Apply Critical Thinking: Providing a Safe Working Environment for Current Employees
How it works
The Truss Construction shop is a company that develops innovative construction technology for low-cost housing for overseas markets. Manufacturing companies are constantly exploring ways to decrease or avoid work-related accidents on their production floors. This strategy tends to draw potential employees to the company and provide a safe working environment for current employees. Safety is a top concern for many employees working with heavy industrial equipment. When an accident occurs, many companies try to understand what occurred and what solutions can be done to prevent another accident by having their employees write a thorough incident report. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), it is the employer’s responsibility to make sure employees have access to safety tools while properly maintaining this equipment. “Employers must provide safety training in a language and vocabulary workers can understand” (OSHA, 2019).
There are protocols that OSHA has enforced on all industrial companies to protect employees and provide a safe and healthful workplace. OSHA inspects all companies to make sure that the employers comply with all OSHA standards. OSHA may be required to come out and inspect the new equipment to deem the equipment safe. Employees also have the right to report unsafe working conditions to OSHA. “With the recent accident, employees in the engineering shop have been asking if the manufacturing or engineering process is flawed and if the trusses being produced could fail under load” (UMUC, 2019). The accident was leaked to the media by an employee which prompted the company to perform an analysis on the accident. The company is in the process of developing future marketing strategies to keep the company’s reputation intact so that it will not cause an impact on the company’s revenues with the current orders placed.
Explanation of the Issue
The most important problem is that there was an employee who is now in a coma due to an accident. “During a truss load test, the truss fragmented and caused a large piece of the truss to break. The truss fell and landed on a hoist operator supporting the test. The hoist operator sustained head injuries and remains in an induced coma in a hospital” (UMUC, 2019). Since the company has invested heavily in a new engineering and manufacturing process to produce a cost-effective truss, this came as a surprise. “An engineer verified that the test being conducted pushed the load testing slightly beyond the high threshold of acceptable load bearing. The extra load was not expected to cause the truss to fail” (UMUC, 2019). This event led to employees in the engineering shop to wonder if the manufacturing process is flawed and if the trusses being produced could collapse due to sufficient overload. The company has also sent out memos to focus on production at lower thresholds. Members of management are encouraging employees to continue the current production schedule to meet orders for the trusses. The trusses were also advertised to meet “commercial-high” load requirements. The sales department is concerned that customers could possibly cancel orders based on what has transpired at the company. If the company loses orders, it can have a direct impact on sales and revenue (UMUC, 2019).
Faruch Habib, a production line worker, leaked the details of the accident and test thresholds to the press. “Two weeks later, he was terminated for documented poor performance, according to managers” (UMUC, 2019). Company memos have focused on production and more testing at lower thresholds, and personnel from the management department tell employees to continue completing the production schedule in order to grant the orders that were placed. The company public relations department has issued a general statement that the company has taken all action to ensure that this type of workplace accident would not be repeated” (UMUC, 2019). The sales department is concerned that if this accident causes a delay in shipping, customers will cancel their orders which will result in the company losing revenue. This accident has caused confusion among the employer and employees which has caused the employees to question the safety of the equipment and the operation of the machinery.
Analysis of the Problem
For each problem, there are issues that we know and other issues that we do not know. One problem is the accident itself. We do not know if the company ever inquired or reacted once the engineers asked if the manufacturing process was flawed. Once the company sent memos out to focus on production at lower thresholds, there may have been something that the company knew that the employees did not know. Was there any indication that the process was flawed before the accident occurred? The company would have needed those tests to be documented and recorded. That would be a good indicator to know how many times the truss failed an overload test.
The termination of Faruch Habib has also become a problem due to the timing of the firing of the employee. The company may want to have documented proof that he was fired due to declining performances and not speaking to the press about the accident. This is very important from a public relations standpoint. Brand recognition is very important in business. If the company is recognized in a negative way, this could impact the company to which the company may take a long time to recover from. The sales department is worried that this incident could impact sales and revenue. The company must ask how public knowledge of this accident has impacted sales and customer orders thus far.
The sales and customer order data should be presented to show the effects of this. Also, why would there be any delays in shipping through the company? Would they stop customer orders to get the process correct if there is no documentation stating that it has ever happened? This would be catastrophic to the business if that were to happen. Employees should know the dangers of the construction industry. The company must be analyzed to know if the company has taken every safety precaution to prevent accidents from happening. As dangerous as the industry is, employees will not stay with the company if the company is not doing their part to make the workplace a safer place. These points must be considered to determine the next step.
Consideration for Alternative Viewpoints and Conclusions
To determine the next step, we must first look at alternative viewpoints. The company should see if the company has surveillance of when and how the accident happened. Video evidence outweighs certain viewpoints because the videotape does not lie, whereas 1st and 2nd hand viewpoints can be fabricated. The company should also research to see if there was any foul play involved by the employees for this accident to happen. The company should research if the employee was following orders from this supervisor to overload the truss or did he make that decision on his own. These viewpoints must be considered to draw a conclusion. In terms of sales and customer orders, data must be presented to draw a conclusion of what might happen if sales are cancels.
The company should want to see the change in the number of orders from before the accident to after the accident occurred. If sales are canceled, how much of a loss would the company take? The company would have to consider if the company can even afford to withstand a loss of revenue due to canceled orders. Employee input must be factored. The company should ask what would make the process safer yet more efficient? Ask the employees if there are any changes that need to be made by the company. This is important because the employees are the people using the machines and producing the truss. Upper management should always value the opinions of the employees. This would make for a better work environment and will let the company know what problems need to be addressed.
There are several ethical and legal implications that can play a major part in determining the next step. Ethical decisions cannot be made solely through analysis or data. From an ethical standpoint, the company knew an accident could possibly happen. The company should have done a better job informing employees of the dangers of the job. Another interest of the company is to communicate and consult with the family of the injured employee. Another ethical implication involves the employee that was fired from the company after going to the press. The employee that was fired may have felt that going to the press was the right thing to do. It was also right from an ethics standpoint that the company went to the press to address the situation.
The accident to the employee can also have major legal implications for the company. If it is found that the injuries sustained to the employee were caused by negligence or defected equipment, the company can be held liable (Farrar, 2018). Workers compensation laws require that all employees have workers compensation insurance. This law also limits the amount of compensation that employees will receive. This can become a problem if the employee injuries are long term and are not covered by state law (NOLO, 2019). A legal implication that also must be considered involves the employee that was fired. The employee that was terminated by the company could take legal action by filing a wrongful termination claim (Doyle, 2018).
Conclusions and Recommendations
During a load test, a large piece of a truss broke and landed on a hoist operator supporting the test. The hoist operator sustained head injuries and remains in a coma in the hospital. The sales department is concerned that if there are any production delays, customers will start to pull orders. The company should not delay any production as it will affect sales and orders. Customers have not started to cancel orders, so there is no reason to delay the production of items. Unfortunately, accidents happen in the workplace, but there is no documentation stating that this accident with the truss has happened more than once. The company must keep lower loads during production to avoid possible accidents.
The company should also coordinate an employee staff meeting to stress the importance of not overloading truss and the dangers that can happen if that happens. The company should take care of the employees’ benefits and bills until he recovers. When a worker is injured by a machine, the manufacturer can be held liable for the injuries if it knows the dangers or did not properly warn the employees of the dangers (NOLO, 2019). To avoid a public relations nightmare and a potential lawsuit, the company must take care of that employee because the accident happened on their premises. The company has already made a statement regarding the accident.
Doyle, Alison (2018). What is Wrongful Termination? Retrieved from www.thebalance.com/what-is-wrongful-termination-2061658
Farrar, Hennesy, Tanner (2018). Was Your Construction Site Accident Caused by Defective Equipment? Retrieved from http://fhtlawyers.com/construction-site-accident-caused-defective-equipment/
NOLO (2019). Workplace Injury: When You Can Get Sued Outside of Workers Compensation, Retrieved from https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/workplace-injury-lawsuit-sue-30334.html
UMUC (2019). PRO 600 Project 5, Truss Construction Shop, Retrieved from https://content.umuc.edu/file/e47bc737-daef-4348-8e99-0f4d5a027315/1/TroubleintheTrussConstructionShop.pdf
United States Department of Labor (2019). Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/as/opa/worker/employer-responsibility.html
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