We have written a number of articles about the benefits of employee involvement. This week, we would like to highlight a success story.
The knowledge and experience of employees can help create effective solutions to workplace issues. An example of this occurred recently in the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). District 4 is located in northeast Ohio, an area well known for huge winter storms that result in snowfalls requiring employees to spend long hours in plows.
One of the concerns facing plow drivers is ice and snow buildup on the plow cab steps. This has resulted in numerous slips and falls with resulting injuries for drivers entering and exiting the trucks. The problem had existed for years until a pair of ODOT employees developed a creative solution.
ODOT mechanics Tim Wood ad Tim Rodgers developed a heated truck cab step to thaw snow and ice and improve the safety of entering and exiting the trucks. Their work is reported on the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees website. With the support of their manager, they added a heat exchanger to the bottom of the step using coolant from the engine as a heat source, an innovation that cost just over $300 per truck. As a result, the hazard and the resulting injuries have virtually been eliminated.
Both employees are members of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association/AFSCME Local 11. OCSEA President Christopher Mabe, who is also an AFSCME International vice president, said, “It’s innovators like these men who are proof that public employees do it well and they do it best. We must build upon the connection that public employee values ARE union values. It is this common thread that will mean the preservation of good jobs, the middle class and the American dream.”
Those of you who do not face this problem may not appreciate its severity. The outcomes are real, and the potential for injury was very serious. The solution may even seem simple, but it did not exist until these employees developed the innovation. The willingness of these employees to team with management in a joint effort along with their creativity has helped their colleagues return home safely and managers avoid the costs of injuries and resulting loss of productivity.
As the AFSCME site wrote, “Public employees are proud of the services they provide. They want to do their jobs and do them well. They want to improve their work and processes, bring safety to their jobs, and have a voice and integrity in the workplace – all union values.”
Does your workplace have an effective employee engagement process? If not, you are missing out on chances to work together and develop innovative solutions to workplace problems. For help with your process, contact us at Columbus Area Labor-Management Committee.