Nothing to Hide
last issue of the Local 974 News was delivered, I received a call from someone
suggesting anyone in management wants to see a worker get hurt, but as long as
iron is going out the door, a lot of things are allowed to slide on by.
Those SJP’s are
funny things. Day in and day out, “standard work” is not followed, but as long as the parts are good,
nobody cares—until someone gets hurt. At that point, the SJP
becomes almost biblical and discipline is handed down from on high based on the authority of the SJP.
Maybe some of the managers were embarrassed that the lack of SJP’s would mean that there would be no document to comb through to help assign blame to an injured worker. Assigning blame based on the words of theses “bibles” has become standard practice. I’ll bet the managers and personnel responsible for this lapse have not been disciplined, but if a worker failed to follow the SJP to the letter, you can bet that he or she would have been disciplined.
I’m aware of a worker who was disciplined for not inspecting a common fixture component, a bar knob. For a moment, ignore the fact that bar knobs were cutting edge technology in the 1940’s and 1950’s and that today there are many better, faster and more efficient ways of holding parts in a fixture. This worker had performed his job the same way as the other shifts for months. One day his pry bar slips on the nearly pre-historic bar knob and he is injured. He reports the injury and the next morning is suspended for not inspecting the bar knob. Not a word was spoken to anyone else doing the same job in the same way. Did he get disciplined for not following the procedure… or was it because he was injured—you be the judge.
managers really wanted to know about safety or health issues in their
buildings, they’d ask the UAW Safety Representatives and I’ll tell you why—we have
nothing to hide.
When workers or their representatives bring health and/or safety concerns, complaints and/or grievances to management, we’re already on the moral high ground. Can the same be said for anyone working against us as we seek improved worker health and safety? Are the priorities of some individuals in positions of responsibility in the wrong order? Anyone taking actions to discourage workers from reporting injuries (rewards or discipline) or playing games with the OSHA Recordkeeping Standards apparently has something to hide.
I assume you’ve heard the saying, “If you do the same thing over and over and expect a different result, that is a sign of insanity”? Do you agree? When injuries go un-reported or un-recorded, for whatever reason, hazards are left unabated and more workers will fall victim. That’s doing the same thing and expecting a different result, right?
Recently, as the result of an OSHA Citation being contested by CAT, there was an “entry on land” at one of the facilities represented by our Local Union. Entry on land is a legal term meaning that OSHA and the union got to go into the facility where an injury occurred to gather information, such as pictures and videotape, in anticipation of an upcoming hearing in front of a judge. Prior to entering the plant, workers on the line being visited were told not to speak with OSHA or the UAW Representatives under any circumstances. OSHA and the UAW Representatives were told that they could not “impede production” by speaking with the workers in the plant. What was there to hide?
particular case, the penalty issued to CAT by OSHA was a whopping $900. That
entire penalty would not cover one hour of the fees charged by the attorneys
CAT had onsite. One expert estimates CAT will spend 100 times the penalty in
defense of the citation. You’d think the workers in this area would appreciate
getting a number of battery-powered hand trucks to replace the archaic manual
pallet jacks instead of lining the pockets of the rich lawyers, wouldn’t you? Do
you suppose CAT had the attorneys there because they were trying to make that
particular job safer or to make sure that we did not find
What was there to hide?
In a similar situation in another CAT Local Union, workers in an area to be visited by OSHA and the OSHA Machine Guarding specialist were scheduled for mandatory training a half an hour before OSHA arrived. Therefore, no workers were available to speak with OSHA or their specialist. What was there to hide?
My guess is CAT is hiding their failure to provide a workplace free of recognized hazards for their employees. Another way to hide the responsibility is to blame us for injuries that occur from worker exposure to hazards on the job.
in the last Local 974 News that the SafeStart
Behavioral Based Safety Program is
being kicked off at the
individual suffered a serious head injury while working in a very confined
location below the floor inside the cab of a piece of equipment. While working
in this cramped space, the worker raised up out of the space and struck his
head on the bottom of the pedals, which by design are located right above this
space. Once again, the SafeStart principals were used
to blame the worker
in the investigation. True to form, eyes not on task, being in the line of fire
and mind not on the job were the root causes of the injury rather than the
space where work was to be performed or the design that placed the pedals directly
over anyone working in the space. The corrective actions involved the possible
application of padding (something the worker would have to remember to do),
PPE, possibly in the form of a hard hat or bump cap, complete with chin strap,
and of course blaming the worker for the injury and imploring that they be more
careful next time. When asked if the pedals could be moved out of the way, the
answer was, “yes, but that would take nearly a half an hour”. There you have
it. Instead of requiring workers take the time to remove hazards, it is more expedient to have them use PPE ,
some silly pad, or be told to be careful.
What is any different with the
scenarios mentioned above than if you were asked to walk barefoot across the
floor of a room littered with broken glass? As long as you keep your mind on
your task, your eyes on
task and you are
constantly aware of your body position while keeping out of the line of fire,
you should be okay, right? Now, once you make it all the way across the room,
turn around and complete the
same task only this time while juggling. Does
this sound like it will work? Do you
think you might end up with cuts on your feet? Is this a good idea? Follow ing the SafeStart principals,
it should work .
As I have said many times, injuries
happen because workers are exposed to hazards. This is not just me speaking.
OSHA, NIOSH and anyone else serious about health
and safety promote removing the hazards. You can