Confined Space
News and Commentary on Workplace Health & Safety, Labor and Politics

Monday, April 14, 2003

Worker "Error" Department (Cont'd)

Workplace accidents seem so easy to figure out if you don't know what the workers were actually doing and what the working conditions actually were.

"The guy just wasn't paying attention. That's why he got hit by the truck/forklift/box." "The guy was supposed to be flagging, but he wasn't following proper procedures."

Cause identified.
Culprit found and duly punished.
Case closed.
Justice done.
Too bad.
You all be more careful next time.
Move on.

There was an excellent article in today's Newsday describing what actually went on down in the NY Subway when New York City Transit worker Joy Antony was hit by a train and killed when he was supposed to be "flagging," but had been told to do other duties by his supervisor, Deanroy Cox. Now they want to fire Cox and the Transport Workers Union is criticizing the decision, even though Cox is a supervisor and not a member of the union. I talked about this a few days ago, but this article goes into more detail about why this was a management system failure, and not a supervisor's error. It's nice to think that sometimes the "buck" stops at the top. But more often than not, the shit rolls downhill.

If I was King of the World, there would be a requirement that before passing judgment on any worker for an "error" that led to an injury or fatality, the "judges" would do the job, under the same conditions for a week. Then tell us who's to blame.


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