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Week of 22 April 2024: Corporate Induced Safety Distractions

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The US and European pulp and paper industries are in the throes of two distinct and separate mergers (or takeovers, if you prefer). One is being driven from Europe, the other from the United States.

Despite noble efforts from the respective executive suites some employees will be upset. This has happened in similar situations before.

Despite noble efforts from the respective executive suites, US and European safety standards will need to be observed in the respective home countries and accommodated in the other countries.

Despite noble efforts from the respective executive suites, respective liability insurance companies' policies and procedures will need to be observed.

For some employees, these distractions will be upsetting. These will be upsetting on the job and off the job. For the long-term employees used to following certain safety procedures for many years, there can be confusion and distress.

In situations which involve fast or complicated actions and reactions, there will be the potential for accidents. It will be your responsibility to keep those matters within your control steady and safe.

General safety matters are one issue. An uglier issue is the disgruntled or unstable employee who decides to harm themselves, others or the company assets.

The first problem in this situation is recognizing that the employee you have known for some time has become unstable, unsettled and is about to do something harmful. In some cases, insightful colleagues can see this situation developing and notify the appropriate managers or authorities in time. In many cases, these situations develop quickly in real time and action needs to be taken now.

I have seen two cases of suicides that develop from merger or management realignment situations. In both cases, after the fact, there were plenty of clues that presaged the events.

Simply, if someone's behavior drastically changes over a period of a few days or a few weeks, be assured something is going on with them and actions needs to be taken before they harm themselves or others. In one case, for instance, the individual started giving away treasured items in their office with comments like, "Why don't you take this? I won't be needing it."

Every case is different, but there are almost always clues.

Be safe and we will talk next week.


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