A recent spate of mine disasters that caused numerous fatalities refocused national attention on the question: is management doing enough to protect employees on the job? Recent serious Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations resulting in the deaths of two workers from falls due to the lack of harnesses or guardrails suggest there is still a long way to go.
Companies are responsible for providing a safe workplace for employees. So why do accidents like these continue to happen? In a word—money. It takes money to purchase harnesses, install guardrails, and otherwise ensure a safe and healthy work environment. And even more is needed to employ the staff necessary to enforce company safety policies. It is often less costly for a company to just pay the fines that are levied for violations.
As a supervisor at a company with frequent violations of OSHA regulations, you worry about your employees’ safety. But each time your company needs to implement a new safety feature, end-of-year employee bonuses get smaller. The money has to come from somewhere, management claims.
Using a web search tool, locate articles about this topic, and then write responses to the following questions. Be sure to support your arguments and cite your sources.
Ethical Dilemma: Do you report safety violations to management in the hope they will be corrected before someone gets hurt, or do you stage a total work stoppage to force management’s hand, knowing that either way you risk losing popularity at every level, and very possibly your job? Or, of course, you could say nothing and hope for the best. It is not a problem you created, and you’re just there to do a job, after all.
Sources: George Avalos, “PG&E Violated Safety Rules, Was Late on Thousands of Wine Country Electricity Inspections and Work Orders,” The Mercury News, https://www.mercurynews.com, October 25, 2017; Barry Meier and Danielle Ivory, “Worker Safety Rules Are Among Those Under Fire in Trump Era,” The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com, March 13, 2017; Kenneth Cheng, “Senior Managers Could Be Taken to Task for Workplace Safety Violations,” Today Online, http://www.todayonline.com, March 7, 2017.