If I use your submission, I’ll give you credit, unless you wish to remain anonymous. All submissions become the property of R.J. Proto Consulting Group, Inc., unless otherwise requested by the writer. (Sorry, that’s my lawyer friend).

 

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© Copyright 2004 Ronald J. Proto. All rights reserved.