Potential negative outcomes like personal injury and lawsuits, among others, highlight why employers are concerned with establishing a good working environment. Moreover, institutions like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have contributed to the development and setting of mandatory occupational safety and health requirements which fundamentally includes risk and hazard assessment as well as knowledge of appropriate controls (OSHA, 1998). This paper assesses a workplace issue/problem/dispute regarding workplace safety using the TGS Critical Thinking Rubric where an employee in injured while working. Problem/Issue Identification
Basically, the dispute is between Schmidt, an employee and his employer regarding who is responsible for an accident that left Schmidt, seriously injured. The employer blames Schmidt because he was seen joking and goofing around with his co-workers while Schmidt blames the employer who should ensure machines in use are safe; but which are proven to be poorly designed and unsafe. The underlying causes and conditions contributing to the accident include the joking and goofing around by employees as well as the lack of remedying problems involving poorly designed machines. By blaming Schmidt, the company officials assume that the joking and the goofing around automatically led to the accident while Schmidt assumes that because the saw was poorly designed, it caused the injury; both of which could be wrong. Guiding questions to aid analysis of the problem will focus on assessment of elements such as the significance of the problem, relevance, accuracy and appropriateness of the information, assumptions and interpretations as well as implications tied to analysis of the problem. For instance, by understanding the significance of the problem (potential lawsuit), one can learn why the issue and its amicable resolution is important. Furthermore, the adoption of critical thinking to the issue under discussion reflects calls for thorough investigations of mishaps to determine root causes and also aid in reducing their recurrence (Shufutinsky, 2015).
Analysis of the information
Since resolution of the problem is the ultimate goal, asking questions about the employee’s behavior as well as conducting research on specifics of how poor design would actually cause an accident will inform analysis of information relevant to the accident. This will ensure elimination of bias against the employer or Schmidt by assuming to know everything. In relation to establishment of reliability of information, reliance on occupational safety officers will establish the relevant five elements; authority, credibility, objectivity, quality, and currency. However, this will be difficult in consideration to Schmidt’s behavior which cannot be objectively assessed especially if employees blindly support Schmidt or if company officers fixate on blaming Schmidt’s behavior. Still, assessment of the five elements in relation to information provided by the occupational safety officers will have to be upheld as there is a chance that the information lacks credibility, is subjective or incomplete, among others.
Critical examination of the accident highlights two major explanations of culpability which must be analyzed in depth. Schmidt’s behavior can be assessed in terms of previous behavior and whether other incidents have occurred which also applies to the use of the poorly designed saw. Other employees’ behavior, opinions and statements will also be assessed especially since they are indicated as engaging in relatively inappropriate behavior with Schmidt and who support his relegation of responsibility to the company. Previous records on neglected or lack of maintenance on reported machine problems as well as employer’s opinions and statements will also be assessed to gain a wholesome view of the problem. This will also help identify contradictory information and its assessment to reconcile identified contradictions.
Analysis of Alternative Viewpoints, Conclusions or Solutions
Considering the subjective nature of the dispute where the actual cause of the accident cannot be objectively identified, collecting opinions and statements (and reasoning behind them) of employees and employer’s senior officers will enhance understanding of the dispute. This is especially if other stakeholders (other employees/employer) may benefit from the dispute (lawsuit payday/clashing employee voice or inappropriate behavior) and hence potential bias. As such, the main alternative viewpoints are between blame on Schmidt and the employer which have different implications. Blame on employer may lead to a successful lawsuit and reimbursement for injury while blame on Schmidt absolves employer of responsibility while giving employer a platform for instituting restrictive workplace policies, at the extreme. However, Schmidt’s behavior and his use of the poorly designed saw could have combined to cause the accident or both could have individually caused the accident. Assumptions informing a combination of the two as the cause of the accident include the possibility that one of the explanations cannot adequately be the cause especially if Schmidt was aware of the poor design problems with the saw and that joking and goofing around may not have caused the accident.
Personal or Summarized Conclusions and Proposed Decisions
Considering the paucity of information about the accident, the obvious inference is that the poor design problem with the saw and Schmidt’s behavior caused the accident. The joking and goofing around is not directly linked to the accident as this behavior was observed before the accident. Still, information about how the poor design actually caused the accident is not apparent even though the saw is identified as posing a safety risk. As such, the two seem to combine to have caused the accident which means that both Schmidt and the employers have to make necessary changes to ensure a safe working environment. The implication is that both Schmidt and the employer have to take responsibility and take steps like policies outlawing goofing around machines and workspace as well as periodic maintenance. Still, more information is required to make a more conclusive assertion about the cause of the accident but which can be inferred as potentially leading to the identified conclusion. With both parties sharing responsibility for the accident, the decision to adopt a dual-pronged solution to enhance the workplace highlights an ethical decision that is congruent with the virtue approach.
Conclusion and Implications
From Dobson’s (2007) definition of morally right actions according to the virtue ethical approach, where virtue is viewed as desirable character traits such as fairness, honesty and wisdom, the decision to accept responsibility by both parties highlights practice of fairness and justice. However, this would be disproved by one of the parties’ not taking responsibility which would lead to negative outcomes a lawsuit by Schmidt depending on the injury or having a negative track record for Schmidt at the company.
- Dobson, J. (2007). Applying virtue ethics to business: The agent-based approach. Journal of
Business Ethics and Organization Studies, 12(2), 1-4.
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (1998). OSHA 3143: Informational booklet on industrial hygiene. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/
- Shufutinsky, A.,Paul Shanahan, P., Schaal, N., Madad, S. Johnson, D. (2015). Applying conflict analysis and resolution strategies to assess organizational safety culture in accident investigations. International Journal of Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Studies (IJIMS), 2(3), 71- 90.