question archive The Office Safety and Health Program LearnInMotion is a firm that delivers employee training, both online and via delivery of DVDs

The Office Safety and Health Program LearnInMotion is a firm that delivers employee training, both online and via delivery of DVDs

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The Office Safety and Health Program LearnInMotion is a firm that delivers employee training, both online and via delivery of DVDs. At first glance, such a firm is probably one of the last places you'd expect to find potential safety and health hazards—or so the owners, Jennifer and Mel, thought. There's no danger of moving machinery, no high-pressure lines, no cutting or heavy lifting, and certainly no forklift trucks. However, there are safety and health problems.


In terms of accident-causing conditions, for instance, the one thing such companies have is lots of cables and wires. Wi-Fi notwithstanding, there are cables connecting the computers to each other and to the servers, and in many cases, separate cables running from some computers to separate printers. There are 10 wireless telephones in the office, the bases of which are connected to 15-foot phone lines that always seem to be snaking around chairs and tables.


When the installation specialists wired the office (for electricity, high-speed cable, phone lines, burglar alarms, and computers), they estimated they used well over 5 miles of cables of one sort or another. Most of these are hidden in the walls or ceilings, but many of them snake their way from desk to desk, and under and over doorways. Several employees have tried to reduce the nuisance of having to trip over wires whenever they get up by putting their plastic chair pads over the wires closest to them. However, that still leaves many wires unprotected. In other cases, they brought in their own packing tape and tried to tape down the wires in those spaces where they're particularly troublesome, such as across doorways.


The cables and wires are only one of the more obvious potential accident-causing conditions. The firm's programmer had tried to repair the main server while the unit was still electrically alive. To this day, they're not sure exactly where he stuck the screwdriver, but the result was that he was "blown across the room," as Mel puts it. Carpal tunnel syndrome is another risk, as are eyestrain and strained backs.


One recent accident particularly scared them. The firm uses independent contractors to deliver the firm's book- and CD/DVD-based courses in New York and two other cities. A delivery person was riding his bike at the intersection of Second Avenue and East 64th Street in New York when he was struck by a car. Luckily, he was not hurt, but the bike's front wheel was wrecked, and the close call got Mel and Jennifer thinking about their lack of a safety program.


And it's not just the physical conditions. They also have some concerns about potential health problems such as job stress and burnout. Although the business may be (relatively) safe with respect to physical conditions, it is also relatively stressful in terms of the demands it makes in hours and deadlines. It is not at all unusual for employees to get to work by 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning and to work through until 11:00 or 12:00 at night. Just getting the company's new service operational required five of LearnInMotion's employees to work 70-hour workweeks for three weeks.


The bottom line is that both Jennifer and Mel feel they need to do something about implementing a health and safety plan. Now they want you to help them actually do it. Here's what they want you to do for them.


14-16. Based on your knowledge of health and safety matters and your actual observations of operations that are similar to ours, make a list of the potential hazardous conditions employees and others face at LearnInMotion. What should we do to reduce the potential severity of the top five hazards?

14-17. Would it be advisable for us to set up a procedure for screening out stress-prone or accident-prone individuals? Why? If so, how should we screen them?

14-18. What should we do to get all our employees to behave more safely at work?

14-19. Based on what you know and on what other dot-coms are doing, What can we do to reduce the potential problems of stress and burnout in our company?





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