Is a procedural short cut punishable?
On the one hand, procedures are set up to be followed. On the other, employees should be encouraged to use their imagination and initiative.
On the one hand, procedures are set up to be followed. On the other, employees should be encouraged to use their imagination and initiative. Where does one draw the line?
Maintenance department Fork lift Operator Bill Falk figured he could save an extra trip by stacking his vehicle with more cases of heavy components than the procedure manual called for. When the load toppled, damaging four cartons of merchandise, Foreman Frank Sutter felt Falk should be penalized for failing to follow instructions. He handed the employee a disciplinary layoff.
Falk protested the suspension on the grounds that he was trying to save time on the job, and also that he had misjudged the load's weight, a human error anyone could have made. Sutter contended that an experienced operator like Falk should have calculated the weight beforehand, and should have understood the dangers of overload.
When Falk threatened a grievance unless the suspension was lifted, Sutter made a beeline for his boss' office.
Question: Do you think the suspension was justified?
Benson's verdict: Plant Engineer Ralph Benson agreed with Sutter that an experienced operator like Falk should have had the good sense to check the load's weight before transporting it. Nonetheless he instructed the foreman to reduce the penalty to an official warning notice.
"For one thing," he said, "Falk is a well-rated worker. Although his judgment was faulted, his intentions were good. In addition, similar accidents have occurred in the past, admittedly with less or no damage involved, in which no discipline was imposed. When a discipline is imposed, consistency is usually a major consideration in rulings by arbitrators."
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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.