Prevention of technological risks in Aceros Argentinos. Change alternatives for an improvement in security management

  • Adrian Darmohraj Universidad de San Andrés
  • Jorge Walter Universidad de San Andrés


Only intuitive and sensory organizations resist and know how to survive in the great transition periods.
Patrick Lagadec

It was 8:15 in the morning on a cold day in May 2008, when the sun delayed its arrival on the window of the office of Carlos Losada, Corporate Manager of the Integrated Management System of Aceros Argentinos. He served himself a cup of coffee while waiting for his right hand, the Manager of the Corporate Area of Industrial Safety Fernando Arregui. Together they would have to review a series of documents for a meeting that would take place the following week with the line managers of Villa Angela’s Wire Plant. In his hands he had a diagnostic report on perceptions of safety in the plant that would serve as input to design a plan of actions. This plan should help put an end to a surprising series of serious accidents that had occurred after the certification of international safety standards, required by the parent company to all its subsidiaries in the world.
During the last years the company had changed several times its shareholders and its corporate policies. These changes not only led to new and higher production and productivity standards, but also to the management of human resources, quality, safety and environmental impact. Regarding safety, the objective of the certification
of international standards was to reduce the frequency and severity of accidents, since both indicators were historically of the order of 35 accidents per million hours worked and 0.5 days lost each 1000 hours worked while the values considered desirable by the parent company were significantly lower (10 and 0.1 respectively).
To face the problem, Losada decided to start a pilot experience in one of the wire production plants located in Villa Angela, Santa Fe province, considered the most favorable because of the good relationship between its managers, supervisors and operators.
The following week, Losada would have for this purpose a key meeting with Gustavo Álvarez (Manager of the Wire Plant) and its line managers to discuss a plan of actions. The mission of Losada was to reduce the frequency and severity of accidents in the next 24 months, promoting a lasting change in the safety management mode. With the support of Arregui, Álvarez and his team of line managers had to choose a
course of action, considering the restrictions and the pros and cons of the different alternatives available to carry it forward. Losada wondered: how to achieve lasting changes without improvements taking too long to arrive? Should the preparation of managers and middle managers be given priority, or should immediate participation
be given to the workers and their union representatives? Among the existing restrictions to choose one or the other course of action, the main ones were, on the one hand, the strong pressure of the parent company in favor of rapid improvements in terms of reducing the number and above all the severity of accidents and, on the other hand, the presence of a combative union, always distrustful of employer policies and accustomed to resorting to conflict as a tool to defend the interests of workers.
If the pilot experience achieved positive results, it was hoped to turn it into a reference example for the rest of the plants. If it failed, the improvements to be made could suffer additional delays, with the consequent risk of recurrence of serious accidents.
Keywords Prevention of technological risks, Industrial safety, Risk Reduction Plan
How to Cite
Darmohraj, A., & Walter, J. (2020). Prevention of technological risks in Aceros Argentinos. Change alternatives for an improvement in security management. Estudios de Administración, 26(2), 4-20. doi:10.5354/0719-0816.2020.56948
Teaching Cases