Answer all the questions below in paragraph form. Atleast 2 paragraphs.
In the Appliances Manufacturing Plant, a large number of engineering activities are carried out in a wide range of areas. These activities include design, production of parts, assembly, testing, and quality assurance.
Many of the manufacturing processes in the plant are performed using automated technologies and equipment. People also perform some of the manufacturing tasks and the plant employs over 400 workers. The decision on whether people or machines will be used for a particular task is dependent on many factors, including costs, time, quality and worker health and safety.
The plant considered here produces a many part for appliances and assembles them. Among the parts produced are door and housing materials and parts, compressors, motors, fans, some exterior parts, and electronics components. The plant normally operates three shifts per day and has production lines including machining equipment, conveyers and overhead cranes, punch presses, and paint-spray booths. The plant utilizes electricity and natural gas extensively.
A number of workers at the plant have over the last six months been subject to several different health problems. The following information has been received by the head engineer at the plant.
The head engineer at the plant wants to ensure that the plant provides a safe and healthy environment. So, she decides to ask an engineering health and safety consulting company to do a health and safety audit of the plant. The report provided by the consulting company lists the following safety problems:
a) An expert on fires and explosions notes that the extensive use of natural gas in the plant could lead to an explosion in the plant in some circumstances. The force of such an explosion could lead to severe injuries or deaths of workers and, possibly, cause the building to be damaged or to collapse. The potential for an explosion could develop if a sufficient natural gas leak occurs or the plant ventilation system fails to perform properly or certain controls or sensors fail. But, the expert further notes, there is insufficient
information available on the concentration of natural gas in the plant air, as only one natural gas sensor is in place at the plant, but it is not located in the main area where an accumulation of natural gas is likely to occur. Thus, the potential for an explosion could exist, yet not be detected or acted upon. In addition, the expert is concerned because the natural gas sensor is connected neither to an automated shut-off system for the natural gas supply nor to an alarm, thus increasing the likelihood of an incident and its potential severity.
b) Although maintenance is supposed to be done quarterly on the natural gas lines and equipment, no evidence is found that maintenance has ever been performed since they were first installed four years ago. Such maintenance typically involves checking for and fixing gas leaks. Also, no training has been provided to workers on either understanding the potential for explosion, or the steps to take to avoid an explosion. In fact, most workers did not even realize the potential for an explosion existed. Furthermore, no written procedures relating explosions exist within the plant.
c) The plant contains toxic materials that can harm people and animals. The way this material is stored in the plant, it could, in the event of a plant explosion, be released and impact an area within one kilometer of the plant. Such an incident could lead to illnesses or deaths among members of the public and could harm animals in the environment.
1) From point c) in the consulting company report, it is clear that the problem affects not
just worker safety, but also the safety of the public and the environment. Should the
difference in who or what is affected cause head engineer to modify her actions in
addressing the problem? If so, how?
2) Can the head engineer choose to ignore or not act fully upon the safety concerns raised by
the consulting company? If yes, in what instances and under what conditions?
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