OSH 261 Principles Case Study


Acme Engineering specializes in the design and manufacturing of custom equipment and facilities. Over the years the company has gravitated to designing and making equipment and facilities used in the manufacture of building products. The company has an excellent reputation and is considered the best in its field. Due to the global recession, however, business over the past several years has been slow. Profits have stagnated and there is talk of potential layoffs taking place. (BUT ACME WON’T BUILD OR OPERATE THE PLANT)

Recently, the sales department received a request for a proposal (RFP) from a foreign company based in a third-world country. The RFP calls for the design of engineering drawings of a high-speed facility specializing in residential housing building products. Only drawings and specifications are required another business will actually build and operate the facility. Once complete the design project will generate approximately $50 million in needed revenues for ACME. Due to its strong worldwide reputation, ACME is the only company receiving the RFP. A team is assembled to ensure the requirements of the proposal can be met in the specified time.

In discussion, one of the team members (Tom) questions the fact that due to the geology of the region where the plant will be built there are not sources of raw materials readily available. The only option is to rely on recycled sources from a local salvage company. Unfortunately, the recycled material is slightly radioactive. The amount of radiation generated is just below the EPA legal standard for similar products found in the US. The ACME legal department begins a review of applicable laws and regulations and finds there are not parallel regulations in the country where the materials are to be produced and used, and since ACME is not going to build or operate the plant, there is no apparent company liability.

Tom’s concern is the ACME would not even consider engaging in the design of the plant if it were to be built in the US. Others on the team sympathize with Tom’s position but point out several key issues:

  1. ACME is not going to build or operate the plant
  2. No laws or regulations are prohibiting the manufacture and use of these products in the foreign country
  3. If ACME turns down the proposal, a competitor will step in and gladly take the $50 million
  4. ACME desperately needs the influx of funds

Tom seeks the assistance of an epidemiologist to estimate what, if any, adverse health effects might be generated by houses built with products made from the waste materials.  After careful research and calculation, the epidemiologists estimate there will likely be 28-30 excess lung deaths occurring 35-40 years after construction.

The committee cannot come to a consensus, but all notes are sent to the company’s top executive—–you. After careful consideration of the facts and arguments, the executive group decides to DO WHAT!

Main Points:

  1. ACME will not even build it in the USA: Khaled
  2. Deaths and injuries will occur: Alex
  3. There is no apparent company liability—ACME would not be responsible: Fahad
  4. The amount of radiation generated is just below the EPA legal standard for similar products found in the US: Tyler

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