Be wary of service that can backfire

It's a good policy and good business to serve others, employees included. Good for morale, good for employee relations. Service almost always pays off. Almost. But some kinds of service, however well intentioned, can be ill advised.


It's a good policy and good business to serve others, employees included. Good for morale, good for employee relations. Service almost always pays off. Almost. But some kinds of service, however well intentioned, can be ill advised. A manufacturing company learned this the hard way.

The big safe in the maintenance office was used to store confidential documents, selected high cost instruments and tools, and a maximum of $250 in petty cash. In line with insurance requirements, a list of the safe's contents, detailing each item stored and its value, was conscientiously kept up-to-date.

Since robberies occurred in and around the plant from time-to-time, it was a long-standing practice to allow selected employees to keep valuables in the safe as well.

Maintenance people who sometimes worked outdoors were especially vulnerable. George Vinson, for example, was in the habit of carrying large sums of money with him. He felt more comfortable keeping his wallet in the safe and picked it up at quitting time. Alice Kargin stored her diamond ring for safekeeping, and Ben Soskind used the safe for his credit cards.

One day when the office was deserted at lunchtime, the safe was broken into, cash and other valuables stolen. Neither company security people nor the local police were able to determine if it was an inside job or not. Whatever the case, an insurance claim was filed for listed corporate assets and unlisted personal belongings missing.

The insurance agent said the company would make good on the corporate loss, but disclaimed liability for what the employees claimed they had lost. Plant Engineer Ed Toska checked with Corporate Attorney Roseanna Lewin to see if they could get away with that.

Question: Do you think the insurance company can be made to honor the total loss involved?

Lewin's opinion: "The employees are out of luck," Lewin said. "The insurance contract specifies liability for company assets on the one hand, and requires a detailed accounting of loss on the other. Since the employees' valuables don't comply with either of these specifications, and since there's no way of verifying the amount of value claimed, it's unlikely the insuror can be made to pay."

"That's what I was afraid of," Toska replied. "The question is, what obligation does the company have to the workers?"

"That's another story," Lewin said. "But one thing is sure: Employees should no longer be allowed to use the company safe to store valuables. In fact, I think it would be best if they are advised not to bring their valuables to work in the first place."

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Raising the standard: What's new with NFPA 70E; A global view of manufacturing; Maintenance data; Fit bearings properly
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Upgrading secondary control systems; Keeping enclosures conditioned; Diagnostics increase equipment uptime; Mechatronics simplifies machine design
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.