Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Above the Influence

In today's age, it can often be easy for co-workers and bosses to steer new employees down unethical paths.  To many times in industry, new employees are influenced to spend money on a company credit card for personal entertainment or alcohol.  Another example could be adjusting sales or production numbers to better please management.  These examples happen every day in the modern workplace.  It is important for college graduates to understand that although the job market is difficult, you must work to combat this approach to help better business practices in our society.
 Values are key when it comes to combating poor ethics.  Using self-control and wisdom are very good mechanisms to begin with.  New members of the workplace should have a good understanding of business  as well as social ethics, but often times these understandings can be tainted by a manager for co-worker.  Being vocal when unethical circumstances arise can be important when holding strong to the virtues that you are taught throughout your education.  Establishing a good set of values can help you become not only a stronger leader, but a true asset to your organization.
 When one makes it to a management position, it is important to stay true to your values. Encouraging your co-workers around you to be ethical and apply the ethics that they have learned is not only beneficial for your department but for the company as a whole. Encouraging integrity can often be difficult, but extremely impactful on the working environment. Managerial leaders should reward those who display ethics and be vocal about how ethical decision making helps improve a company’s environment as well as society as a whole.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ethics in Engineering

When I think of engineering I think of equations, physics, calculus, processes, methodologies, rules and regulations. The one thing that I would not think of however is ethics or more specifically engineering ethics and the manner of designing ethical products and services. This principle of designing with morals and the health, safety and good of the general population is difficult to ignore.

Ethics, especially those applied in the engineering field, can make or break a product or service (no pun intended). Ethics provides responsibility to the designer and allows the public to be sure that each and every product or service they are using is, without question or doubt, tested and proven to be safe. It allows security as a consumer to use and purchase products without questioning safety or health.

To assure or guarantee that engineers are ethical and design products and services ethically, there are a set of engineering ethics principles or guidelines  These guidelines assure that each engineer considers that people, the environment,  competition and other factors are considered to the fullest to provide ethical products and services to society.

In my opinion these guidelines and principles are a much needed check or catch to all the products and services being designed today. If the product or service being considered is going to affect society or the environment every engineer needs to make ethical decisions. We are only given one life and one earth to live so why not ethically and knowledgeably make decisions that will help sustain the environment we live?


Is Money More Important than Consumer Safety?

Is Money more Important than Consumer Safety?
Product Liability has become an issue within the past two decades. The reason for an increase in product liability cases is because the government is holding companies responsible with new laws and regulations for companies to abide by before they release the product to the public. Before the 1970s, companies were not held to the standards they are now and therefore product liability is generally a new concept. It is very important that companies produce products that are safe for humans-beings and for the environment. People have been known to take advantage of product liability in courts. The example I have chosen to write about is a defect dryer that caused deadly fires. In 2006 there were 17,700 home fires involving dryers and/or washing machines. (92% Dryers). Consumers should not have to worry about their dryer trying to kill them. In this case the dryer was collecting lint in an area that the consumer could not see nor clean. Studies show that the 1/10 of a gram of lint coming into contact with the heating coils ignited the fire. This is the importance of Product liability. Clearly, this is a defective consumer product effecting thousands of people. There were 15 deaths and 360 injuries. The process of product liability enhances safety. Safety comes at a price, how can a dryer in the 21st century be a fire causing death trap?  
Tort reform is still needed. There is no question that companies will make decisions with their pocket book rather than the consumer in mind. The Ford Pinto in finally issued a recall in 1977 because the gas tank ruptured when it was hit from the rear causing a violent explosion. It took Ford Motor Company a long time to issue the recall. Ford already invested a hefty cost into the pinto. 200 million dollars was invested in the tooling of the pinto. This amount was enough for the company to put the car into full production because they wanted to get a return on their investment immediately. They knew it was a poor design, with the poor crash results and they knew the gas tank was poorly designed which should have triggered a redesign. Ford Motor Company made a conscience decision to put the Pinto into production with unsafe qualities to save a few dollars. This is a classic example of why Product liability is imperative to the consumers benefit and how companies favor money over consumer safety.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Product Liability: Who's at Fault?

Product liability is a topic that has been discussed and disagreed on for many years.  Some say that the producer of the product is completely liable for its safety, while other people argue that common sense must come into play and that the consumer shares much of the liability.  The McDonalds case is one of the most well-known product liability cases.  It seems that most scholarly individuals feel that Ms. Stella Leibeck who was burned by the scalding coffee is responsible for the accident and that no lawsuit should have been filed.  I, on the other hand, tend to agree with the Ms. Leibeck.  The coffee was served extremely hot, and she did not consider the temperature (how hot it actually was) until it was too late.  I believe that manufacturers cannot assume ANYTHING on the part of the consumer.Product designers must “simplify to the extreme” in order to do everythingpossible to prevent consumer accidents.  America consists of an extremely diverse body of people (in terms of education), and you cannot assume that everyone’s intelligence/interest level matches that of your own.  If I was McDonalds, a label at the bottom would read “Caution! Coffee served at 135 degrees! Wait 5 minutes before drinking!” or something of that nature.  Our job as engineers should spell out all product hazards in an attempt to protect everyone who uses the product.    Anything less than that is irresponsible and (in my opinion) should be punishable by heavy fine and even loss of job.


Liabilities of BPA in the Plastics Industry

Manufacturers continue to face major issues with product liability.  One industry that has been hit the hardest is the manufacturers of plastic products.  Many children’s toys producers as well as water bottle producers have come under fire for still using BPA in their products.  Bisphenol A is an organic compound used in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxies.  In fact, nearly 8 billion pounds were used as of 2011.  BPA can mimic estrogen in females when released from bottles filled with acidic beverages or washers with strong detergents.  Nearly 8 billion pounds of BPA’s are used in companies yearly and the production continues even though manufacturers have been sued because of this dangerous compound.  State governments like Ohio; have even passed laws banning BPA’s use. The article listed below this blog says that BPA’s have the potential to cause sexual reproductive problems, heart disease, obesity, as well as neurological issues can occur when it is released and consumed humans. Phillips, a producer of baby bottles or ‘sippy cups’, reached a settlement to refund all of its products made with BPA in 2011.  This lawsuit cost the company millions of dollars and probably many employees their jobs.  So was it worth it?  If you are a producer of plastics and you are using BPA today, is it worth continuing to use BPA in the same manner or should you take proper steps to ensure your product is safe for humans?  I think that it is important for these companies to remember Phillips and the fact that soon the federal government may mandate that these BPA’s are not used in manufacturing. Using liability loss control programs to change the raw materials of your products will save your company money.  If your company is using raw materials that could cause harm to consumers...Raise the red flag