Scenario Summary – Are We Safe?
“Wooden” is a large factory in Littlebury. Littlebury is a small town with a population of approximately 1,200
people. Wooden is the largest employer in the town. In Littlebury, everyone knows each other, as they are either
related or friends. Wooden specializes in creating wooden objects from shaving and shaping logs. The factory takes in
approximately 1,000 logs a day and operates on a 24/7 schedule. The activity generates an enormous amount of wood
dust. There is dust at least an inch thick on all of the equipment, flat surfaces and ceiling rafters. There are some
areas in which the dust could be as much as three inches thick.
Wood dust is a combustible material and, given the right circumstances can be explosive. Also, inhaling fine wood
dust can create respiratory illnesses.
Employees have complained over the years about the dust, but the employer still has not created a method to frequently
clean the factory. One day Karen, a co-worker, tells you that while she was operating her machine she noticed three
quick sparks in the air near her work station. Karen informed her Section Manager about this incident, but the
response was that she shouldn’t worry about it. She is now scared that the factory may explode at any moment.
Being an employee at this factory and have worked there for over 10 years and know everyone from the owner to the co-
workers. This situation has nervous as well, but don’t know what to do because do not want to get anyone in trouble.
Decide to speak with several people at the factory.
K E Y P L A Y E R S
Jason Rhine, Safety Coordinator: “There is no way an explosion could occur. Everyone knows that wood dust is not
explosive. Karen probably just saw some type of light reflection. Look, in order to ease mind, I will schedule a
major clean up of the facility next month. Just sit tight.”
Alex Riveria, Area Manager: “Do not make any trouble. A major clean-up of the entire facility will stop production for
at least two days. Just clean your work area. I have been in this industry for over 30 years, I know a dangerous
situation when I see it. Let the experts handle this.”
Karen Parse, Co-Worker: Please contact OSHA. You can make a complaint and they will investigate and handle it. I can’t
call since I was just hired two weeks ago. I cannot make any waves, but you have been here long enough. You won’t have
any problems. I am so scared because a plant back in my hometown exploded about two months ago because of wood dust.
This is really dangerous!
Tony Lord, Owner: “You cannot prove that there is an explosion hazard here. You should only come to me when you know
definitely that there is a safety issue. I will consider anything else as slander against me and my company. I do not
take too well to disloyal employees.”
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