Story About Inspecting the Wrong Features?

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    Roger Hill

    Hello everyone. I’m going to be doing a presentation soon on selecting key features for inspection. I’m looking for a good opening story or real life example of what can go very wrong when a key feature is not inspected because there was no method to selecting them, just the best guess of the part design engineer as what is important.

    Can anayone provide a story along this theme?


    Robert Butler

    Years ago a company I worked for was getting beat up with respect to OSHA recordable accidents. The company had tried a number of things over the years. Among the ongoing efforts was an annual shoe fitting for safety shoes for everyone regardless of their position. These shoes were expensive and the company not only paid for the shoes but for the time lost to mandatory shoe fitting and inspection.

    The company had a monthly plant wide meeting to discuss company issues. At the meeting where the latest OSHA statistics were reported the presentation consisted of the usual, here’s what we did last year and here is what we did this year. During the question and answer session I noted that all that had been presented was the data for just 2 years and, as the statistician, I offered to look at all of the OSHA data to see if I could perhaps find some trends that might help us better understand the accident situation.

    After the meeting, one of the safety engineers gave me all of the OSHA data as well as all of the non-OSHA accident data for the last 20 years. I ran an analysis and discovered the following:
    1. The nature of the physical work done at the plant had not changed substantially over that 20 year time frame.
    2. In 20 years there had not been a single OSHA or non-OSHA accident related to legs or feet (and for the first 10 of those years the company did not have a mandatory safety shoe policy in place).
    3. During the entire 20 year span the primary OSHA accident consisted of 2nd degree burns to the fingers, hands or lower arms.
    4. During the entire 20 year span the next largest OSHA accident consisted of cuts requiring one or more stitches. Those cuts occurred on either the fingers or the hands and were due overwhelmingly to improper handling of glass tubing.
    5. The overall 20 year trend in OSHA accidents had been down, steeply down, and the “big” difference between the most recent year and the prior year amounted to nothing more than ordinary process variation.

    When I presented my findings several things happened.
    1. The safety shoe program ended.
    2. The entire plant knew what the two biggest issues with respect to OSHA safety were and had been for the last 20 years.
    3. Additional focus/emphasis was placed on wearing proper gloves and lower arm protection when working with anything from the heating ovens.
    3. The company purchased puncture resistant gloves for glass tubing and everyone involved in handling glass tubing received additional safety training.

    The end results:
    1. OSHA recordables dropped to 0 for several years running.
    2. As had been the case for the prior 20 years no one had a foot or lower leg injury.
    3. The cost of the shoe program was eliminated.
    4. The time involved in fitting and safety shoe inspection was used for other purposes.



    A company where I worked had recurring billing errors. We put a lot of effort into tracking and analyzing the errors in the billing system, QC to check during the process, with no improvement. Eventually we found that the main problem was that negotiated sales prices often didn’t get into the system until after shipment, due to controls and sign-offs required to approve prices. This was invisible to the billing system. We were looking at the wrong system.


    Roger Hill

    Guys, thanks for the quick response and sharing past war stories. I’m sure I can use these. I’m hoping for other contributions related to product development.

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