Ever wonder what the most common failure in the workshop is that leads to dismissal?
If you didn’t guess it by now, it is the failure to fasten or torque nuts; sump plugs and bolts. This is one of the most common tasks expected from a workshop employee, a very critical function that is easily discarded or neglected.
Torque Wrench – A torque wrench is defined as a tool used where the tightness of screws and bolts is crucial as it permits proper tension and loading of all parts by measuring torque as a proxy for bolt tension. Having cognisance of the definition only, it is without a doubt crucial to use this tool when prescribed. Yet, so many of our members circumvent or abandon the necessity of tightening with a torque wrench. In doing so, the specifications prescribed for particular applications are not matched and results in sump plugs and wheel nuts falling out.
The possibility of harm
As per Dr. John C Glennon (http://www.crashforensics.com), wheel system failures are primarily caused by the improper installation of a wheel that causes it to be loose or become loose. The reason being that a loose wheel causes the wheels’ studs to break and the wheel and tire to separate from the vehicle. The root cause is associated with either over-torqueing or under-torqueing of the wheel nuts. The Roadkill Website (http://www.roadkillcustoms.com) confirmed that the most common result of improperly torqued lug nuts and lug bolts are: wheels come off, brakes damaged, broken and/or stripped lug nuts, bolts and studs.
Wheels come off, brakes damaged!
Imagine yourself behind the wheel of your car or motorcycle and the wheels come off or the brakes fail. Will you live to tell the story? Will your family and love ones live to tell the story?
Negligence and/or Gross Negligence:
John Grogan in his Workplace Law 11th Edition confirmed that “In labour law, negligence bears the same meaning as it does in other areas of law: the culpable failure to exercise the degree of care expected of a reasonable person.” This was successfully applied and confirmed by Commissioner Ferreira in Moema and Zanzu [(2011) 32 ILJ 484 (CCMA) (GATW 1193-10) 2011 ILJ p484]. The real test was confirmed to be whether a reasonable employee in the position of an accused employee would have foreseen the possibility of harm and taken steps to avoid that harm.
Wilfulness and/or intent
Our members, mostly qualified Journeymen; Apprentices or repair Shop Assistants, charged with this misconduct retaliates with a defence of “I did not intend for this to happen” or “I was too busy and had too much work” … Reasons that are a far cry from convincing one that “a reasonable employee in the same position would have foreseen the possibility of harm and taken steps to avoid that harm”.
Gross Negligence is stripped of wilfulness or intent, even more so as there is conscience risk taking in abandoning the importance to torque when required to. Even a once off incident may lead to disastrous end results and will render a dismissal fair. It is important that employees employed in a position of trust, such as a Journeyman; Apprentice or Workshop Assistant, take reasonable care and do foresee the harm when failing to torque the torque!
In the words of Commissioner Ferreira “…employees owe a duty of care to their employers and colleagues…”
Your position in the workshop is not just a job, it comes with responsibility, accountability and relates to ‘life and limb’ which is safety critical. Don’t neglect this very important aspect of your work and do not settle for less than the correct tools to save you, your employer and the customer!
Be pro-active and remember that MISA is just a phone call away.
(Article by Tiekie Mocke)
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