Thursday, 11 February 2010

Safe work is the door to all work

The Toyota mantra is "Safe work, reliable work, skilled work. Safe work is the door to all work. Let us pass through this door first."

As a simple expression of a risk management philosophy which all workers can understand it has worked well until the wheels started metaphorically coming off the Toyota juggernaut.

Some Toyota workers consider that the recalls are down to having recruited people who do not have the Toyota work ethic, but the recall problems are not the result of shoddy workmanship which would be rectified by recalling batches made by a particular shift in a plant. The problems are rather a matter of design. Some of the design problems are down to the enthusiasm with which Toyota cuts costs, an approach which, unless the emphasis on safe work is maintained can compromise the vehicles' safety and this appears to be what has happened with the jammed accelerators. The fix could have been designed in and is now having to be laboriously and expensively retrofitted. "Just in time" needs also to take into account "just in case".

The design problems with the hybrid cars are different. This is new technology and as it develops there will be problems or perception of problems which will need to be addressed. Toyota's reputation has been severely damaged by all these problems across their range coming together at the same time. There is now a view that all Toyota cars are suspect, which knocks the second hand market and the demand for its new cars too. Nothing that Toyota has said to date has calmed the concerns. They need to get back to their mantra.

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