Bloomberg Business Week’s Peter Waldman published a devastating article last month about the injuries and fatalities in Southern auto parts facilities. Confined Space followed up over the next few days with stories about OSHA’s emphasis auto parts emphasis program in Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia and the agency’s delay in renewing the emphasis program
The story continues as Waldman appeared recently on Alabama NPR and on The Leonard Lopate Show in New York this afternoon. Waldman fills in many more details of the heart-rending stories he described in the original article, and also adds some perspectives on the root causes of the unsafe conditions and the lack of unions in these facilities.
“The suppliers are forced to produce parts at rates that are entirely unrealistic for their plants and their workforce, and that pushes people to work very long hours and to cut safety corners and we see this again and again. As one person put it to me, it is just-in-time manufacturing on steroids.
“…Unions are a big part of this story. The right-to-work states in the South obviously have very, very, very few unions…The result of that is you don’t have the shop stewards on the floor holding the management accountable for the overwork, in terms of hours. You don’t have them enforcing safety rules. The UAW literally has safety experts that roam the floors looking for these issues.”