TROUBLE IN THE TRUSS CONSTRUCTION SHOP CRITICAL THINKING PAPER
Trouble in the Truss Construction Shop
Two weeks ago, during a QA truss load test, the truss being tested fragmented along a horizontal axis,
causing a large piece of the truss to break part and fall on a hoist operator supporting the test. The hoist
operator sustained head injuries and remains in an induced coma in a local hospital. This accident sent
shock waves through the Truss Construction Department because the company has heavily invested in a
new engineering and manufacturing process to produce a cost-effective truss that has been touted to be
on the “cutting edge” of construction technology, especially for low cost housing in overseas markets.
A report by the Safety Officer, QA manager, and engineer verified that the test being conducted pushed
the load testing slightly beyond the high threshold of acceptable load-bearing, though the extra load was
not expected to cause the truss to fail. In fact, the trusses were advertised to meet “commercial-high”
Employees in the engineering shop have been asking if the manufacturing or engineering process is
flawed and if the trusses being produced could fail under load.
Company memos have focused on production and more testing at lower thresholds, and members of
management are encouraging employees to continue the current production schedule to meet orders for
The Sales department is highly concerned that if there is any delay in shipping, customers will pull their
orders, which would have a disastrous result on revenues.
Faruch Habib, a production line worker, leaked the details of the accident and test thresholds to the
press. Two weeks later, he was terminated for documented poor performance, according to managers.
The company Public Relations department has issued a general statement that the company has taken all
action to ensure that this type of workplace accident would not be repeated.
Critical Thinking and Communication Strategies: Truss Construction Shop
Communication is instrumental in all places where there is human interaction. Through communication, it is possible to exchange information. In a working setting, communication allows the giving and receiving of instruction. Humans are social creatures that thrive through socialization, and this is made possible through communication. The absence of communication is not a reality because there is no instant where people will not communicate. However, not all communication is effective. Unorganized communication may end up failing to serve its intended purpose and, as a result leading more harm than the intended good. The paper looks at the case of a technical company that deals with truss testing. The focus will be on the possible aspects of communication that were missed out and how they ended up causing the accident that was experienced. The paper will end up providing a list of recommendations that the company should adopt to ensure that effective communication is enhanced in the workplace as a means of avoiding future accidents.
Communication Gaps Leading to The Accident
A communication gap exists in the case where the message is not communicated in full, with some elements of the message missing. It can also exist in the case where the message has been delivered to the wrong person or also delivered at the wrong time (mostly late) (Lysy&Sakol, 2019). A communication gap shows that an organization or parties intended to communicate but ended up failing to communicate effectively. Regardless of the form of communication gap, the effect is always adverse. For a case of an organization, a communication gap may end up leading to delayed production or substandard products and eventually losses because of the failure to meet the needs of the customers (Lysy&Sakol, 2019). In production, there are riskier effects of communication gaps, which may end up, resulting in injuries among the staff and even the supervisors who are all using machines (Lee et al., 2020).
The case provided is a typical indication of a situation where there were a series of communication gaps. The effects of the gap include injuries and even poor-quality production. One of the gaps in communication was on the information regarding the load-bearing capacity of the truss. There are contradicting messages regarding the maximum load the truss could bear. Based on the company’s safety official, the trust was not supposed to have been subjected to the load it was subjected on.
On the other hand, the truss advertised that it could bear that load. This contradiction in communication resulted in an accident leading to the operator being placed in a coma. It is worth noting that the gap in communication was significant due to the lack of corporation between the safety officer and the staff. It was expected that the staff and the officer interact to share why the advertised maximum bearing load was not enough and why it was advisable to operate at a slightly lower load.
Another aspect of a communication gap was the case where the company emphasized on the company keeping up on producing at the same speed. In as much as the company had the right to make such a decision, there was a need to communicate effectively with the employees why the production needed to continue at the same rate. The communication should be conclusive with all communication messages, which include why the company settled for such a decision and what the management will put in place to prevent the occurrence of similar accidents in the future. However, the gap, which was mainly due to the company being inclusive with the message of continued production, resulted in the sense of uncertainty and uneasiness among the employees.
Existence of Poor Communication Strategies
An organization is expected to have a communication strategy. The aim of having a communication strategy is that it serves as the accepted path of communication between the people in the organization. More to this is that a communication strategy is inclusive and detail, which includes the people that should be communicating and, subsequently, the exact contents of the message being conveyed (Kovpak&Trotsenko, 2020). An effective communication strategy for an organization should also define the modes of communication that should be used in different situations. In the event of a project, a communication strategy should go a mile further and define the frequency of communication. From the nature and contents of a communication strategy, it is evident that an organization that lacks an effective communication strategy is doomed to fail or to struggle even if the goals are attained. On the other hand, an organization with an effective communication strategy is doomed to succeed because, aside from sending information among the different people in the organization, there is always a room to identify challenges in the organization and proceed to seek remedy measures in time.
Despite limited information being presented by the organization, there is evidence enough to prove that the organization lacked an effective communication strategy. One of the indications of a poor communication strategy is the fact that the company failed to communicate in detail the full details of the accident to the public. It can be assumed that the organization opted for that alternative as a means of maintaining a positive image to the public. However, a communication strategy, when used effectively, can also be used as a public relation tool in case an organization is faced by a crisis (Min & Choi, 2017). A communication strategy should have defined how the organization will communicate information about the accident to the public. The same strategy should have been used to promote a positive image of the organization through maintaining a positive PR defining how the organization will be dealing with the challenge. Through such a move, the company would have managed to maintain a good image and retained the confidence of its employees.
As mentioned before, a communication strategy is essential to an organization in helping it deal with situations of crisis. The case provided was a crisis from the first step to the last. Faruch Habib, the production line worker, opting to communicate to the media about the details of the accident was a ripple effect of the failed capacity by the company to communicate to all the people, including the public, about the accident. In as much as Habib opted to take that line because of his possible fears that the company does not care about his welfare and that of his colleagues. His actions to go straight to the media was an indication of the absence of a defined communication strategy that should be followed in the event an employee does not feel satisfied with the work environment in the organization. An effective communication strategy should define the person or the office that employees should be going for when there are complaints to be made. The communication hierarchy to be followed should be part and parcel of the contract making it hard for employees to go out to the media. A considerate communication strategy should also allow employees to communicate with the management of the organization through representatives in the labor organizations. However, the lack of a defined person or office to go and complain to was the reason behind the Habib opting to go direct to the media.
The absence of a communication strategy was also displayed by how the organization ended up terminating their relations with Habib by firing him. The firing was because of his actions to speak to the press about the accident. However, the absence of a defined communication strategy between the employee and the company during firing made it easy for the management to get a loophole of terminating his contract. It was enough for the company to mention “poor performance” as the reason for his firing without providing sufficient evidence on the same. From this example, a communication strategy can be said to be a tool that also protects employees from unfair dismissal from their jobs.
The Way Forward for the Future
The case provided can be associated with some issues that the organization could not have control over and some that the company had control over. The quality of the truss to be tested is one thing that the company had no control of. However, all the issues that the company could have prevented could have done so through the adoption of an effective communication strategy. By this, therefore, adopting a practical and conclusive communication strategy will be the solution to the problems displayed in the case.
The safety protocols in the work environment should be emphasized enough through regular communication from the safety office. These protocols should be specific and detailed, which includes the loadings that should be used. In ensuring there is no confusion, the communication on safety should clarify any contradiction, and this means working closely with the operators of the test equipment in the organization.
More importantly, is that the adopted communication strategy should be put the employees at the center. It should define the different ways upon which the employees can communicate with the management both in when sharing work information and when forgoing complaints. It should be noted that the employees need to be provided with multiple avenues of communicating with the management because, with limited avenues, they may be restricted from airing out their views.
Lastly, the company should adopt a communication strategy that will boost their public relations. It is evident from the case that the company has a poor PR strategy. This is the reason why it failed to communicate to the public about the details of the accident because there was no defined way of regaining the positive image that would have been damaged.
Conclusion On Communication Strategy
A communication strategy is essential for any business organization. The strategy allows a company to progress towards avoiding accidents and poor relations with its employees. From the case provided, it is evident that the lack of communication strategy was the cause of all the problems experienced. A communication strategy will be reliable if it takes into consideration the needs of the employees to communicate with the management, especially when they are not content with some decision. More to this is that the communication strategy should be a matchup of the company’s PR tool.
Kovpak, V., &Trotsenko, N. (2020). Communication Strategies of Successful Native Advertising Special Projects. State and Regions. Series: Social Communications, (4 (40)), 98-109.
Lee, E. W., Zheng, H., Aung, H. H., Seidmann, V., Li, C., Aroor, M. R., … &Theng, Y. L. (2020). Examining Organizational, Cultural, and Individual-Level Factors Related to Workplace Safety and Health: A Systematic Review and Metric Analysis. Health Communication, 1-11.
Lysy, P., &Sakol, U. (2019). Factors in Communication Gaps Between Employees and Supervisors. UC Working Paper Series, 23.
Min, J. S., & Choi, S. R. (2017). A Study on the Difference of Crisis Communication Strategy and PR Team’s Role according to Type of Crisis. The Journal of the Korea Contents Association, 17(11), 398-409.
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