Saturday, October 16, 2004

Workplace issues

A dishwasher broke his thumb really badly today. Someone closed the walk in door just as he was reaching around it to turn on the light from the outside. It is crshed. He went to the hospital. He is now out of work — they didn’t fire him but since he can’t work, he won’t get paid — and the restaurant, out of the generosity of their hearts, and the fear of any lawsuit, will give him $1000 not to sue them.
I was listening to the management talk to the owners and they were trying to figure out how to work out the “total risk of injury” among their employees.
At the risk of sounding like a complete Bolshevik, it seems to me that they figure in the total risks involved — in terms of lost time and higher insurance — of avoiding a safe workplace. It’s too expensive at $5,000 to put in a safe door, so we’ll go with the cheaper one and hope that if someone gets hurt, it will cost us less than that.
The compensation system seems biased away from safety because the manager can weigh the sure thing (reduced costs by cutting safety programs and maintenance) against the probability (which is less than a sure thing) that the reduction of safety programs will lead to more accidents.
And, should the shit hit the fan, and someone gets hurt, then the owner/investor can blame the management – whose job is is to cut costs – and fire him/her for not training employees well enough.

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