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HRM 499 UAG Management the Safety Training Program Case Questions

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Case 52. The Safety Training Program
Houghton Refrigeration Company builds refrigerators for large appliance companies. It employs about
300 people, mostly assembly-line workers, and is 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

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.
1. Evaluate the company’s on-the-job training program. Should it be changed?
2. Should the company install an employee orientation program for new factory workers, or is one
not necessary?
3. What changes should be made in the company’s safety training program?
4. What other ways might a firm emphasize safety and curtail accidents, other than training?

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