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Alcoa Corporation’s Workplace Safety Practices Case Study


Why did Richard Green do what he did?

Richard Green was the AFL president for over ten years. The AFL manufacturing division was one of the best performing subsidiaries of Alcoa in terms of safety standards, growth, and revenue generation. However, there were quite a several incidents that took place in plants #1 and #4 that were not reported to the company’s headquarters in Pittsburgh. Even though the incidents were of great magnitude and touched on the safety of workers, Richard Green opted to seek local solutions instead of referring or even filing incident reports to the headquarters of Alcoa’s operations. For instance, the September 1994 incident at plant #4 led to hospital admission of 173 employees who had passed out during their normal duties (Spear 4).

One of the likely reasons why Richard Green opted to handle the safety issues locally was due to the desire to expedite the process of ensuring safety standards for employees. Even though reporting to the company’s headquarters would have been necessary, the most precise action to take was to deal with the locally arising cases from time to time. It is also apparent that the AFL division of Alcoa was doing quite well in terms of safety standards and that is why Richard Green felt that the reported cases in plants #1 and #4 were minor and as such, could be handled at the local level (Spear 5).

Also, Richard Green decided to concentrate on more demanding operations of the AFL division of Alcoa at the expense of simply filing incident reports to Pittsburgh. Since AFL was quite ahead in terms of revenue generation, revenue growth, and safety standards, the three safety incidents that took place in 1994 were insignificant compared to the achievements of the company in this region. Finally, Richard Green may not have reported the incidents since external consultants were hired to inspect the plants for safety. Besides, necessary actions were recommended and executed. The additional safety gadgets and ventilations were also installed to safeguard employees from exposure to toxic carbon monoxide gas. Even the safety commission gave positive feedback regarding the operations of AFL during the leadership of Richard Green. Due to all these supporting facts, there was no need to elevate the issue to the top management level at Alcoa’s headquarters in Pittsburgh (Friend and Kohn 59).

If you are Paul O’Neill, what action would you have taken concerning Green? Why?

To begin with, it is prudent to note that the only management error that Richard Green committed was the failure to file a report to the company’s headquarters in Pittsburgh so that it could be included in the overall safety standards and reporting system of Alcoa’s operations. The real-time safety data system could have been used by the management at AFL operations to report both the three safety incidents that took place in 1994 as well as the subsequent actions (Bohle and Quinlan 75). If I were Paul O’Neill, I would begin by holding an emergency meeting with both Richard Green and all the managers working at the AFL division of Alcoa Company. Some of the top agendas that I would have proposed in the meeting include:

  • The importance of filing and submitting incident reports to the corporate headquarters in Pittsburgh,
  • The modality of conducting subsequent actions after the occurrence of incidents,
  • Routine auditing of all the operating plants in regards to employee’s safety standards,
  • The role of departmental managers in identifying, examining, documenting, reporting, and submitting incident reports, and
  • Immediate action plans should be put in place to correct the negative impression that Alcoa is not up to standards in terms of workplace safety.

The meeting would have been vital since it could provide a consensus on the importance of submitting regular and emergent reports on the AFL operations. From the meeting, all the incident reports and action points that were taken during the three incidents will be filed, documented, and made public for the sake of enhancing transparency and accountability in safety standards (Ferrett 53). Also, the meeting will come up with clear procedures that ought to be followed when reporting incidents. Members present in the meeting will be made to acknowledge the importance of updating incident reports so that they can be fully incorporated in the annual occupation health and safety reports of all the Alcoa subsidiaries. The following reasons explain why it will be necessary to hold an urgent meeting with the above-stated objectives:

  • It is not proper to point an accusing finger at Richard Green for failure to submit incident reports to the corporate headquarters in Pittsburgh. A blame game can only worsen relationship building among the company employees (Chaturvedi 102).
  • Through such a consultative meeting, a sense of seriousness in terms of reporting incidents will be brought into sharp focus. Talking privately with a few managers and Richard Green may not drive the message well as it is intended.

How would you explain your decision to key constituents/stakeholders who might be aware of Green’s performance?

Richard Green has been known to be an impressive performer ever since he was appointed as the president of the AFL division under Alcoa Company. It is also obvious that most of the key constituents or stakeholders are aware of his excellent performance at Alcoa’s operations in Mexico. However, there are still quite a several stakeholders such as Sister Mary Margaret who may not be convinced with the highly publicized employee safety standards at Alcoa. Perhaps, I will have to offer an adequate explanation to stakeholders who are pessimistic about the safety standards that have been adopted by the company.

Firstly, I will inform them that despite the few incidents that went unreported at the AFL operations in Mexico, Richard Green was still an able and shrewd leader. I will also affirm to them that despite the isolated incidents of carbon monoxide poisoning that was identified among some employees, the president and managers at AFL went ahead and took corrective measures based on the recommendations from external consultants (Roughton 133). From the time when these measures were put in place, no additional safety issues have been reported whatsoever. Also, the commission dealing with occupational health and safety has been consulted to give their independent feedback. From their investigation, it has been found out that employees are safe at this place of work and that no further recommendation is required to boost the safety standards of the AFL division of Alcoa Company.

Finally, the contested issue regarding the remuneration of employees has also been cleared. I will inform the stakeholders that from our survey, we found out that AFL has been ranked position three in terms of the best-paying companies in the region.

Works Cited

Bohle, Philip, and Michael, Quinlan. Managing occupational health and safety: A multidisciplinary approach. South Yarra, Vic: Macmillan, 2000. Print.

Chaturvedi, Pradeep (ed.). Challenges of Occupational Safety and Health: Thrust: Safety in Transportation. New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company, 2006. Print.

Ferrett, Ed. International Health and Safety at Work Revision Guide. New York: Routledge, 2012. Print.

Friend, Mark and James, Kohn. Fundamentals of Occupational Safety and Health. Lanham, Maryland: Government Institutes, 2010. Print.

Roughton, James. Developing an Effective Safety Culture: A Leadership Approach (1st ed.). Butterworth: Heinemann, 2002. Print.

Spear, Steven. Workplace safety at Alcoa (B). Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing, 2000. Print.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Alcoa Corporation's Workplace Safety Practices." February 24, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/alcoa-corporations-workplace-safety-practices/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Alcoa Corporation's Workplace Safety Practices'. 24 February.

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