Employee Accuses Supervisor of Caring More About Production Than Safety
A Challenging Scenario: An employee complains that a supervisor is ignoring safety in favor of production during a busy period. However, when pressed for details it’s more like the supervisor made a slight adjustment to the rules for the sake of efficiency. What would you do in this situation?
“Where did this busy spike come from?” Manager Mike Kelly asked as he stepped into the warehouse. “I don’t know, but we’re having a hard time keeping up, that’s for sure,” Supervisor Ken Dawson said. “Speaking of which, I need to get back to manufacturing.”
As Mike made his way toward the shipping office, he saw a single forklift heading his way.
“Mike, can we talk?” the operator, Carla Rossetti asked. “Sure,” Mike replied. “What can I do for you?” “It’s about Jack Hall, my supervisor,” she said. “He’s ignoring safety to get product loaded faster,” Carla continued.
Mike thought for a moment before answering. “I know Jack can be a little old school about things, but I can’t imagine he’d totally abandon safety in favor of production,” Mike said.
Told to Stop Wasting Time
“Jack told us to stop wasting time going outside to check if trailer tires are chocked,” Carla explained. “He said you can see well enough if you look out through a neighboring dock door or window.” “So, he didn’t say not to check, right?” Mike asked. “He still wants you to verify the tires are chocked?”
“Yes, but it’s not that easy to see if you don’t go outside, and I can tell you some of the guys aren’t bothering to check at all since it’s so busy,” Carla replied.
If you were Mike, what would you do in this situation?
Response: Pierre Laudenberg, Senior Inspector, Lift Auditors, San Pedro, CA
What Pierre Would Do: My intent would be to reinstitute the policy of going outside and visually ensuring that the chocks were in place, with the clear understanding that we never exchange time invested in safety for increased production.
First, and foremost, the concern of Carla Rosetti MUST be acknowledged, in that she is concerned about the inability to ensure the trucks are properly chocked.
Second, without that confidence she feels unsafe.
Third, she is identifying that this “slight” adjustment in the policy has created a domino effect in that other operators are not even bothering to check anymore. I would also check the policies to see if there is a requirement that both sides of a trailer axle must be chocked to further address the possible inability to see the chocks from the loading dock.
Finally, since there was a compromise in the policy on the wheels chocks, I would make sure that the requirement for trailer supports, or if equipped, the mechanical trailer lock mechanisms are being utilized. I may want to talk to other operators to see if they share the same concerns, and definitely check to see if other related safety policies are compromised. Reason: When any supervisor makes an “adjustment” that puts safety policies into question, I would want to make sure there aren’t any other “adjustments” out there that I would be unaware of.
One of the greatest concerns is the message sent to the other operators, and the mentality that was created. That MUST be reversed! I will refrain from describing what I would say to the supervisor, other than to tell you what I have said to my subordinates when they deviated from my safety policies: “I don’t need creativity, I need consistency. Please follow my safety policies.”
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