The Machinery Can is Open

The investigative article on machine safety that starts on page 14 has been a few years in the making. Well, it has been in my head for that long at least. Something always took precedence, however, until November 2019, when I finally made it a priority. I also told two people that I was committed to writing it—two people who agreed it was a story that needed to be told. That helped a lot, as they could keep me accountable.

I spent about a month doing research and, by the time I started writing, had 12 individual Word files full of research and interviews. One interview alone resulted in 3,000 words of notes.

All that was boiled down into an 9-page feature. You do the math—there is a lot more that could be said.

But that’s my job—to gather all the relevant data, narrow it down into the most important information, and present it to you, the reader, to help you in your job.

Getting Started

It was during my first interview for the article, one with a machinery supplier, who said, “Tara you are opening a can of worms here.” I may have voiced agreement, but upon further thought I am not sure that is true. And if it is, perhaps it needed to be opened. Sometimes that’s our job as journalists.

I am so thankful to all the companies, window manufacturers especially, who didn’t hesitate to tell me their stories, and pop open the can right along with me. No one wants to talk about accidents in a plant—they are painful and very traumatic. But these people did, and I applaud them for that, because that’s how all of you can learn from each other and make improvements.

It Comes Back to the Trades

If you know me well, and have read some of my articles, you know I am pretty passionate about bringing people into the trades as a viable career. Well, that topic made its way into this article without me even asking about it.

“You have inexperienced people running very advanced machinery,” said Todd Tolson, director of sales for Pro-Line Automation USA, when talking about the labor crisis facing door and window manufacturers. Todd is a kick to talk to and has a variety of colorful analogies—and he knows a ton about machinery.

“Socially, we have had roughly 40 years of forcing kids into college and have screwed ourselves on that,” he said. “The chickens are coming home to roost; or you reap what you sow; or the cows are out of the barn. Take your pick. We have done this to ourselves. We need influential people to realize there are opportunities in industry and the trades, too. Inexperienced people are being thrown into industrial situations because it’s the only job they can find.”

He’s not wrong. And thankfully, I felt better when talking to window and door companies like PGT Innovations, MI Windows and Doors and ProVia, and they walked me through their training for machine operators. Granted, not all window companies are their size nor do they have employees devoted to ensuring plant and worker safety. But for those smaller companies who need some help, and even the bigger ones, I hope the article assists in that regard.

As always I would love to hear from you. Send me your thoughts at

Tara Taffera is the publisher of [DWM] magazine.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

DWM Magazine

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