ARG-139

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

"During the past year, Alta Manufacturing had thirty percent more on-the-job accidents than nearby Panoply Industries, where the work shifts are one hour shorter than ours. Experts believe that a significant contributing factor in many accidents is fatigue caused by sleep deprivation among workers. Therefore, to reduce the number of on-the-job accidents at Alta, we recommend shortening each of our three work shifts by one hour. If we do this, our employees will get adequate amounts of sleep."


Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the recommendation and the argument on which it is based are reasonable. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the recommendation.


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 this may be the case, there are a number of questions regarding his lines of reasoning that requires further analysis. The argument could end up being pretty convincing or invalid in the end, depending on the answers to those questions.

To begin, in the author’s opinion, the main reason behind the aforementioned accidents is sleep deprivation. However, we are unaware of the total amount of work hours per day. 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 sleep deprivation of workers, but also to other potential factors.

Additionally, what are 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 Butler Manufacturing. While it would be ideal for Butler 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 Butler 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 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 which could probably caused by sleep deprivation 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 the author’s recommendation may be valid to some extent, there are a number of questions regarding his lines of reasoning that requires further analysis. The argument could end up being pretty convincing or invalid in the end, depending on the answers to those questions.


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