Reference no: EM13772080
Safety First at the Samson Company
The Samson Company is in the middle of a contest to boost production. Joe Miller's and Al Scott's departments have been running nip and tuck, with Joe's team currently in the lead. However, last week Joe had some machine downtime, and it looked as though his department might finish behind schedule and be pushed out of first place. There was some good-natured heckling about it between departments, and the machine operators in Joe's department decided they were not going to give up without a struggle. That fact is obvious when Joe arrives at the plant on Monday morning. He is about fifteen minutes early, but most of his people are already at their machines waiting for the starting bell.
That's the way it goes all week. Joe's people work at peak performance, and by Thursday it looks as if they have a good chance of being on top again.
Then, Thursday afternoon, one of the machines jams. The operator, Tim Hanley, one of Joe's best workers, tries to save time by fixing it himself. He reaches in to free the jammed part and one of his fingers is severely gashed. Another worker gets the first-aid kit and fixes a temporary bandage. Then, Joe rushes Tim to the infirmary.
"How is he?" the others ask when Joe returns.
"The nurse did what he could and sent Tim to the hospital," Joe answers.
"Tim really meant it when he said we'd lose over his dead body," one of the workers says admiringly. Several others make similar comments, and Joe realizes that Tim is regarded as a hero by his coworkers.
What Tim did was stupid, Joe thinks, as well as a violation of a basic safety rule. What troubles Joe most, however, is the admiration shown by other members of the group for Tim's actions.
Joe is at a loss as to what he can do to handle the situation. Tim is a top-flight worker, but he did violate a safety procedure when he reached into the jammed machine with the power still on. Also, he is not authorized to make repairs. The normal punishment for such a safety violation is a three-day suspension, but this will put Joe's department further behind and definitely out of the running in the contest. Joe also knows that Tim was only thinking of his department when he tried to repair the machine. Suspending him will be considered by the others as a penalty for loyalty to the company and to his fellow workers. Joe decides to wait for Tim's return before making a decision. He leaves work that day without filing the report of the accident as required by both company policy and OSHA standards.
The following afternoon, Tim returns with a bandage around his hand. All the workers gather around to
welcome him back. After much good-natured kidding and sincere welcomes, Joe decides to join the group. After welcoming Tim back, he tells him that what he did was wrong. Joe explains his appreciation for Tim's efforts to save time, and he tells Tim that he will waive the three-day suspension this time because of the circumstances, but that if a similar incident occurs in the future, the suspension will be doubled. Joe turns to the assembled group and makes this statement: "The next time, I will have no choice but to suspend the person according to the rules. I trust that Tim's experience is warning enough. Now get back to work, all of you." Joe returns to his office and begins to fill out the accident report. In the space provided for an explanation of the causes of the accident Joe writes, "Operator's machine malfunctioned, causing a minor injury to the worker's right index finger."
RESPONDING TO THE CASE
1. Do you think Joe would have handled the situation differently if Tim had been a less valued worker? Why?
2. What is the probable outcome of not filing the accident report on time and with complete honesty?
3. If you had been the supervisor in the case, what would you have done to deal with Tim and your workgroup?
4. What does this case suggest about a supervisor's responsibilities for safety and his or her efforts to achieve higher production levels?