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LeadingEdition: E-Newsletter for Purdue University Supervisors

Employee Relations case study: Safety violation

John is a Purdue employee who works in an office where there are several filing cabinets with information that he and others access on a daily basis.

John was counseled on the issue of safety as it pertained to leaving file drawers open in walkways that other employees use. He stated he understood the potential danger of someone hitting an open drawer as he or she walked by.

A month later, John was pressed for time and removed a file, leaving the drawer open, thinking he just had to take the file across the hall, and he would then be sure to close the drawer as he was going back into his office. Just as John was crossing the hall, his supervisor saw the open drawer and John walking away from the filing cabinet.

As a supervisor, what do you do?

  • Do nothing. After all, no one got hurt and there was no harm done.
  • Point out to John he should have closed the drawer first, and inform him that the next time it happens, you'll consider a disciplinary action.
  • Reprimand John, since he had been instructed on the proper safety procedure and failed to follow proper procedures.

While the decision here is up to the supervisor, keep in mind that even though no one was hurt, the potential existed for an employee to hit an ankle, shin, hip, or head. Employees need to understand the importance of safety in all jobs and the consequences when safety procedures are not followed. The potential harm to another employee is tantamount to this issue.

Other issues include worker's compensation costs incurred by the University, as well as lost time and productivity as a result of not following good safety procedures.

Supervisors may contact their employee relations consultant for additional help in determining the appropriate action for any kind of safety violation.

- Amy Boyle and Kathy VanPaemel
Housing and Food Services Human Resources/Physical Facilities Human Resources

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LeadingEdition is an electronic newsletter for Purdue University supervisors.  It is produced and distributed by Purdue University Human Resources four times annually.  If you have questions, comments or suggestions relating to the newsletter, please call 49-41679 or email us.  Thank you.