A millwright who violated his employer's "Cardinal
Rules" by committing a lock-out violation, deserved a
six-month suspension and with a last-chance stipulation, an
arbitrator has held. The company's decision to dismiss
the employee was overturned.
The employer had five Cardinal Rules of safety. Cardinal
Rule #3 read, "Isolation and lock out procedures must always
The employee could not locate the switch to turn off electrical
power to equipment that he was asked to fix. He decided that
instead of locating and isolating the power source, he would
disconnect electrical wires and put tape on the exposed
wiring. Apparently the tape came off one of the wires and it
touched another wire which caused sparks and an electrical short.
No one was injured.
Three months earlier, the employee had received a one-day
suspension for what the arbitrator called an "identical first
The arbitrator found that both safety violations occurred in
low-risk situations. There was no injury, no damage to property and
no evidence of lost production. The employee's decision
was influenced by his desire to complete the task in the time
alloted to him and not for selfish reasons. At the same time,
the arbitrator acknowledged that his decision must deter other
employees from violating safety rules. The arbitrator
reinstated the employee with a six-month suspension, and
imposed a condition that should the employee "commit any
safety violation" in the one year following his reinstatement,
the employer would have just cause to dismiss him.
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