Occupational Health and Safety Policy in Business Management

Published: 2021-09-10 17:10:09
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Category: Human resources, Strategy

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Summary
A plastic processing plant was bought by a man named Tony Whaler who went on to create the company Automotive Plastics in 1983. This company produced plastic molds which were used by the automotive industry. The business became a success as the company started with two plants which made $14.8 million and grew to 11 plants in 1989 that made $144 million. As the company grew debt began to accumulate and by 1989 the business was under $100 million debt. This was a setback for the company as they had to shut down five of their plants which meant only six functioning plants were to remain. In a business aspect there are various reasons as to why the company lost a large sums of money. As well, there were health and safety issues that were ignored which may also have caused additional costs to the company.1.2 Business
There are some key business issues that can be analyzed to give an insight on why the company lost money and further determine if there was a way to avoid the problems. The plant in Belleville was the largest of the six plants in size and employed the most workers. The plant also had the second most injection presses after the plant in Toronto. Unlike the other plants Belleville had multiple injection presses for each of the tonnage groups. Thus, the plant had a large quantity of equipments in use. In theory the plant should have done well because it had numerous equipment to work with which would increase productivity. Despite the amount of workers and equipment available the Belleville plant had low sales. A factor that should be considered is that in 1988 the automotive industry had the least sales in the Canadian Market with 11%. As well, by country Canada had the least number of plants at 2,500 and the least amount of employees at 98,500. Canada as a whole also had the lowest sales at $9,593 million compared to the United States with a sale of $60,206. Hence, the automotive industry was doing poorly in 1988 and may have caused Canada was to lose sales. The low sales in Canada would have affected the Belleville plant and decline production. Another factor could be due to the strict contracts because if they were not met then the company would have trouble gaining another contract. The manufactures also have authority to remove equipment from the plant at any time. Removing equipment suddenly can halt production and cause the plant to lose money and if new tools are brought in then workers would have to work with equipment they are not familiar with. In addition, responsibility was not balanced as the producer was held accountable for situation they could not control. They were responsible for delivering parts on time but also held accountable if anything happened during delivery. This is concerning because the producer may not in control during the delivery of the parts yet is held accountable if the delivery is late. The company could potentially lose money if there was a delay in the delivery even though the producer was not at fault which does not seem appropriate. The contract could be adjusted to have a grace period where the plant would get extra time to met deadlines without breaching the contract. Furthermore, the plant may have lost money due to the difficulty in recycling and reusing the plastic. This would waste material that could have otherwise been used and dumping material would also cost the company. This could be seen in 1989 where the cost of dumping was $85,000 and increased to $105,000 by 1991. Hence, the company was losing money from both low sales and dumping. In addition, the new general manager Bill Brent noticed that there was waste material from the packaging process throughout the plant which was supposed to go into the dump. Thus, the waste was not being properly disposed off even though the company was paying large sums of money for the waste to be dumped. Therefore, the plant was losing money because they were paying for a process which was not being done to full capacity. As well, the plant was said to be fully operating every day which meant operating when it is not necessary. The time when the equipments are operated can be adjusted so that certain equipment are used at specific times. Hence, the tools that are used at the end of the process does not have to be operated at the start of the process rather it can be operated near the end of the process when it is needed. As well, multiples of the same equipment can be used at different production levels. This would decrease the need for maintenance as one equipment is being used at less capacity than the other which would save time and money for the plant. Overall, these were some of the key issues which may have caused the Belleville plant to lose money and do poorly.
1.3 Occupational Health and Safety
There were various Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) issues with the plant which were a hazard to workers and may have cost expenses for the plant. By trade the automotive industry had the second largest number of workers in 1988 at 130,200 which is right below the manufacturing industry with 721,400 employees. The automotive industry also had the second most lost time injuries at 15,531 and 3 fatalities. The total lost days the industry had was 155,233 which is an alarming number. This indicates that the industry has numerous hazards that are causing harm to workers and also costing the company. The risk rank for the automotive industry was 5 while the steel industry had a rank of 2. However, the cost for the lost time injury for automotive industry was $10,427,000 which is just below the steel industry at $11,706,500. This is a concern because the automotive industry is paying a large sum of money for lost time injuries even though it’s risk rank is much lower than the steel industry. As well, the machines are set for full capacity and maximum production which can be hard for the workers. The article stated that the workers who do overnight shifts become tired and have trouble keeping up with the task due to the high production rate. Production does not have to be at full capacity at all times and the status of the workers should be monitored because if they become overworked they might have a higher chance of getting injured. Another issue is housekeeping which is an important part in keeping workers safe from slip and fall accidents. The plant had waste material on the floors which was a hazard that should have been immediately taken care off. The Workers’ Compensation Board gave the plant a high premium rate of $350,000 with another $300,000 which was going to be added due to all the health and safety issues. Hence, the plant was paying large sums of money for issues which could have been otherwise be resolved if workers and the management did their duties properly. As well, the plant had a Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) however, they lacked in communion, teamwork and responsibility. This was a big issue as the committee was formed to help the plant work through the health and safety issues but instead created more problems. As the committee members did not discuss in appropriate manner and ignored hazard reports. Hence, they did not do their tasks and were not held accountable for their actions. Similarly, workers would miss their shifts on the weekend and were not held accountable. There was also problems with the training such as the case with the Workplace Hazardous Materials Identification System ( WHMIS ) training. As the workers did not receive proper training which meant that they would not know how to correctly handle the chemicals and could harm themselves. Chemicals were also not tracked which is concerning because the accumulation of chemicals can become dangerous to workers. Another important issue was that when accidents occurred they were not immediately recorded, instead workers would report accidents long after they have happened. Hence, accidents could easily go unnoticed and control measures were not being discussed. Using control measures such as elimination or substitution could have decreased the rate and severity of injuries. Overall, these were some of the key health and safety issues facing the management and the workers.
2.0 Missing components of the management system
2.1 Responsibility
There are various components which were missing from the management system such as responsibility. This means that both management and the workers were not taking responsibility for their actions and were not being held accountable for their mistakes. This can be seen with the JHSC who were not taking responsibility for their task and were not reporting accidents. Their job is to improve the health and safety for workers however, the members argued and did not come to any conclusions. They also complained about hazards but did not report them and did not discuss how to solve them. Hence, they were not doing their job and was contributing to the problem instead of fixing it. Similarly, the union and the management did not support one another which can be problematic for the workers. As the union would try to help the workers but the management would disagree with their doing. This is problem as the management should allow for union to voice their opinions and help the workers. As well, some workers skipped their weekend shifts even though they are responsible for the task that day. Overall, in the Belleville plant the management, union, JHSC and the workers were not doing what they were tasked to do and was not taking responsibility for the bad outcomes. Therefore, each person should be told what that are responsible for and be held accountable for their mistake. This can be done by setting a standard that everyone has to meet and evaluating if the standards are met or not. The management holds the workplace together hence, issues that are reported to them should be taken care of and fixed.
2.2 Organization
An important part of management is being organized in order for everything to flow smoothly. This is a key component that is missing from the Belleville management system. Operating a large plant without precision and organization can lead to numerous problems. Part of being organized is keeping up with documentation which the plant was doing poorly on. Documentation is key in health and safety because without it hazards would not be known. This in turn would put workers at risk of being exposed to hazardous situations. Such as the case with the chemicals not being tracked which can be dangerous to the workers. As the chemicals can accumulate and go beyond the Occupational Exposure Limits and would put the worker at high risk of exposure to a toxic substance. There could also be cases where workers may not have enough of a specific chemical to use which could prevent them from continuing the work process. Hence, organization is needed to keep track of the chemicals in order to keep the workers safe and have production moving well. Similarly, organization is needed to ensure workers are filing accident reports when they occur and that management will file them through. In the Belleville plant workers were not reporting accidents when they occurred and management would ignore hazards reports. Documenting accidents is key to health and safety because an investigation would not happen without the accident being written down. Only then would the cause of the accidents be determined and prevention methods be implemented to prevent similar occurrences from happening. Hence, documenting the accident would be the first step to preventing accidents from occurring. Management can adjust accident report forms to allow for workers to file them with ease. In addition, management should encourage workers to report accidents or near misses when they occur. Furthermore, the management can prioritize reports in order that high risk hazards are immediately taken care of before minor problems. Prioritizing can help them get through cases at ease instead of being overwhelmed by the number of reports and ignoring them.
3.0 Developing improvements to the company’s OHS system and programs
3.1 Training and Programs
There are different ways to improve the OHS systems and the programs the company has. An important component is to improve the programs the plant provided for the workers. In order to determine what programs are needed for this specific workplace a risk assessment should be done. This would help identify what risks are present and what potential programs should be developed for the workers. The plant uses various chemicals and therefore, a WHMIS program is important to have. The plant already has the program however, some changes to the program should be made. The program should be focused on the specific chemicals used at the plant in order for the workers to accurately understand how to handle the chemicals. As well, it is advisable to train the workers with an individual they are familiar with and have the training set inside the plant instead of going off site. This way the workers will be taught by someone they know while learning in a familiar environment where their training will be put to use. The level of training should also be considered as the workers were initially taught at a level which they found to be lower than what they needed. Hence, they should be trained at the appropriate level in order for them to execute their task well. Another important aspect is training the workers to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE ). Without proper training a worker may incorrectly use PPE and risk being exposed to hazards. Management must also decided which PPE is needed for the specific task because there are various models of the PPE that can be used. This can be seen with the different type of masks workers can wear in which each mask can protects against different type of hazards. Hence, management must check which model of the PPE would work best for the task. Workers should be taught the importance of housekeeping because the plant had waste on the floors which should have been dumped out. Furthermore, senior management should be educated in matters related to health and safety in order of them to understand the importance of the topic. This could help them increase workers safety and in turn reduce the risk of accidents.
3.2 OHS Policy
To improve health and safety an OHS policy should be created which would state the responsibilities of everyone in the plant as well explain how workers should be kept safe from hazards. The policy could also mention the programs at the plant, the Internal Responsibility System ( IRS ) and the importance of documentation. Accountability is an important aspect to mention because everyone at the plant should know that they could be held responsible for their wrongdoings. The Belleville plant had a JHSC who ignored hazard reports which put the workers at risk of exposure to the hazards but the committee members were not held responsible. Hence, the OHS policy should state that no matter the status of the person in the plant, they can be held accountable for their wrong actions. As well, it is important for the policy to mention that workers will be protected from hazards by providing them programs and training which will help them handle toxic chemicals. As well, the policy should state that management will file hazards reports and fix the hazards immediately. The policy should also inform the workers of the programs and training they will be provided in order to do their work safely and efficiently. The policy should also mention IRS which states that everyone is responsible for safety. Hence, each individuals at the plant should look out for hazards and should file a report if they see a hazard. The IRS would help reduce risk of accidents as individuals would look after each other and ensure hazards are fixed. Documentation should also be mentioned because records can be reviewed to check if the health and safety system is working. In addition, reporting accidents is crucial because the source of the accident would be identified and control measures would be implemented to avoid such incidents from occurring again. The policy should also mention the relationship between the employer and the union because tensions could rise between the two groups as seen in the Belleville plant. Both groups should respect and hear each other out.
4.0 Priority action plan for implementing recommended improvements
4.1 Plan
A priority action plan can be used to help implement the recommended improvements. There are four parts, Plan, Do, Check and Act in which each component is needed to tackle different factors. An important component that will be in the plan is the OHS policy. This policy will inform everyone at the plant what health and safety is. As well as provide crucial information such as how workers will be protected. The plan will include everyone in the plant and will be signed by a known member of the management team. This is important because the member will be someone the workers trust and know that they would truly help them. As well, the policy will state that management will be actively playing a role in the plant and fixing any problems that occur. The policy will also emphasise that everyone is responsible for their duties and can be held accountable for any wrongdoings. In addition, the policy will be placed in an area that is accessible for everyone to go and read.
4.2 Do
The second component of the priority action plan is to implement and operate the plan. As the OHS policy states responsibilities for everyone at the plant will be delegated and the programs mentioned will be implemented. Procedures will be used in order to implement the programs. The procedure would give a step by step basis on how to get the program started. When the program is ready it will be fully operated hence, worker will be able to go through the program and receive proper training. Work will be monitored and any incidents will be documented. Control measures will be implemented if accidents occur in order to prevent similar situations from occurring. Standards will also be created to measure performance for both the management and the workers.
4.3 Check
The third component of the priority action plan is to monitor and check if the system is working. The documents from the previous stage will be used to analyse if the programs have made any positive changes. Other options include audits in which an inspector does a walkthrough of the plant to check if there are any concerns that need to be addressed. The documents will also be used to check if the management and the workers are up to standards. This process would encourage those at the plant to do their assigned task and work close to standards as possible. Hence, the management would stop ignoring reports and instead go through them. As they know it is part of their duty which they can be held accountable for. Similarly, workers would not skip work knowing that they have to meet standards. Therefore, this is an important step to ensure that everyone is meeting standards and the recommended improvements are making an impact.
4.4 Act
The fourth stage is management review in which the changes found in the previous stage are taken into consideration in order to understand if the recommended improvements worked. Changes should be continuously monitored to ensure the OHS system is working properly. If however, a problems occurs then the OHS system can be adjusted and new changes to the system can be applied. The process of monitoring and making appropriate changes will help make the OHS system better.

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