Employees and unsafe working conditions

samiwas

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Aug 26, 2006
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Reading through a few other threads got me thinking.

Really, it comes down to "should an employee ever stand up to his employer and demand proper work conditions or should he stand down and do what he's told or be fired?"

It seems like a lot of posters around here believe that if you work for someone who is putting you in situations that you do not believe are acceptable, then you just accept it, quit, or be fired. It almost seems as if no employee should ever have the right to demand safe working conditions, proper pay, or anything else.

So what do people think about the events in this story:
How 'Midnight Rider' Victim Sarah Jones Lost Her Life

It's a tragic state of affairs when you feel that you are being put in an unsafe situation, and your only other option is to not work, until someone else will allow themselves to be put in danger, which doesn't fix anything.
 

vrDrew

macrumors 65816
Jan 31, 2010
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The death of the young woman working on a film is certainly a tragedy. But an independent film shoot is such an unusual workplace, its difficult to compare it to most other situations.

First off, I think we need to acknowledge the fact that most workplaces are incredibly safe. A century plus of Government regulation, including forty plus years of OSHA oversight, has dramatically reduced the number of workplace injuries and deaths in this country. Coupled with advances in technology (everything from better safety gear to robots handling more dangerous tasks) and the overall shift from manufacturing to service industries, the percentage of Americans injured or killed at work is a fraction of what it was just a generation or two ago.

Dangerous jobs still remain. Underground coal mining comes to mind, but also deadly are occupations like roofing and long distance truck driving. (Being a cop or fire fighter is, statically, far far safer than either...)

The answer to the question is this: I, personally, would have no problem going to a superior to report a situation I thought was unsafe. And I'd do it without any worries about losing my job. I have no interest in working for an organization that put short-term profit ahead of the lives and health of its employees and customers.
 

Arran

macrumors 601
Mar 7, 2008
4,353
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"should an employee ever stand up to his employer...
For what is right? Yes they should. Unquestionably.

Unfortunately I don't see it as much as I used to. That demographic is exiting the workforce. Younger employees don't seem as confident to speak up. Probably for multiple reasons.
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
May 5, 2008
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The Misty Mountains
I read the story and am incredulous that they would be filming on this bridge, and apparently not know the train schedule. Did they have a permit or were they just winging it without permission? Did some local official buffoon tell them, "sure go film n the bridge, no problem"? At the most, this seems criminal, and at the least, negligent. This business of the cew had 1 minute to get off the bridge if a train showed up is astonishing in that the crew would allow themselves to be put in such a position.

BTW, unions are a good avenue for insisting on work environment safety rules.
 

Southern Dad

macrumors 68000
May 23, 2010
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The unions of decades past worked very hard causing our government to create entire agencies and departments to handle these type of situations. These are just a few of them. In addition, every state has departments.

You have the Department of Labor which will certainly investigate any issues where a person is not paid correctly. Within the Department of Labor is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) which has a specific procedure for handling any unsafe work conditions.

There is even the National Labor Relations Board. They even have an iPhone app.

If an employees feels that a company is doing harm to the environment they can call or write the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
 

rdowns

macrumors Penryn
Jul 11, 2003
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The unions of decades past worked very hard causing our government to create entire agencies and departments to handle these type of situations. These are just a few of them. In addition, every state has departments.

You have the Department of Labor which will certainly investigate any issues where a person is not paid correctly. Within the Department of Labor is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) which has a specific procedure for handling any unsafe work conditions.

There is even the National Labor Relations Board. They even have an iPhone app.

If an employees feels that a company is doing harm to the environment they can call or write the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

If only we properly funded and staffed these agencies. One can dream.
 

samiwas

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Aug 26, 2006
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Atlanta, GA
I read the story and am incredulous that they would be filming on this bridge, and apparently not know the train schedule. Did they have a permit or were they just winging it without permission? Did some local official buffoon tell them, "sure go film n the bridge, no problem"? At the most, this seems criminal, and at the least, negligent. This business of the cew had 1 minute to get off the bridge if a train showed up is astonishing in that the crew would allow themselves to be put in such a position.

BTW, unions are a good avenue for insisting on work environment safety rules.
I thought the story covered that. Apparently, CSX, who owns the railroad and bridge they were on, did provide them a train schedule, but did not permit them to film on the bridge. They did it anyway, using CSX's train schedule. What they did not know was that other railroads used that line as well, and they were not on the CSX schedule.

They didn't have anyone stationed to report oncoming trains, at least with any benefit of time. They didn't have anyone from the railroad present. They didn't even have a medic on site. It's caused quite a stir in the film community, and lots of calls for more oversight of safety.
 

TPadden

macrumors 6502a
Oct 28, 2010
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....... It's caused quite a stir in the film community, and lots of calls for more oversight of safety.
Everything has a cost/ benefit. More studio green screen, animation, less need for live acting, shooting.

No inanimate characters were harmed in the making of this film :D.
 
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Arran

macrumors 601
Mar 7, 2008
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Atlanta, USA
The unions of decades past worked very hard causing our government to create entire agencies and departments to handle these type of situations. These are just a few of them. In addition, every state has departments.

You have the Department of Labor which will certainly investigate any issues where a person is not paid correctly. Within the Department of Labor is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) which has a specific procedure for handling any unsafe work conditions.

There is even the National Labor Relations Board. They even have an iPhone app.

If an employees feels that a company is doing harm to the environment they can call or write the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Thanks for posting these links. From what I've seen a lot of new employees entering the workforce don't even know these agencies exist. Nor do they understand how much useful information is available on the websites.

Small business owners are some of the worst offenders. I don't necessarily think it's a conscious decision to ignore the law of the land. They're just too busy running their business - and I'm fine with that. But that's why its important for employees to know their rights and not just depend on the boss doing the right thing (although many of them do).
 

samiwas

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Aug 26, 2006
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Where was the Screen Actors Guild? These folks are union after all.
That is a good question, although most of the people on set aren't covered by the Screen Actors Guild, but rather IATSE.

Even though these people are in a union, that doesn't always mean they have a representative on site. However, they should have someone they should be able to call to voice immediate concerns.

But it comes back to another discussion: should an employee feel the right to walk away from a job that they feel poses a threat without repercussions from that employer (such as being fired) until the threat is taken care of?

I think many people these days have it drilled into them that you don't. They fear for losing their job, their insurance, or even that they will get blacklisted and lose their career. So they continue to work in places they feel unsafe or underpaid, all while nothing gets fixed.

Small business owners are some of the worst offenders. I don't necessarily think it's a conscious decision to ignore the law of the land. They're just too busy running their business - and I'm fine with that. But that's why its important for employees to know their rights and not just depend on the boss doing the right thing (although many of them do).
An employee should also feel that they are entering a safe space when coming to work. It is absolutely the responsibility of the employer to ensure this. That's not something that should be brushed off. Employees are responsible as well, but I don't follow the "employer is too busy to deal with that" line.
 

Southern Dad

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May 23, 2010
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The Department of Labor including OSHA, The EPA and the NLRB all have ways to report something without your name being disclosed. We have laws that protect "whistle blowers" if they follow certain procedures. Obviously, if you feel working at your job is unsafe, you should immediately quit. Why would you want to work there?

As for underpaid, salaries are negotiated. You agree to the salary when you take the job and by coming to work. If you disagree with the salary, you should also quit. Why again, would you want to work there?
 

jnpy!$4g3cwk

macrumors 65816
Feb 11, 2010
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Thanks for posting these links. From what I've seen a lot of new employees entering the workforce don't even know these agencies exist. Nor do they understand how much useful information is available on the websites.
Or, the new, young employees do know, but, since it is so difficult to find work, they accept the somewhat unsafe conditions. From what I have seen, small companies that sub to larger contractors are pretty ruthless. Some of these are fly-by-night operations that will simply close up shop if there is a major accident. Over the years, I have had difficulties with roofers, fence builders, landscaping, and even electrical subs. I've never had any problem with plumbers-- plumbing is expensive, but, union plumbers seem to do a good job of policing each other, in my experience.

Small business owners are some of the worst offenders. I don't necessarily think it's a conscious decision to ignore the law of the land. They're just too busy running their business - and I'm fine with that. But that's why its important for employees to know their rights and not just depend on the boss doing the right thing (although many of them do).
It depends. There are some great small business owners, but, when it comes to construction (sub)contractors, there are some that are looking to cut corners whenever and wherever they can. That is why your contract with a general contractor needs to be solid.
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
May 5, 2008
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The Misty Mountains
I thought the story covered that. Apparently, CSX, who owns the railroad and bridge they were on, did provide them a train schedule, but did not permit them to film on the bridge. They did it anyway, using CSX's train schedule. What they did not know was that other railroads used that line as well, and they were not on the CSX schedule.

They didn't have anyone stationed to report oncoming trains, at least with any benefit of time. They didn't have anyone from the railroad present. They didn't even have a medic on site. It's caused quite a stir in the film community, and lots of calls for more oversight of safety.
Thanks for the info. I might have over looked the "other trains" issue and so they did not have permission. This could be criminal negligence.
 

Arran

macrumors 601
Mar 7, 2008
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Atlanta, USA
An employee should also feel that they are entering a safe space when coming to work. It is absolutely the responsibility of the employer to ensure this. That's not something that should be brushed off. Employees are responsible as well, but I don't follow the "employer is too busy to deal with that" line.
You are right. I sounded more permissive than I meant to.
 

Southern Dad

macrumors 68000
May 23, 2010
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Shady Dale, Georgia
Bills to pay. Stop pretending anyone can quit a job anytime they like.
They can quit anytime they want. Remember we have all those social safety nets. Just sit on the couch and the hardworking taxpayers will support them. If you do not like your employer then find another job. Truth is, if you are unhappy at work the employer probably doesn't want you around either. When you leave there will be a dozen more lined up to take your place.
 

samiwas

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Aug 26, 2006
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With the way the liberals think, is it any wonder why employers build their factories overseas?
Hmmm…with the way conservatives think, is it any wonder most people just don't like them?

Living wages; safe workplaces; and a clean environment.

Gosh, those silly liberals have got some strange ideas about what people want.
Yeah, I know…those are some really, really stupid ideas. You're just anti-business.
 
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