The United States Department of Labor publishes the latest news concerning issues in workplace health and safety in America. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has released new information regarding safety violations at Southwest Feed Mills, Inc. According to OSHA (2012), the company has severely violated the fundamental workplace safety requirements, “exposing workers to combustible dust, falls, unguarded machines and other hazards” at the Dallas facility. The company failed to provide adequate protection against fall risks and did not train its employees to work with industrial trucks (OSHA, 2012). Workers at the Dallas facility could easily fall into the pit (OSHA, 2012). The company did not do anything to guarantee that its electrical equipment was approved to be used in locations with high concentrations of combustible dust (OSHA, 2012). No confined space procedures were developed to alleviate those risks (OSHA, 2012). Eventually, the company had to pay $45,000 in penalties and address all workplace safety problems identified during the OSHA’s safety check (OSHA, 2012).
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Despite the growing safety awareness, workplace safety remains an issue of public concern in the U.S. (Parboteeah & Kapp, 2008). Southwest Feed Mills could have easily avoided penalties, had it developed health and safety compliance procedures to secure employees from the most common workplace risks. Most probably, the amount of money required to develop safety procedures would have been less than the amount of money needed to pay the penalties and ensure safety compliance within the 15 days from the receipt of the citations (OSHA, 2012). Certainly, employers cannot create an ideally safe workplace (Hartman, 2008). However, they can take reasonable precautions to address the most common, expectable, risks. One of the biggest problems is that most decisions related to health and safeties of workers are not legal; they are ethical. This is why companies are expected to go beyond the law, when they deal with employee safety issues. The desire to protect employee health and safety in the workplace should become an integral component of the companies’ ethical climates.
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