Safety at Work
Companies Need to Practice What They Preach.

By Mark Caruso, Vice President

Health and Safety in the work place have become a big priority at many auto manufactures. Flying banners, hand outs, posters and stickers all symbolize the seriousness behind the hype. 

Some workers however, are receiving a different message than what the company's colorful hype of health and safety projects in the work place. Companies are handing out loads of new policies and flyers, expecting workers to perform tasks in an environment that will not allow the worker to work in a safe manner and maintain his/her productivity.

Talking with PMHV operators I have learned that many feel it's a no win situation. If you drive safely chances are you will drive slower, consequently, the line goes down and you have a supervisor on your back. If you drive at the required rate to sustain expected productivity levels, you must jeopardize the company's safe work practices, which then potentially subjects you to discipline.

Many complaints of harassment by supervisors toward Hilo drivers have been reported. Supervisors stand in the isle with their hands in the air shaking their head in disgust, Supervisors making threats to send drivers home without pay and supervisors comparing one drivers' ability to another's'.

These harassment tactics mixed with the pro-safety hype sends a very confusing message, and to some, dilutes the overall concern for Safety in the work place. Conversely, drivers should not use H&S as a crutch to avoid performing at a fair rate; eight hours work for eight hours pay.

The bottom line is drive safe! Cover your back. Follow all of your safety guidelines. Stop at all stop signs. Finally, when filling out your Hilo safety check card perform all the necessary checks required. The company's decision to reduce set up time from one hour to one half hour at the beginning of the shift should never affect the quality of your safety checks. When it comes right down to it, the Lift Truck Operator is the person ultimately held responsible if an accident occurs.

Verbal confrontations with eager supervisors can put you at a disadvantage. If you know your doing the best you can and feel you are being harassed or pressured by management you should request a committee person. In all fairness supervisors are also held accountable to their superintendents, however, they should inquire in a professional manner when asking why the line shut down.

The responsibility of safety should not be placed only on the backs of hourly men and women. The safety rules and regulations leave the worker in a no win situation when productivity outweighs the importance of safety.