During the day I like to check out my hometown newspaper the Findlay Courier. This afternoon there was a breaking news item that Wilson’s Sandwich Shop might be closing down. For those not from the area Wilson’s is a Findlay institution having been around since the Great Depression. The unique part of the place is they make their own hamburger patties fresh every day and sell them as cheap as possible. It was one of the hamburger shops Dave Thomas visited when developing his Wendy’s chain of fast food restaurants.
Needless to say the closing if it happens would be sad indeed.
So I am reading the article posted online – the full article and more details will be published Wednesday in the print edition – and the writer brings out two points.
The restaurant has been having bad times due to the economy and lack of business. The manager is quoted as saying the business has lost money at least for the last five years.
The second point the article makes is:
Perhaps the last straw will be $2,100 in proposed fines it faces from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Employees have been exposed to several risks involving a hamburger patty molding machine, the federal agency reported: potential finger and hand pinches; electrical shock; and increased risk of electrocution.
Fenbert has referred the allegations to an attorney, and is “doing away with the (patty-making) machines,” he said. He said he cannot afford to take the equipment precautions and offer the training the safety administration would require.
“I am going to buy patties until we close down,” he said. “That is not the way we have done it for 50 years. We made our own hamburgers.”
I know Findlay so well that I can tell you the online comments and letters to the editor won’t talk about the down economy and lack of business it will rant about how the government is forcing them to close with the ridiculous regulations by OSHA as if that will really help them stay in business.
If they can’t afford to protect their employees from what looks like old equipment then how will that help them stay in business to get rid of the regulation. Could Wilson’s survive a lawsuit if an employee gets hurt because they can’t afford to update their equipment?
If it weren’t for OSHA and employee safety regulation we still might have children working coal mines for just one example.
Since I wrote the text of this post earlier today, the situation at Wilson’s doesn’t seem as dire. The business is owned by 3 families and the manager, Mike Fenbert, represents only one third of the ownership. The other 2 families were not aware of the OSHA fine and told the Courier they plan to do what they can to keep the business open.
I also should note that OSHA just doesn’t pop-in for a visit at a work place. Usually they are responding to a complaint phoned in my a worker or investigating after an injury has been reported.
I still believe the public reaction will be to complain about the government rather than taking responsibility for the business trouble themselves – ie. lack of business and loss of income.