Applying Critical Thinking in Solving Occupational Health Safety Issues

Essay, 2018

5 Pages, Grade: 1



In daily life, ethical reasoning serves as the touchstone of solving disputes. However, ethical reasoning alone is not sufficient to guarantee reliable reasoning outcomes. It requires the precepts of critical thinking. It is apparent that a critical thinker is able to respond to any ethical issue and formulate a reasonable solution (Facione, 2006). From a philosophical approach, critical thinking enables people to interpret behavior or analyze an event which is usually an outcome of a certain behavior from what he knows (Lau & Chan, 2015). As such, people are able to distinguish facts from fiction. For instance, critical thinking perspectives can help in solving an employment dispute. Therefore, this paper applies critical thinking to identify who should bear the responsibility for accident in which a company employee sustained injury from a table saw.

Hypothetical Case Study: Explanation of the Ethical Issue

In this case, John Schmidt was injured by a table saw in the production shop. John is an employee of the company, and he blames the company for the accident. According to him, he followed all the required safety procedures at the time when he injured his hand. As such, he claims the company was responsible for the accident because it failed to guarantee the safety of the machine. This claim is supported by John’s co-worker who insists that the machine was not safe for use. One of the safety concerns he raises is the design of the safety guard. He claims that the safety guard was poorly designed. In addition, the co-worker admits that the safety guard did not function properly, an issue they claim to have reported to Harry Hiller, the shop’s foreman.

Contrary to the claims of John and his co-worker, both the David Donald, the company shop manager and the foreman maintain that the accident was John’s responsibility. The company manager is certain that the table saw was safe for use. His claim was based on the fact that the shop foreman had not reported any safety issue with the machine, and Harry reaffirms the manager’s stance. In his argument, the machine was properly maintained to guarantee safety of employees. He finds fault in the injured employee whom he claims was laughing, joking and goofing around prior to the occurrence of the accident. However, health and safety report indicated safety issues with the table saw.

Analysis of the Case

At a glance, it is quite difficult to figure out who should bear the responsibility of the accident. This is attributable to the fact that both sides have contradictory viewpoints. It is apparent that both parties exhibit defensive perspectives towards the accident. For instance, the company maintains that the accident was as a result of the employee’s irresponsibility. This is evidenced by the foreman’s claim that he saw the injured employee joking and laughing, prior to the accident. He also claims that the table saw had been maintained to meet safety standards; a claim he supports by producing maintenance records. On the other hand, the company manager presumes that the machine was safe for use. His claim is based on the fact that the shop foreman did not report any safety issue with the machine.

From a critical perspective, it is apparent that both the company shop manager and the foreman blame the accident on the injured employee. This aspect is evidenced by the manager’s uninformed response to the claim. He is said to have denied any safety issue with the machine, even before he obtained information from the foreman. His exhibited an explicit attitude towards the accident, which in turn shows his lack of responsibility in his work. As a responsible manager, he was ought to inquire from the relevant parties about the status of the machine before responding to the claim. In practice, managers should get facts about workplace injury to avoid controversy (Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 2008).

Similarly, the foreman appears defensive in his argument. Despite showing maintenance records to confirm that the machine was safe for use, there are questions concerning his response. Foremost, he claims to have seen the John acting in a careless manner, yet he did not take action to prevent the accident. By so doing, he is to blame, if indeed the accident was caused by the employee’s carelessness. In addition, he is said to have been informed about the poor design of the safety guard. In this regard, it is explicit that he disregarded the employees’ observation. As such, his failure to address the safety problem resulted to the accident.

On the other hand, John seems to be honesty in his claim. He reported to have followed the safety procedures while performing the task. Therefore, it is imperative that the accident was not concerned with the procedures, but rather the functionality of the machine. In this case, the accident appears to have been caused by the machine’s poor condition. Evidence for this viewpoint was provided by the health and safety report that revealed faults in the machine’s safety guard.

Alternative Viewpoints

In retrospect, several alternative viewpoints towards this case exist. For instance, the shop manager might have based his objection to the claim on his trust to the foreman. It is only on grounds of trust that one can make such presumptions. Interestingly, his viewpoint is supported by the maintenance records. As such, his response cannot be interpreted as denial.

It is also possible that foreman accused John of disregarding company procedures, falsely to conceal his lack of responsibility in ensuring employees of safety. As a competent expert, he should have identified the problem with the safety guard and taken appropriate intervention. These would include informing the manager of the safety issue.

Personal Stance

From a personal viewpoint, it is apparent that the company was to blame for the accident. Evidence for this conclusion can be drawn from the employees’ claims and health and safety report. According to John and his colleague, the machine did not meet safety standards. They cite the poor design of the safety guard as the cause of the accident. This was a factual claim because health and safety report showed problems with the safety guard’s design.

However, the foreman carries all the blame because he did not perform his responsibilities appropriately. First, he did not ensure the table saw was safe for use, even after the workers alerted him over the issue. Second, he did not inform the manager of the safety concern related to the design of the safety guard. Therefore, his claim of John’s carelessness was meant to conceal his failures.


Conclusively, a critical analysis of this case put facts and lies apart. The issue involves employees’ safety at the production shop. Therefore, John’s injury is a safety issue. According to his claim, his safety was not guaranteed, leading to the accident. The finding of faults in the machine’s safety guard after inquiry into the accident suggests that John and his co-worker gave genuine claims. In contrast, the foreman appears untrustworthy because he did not take measures to prevent the accident. Therefore, the responsibility for the accident lies with the company, but not the injured employee.


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Applying Critical Thinking in Solving Occupational Health Safety Issues
Egerton University
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applying, critical, thinking, solving, occupational, health, safety, issues
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Patrick Kimuyu (Author), 2018, Applying Critical Thinking in Solving Occupational Health Safety Issues, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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