Northern Copper Corporation
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Q1 Factors that Contributed to Arsine Poisoning
Poor Ventilation- According to Henri Moran, the environment supervisor, the concentrations of copper used was low resulting to emission of high amount of arsine gas. The building’s ventilation system after investigation proved insufficient to disperse these high gas concentrations. In his report, he had warned the management of the presence of high levels of arsine gas and recommended a check on the ventilation systems. He further recommended a checking of the purification cells every three hours in order to ensure that the electrolyte solution contained high copper concentration. However, the management never implemented these recommendations with the seriousness they deserved hence the poisoning.
Negligence and lack of training- Alex, the president, admitted a lack of training of his staff. In his statement, the pump operators lacked training appropriate for the job they were handling. He also, appeared uninformed of the safety regulations that were supposed to be put in place in the production systems and that as the head; he ought to have informed the workers in the plant of the risks that goes with their work.
Ray Murray, the production manager, confirmed a lack of instructions for the workers. He stated that the purification cell workers had never received instructions on industrial safety, which should not have been the case. According to the workers in this department, there had been courses offered on industrial safety but the information received barely acknowledged the harm of toxic gases.
The superintendent of the tank house showed lack of adequate information in the area he worked. He is not sure of who gave him the information on how the mixture concentrations should be. This is serious, considering the fact that the poisoning had occurred in his post of duty.
Irresponsibility of the leaders- According to Jacques, the safety supervisor, there were no reports made regarding the May poisonings in the time of investigation. The reason of this was that, he thought the management was taking charge. This shows lack of commitment in his duty since he ought to have taken charge of the situation. He appeared also to heed to wrong advice when advised not to submit the December accident report to the union, which he knew it was the right thing to do in his better judgment.
The NCC president appeared to have a problem of shifting blame other than using his post for the smooth running of the company. Alex dismisses the question on the lack of training on employees by stating that his crucial responsibility was to the board of directors and that the vice president was in charge of the daily undertakings of the company. Though failing to own up, he already had the reports by Henri Morin, on the high probability of arsine gas poisoning occurring but had taken no step towards this, saying that it was yet to occur.
The personnel supervisor on receiving calls from Dr. Bob Jacob regarding cases of arsine gas poisoning, quickly reports the matter to Bruce Adamson and ends it there in two occasions. This however, should not have been the case. As a personnel supervisor, he ought to have taken extra effort to make sure this does not reoccur even if the general manager had the information.
Q2 Alternatives to Aaron Belanger and Their Consequences
Aaron Belanger should first suspend the officers closely concerned with the deaths for a better investigation. He should also carry out interviews to the employees for better and solid information of the daily running of the company.
The suspension of office bearer will have the consequences of production reduction since there will be limited control and management over the company’s undertakings. Employees may also tend to be biased especially if they dislike any of their senior.
Q3 Employees Responsible For the Deaths
In a closer view, Gene Ellis, the personnel supervisor played a role in the deaths. Being a personnel supervisor, Dr. Bob made calls to him with the expectation that he could prevent the poisoning occurring. He however took no action other than informing the vice president. Smith and Koziel, the workers in the electrolytic department, informed Ellis of their situation but he dismissed it on the fact that a large number worked there and the issue of them only getting sick was unrealistic. The information however was to be used to rectify the condition and prevent the deaths.
Bruce Adamson is also to blame because he had power to act on the recommendations. The superintendent of the processing department reported that Bruce rejected a good, cheap ventilation system proposed prior to the accident. He had showed very little interest on the installation plan preferring to work with outside advisors about the arsine gas issue. Other recommendations proposed by Walsh were a chemically tested safety tag for the refinery employees, which would turn color on detection of dangerous levels of the gas and a specification of the level of copper concentration in the electrolyte solution. However, these recommendations were rejected though they would have aided in preventing the deaths.
In his statement, Bruce testified his lack of commitment to his duty. He had presumed that the arsine gas poisoning occurred after a long period and had not struggled to see if the same could occur in a short time period.
Alex Fournier, NCC president, portrays negligence in his running of the company. He is not aware of the December accident even though he is the president. He has no information of where the men involved in the May accident were working. He also appears uninformed of the regulations that toxic gas producing systems ought to be covered with huts and that he should inform the workers in the plant of the risks that goes along with their work. However, he seemed aware that the arsine gas problem would occur but had not taken any step since it was yet to occur. Summing it all, the president failed in his duty due to negligence resulting to the deaths.
The president and the vice-president ought to receive stern warnings concerning their post of duty. The parent company ought to monitor their work keenly and handle their negligence with weight or to the worse, dismiss them from the office. This is because they were well aware and informed of the presence of the poisoning way before the deaths occurred but had no initiative to act accordingly.
Q5 Short- term and Long-term implementation Plan
In the short-term, a good ventilation system should be installed and all the workers in the electrolytic department go for a blood and urine test. All new staffs to have the same checked before enrollment.
In the long-term, the subsidiary company senior employees should submit their working schedules, steps to improve the working environment for the workers to the head office. There should also be open conferences organized severally of the senior and the junior staff with an aim of all tabling their views and challenges they are encountering in the running of the company.
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