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(Editor’s Note: July 4th is only two days away, so for today’s Thursday Feature we take a look at how you can make the most of your holiday celebration while staying safe at the same time.)

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Fourth of July is one of the only holidays that brings all Americans together at the same time. So it’s the perfect time to share the patriotic spirit with others while enjoying a well-deserved holiday off.

If you are hosting an Independence Day party — either at your business or at your home — your top priority is for all of your guests to relax and have a great time. But maintaining a safe environment is also essential.

Here are the top 10 Fourth of July safety tips to help you enjoy your annual mid-summer holiday safely and enjoyably:

1. Use Caution around Water — Water sports and the Fourth of July are two things that go together naturally. But each year sees many injuries or even deaths caused by unsafe practices while swimming and boating. If your guests are swimming in a pool, a lake or a pond, make sure they are always supervised, especially children. Never assume that somebody else will be watching the kids.

2. Be Smart about Fireworks — If fireworks are legal where you live, make sure you store and use them safely. Keep spectators a safe distance away when igniting fireworks, especially children. A better plan is to attend a community-sponsored fireworks display rather than hosting your own fireworks show.

3. Take It Easy — It’s everybody’s day off and a celebration to boot. But that doesn’t mean you have to hit the alcohol hard, especially if the festivities start early in the day. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially if you also are consuming alcohol. Make sure your guests who are drinking have a designated driver or another safe way to get home. And be especially watchful around people who are drinking and swimming.

4. Practice Safe Boating — Traditionally, the Fourth of  July is the busiest day on lakes, beaches, and other waterways. Follow all local boating laws, including speed and wake limits, and don’t allow anyone who is piloting a boat to be drinking. Before allowing craft onto the water, make sure there are enough life preservers for everybody on board.

5. Protect Your Food from Pests — Bees, wasps, and flies are naturally attracted to food at picnics. Discourage insects from landing on your food by covering it with plastic and foil whenever not being used. It’s also a good idea to have an Epi-pen on hand for anybody who may be allergic to bee stings or other insect bites. To keep from being bitten, wear shoes, long sleeves, and long pants and don’t wear fragrances or bright colors. Be cautious when drinking sugary soda from cans because bees love to climb inside and you could get stung in the mouth.

6. Have Sunscreen Available — Encourage guests to use sunscreen liberally to protect themselves from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Not only will this prevent them from becoming sunburned, but it helps prevent the growth of skin cancers and premature aging.

7. Check Medications — Many prescription medications available today can make people more sensitive to sunlight or can cause a sun-sensitizing drug reaction. Check the labels of all your prescriptions so you can take the appropriate precautions.

8. Beware of Ticks and Mosquitos — In many areas of the country that have experienced recent heavy rainfalls, the number of ticks and mosquitos is near an all-time high. Protect yourself by wearing insect repellent with no more than 30% DEET. If you will be hiking in an area where there are likely to be a lot of ticks, wear long-sleeved, light-colored shirts and long pants, and tuck your pants into your socks or boots to protect against ticks. Check your family and your pets for ticks at the end of the day so they can be removed before growing too big.

9. Hydrate — Especially if it’s hot outside (and if you are consuming alcohol), it’s critical that you drink more water than you normally would. Avoid heat illness by staying in the shade as much as possible and avoiding over-exertion. Young children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are especially susceptible to heat illness and heat stroke. Alcohol consumption promotes dehydration.

10. Open Flames and Kids Don’t Mix — Keep children away from grills, campfires, bonfires and other heat sources. Create a “no kids zone” around barbecue grills and other potential dangers.

Most importantly, have a happy and safe Fourth of July!

 

 

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Automated Guided VehicleThe outlook for the manufacturing segment of the economy looks rosy, but now there is concern that there aren’t enough qualified candidates applying for all the new jobs that have been created, according to a new report.

The third annual Manufacturing RiskFactor Report compiled by the consulting group BDO found that 98% of leading manufacturers fear that there aren’t enough people to fill all the anticipated jobs that will be created.

An improved economy, better energy costs, and lower unemployment are all point to an increase in manufacturing in the coming years. But industry leaders continue to be concerned about their ability to fill their talent pipeline to achieve expansion goals.

The Aging of the Workforce

Part of this has to do with the aging of the workforce. According to the BDO analysis, by 2030 more than 20% of all US workers will be older than 65, compared to only 13% in 2010 and 9.8% in 1970.

According to the survey, 74% of manufacturers said they were worried about attracting, retaining and motivating key workers and managers. In 2014, this number was only 69% and in 2013 it was 62%.

Howard Sosoff, practice leader for manufacturing and distribution at BDO, said in the report that the survey results showed genuine concern among industry leaders.

“Growth in the economy and an increase in capital spending is excellent news for the manufacturing industry,” Sosoff said in the report. “But with greater opportunity comes greater challenges. Manufacturers will face intense competitions this year as they work to attract new orders and workers and expand their capabilities.”

What Companies Are Doing About It

To deal with this anticipated shortage of qualified manufacturing workers and managers, many companies are taking steps now to attract new talent.

Apprenticeship programs are being expanded, companies are partnering with community colleges and technical institutes, and businesses are using grassroots efforts to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

Many companies already are conducting self-audits to identify where growth can be expected and where the shortfall is between jobs and talent. This can then be used to map out a comprehensive blueprint for recruiting and onboarding workers for these areas.

Other Manufacturing Concerns

A lack of available talent wasn’t the only concern among manufacturers, according to the report. Other worries include:

  • Environmental regulations, laws and liability (96%0
  • Labor concerns such as underfunded pensions (98%)
  • Risks associated with implementing corporate strategies (90%)
  • Continued product innovation (85%)
  • Not adequate access to capital or liquidity because of interest rates, credit markets, changes to credit rating, and other factors (89%)
  • Less demand for current product lines (88%)

Reliance on Offshore Companies

One of the biggest worries was the ability of the supply chain to reliably deliver products from manufacturers to consumers. Another concern is that forecasting errors could lead to costly backlogs or shortages, or even potential interruptions.

Because manufacturers’ supply chains are often dependent on international companies, many industry leaders cited concerns about international operations risks, political incidents, and natural disasters that could cause transportation breakdowns and significant delays.

BDO is a consulting firm based in Delaware.

Categorie(s):
How to Improve Common Warehouse Problems

30 Jun 2015

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(Courtesy: Dustin Grau)

(Courtesy: Dustin Grau)

Let’s face it. It is not easy managing a warehouse. All sorts of problems from systemic to outside factors can adversely affect the smooth operation of a warehouse. Systemic problems can include poorly planning slot allocation, bottleneck issues, and over packing. Outside influences can include globalization and eCommerce. Whatever the problem and from wherever it is coming from can keep warehouse managers jumping.

Some of the more common problems that seem to be puzzling warehouse managers these days include poor housekeeping, not measuring, poor slot allocation, excessive checking, over packing, globalization, and the influence of eCommerce.

Now that we have identified the issues, how do you go about fixing them?

Poor Housekeeping

Bad record taking, crowded storage areas, blocked aisle ways, forklifts running in all sorts of places, blocked doorways. The housekeeping list goes on and on. A simple way of handling the problem is to avoid it. Develop and implement a plan for storage allocation and forklift operation and encourage employers to adopt work practices that keep the aisles and doorways clear.

Measure What Needs to be measured

Running a warehouse involves measuring all sorts of things from the width of the aisles to the time it takes for a picking team to collect orders. It is imperative to keep a good record of intake, output, carryover, average time in the warehouse, labor cost of operation per item, productivity, etc., etc. Don’t just measure one day out of a month or a week. Measure each and every day so you know that the operation is running efficiently. A quick identification of a problem and addition of a quick solution to that problem can ensure that productivity remains constant.

Plan Slot Allocation

Slotting the right available space to particular products is essential to achieving optimum picking times. Make certain that the most popular products are slotted in the most accessible location and those slots are not too small or too big. Slotting should be evaluated often.

Taking Advantage of Item Arrivals

Warehouses receive things; they don’t just send things out. Some products you get in arrived pre-packed and ready for postage. Set up your operation so you can take advantage of the incoming so all you have to do is slap the postage label on the box and send it out.

Disproportionate Checking

Some times because of the nature of the beast, a warehouse crew may confront bottlenecks before packing due to excessive checking periods. A barcode and weight checking systems will assist in creating an almost ideal checking procedure without the logjam.

Over Packing

Packing is a procedure that can be a major source of bottlenecks. There are times when your crew may be too enthusiastic about their job and contribute to the slow down. Offer training to them that prevents overenthusiasm from slowing the process down too much.

Demanding Customers

Customers who are getting use to one-day or same-day delivery require warehouses to create very specific labels. You will need a warehouse system that automatically accommodates these customers’ demands –- you will need an automatic labeling system that will create the proper customized labels every day.

Globalization

In today’s market, no matter where you are, your competition is working hard in Mexico, China, and Eastern Europe. To compete, you will need to keep overhead low.

eCommerce

Because of the Internet the marketplace you serve is worldwide. You need to be and have the capability to take orders on the Internet.

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Here is a special sneak preview of some of the stories you will find this week on the Bahrns blog:

  • Cars are already lighter and more fuel efficient thanks to stricter standards. Now the EPA and the Transportation are taking aim at trucks. We’ll tell you what they want and how it could affect your business.
  • The good news? Manufacturing is booming! The bad news? There may not be enough qualified people to fill all the new manufacturing jobs that are going to be created. We’ll tell you why this is causing concern among manufacturing industry leaders and what they intend to do about it.
  • Most warehouses have the same common problems. We’ll look at what they are and how to correct them.
  • Happy Fourth of July! We’ll take a look at the top 10 safety tips that will help keep your holiday safe and fun!

    All this and much, much more can be found this week on the Bahrns blog … so stay tuned!

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tractor trailer

Photo courtesy of Greg Goebel via Wikimedia Commons

Now that cars are lighter, smaller and have better fuel efficiency, the US Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency are now turning their attention to trucks that haul freight.

Last week, the two agencies called for tougher fuel efficiency standards on medium and heavy-duty vehicles to be built between 2021 and 2027, including semi-trailer trucks, large pickups, vans and all types of buses and delivery vehicles.

The new standards would require CO2 emissions and fuel consumption to be lowered by 24% over the current truck standards.

A Long Road to Enforcement

Just because the agencies are asking for these tougher new standards doesn’t necessarily mean they will become law. The announcement was simply the beginning of a long process in which the agencies will consider comments from industry leaders and other interested parties for 60 days before the proposal is officially published in the Federal Register. There also will be at least two public hearings.

According to Transportation Department officials, if the new standards are put into place, they will lower C02 emissions by about 1 billion metric tons. They also will reduce fuel costs by an estimated $170 billion and reduce oil consumption by up to 1.8 billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles sold between the target years.

These projected reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are nearly the same amount used by all the homes in the US for one year. And the total oil savings would be more than the US imports from all the OPEC countries put together in one year.

Higher Production Costs

The downside is that they likely would drive up the cost of trucks, at least initially. Truck makers would have to invest heavily in new engineering that allowed their vehicles to hit these standards. Manufacturing processes would have to be changed, assembly lines reconfigured, and all of these costs eventually would be passed onto consumers.

But the Transportation Department said that according to its estimates, the buyer of a new long-haul truck in 2027 would be able to recover all of these higher costs through fuel savings in just two years.

The vehicles covered under the proposal currently account for only 5% of the vehicles on the road, but about 20% of all the greenhouse gas emissions and fuel usage in the US.

Technologies Already Exist

According the proposal unveiled last week, the standards rely on cost-effective technologies to enhance fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are currently available or in development, including improved transmissions, engine combustion optimization, aerodynamic improvements, and low rolling resistance tires.

It also relies on the industry adopting cost-effective technologies for trailers, such as aerodynamic devices, lightweight construction, and self-inflating tires.

The proposal also allows for the manufacturers to banks and trade emissions credits so that they can choose the most cost-effective ways to meet the government standards.

The current fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emission standards for trucks went into effect in 2014 and will remain in place through 2018. New vehicles in2013 achieved their highest fuel economy of all time.

 

 

Categorie(s):
Tips for Managing Your Trash Area

26 Jun 2015

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File:Eureka CA Dumpster Art.JPG

Photo courtest of Wikimedia Commons (in the public domain)

Every business has a trash area that includes, at the very least, a dumpster. Managing your trash area is important because it could potentially be one of the most dangerous areas of your facility — not to mention the smelliest!

Trash comes in many different forms: There are liquid wastes, paper, solids and industrial byproducts. In some businesses, some of the waste could be potentially dangerous, such as the biological wastes from hospitals and medical offices or chemical wastes from manufacturing processes.

Contact Your Trash Hauler

Before you dump anything into your dumpster, make sure that’s its safe and that the company hauling your garbage is aware of what they are handling. If they discover that you are dumping paints, chemicals, bio-waste or other potentially harmful materials into your regular trash, you could get in trouble with the local authorities.

It’s also important that you understand the recycling rules in your area. In some cities, industries are exempt from recycling cans, bottles, paper, plastic, glass and other materials. But in others, you can face stiff fines and other penalties if these materials are found in your regular trash.

Do You Need a Baler?

If your business receives a lot of products in cardboard boxes — such as a restaurant, hotel, or retail business — getting a baler could be a good idea. These are machines that wrap used cardboard with tight straps so that they can be handled for recycling more easily.

If you do use a baler, make sure every employee who will be operating it understands how to use it and its safety features. Balers have rapidly moving parts which could easily cause injury if not used properly.

Protecting Your Trash from Intruders

Sanitation is a huge concern with any trash area, especially if there is a lot of food or grease being thrown away. Rodents, birds, insects and other pests can quickly turn your trash area into a hazard if steps are not taken to properly control your trash.

Never allow anybody to throw open food or liquids into your dumpster or trash compactor. Not only will this attract pests, but it will make a huge mess that eventually will have to be cleaned up. Then there are the unpleasant odors that will need to be eradicated.

Double-Bag Heavier Loads

Use heavy duty trash bags that are graded to handle the number of pounds of trash you typically will put into them. For example, if you are dumping 50 pounds of solid or liquid waste, you will need to use a bag designed to handle a minimum of 50 pounds. If you occasionally exceed the rated strength of the bag, double bag the trash load to provide additional security and to prevent spills.

Transport trash to your dumpster, compactor or recycling area in enclosed containers, such as X-frame carts of other durable waste receptacles. Never allow workers to drag trash bags along the floor of your dock or warehouse because this can easily cause the bags to shred or break, creating a huge mess for somebody to clean up.

 

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protective eye gear

Take precautions when working outdoors in intense heat to prevent heat illness and heat stroke.

(Editor’s Note: In today’s Thursday Feature, we examine a potential danger that crops up every year about this time: Heat illness and heat stroke.)

Each year, thousand of workers are overcome by excessive heat while working outdoors under the scorching sun. Many even die.

But heat illness is entirely preventable if you know the signs to watch for and take action early enough.

Heat illness is the result of the body overheating. Normally, the human body will cool itself naturally with perspiration. But when temperatures skyrocket and humidity approaches 100%, sometimes the body’s perspiration can’t keep up — leading to dangerous body temperature levels that can result in heat illness

Signs of Heat Illness

There are many symptoms of heat illness, ranging from heat rashes and cramping to heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. If left untreated, heat stroke can easily lead to death.

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends that employers develop comprehensive heat illness prevention campaigns directed at workers who work outdoors during the summer’s hottest months and other at-risk employees.

Most heat-related worker deaths occur during the first few days of working in intense heat.

Who Is at Risk?

Any worker who is exposed to hot and humid conditions can be stricken by heat illness, but it is especially prevalent among those employees wearing bulky protective clothing and equipment. About 33% of all heat-related worker deaths occur in the construction industry, but other at-risk workers include those in the construction, transportation, utilities, agriculture, grounds maintenance and landscaping, and the oil and gas industries.

Heat illness campaigns should include:

  • Providing workers with plenty of fresh, cool water while they work
  • Schedule more frequent breaks when the weather is hot
  • Providing a shaded area where employees can get out of the sun when they get overheated
  • Modifying work schedules so that no worker has to spend too much time in the heat
  • Planning for emergencies
  • Educating workers on how to watch out for the symptoms of heat illness
  • Monitoring employees for signs of illness

Some of the most vulnerable employees are those that are returning to a job in hot conditions who have been away for a week or more. Workers need to build up a tolerance for working in hot conditions through a process known as acclimatization, or an “easy does it” approach during the firs first days of working in the heat so that they can get used to it.

Workers need to build up a tolerance for working in hot conditions through a process known as acclimatization, or an “easy does it” approach during the first few days of working in the heat so that they can get used to it. Temporary workers also are at risk.

Working in direct sunlight can increase add up to 15 degrees to heat index values. So if employees are working in direct sunlight and outside air temperature is 95 degrees F, it can actually feel like 110 degrees F.

Avoiding Heat Illness

Here are some tips to preventing heat-related illness:

  • Whenever working in the sun or intense heat, drink water every 15 minutes even if you don’t feel thirsty
  • Rest in the shade frequently to cool down
  • Wear a hat and white or light-colored clothing
  • Watch out for your fellow workers and be aware of the early warning signs of heat illness and heat stroke
  • During the first few days of working in intense heat, take it slow and easy until you can get used to it.

Since 2011, OSHA has teamed up with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service to launch a national Heat Illness Prevention Campaign to increase the awareness of heat illness.

The program has reached more than 10.7 million people and more than 500,000 fact sheets, posters, quick cards, training guides and wallet cards have been distributed, all of which are available for free from the Labor Department’s educational resources page.

As part of the program, the weather service will include important worker safety information about heat illness when it issues extreme heat alerts. Dr. David Michaels, assistant Labor Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health, participated in a June 10th conference call with meteorologists from across the country to discuss the new safety messages and to encourage them to include it in their weather reports.

New Heat Illness Prevention App

There’s also a new free smartphone app that was developed by OSHA and the weather service that allows users to instantly calculate risk levels at any worksite and learn the protective measures they can take to prevent heat illness. Already, more than 200,000 people have downloaded the app, which includes full-screen color alerts, improved navigation and accessibility options.

The app can be downloaded for free by visiting the Labor Department’s website or by clicking here.

When it comes to working safely in hot summer conditions, remember these three simple words: Water, Rest, and Shade.

 

 

 

 

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That's One Big Ship

Computer generated image of the Maersk Triple E Class (Image courtesy of Russavia via Wikimedia Commons)

The latest generation of cargo container ships are monstrously sized and capable of carrying double, triple or even quadruple the number of cargo containers that older ships can accommodate.

And officials at the Port of Oakland — the West Coast’s third largest cargo gateway — say they are ready, willing and able to handle these mega-sized super ships.

Ships Are Getting Bigger

Recently, a mega-sized class of cargo container ships began appearing in ports around the world. Until very recently, the Chinese-owned CSCL Globe was the world’s largest container ship, capable of carrying an astounding 19,100 cargo containers.

The ship surpassed the previous record-holder –the Matz Maersk Triple E, which has a capacity of 18,000 cargo containers — as the world’s biggest ship. But it was beaten out in January by the MSC Oscar, which set sail on its inaugural voyage from the berth in Busan, South Korea, where it was built.

The MSC Oscar has an incredible cargo capacity that is capable of transporting 39,000 cars, 117 million pairs of gym shoes, or more than 900 million cans of dog food on any single trip.

Big Ships Beginning to Appear in Oakland

No ships of this size have made their way to Oakland as of yet. The largest cargo container to dock there was MSC Beatrice, which holds 14,000 cargo containers. Last month, the port received NMSC Regulus and the CMA CGM Margrit, both of which can hold up to 13,000 cargo containers, which arrived.

The port first started allowing mega-ships to dock there in March 2012 when the MSC Fabiola and its 12,500 cargo containers pulled into its berth.

The Future of the Cargo Industry

John Driscol, maritime director for the Port of Oakland, said adapting facilities to accommodate these super-sized ships is critical to the port’s future success — even though they can take up to 1,200 feet of docking space, or the length of more than four football fields.

So far, the port has dredged its approaches and berths to 50 feet so they can handle the deeper displacement of this new class of ships. It also raised the height of its cranes so they can reach over the mountains of containers stacked above deck on the vessels.

‘Bring It On!’

While most of the ships arriving in Oakland hold between 6,500 and 8,500 containers, the port is anxious to receive more of the new ships because they bring in more business and because they produce fewer emissions per container carried. There’s also the concern that if they can’t handle the big ships, their business will simply go to another port that can.

Plus, mega-sized ships take longer to load and unload. The average amount of time spent at Oakland’s port is 40 to 45 hours, compared to smaller ships which usually can get in and out within 35 to 39 hours. But steps are being taken to speed up these loading and unloading times, including weekend gates and after-hour off-dock locations for cargo pick-up and delivery.

But some are concerned that Oakland and other US ports aren’t ready for these mega-monster ships — especially in the wake of recent West Coast labor problems and the rise of anarchy groups like “The Occupy Movement”.

 

 

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mobile crane

A reach stacker in use at an intermodal yard (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and in the public domain)

Last week, hackers linked to China were reportedly responsible for a cyber attack that resulted in private information about every federal employee to be stolen.

Now a Danish research company is claiming that there is compelling evidence that a similar attack on nation’s port system could be next. And if it happens, it could have a devastating effect on the supply chain.

Web-Based Warfare

Cyber attacks are becoming the new warfare. They can be conducted covertly, remotely and nearly anonymously and in recent years have targeted everything from consumer’s credit card information to national security secrets.

Last week’s attack on the US government’s Office of Personnel Management exposed the detailed personal information of millions of people with government security clearances.

This week, the consulting firm CyberKeel — which is based in Denmark — issued a new report called “Maritime Cyber-Risk” in which it claimed that ocean carrier cyber-security is “full of holes” and that the international sea and air  cargo companies could be the next target of cybercriminals.

‘Domino Effect’

Lars Jensen, CyberKeel’s CEO, said it call comes down to money, cargo, and exclusive market intelligence. Criminals using the Internet to hack into the mainframes of the world’s biggest freight and cargo carriers could easily devastate the supply chain, which could have a domino effect on prices, product availability, and even international economies.

And worst of all, nobody’s doing anything about it, according to the report.

Exchanging information across multiple platforms is a necessity for international shippers. But it’s also what puts the entire global system at risk, according to Jensen.

For example, a single container being shipped from a port in Hong Kong to another in Long Beach usually will require data to be transferred between five to ten different entities, including the shipping line, the originating port, the destination port, the shipper, the consignee, customs authorities, the trucking company that will pick it up, and all data portal intermediary and banks.

While many of these entities may have a secure, updated backend system for handling this data, a single weak link is all cyber criminals need to hack into the entire system.

Money, Power and Secrecy

Some of the data being exchanged by this system involves large sums of money being transferred between parties within the supply chain — in multiple countries and time zones. In many instances, these parties act “asynchronous”, meaning they don’t have real-time conversations with one another. So if a cyber attack should occur, it may not be discovered until it’s already over.

The report explains that many of the players within the global shipping and cargo industry don’t understand how vulnerable it is to threats from the cyber sphere. And given how critical the industry is to the transference of products through the supply chain, any disruption could have a cascading effect.

 

 

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Here’s a special sneak preview of some of the stories you will find this week on the Bahrns blog:

  • Recent cyber attacks recently hacked personal information of millions of federal employees. Could the nation’s supply chain be next? A new report says, “Yes!”
  • Get ready because the year’s hottest weather is right around the corner. We’ll give you tips on how to protect workers from heat illness or heat stroke.
  • Everybody needs to take out the trash sooner or later. But managing your trash area effectively not only can improve the safety (and odor) of your business, but it also can save you time and money!

All this plus why gigantic cargo carriers are finally appearing at West Coast ports, and much, much more can be found this week on the Bahrns blog … so stay tuned!

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