ARG-078

The following appeared in a memo from the vice president of Butler Manufacturing.

"During the past year, workers at Butler Manufacturing reported 30 percent more on-the-job accidents than workers at nearby Panoply Industries, where the work shifts are one hour shorter than ours. A recent government study reports that fatigue and sleep deprivation among workers are significant contributing factors in many on-the-job accidents. If we shorten each of our work shifts by one hour, we can improve Butler Manufacturing's safety record by ensuring that our employees are adequately rested."


Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.


In this memo, the author believes that the higher rate of on-the-job accidents at Alta Manufacturing are correlated to lengthy work hours and sleep deprivation of workers. While the reason stated by the author may be a contributor to said accidents, there may be other possible factors that have yet to be taken into consideration that could potentially shed more light on the issue.

To begin, in the author’s opinion, the main reason behind the aforementioned accidents is sleep deprivation-induced fatigue due to extensive work hours, however the total amount of work hours per day are not specifically mentioned in the provided text, therefore we are not in possession of sufficient evidence to make a claim based on this foundation. The only piece of factual evidence provided is that Panoply Industry’s workers work one hour less than those at Alta Manufacturing. While this does not negate or invalidate the author’s claim, it does highlight a major lacuna in his argument. Without this piece of evidence, we are unable to ascertain the specific reason behind the accidents, perhaps they have more to do with the content of work the workers are doing, or the safety measures carried out by the company. If, for example Alta Manufacturing invests less time and money in the safety procedures when compared to Panoply Industries, then that could potentially be a significant contributing factor to the high rate of on—the-job accidents. Without further information, it is difficult for us to pinpoint the exact reasons and causes of these accidents. Therefore, consideration should not be given only to fatigue of workers, but also to other potential factors.

Additionally, another aspect that needs to be taken into consideration is the characteristics of the work the workers at these two different companies do. One critical question that needs to be addressed before making a decision is whether the two companies are comparable, because if the work content of the two companies is not similar, then it would be difficult to use Panoply Industries as a model for Alta Manufacturing. While it would be ideal for Alta to lower their on-the-job accident rate to a number similar to Panoply, if the working conditions and work content aren’t the same at both companies, then Alta may not be able to simply follow in Panoply’s footsteps by cutting back the work time and hoping for success. Therefore, we need to first ascertain whether these two companies are comparable before changes are made, for if the companies vary greatly, the author’s suggestion to reduce work hours may not be feasible or beneficial.

Furthermore, even if the accidents at Alta Manufacturing are due to sleep deprivation-induced fatigue among workers and the hours are cut back, we cannot be certain that the workers will use the extra time to rest. If they are in need of money, some workers may choose to find a second job and earn more money rather than use the time to rest. If this were the case, then fatigue among workers would be unlikely to decrease, and rate of on-the-job accidents would, most likely, remain the same or increase, and the author’s recommendation would struggle to maintain persuadability. Therefore, hastily making the decision to simply reduce the amount of total work hours without giving sufficient consideration to other possible scenarios could negatively influence the company, the company could potentially benefit by investigating how their workers spend their time outside of the workplace.

Finally, the company needs to question whether or not reducing the work hours of workers is a long-term solution to this problem. Even if work hours are reduced, workers may still be fatigued by the content of the work they’re accomplishing. If, for example, in the future the company establishes complicated new work regulations or purchases new work equipment and resources, these could also tire workers out, as workers would need to spend more time learning about and adjusting to the new workplace environment. It is difficult to assume that working conditions in the company will remain the same over a long period of time, so the company should take these potential changes into consideration when they’re making their final decision. Bearing this in mind, the juxtaposition of the author’s suggestion in relation to the problem seems to be slightly askew. Before the company settles on the decision to cut hours back, they should investigate other possible contributors to the problem, like the ones mentioned in the above paragraphs, and also, if possible, compare and contrast differences in working conditions between the two companies other than work hours.

In conclusion, while using Panoply as a model could potentially prove beneficial to Alta Manufacturing, before the company makes any decisions to cut back work hours, the company should first clarify whether or not the work conditions and content of work the workers at both companies do are similar or not. If the two companies are alike in many ways, then Alta could implement work hour cutbacks and wait for positive results. Additionally, Alta should also investigate other potential causes for their high on-the-job accident rate, as this problem may be rooted somewhere else.

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