My fourteen year old son works at Culver’s. It’s his first job.

It’s been a great first job for him.  Six months in it’s been full of real work life.  A world full of crazy-demanding ice cream buying customers to generous big tippin’ Corvette drivin’ elder ladies.  It’s included mean-senseless managers to kind-caring mentors, and relationships with co-workers that have become friends to relief when others have resigned.  He’s experienced worker shortages and frenzied work periods that mean 15,000 steps on a shift.  He’s wanted to work and has tasted the fruit of his labor buying his own parts to build his own gaming computer at home as well as a banking earnings for his future car.  He even had his first near miss a major work injury.

This is where I come in and hope to take this as a major learning situation for him and his siblings.

The inside of the custard machine needed cleaned.  He was told by the manager on staff to tell the people around him not use it while he was cleaning it.  He had never done this job before.  This was the full extent of his instruction.

He told feller workers not to use the machine and diligently went to work sticking his arms deep into the machine, where the rotating components are.  As he was cleaning he briefly pulled his arms out.  In that instant a co-worker forgot about the cleaning and Daniel and all at once the gears were rotating.  Knowing how close he was to a major accident he yells “What are you doing?!”  and his coworker screams instantly remembering she was not supposed to use the machine.

He had no received no training on how to clean the machine.

He was aware of some danger but trusted his manager with the guidance he was given.

He could have received significant injuries (or worse) to both arms if he were caught or pulled into the machine while it was in use.

My head nearly exploded as he told me what had happened, disturbed by the unsafe work conditions that my son has been subjected to. It was disheartening to learn about such disregard for employee safety, despite the obvious risks involved. Every worker deserves the right to carry out their tasks in an environment that prioritizes their well-being, and the apparent negligence towards that basic principle was both upsetting and disappointing.

We talked about work safety, his own rights, and his own personal accountability even if he felt like a manager was indifferent or pushed him.

Poor management led to inadequate training which led to unsafe work conditions.  The manager would have gone home at the end of his shift.  My son could have been in the emergency room along with a huge workers compensation bill.

I understand that every workplace faces challenges, but the safety of all employees should never be compromised.  A secure environment is a win for everyone.  A commitment to the well-being of employees will undoubtedly contribute to a more productive and harmonious workplace.

Jeremy Hyde | Colligan & Company

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About the Author: Jeremy Hyde

Christian, MK/PK, Brother, Husband of a magnificent wife, Father of three sons and two daughters, Insurance dork, Sports and Racing fan, Competitor, Coach, Early riser, Grill-man, Yearner of sand dunes and Lake Michigan, Owner of a Yorkie named Gerald, Wannabe basketball player, Reluctant handyman, Car enthusiast, Admirer of passion and excellence and design...

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