The Safety Training Program

ase 52. The Safety Training ProgramHoughton Refrigeration Company builds refrigerators for large appliance companies. It employs about 300 people, mostly assembly-line workers, and is located in a small rural town in Ohio. The company typically builds, on a contract basis, chest freezers and small bar refrigerators. On occasion, however, it also builds standard size refrigerators. The president of the company is a former engineer, as are most of the other executives. These individuals are very knowledgeable about engineering, but have received little training in the basic principles of management.During the summer months, volume at the factory increases significantly, and the company needs to hire about 40 new employees to handle the heavy workload. Most of these new employees are college students who attend a small private college located about 15 minutes from the plant. Some high school students are hired as well.When a new employee is hired, the company asks him or her to complete an application and then to show up at the plant gate ready for work. Employees receive no orientation. The worker is shown to a work station and, after a minimum amount of on-the-job training, the new employee is expected to start performing a job. Most of the jobs are quite simple; hence, the training is typically completed within ten minutes. The first-line supervisor usually shows the employee how to do a job once, then watches while the employee does the job once, leaves, and comes back about 20 minutes later to see how the employee is progressing. Typical jobs at the plant include screwing 14 screws into the sides of a freezer, placing a piece of insulation into the freezer lid, and handing out supplies from the tool room.The company has had excellent experience with college students over the years. Much of the success can be attributed to the older workers coming to the aid of the new employees when difficulties arise. Most new employees are able to perform their jobs reasonably well after their on-the-job training is completed. However, when unexpected difficulties arise, they are usually not prepared for them and need assistance from others.The older workers have been especially helpful to students working in the “press room.” However, Joe Gleason, the first-line supervisor there, finds it amusing to belittle the college students whenever they make any mistakes. He relishes showing a student once how to use a press to bend a small piece of metal, then exclaims, “You’re a hot-shot college student; now let’s see you do it.” He then watches impatiently while the student invariably makes a mistake and then jokingly announces for all to hear, “That’s wrong! How did you ever get into college anyway? Try it again, dummy.”One summer, the company experienced a rash of injuries to its employees. Although most of the injuries were minor, the company felt it imperative to conduct a series of short training programs on safe material-handling techniques. The president of the company realized that OSHA requires firms to maintain a safe and healthy work environment, and that it is important that employees know how to lift objects safely. The major issue was who should conduct the training. The human resource director was a 64-year-old former engineer who was about to retire and was a poor speaker. The only other employee in the human resource department was a new 19-year-old secretary who knew nothing about proper handling techniques. Out of desperation, the president finally decided to ask Bill Young, the first-line supervisor of the “lid-line” to conduct the training. Young recently attended a training program himself on safety and was active in the American Red Cross. He reluctantly agreed to conduct the training. It was to be done on a departmental basis with small groups of 10 to 15 employees attending each session.At the first of these training sessions, Young nervously stood up in front of 14 employees, many of whom were college students, and read his presentation in a monotone voice. His entire speech lasted about one minute and consisted of the following text:Statistics show that an average of 30 people injure their backs on the job each day in this state. None of us wants to become a statistic. The first thing that should be done before lifting an object is to look it over and decide whether you can handle it alone or if help is needed. Get help if there’s any doubt as to whether the load is safely within your capacity. Next, look over the area where you’re going to be carrying the object. Make sure it’s clear of obstacles. You may have to do a little housekeeping before moving your load. After you have checked out the load and route you’re going to travel, the following steps should be taken for your safety in lifting:Get a good footing close to the load.Place your feet 8 to 12 inches apart.Bend your knees to grasp the load.Bend your knees outward, straddling the load.Get a firm grip.Keep the load close to your body.Lift gradually.Once you’ve lifted the load and moved it, you’ll eventually have to set it down—so bend your legs again—and follow the lifting procedures in reverse. Make sure that your fingers clear the pinch points. And, finally, it’s a good idea to set one corner down first.After Bill’s speech ended, the employees immediately returned to work. By the end of the day, however, everyone in the plant had heard about the training fiasco, and all, except the president, were laughing about it.QuestionsEvaluate the company’s on-the-job training program. Should it be changed?Should the company install an employee orientation program for new factory workers, or is one not necessary?What changes should be made in the company’s safety training program?What other ways might a firm emphasize safety and curtail accidents, other than training?

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