005 - Head Over Tea Kettle - Slips, Trips, & Choosing The Right Traction


Al (00:00):
I wanted to take a quick minute before we dive into this episode to give you a heads up on another podcast we thought you'd appreciate. It's called EHS On Tap and it's from our good friends over at EHS Daily Advisor. By the way, if your tasked with safety on any level at your workplace, I'd highly recommend getting plugged into everything EHS Daily Advisor has to offer really. On, I mean, my goodness, just a plethora of topics important to your specific industry. Uh, you know, we're talking about compliance updates, uh, EHS management trends, uh, they, they really got you covered, uh, in all respects. And of course that also includes their podcast EHS On Tap. And, uh, right now, uh, I'm joined by the new host of EHS On Tap, Jay Kumar. Jay, what, what should your listeners expect from EHS On Tap?

Jay (00:55):
I think we'd been on a little hiatus, uh, in between sort of when the last editor left and I just, I just started up a few weeks ago, but, um, uh, I had my first episode of EHS On Tap, uh, run this week, um, which was, um, I talked to, um, a guy named Bob Green, who was a HR industry analyst about, um, you know, what employers can expect from the updated OSHA inspection process, especially with COVID, um, you know, sort of, you know, what you need to do to get ready for it and how to respond to it. So, um, that went up this week, um, I've talked to a guy, a couple in the can already. I talked to, um, a couple of folks from the National Heat Safety Coalition, um, you know, about sort of, you know, dealing with, uh, heat stress on the, on the workplace and, you know, things you can do to, you know, sort of, uh, help your workers, uh, stay cool. And obviously it's been a real bad problem this year with the extreme heat we've seen all over the country. Um, you know, uh, we've seen states coming out with emergency rules on, you know, what to do about, you know, providing adequate water, providing, uh, breaks. So stuff like that, uh, pretty timely. So that's going to be coming out, uh, as part of our, um, activities for National Safety Week, uh, in a couple of weeks. Um, and then I talked to a lawyer, uh, yesterday about, um, vaccinated versus unvaccinated workers and sort of what policies you need to have in place, um, because obviously, uh, cause of COVID and then CDC just sort of changed their, uh, their mask, uh, recommendations the other day. So, um, now saying that vaccinated workers, um, should still wear, wear masks if they're in a high risk area, which right now seems to be a lot of the country. So, uh, so a lot of stuff, uh, you know, in the works. Um, but yeah, looking to come out every other week for now might get up to weekly at some point, but, um, but, uh, yeah, very excited to take this over and, uh, and I'm very excited to talk to you guys.

Al (02:49):
That's, that's great. That's great. The feeling is definitely mutual and uh, yeah, of course it goes without saying, if you guys, you like this pod, make sure to subscribe and listen to EHS On Tap. I'm assuming anywhere podcasts are found Jay?

Jay (03:05):
Yep, yep. Probably a few other places too.

Al (03:07):
Excellent. Excellent. Well, thank you again so much, Jay. I'm looking forward to hearing what you guys do have on tap, so to speak. And we now, yes, I'm a professional, on with your regularly scheduled programming.

Peter (03:24):
When it comes to getting our people to buy into using the PPE, our relationship with Ergodyne has been so amazing because our people feel involved.

Al (03:36):
Welcome everybody to Radio Free Tenacity, the voice of worker safety. I'm your co-host Al Buczkowski joined as always by our work site safety specialist, Allie Thunstrom. Hey Allie!

Allie (03:47):
Hey Al!

Al (03:49):
So Allie you know, if over a quarter century of America's Funniest Home Videos has taught us anything it's that people fall. A lot. Often with hilarious results, but in investigating the cost of slips on the job, things become a lot less funny. In fact, of the 3.8 million disabling injuries per year, 15% are caused by slips, trips, and falls.

Allie (04:16):
Yeah, not great. I mean, like you mentioned, it can be funny, but it can also be very devastating as it comes to workers in the workforce, but you know, the good news is that the right ice traction device or traction device in general, cost just a few bucks to help keep workers upright and out of harm's way. You know, the big thing here though is choosing the right one. So later in today's episode, we're going to dig into what traction options workers have with Ergodyne product director, Alsie Nelson. Uh, but first my conversation with Peter Freeberg who is the Operation Safety Manager for Delta Airlines at, uh, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Peter and his team were integral in helping us develop the industry's first true indoor outdoor traction device. And I recently had the chance to catch up with them to kind of talk about that development process in addition to getting some wonderful insight on the challenges facing the front lines of airline operations from tower to tarmac. You know, so I kind of alluded to it a little bit earlier, but it's not just ice traction anymore. There's a lot of different options available. So without further ado, let's jump into my conversation with Peter.

Al (05:25):
Let's do it.

Allie (05:29):
Okay, welcome back to the Ergodyne podcast. Uh, we are here today being joined by Peter Freeberg from Delta Airlines. He serves as the below wing operations service manager at MSP. Uh, so welcome Peter. Peter, can you tell us a little bit about what that job title means and what you do at Delta?

Peter (05:50):
So there's about 30, 35 of us. Not, it's not an exact number. We manage really the day-to-day operations for, for Minneapolis and Delta. There's operation service managers at every station. Our biggest job is to just maintain the operation more frontline. And for me, I get to manage, you know, all of the OSM's. We'll say, you know, we manage the best in the industry. We're always looking, we're always looking to improve and they, and Delta is very good to us and allowing us to do that along this type relationship with people like Ergodyne and, and, uh, develop what we need to develop to get the job done. But again, we just primarily manage the day-to-day operations of, of the industry.

Allie (06:31):
You guys are definitely the underappreciated group of people. When you think of aviation and what makes everything run and work, you know, we've had the pleasure of, of being close with the company and with yourself for many years and learning the ins and outs of what makes the aviation industry tick. And, you know, ramp workers especially are very under appreciated. Um, so, you know, they are also kind of the offensive lineman of the airline biz. They only really get noticed when something goes wrong. So could you help our listeners get a better sense of the level of complexity and demands that your crews are facing to make sure that flights get airborne safely and on schedule?

Peter (07:13):
Yeah I, I would say ACS as a whole, which is our airport customer service division falls into that whole "they're there and nobody notices them, but if, if they weren't there, the air, the airline wouldn't continue to function." It's interesting in the airline industry because everybody fits into that niche, you know, if we'd have the pilots or the flight attendants, but ACS is that one that the customers come and move past us throughout the airport above wing, which is the gate agents. Below wings, which is the ramp workers and our tower personnel. They just were just kind of fit in. We just kind of fall back into the background and don't notice it. But most of our guys above, below, and the tower their entire function is to plan the load for safety and fuel efficiency. And to get it then to put that load into, into effect and make it a balanced aircraft that will fly safe. We do a time and time. Again, again, we are the best in the business at it. Other airlines are calling us. Other stations are calling Minneapolis all the time and saying, how do you guys get it done with the efficiency you do? But their biggest job is to take the load which consists of freight, mail, and bags and get that balanced onto the aircraft. And, and it's like playing a huge game of Tetris on your knees underneath your dining room table. So ergonomically, physically, mentally, you are, you are pushed to the max every time you do it. And then we take out a stopwatch and we put you on a, on a 30 to 45 minute clock every time you do it. So it's always a hurry up and get it done. And these guys always get it done with the, with the most efficient, safe it's it's to me, it's, it's amazing to sit and watch. Allie you've been out and watched. They, you know, to crawl under the table and get, get in excess of 150 fifty pound bag shoved at you and then to get them all to fit into a tube like that safely is, it's amazing every time they do it.

Allie (09:08):
Yeah, actually to, to kind of go off of that a little bit and give extra appreciation where definitely due. Um, so for background, if those of you listening on the podcast that don't know, I play professional women's hockey, um, and in the NWHL for the Minnesota White Caps and we fly Delta as often as we possibly can. And just this past week-

Peter (09:27):
We appreciate that.

Allie (09:27):
Yes, just this past week, we were flying, um, to our season, a couple games and we were on a small CRJ 900. Um, so for those of you aviation nerds like myself, it's a, it's a smaller aircraft. And here we show up with probably excess of 50-some bags. 25 of them are 50 pound hockey bags with sticks and everything else. And I mean, it is just, you don't think about what that that's so different than a traditional flight that has more or less just luggage. Now, all of a sudden you have an entire hockey team with twice the bags that you're expected on this small aircraft. And I know that before we left Hartford to come back to MSP, they did have to adjust the load, um, and some seats on the aircraft for that weight balance. So it was a really interesting thing to be a part of and having watched your team work, I kind of knew what was going on, but it, it, it's incredible how quickly they can adjust the situation and make sure that we get where we need to be safely.

Peter (10:34):
It's always amazing to watch them. It's amazing to watch them make their adjustments on the fly. To watch above wing, below wing, and our load center in Minneapolis all work together to, to achieve that. You know, it's Allie, as you know having been down there, once you've been down there and seen it to sit up and look out the window and, and know a little bit what's going on, it gives you a whole different view of when you fly. You know, landing now for you, it's gotta be different like it is for me. You start watching what they're doing and you're going, oh, I know what he's doing. And sometimes you you're like, oh, that's, that's interesting. You know, and, but everybody else is just watching it happen, thinking what's that, what's that guy doing standing out there with that stick in the air?

Allie (11:12):
Yeah, a hundred percent. Uh, so along with that, you know, what are some of the biggest safety challenges that these workers face? You know, especially on baggage and, and other different components of below wing safety?

Peter (11:26):
Um, our biggest challenge in Minneapolis is, I mean, you go outside right now it's sub-zero. When the plane, when the plane comes in, it's, it's broken down, emptied, the bags are all delivered to where, to their destina-, their next destinations and then loaded and the entire ramp crew there, there's no breaks. There's no I'm cold, but every day is a new condition. Every day is a new challenge. You know, for example, when your hockey team comes through, that's, that's not something that those guys came in to work and they got to sit all night, all night, the night before and plan, how are we gonna get these 54 bags, these 54, um, equipment bags stacked in there, plus a stick bag, plus all their personal bags. How are we going to get that stacked into a CRJ 900? It's a lot of, you know, in what we call at the airport, a lot of tribal knowledge. Everybody works together. They know we've done it before, we can do it again. But our biggest challenge is just the changing conditions, the changing loads that just everything's different. And then again, we put you on the clock, you're we, if you've ever, if you're ever at the airport and you look out the window and look toward, back towards the airport, there's a, uh, gate information screen, gate information screen that tells us how much time we have left and it's actually counting down. So the agents are watching their time. It's like playing in a, it's like playing in a sporting event. There's, there's a clock and you're watching your time go away. And sometimes you're watching your time go away. And you're standing there looking at 54 hockey bags going, all right, I have, I have 19 minutes and I have to get all these bags into, into that, into that compartment right now. How are we going to do this? And our guys again step up time and time again and just get it done.

Allie (13:05):
I remember, uh, one of the days I was there, it was, there was five minutes left on the clock and there were two connecting flights that we were waiting for bags from. And I think that that's something that as a passenger, you don't realize the complexity of what goes into transferring a bag from one aircraft to the next. But I remember being like, well, what do we do? What do we do? You know? And then thinking of the passenger that's waiting for that bag. And you know, when delays happen that are completely out of anyone's control, these are the types of things that it kind of sets off in motion, is there's another flight that's got to countdown that's within five minutes. And we're trying to get that bag from gate A27 to G5. And, and, you know, just all of the things that go into getting it from one plane to the next is pretty incredible.

Peter (13:54):
Yeah. Have you, when you've been Allie, have you been up to our control center upstairs?

Allie (13:59):
I don't think I've been, I don't think I've been up to the tower. That'll have to be next time.

Peter (14:03):
Yeah, we'll get you up there cause you know, the, what you're watching on the ground is them communicating with each other, moving those bags and keep in what the tower is doing is they're sitting with well right now, 200 and plus flights all coming in and at any given time, somebody calling on the radio saying I'm missing four bags off of these flights, they landed three minutes ago. Where are they? And our tower agents have to immediately be able to jump on that and say that they just, they just left D6. They're headed down, down through the, you know, the, the horseshoe and they'll be to you in just a minute, just wait. Or they have to make that difficult call to say, you know what? You're not going to get them. So we gotta, we gotta go. And that is such a last-ditch call. And it's such a call that involves everybody from the highest leader in the station down like, Hey, we're going to leave this bag. Is everybody okay with that? And it's not taken lightly. You know, I think a lot of our customers think that we just, we just go, we leave the bags. When you sit up in the tower with us, you'll see like, as soon as that decision is made, we're going to leave a bag the emails, the radio communication, everything is going out like, is there anything else we can do to get this done? We have to try everything up to and including, Hey, do we need to go a minute or two late? Like, can we, if we just, wait, are we going to be successful with this? Because we always put that customer first. Um, our leadership team in Atlanta does has a really good way of explaining it to us. And we always tell our people, you know, you have to, you have to flip the trip, meaning you have to stand on the other side of the counter. You know, your hockey team is flying and there we stand and we're gonna miss one of your bags. Put yourself in their shoes. How would that feel to you? And that our, our people are amazing at that. And our ramp guys are, they get passionate as you've seen about that. Like, no, we're getting that bag. Like we're staying, we'll get the bag, we'll get the on time. And they do it safely. And they do it repeatedly day in and day out.

Allie (15:52):
Yeah. That, that's really incredible. And I think that everybody listening to this will hopefully look at flying a whole lot differently. Cause I think, you know, when you're on the other side of the counter, like you mentioned, all I see is my bags not here. And the things that run through my mind of why that possibly could be, I will be the first to admit until experiencing it and understanding what's going on behind the scenes, I just, just figured it's careless. It's, you know, it's sitting in the middle of a runway, it fell off a cart. Like the things that cross your mind are just not always positive. Um, but to know the care that's going on behind the scenes and to know exactly like you said, like we try everything in our power to prevent that from happening. But at some point, just like when we talk about safety hazards, there's conflicting risks. At some point, you know, can you afford to have this new aircraft, this new route that's going take off 20 minutes late? And then, cause that's just going to be a trickle down effect for the rest of the day. And at some point something has to give. So kind of within that and thinking of the safety piece of it, um, what word or phrase would you use to describe the safety culture in which your teams operate?

Peter (17:05):
Um, our safety culture and whenever we say it and talk about it always comes off like a poster on the, on a factory wall is, uh, is safety first always. And it, our CEO all the way down through myself and the leadership team I'm on have told our people that above all, do it safe, do it right. We have, you know, all of our employees from the newest hire all the way up to the guy who's been there for 40 years has the, not only the right, but the responsibility to call what we call a safety time-out and that's not just something it's, you know, the, the error has happened and we can see it happening, but it's when you get that feeling that you've lost control or that you've, that you're, you need to just stop for a second and collect everybody and get on the same page. Everybody has the right to take a safety time out. And that is a hundred percent non-punitive. It's very much, you know, safety first always. If you have to stop the operation to get it done safe, let's stop it. Let's reset. And then let's go back at it in a safe manner. Um, our CEO on down is this come to all of our people and said if you don't feel you can, you can perform safely before you start, stop and start again.

Allie (18:17):
That's really incredible. How do you get buy in from newer workers? Cause you know, that's the first big thing. And that's one thing when we are doing, you know, trainings and conversations on job sites, it's, you know, especially the newer workers that there's a, a kind of a fear to take a step back because well, if everybody else is doing it, why is this a prob- like, I don't want to be seen as the problem, or I don't want to make light or call to attention an issue. So how do you kind of mitigate that and get people to really buy into exactly what you're talking about and feel comfortable speaking up and maintaining a safe environment?

Peter (18:56):
Uh, I think the easiest way to say it is we talk about it all the time. It's safety is it's what we open every meeting with. It's what we end every meeting with. it's what we talk to our people about constantly. So everybody knows it's it's not only the expectation it's there, it's their, their job, their job is to work safely. Well, the planes and the, and everything else, we are very, very good at doing that. So we really do focus on just doing it safely and doing it better. Uh, so we, the buy-in comes from everybody just being welcoming when they get there. Getting a new hire assigned to somebody that is watching over them and showing them, Hey, if you don't feel right, just tell me, just say it to me. You know that first couple of times you do it, you may need to go to the person you're you're assigned and you're working with and say, Hey, Allie, I don't feel right about this, but how do we stop it and learn how to say, well, here I'll show you. You just tell everybody all down, we're going to, we're going to reset here and we're going to do this again because we want to get it done right. We wanna get it done safe.

Allie (19:54):
That's super cool. So, you know, kind of bringing the two of us together, obviously a large part of what we do at Ergodyne is, is working with people like yourself to create and test safety gear that not only aims to keep crews safe and productive, but also increases their enthusiasm for using it in the first place. Nobody's favorite topic or favorite thing is PPE or safety equipment. Um, so one of the more recent examples of your help is with testing our spikeless traction device that we actually just launched this winter. Could you speak a little bit to the danger and consequences of slips and falls for your crews and you know, what sort of solutions and strategies are deployed to mitigate that risk?

Peter (20:34):
Uh, slips and falls are a huge deal, especially in this weather cause that, you know, the, the ramp never gets to, gets to thaw out. The ice never gets to go away. So obviously we've worked closely with you guys to get the spikeless traction and we've, we work with closely with the MAC to where we, any, anybody can get on the radio and call the tower and say, Hey, call the MAC, I need sand out here. I need this, this, this area cleaned up. The MAC does an amazing job on a day like today, where we have no weather, they'll be out with their grinders, getting that, that ramp back to, to dry asphalt and dry cement. But again, working with Ergodyne has been amazing when it comes to getting our people to buy into using the PPE, our relationship with Ergodyne has been so amazing because our people feel involved. Allie does a good job of coming out and sitting and talking to them. I think a lot of companies implement safety PPE and safety equipment by just bringing it in a box and dropping in the break room and say, everybody grabbed this, and this is what you have to wear and what you have to do now. Delta doesn't do that. Minneapolis doesn't do that. But Delta as a whole doesn't they have, Allie's out with us all the time. A lot of our managers know how to get ahold of you and say, Hey, you just gave us this. We need to change it like this. And it helps our people buy in because I've heard guys say on some of the stuff that you've helped us, you've helped us get into the system, Allie. You know, I was, I was the one who helped design this, or when you get that, then they get their buy-in is there because it's not now, it's not Delt-, Ergodyne selling it to Delta and Delta giving it to employee to where it's the employees going to Ergodyne and saying, Allie, make this for me. Now, change it like this. They go out and tell all their friends, you have to wear that. I, I designed that that's mine. So you have to wear it. And then the buy in comes because you know, a lot of people do know you, Allie. They see you walk into the building and they're like, Allie's here, this is going to be fun. What are we getting? What are we going to play with today, you know? And then that's, that's where it comes. Cause the new employees start to wonder what's going on. And you know, you've walked, you've been around with, with Q and Bill and the ramp guys and been in the break rooms, been in the, in the bins. And they like, when they, when you do that, it gets them, let them know that we are doing it their way. Not the way, just the way we think it should be done.

Allie (22:53):
Yeah, I think that's a huge point. And I think that's why our VOC program, which our voice to customer is, is such a huge deal. And it's exactly that you're part of the development process. You're giving the feedback to say, you know what, when we're in the bins, this doesn't work. I know from a conceptual standpoint you would look at it and say, yeah, that, that makes sense, but it doesn't work in reality. And so having a part of that development process, there's a lot of pride with that. And I know when I first started this job, I still, to this day, if you asked me like, what was my favorite product to launch? It's the first one because that was the first time I got to have that feeling of, oh my gosh, I literally brought this to market. Like, it's my baby. And that's kind of, I think what it feels like to be part of that process and then be like, not only is it made to exactly what you want, or as close to it, but you had a part in it and that's super cool.

Peter (23:49):
Well it's made to what you want and when it, when you can't get it, exactly, you were able to talk to the development team and understand why they can't. If there's a, you know, if there's a physical reason why it can't be that way, It's easier for us to explain that when, when you've been out there and said, we can't, if we make it that way, it will just break. Or if we make it that way, it won't, it won't be as safe. You know, you ask about the spikeless shoes, the shoe coverings. Those are great in the bin cause those guys put those spikes on, on a metal floor, they have zero drive and then they get hurt because when they go to dig their toes and to push and move, they slip. And that's when we start tearing up knees and backs and things like that. Our guys were able to talk to you about that and you know, I know the first prototype we got it slipped off a lot when they got on their knees. You came out, you made it bigger and more robust. You put it in the string to make it, you know, make it tighten around their ankle. And the guys, I they've all said, you know, that, that was our change, that's we did that. It wasn't, you know, we know Ergodyne did it and we know it was probably on the, on the block before, but if it makes our guys want to wear it. Perfect. Yeah that's, you did that.

Allie (24:53):
Well yeah. And it, it was, that's a really good point of where we came from the very first prototype a couple of years ago to now, you know, one of the big things that didn't come clear, um, and exactly like you said, but the other component was the glycol. The deicing fluid that is used, um, if that were to get underneath, you know, that gap between the shoe and the traction device, that could cause it's a slip off as well, in addition to what they were experiencing in the bin. And you know, it glycol isn't something that's typical in any other industry. So it was very unique in that, that did prompt exactly what we're saying. We had to change to make sure that that device would stay tight on that shoe or boot, regardless of being in the bin, on glycol, or just in your average industry. Um, so yeah, it's, it's huge information and they were incredibly helpful throughout that entire process to get to where we are today.

Peter (25:51):
Well like I said, they all, they all love when Allie comes out because they know that something fun is coming and they're going to get a play with something. I know just the other, just two weeks ago catering reached back out to me. They want your contact information. They want some of the, the spikeless because they go on and in and out of their trucks. So they have to walk around their truck to move, to move around. But then when they go from their truck into the airplane, they can't have a spike shoe because it'll tear the floor up in there and they found out we had them. I think they've got a couple of the original prototypes that they've been using. So they've reached out again and said, Hey, how do we get these? And now that you've launched you know, I'll give him your contact and get, they can buy them from you guys.

Allie (26:29):
Yeah, for sure. And that's a good point of, you know, some people might be wondering, what is the, why have a non-spiked version? And exactly like you mentioned, number one, the bin, you can't have spikes in the bin for not only the slipping issue, but you don't probably really want metal on the inside of an aircraft bin. Um, and just like the catering team, it's that transitional piece. You need it when you're outside, but you can't keep taking a spiked device on and off, um, efficiently to go from, you know, an icy surface to a smooth surface or, you know, a linoleum floor that you're going to completely scratch up. And so I think, especially in aviation, but not just aviation, for sure, many other industries, you think transportation as a whole or, you know, truck drivers, things like that, where they're consistently transitioning indoor outdoor. Instead of having to take that spiked device off, it, it gives you an opportunity to just have traction, no matter what the setting is.

Peter (27:26):
Yeah, and linoleum with those spikes is like, it's like walking on an ice skating rink. You get in there and your feet just, you slide all over and you tear it up. You know, we were having to go in and wax and polish floors constantly when we were on spiked shoes. So it's, it's been a great addition. I know what we need to get more from you. So we'll have to, you know, work on that. But everybody, everybody likes having them. And again, it's a lot of it is because it's their development. It's not just a product that we brought in and dropped in front of them. We've had a bunch of those with our lighted hats and just right now we're working on some other stuff with you guys that the guys are like, and they know they'll come, they'll come hunt me down and say, Hey, can you make something that does this? And well, let me talk to Allie and see what we can work out ya know?

Allie (28:12):
Yeah, It's, it's definitely been a really rewarding and fun partnership, um, and definitely excited to see where the rest of it takes us, but really want to thank you for your time today, Peter, uh, this was, this was an awesome convo.

Peter (28:25):
Not a problem.

Al (28:29):
Okay, back with you on Radio Free Tenacity, the voice of worker safety. Allie, what a great convo with Peter. You know, always wonderful to talk to folks who are passionate about what they do. And specifically in our case, folks that are kind of borderline obsessed with finding ways to make sure the work is being done as safely and efficiently as possible. Now, during your chat, Peter mentioned how great it is to have you and the Ergodyne team as a, as a partner in developing gear to keep his crews safe. And in particular, I kind of wanted to focus on our recent, uh, collaboration with them on the spikeless traction device you two were talking about there kind of toward the end of the, of your conversation. Um, and I guess to help out a bit more and to give a little bit more insight on that we're going to bring in Alsie Nelson, product director at Ergodyne who led the development of spikeless traction. Welcome back to the pod, Alsie.

Alsie (29:27):
Thanks Al. Thanks for having me.

Al (29:30):
Before we get into a bit of the development history of this product, I was wondering if you could maybe take us through the hazard it's trying to solve for, uh, dangerous slips and falls on job site, right? So, so how prevalent is the issue and how much is it costing employers and employees alike?

Alsie (29:49):
Good question, Al. Yeah. Um, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, uh, there are nearly 700 fatalities in the workplace per year because of this hazard. So slipping on ice or tripping and falling. And, you know, from my perspective, what's really important, um, in working in like an outdoor cold stress situation, it's is not only bundling up to make sure you're preventing different cold related illnesses like frostbite and hypothermia. Um, but also considering your footwear. So, um, overshoes and ice traction devices are a really great low cost option to preventing slips, trips, and falls on ice, which I believe on average, um, can result in anywhere from like $30,000 to $42,000, um, per incident or injury, which is not insignificant.

Allie (30:44):
No, and I mean, that's just including the direct costs that you have, you know, insurance claims things of that nature. That's not taking into account any lost time or training in a new worker to do that job or anything like that. So, I mean, when you think of those other factors are the indirect costs that cost skyrockets from there.

Al (31:03):
All right. So with that in mind, then let's maybe dial in on the solutions, right? To, to help solve for this issue. Um, Allie, in your, your conversation with Peter, uh, you guys dove into the product development of the, the spikeless uh, traction device, which, um, seems to be, you know, really popular with his crew. Um, I was wondering if, um, maybe Allie and Alsie, you could take the audience through the development of that product and kind of speak to more on how Peter's, uh, crew kinda helped inform, um, the, the end product.

Allie (31:44):
Yeah, for sure. Um, you know, when you think of ice traction and traditional ice traction devices, most of them have a spike design on the bottom. Something to bite into that ice to prevent slipping, falling, things of that nature. But then when you think of industries like aviation and, and others, they don't have the ability to wear spikes. When you're working in the underbelly of the plane or on sensitive equipment, or potentially transitioning inside to linoleum floors or things like that, you can't have spikes on the bottom because that's going to damage the aircraft, the flooring, or create its own slip risk by being on too slippery of a floor. So it created a very unique challenge and Alsie and her team, you know, went to the airport and kind of got to the bottom of everything that they deal with. You know, from the outset people that are in the aviation business on a daily basis, you can conceptualize Yeah, okay I wouldn't, you wouldn't think that a spiked device in the bin of an aircraft would be a good thing. You want to keep the plane pretty intact, am I right? But then we learned a lot of other things that we didn't think about, you know, like the deicing fluid and Alsie can talk a bit more about all the things that we kind of learned through working with them and how that affected the development throughout the process.

Alsie (33:00):
Yeah, we had I think we started working on this project maybe five or six years ago. So this is, this has been sort of a labor of love. Um, we've, you know, we had some initial prototype designs and Peter and his team were kind enough to test those out for us. Um, we learned a lot in, in just a couple of years and we made quite a bit of different modifications to the product, um, design itself, as well as just sort of the formulation of the rubber. I would say, you know, just from a product development standpoint for us, it was, there was two really important things. The first was finding the right partner, which for us was Michelin. Um, they were really collaborative and innovative with us as it relates to making sure we're formulating that rubber compound so it works in cold environments. Um, most rubber actually, once it's exposed to extremely cold temperatures, it gets hard and brittle. So making sure we had a formula that allowed that rubber to stay soft and continue to grip, um, icy and snowy surfaces was, was really kind of our starting point. And then working with, um, Delta, we learned that we needed to make some modifications to the tread design to make sure that it would release snow pack and build up. So we, we, we changed the tread design. Um, we made sure that we, the sling itself, um, fit a variety of just different boots and shoes, um, for easy on and off, but also something that wouldn't pull off if you were walking through, um, you know, layers of snow. Um, and really just, I think from a performance side of things to kind of reiterate what Allie said, making sure that it was, it was multi-functional and, um, something that you can put on when you're indoors, walk outdoors so it's effective on ice and snow. Get into kind of those baggage areas without scratching the inside and just have a really nice, easy transition while keeping the workers safe. So, yeah, like I said, we learned a lot, um, and we made quite a bit of different modifications and I think what we landed with, um, in launched just this last year is, is really a quality product. It's, it's incredibly effective and, and we're learning more about different areas, um, and places that this product can be used every day outside of even just the airline industry.

Al (35:35):
What about, uh, other applications?

Alsie (35:38):
Yeah, you know what's great about this device is there are, um, it really does allow for some versatility in different applications. So I had mentioned, um, you know, non-sparking, um, spikes, um, heat-treated carbon steel spikes and even tungsten. They do, they do have a tendency to spark. Tungsten much, much less than steel, but so, you know, a rubber sole such as the spikeless, um, really does lend itself well to railway and railroad work. And then thinking about workers who need to, um, you know, have there that can't wear spikes. So thinking like truck drivers, um, delivery, beverage delivery, and transportation, um, a product like this allows them to wear their overshoe while they're driving, um, and walking up a ramp and transitioning indoors. Um, and then, you know, back again, they don't have to remove their overshoe before they go inside, because it could in turn, make, you know, scratch the floor or make it as Allie said, even slip, more slippery situation. So for those folks, it's a great product. Um, and then we're even hearing some good feedback now for those who are wearing them, um, in more of an indoor setting in, um, warehousing, right? So on a warehousing, um, concrete floor, they may be going out to grab loads that are being delivered and then they can come inside and continue working, um, as such, so a variety, definitely a variety of applications this, this product can be worn.

Al (37:13):
So as you were alluding to, uh, Alsie in your answer there, you know, there are more options than the spikeless obviously. So what are the main things folks should keep in mind when they're considering, um, you know, winter traction of any kind or just traction in general?

Alsie (37:30):
Yeah. You know, spiked devices and spiked cleats definitely have their place. You know, Allie said it perfectly when she said spiked devices are going to cut into ice. Um, and that's what they're meant to do. Those, those spikes are going to grip the ice because they're penetrating the ice. And so there are a lot of, um, applications where that's a, that is a great product. Um, you know, there are different types of spikes. I had mentioned heat-treated carbon steel and I also mentioned tungsten carbide. Tungsten tends to be a stronger, um, compound than heat-treated carbon steel, so you can actually make that spike even thinner. Um, so it cuts better into ice and really anyone who's working outdoors in heavy snow and ice situations, I don't have to worry about either transitioning, um, or walking on surfaces that they don't want to damage, a spiked device is great. And spiked devices come in a variety of different slings. Um, they fit a variety of different work boots. Um, know there are options that just go over the heel that leave the forefront free. So I had mentioned, you know, truck driving and climbing ladders, that's a really good option, um, for those workers and then, um, different devices that cinch over the top of a work boot that are just going to, um, we're going to, it's going to ensure it stays on if they're trucking through heavy snow. Um, but yeah, definitely a variety and a place, and a place spiked devices, which is why I think it's important you know, we're here today and we're talking about different applications and uses and I think just identifying what the right product is for you, is, is what's important.

Al (39:12):
Sure, sure. Uh, yeah, definitely plenty of options. And over on the Tenacious Blog at Ergodyne.com, you can search traction and find any number of resources to kind of help you, uh, um, find your way and find the right solution, uh, for the task at hand, for sure. Uh, Alsie, thank you so much for joining the pod again. Uh, really appreciate your insight as always.

Alsie (39:37):
Thanks Al. Appreciate it.

Al (39:39):
And thanks everybody for tuning into the pod, Radio Free Tenacity. Stay safe out there people.

Radio Free Tenacity (39:43):
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