How quality control circles enhance work safety: a case study
ABSTRACT Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore how quality control circles (QCCs) enhance work safety in a manufacturing firm in a developing country environment of the Middle East. Design/methodology/approach – This paper is an exploratory investigation into the role of QCCs in enhancing work safety based on a case study method. This includes: a comprehensive scrutiny of the relevant literature; and an analysis of a case study of QCCs implementation for enhancing work safety in Direct Reduction Furnace Zone at Qasco, a steel mill in the State of Qatar. Findings – At the outset, the QCC team identified three specific targets for them to achieve in order to ensure a safe work environment for its workers. After having identified the causes of the problems, the team members were able to analyze the problems, generate alternative solutions, and eventually implement the best solutions. Consequently, the members were able to achieve all their targets. Research limitations/implications – There is a need to empirically test and refine the critical factors affecting the successful implementation of QCCs and to explore the most important barriers that might impede the success of their implementation. Practical implications – The findings of this study can be considered as a roadmap for successful implementation of QCCs in all the subsidiaries of Industries Qatar, the parent company of Qasco, and perhaps in all other organizations in the different sectors and industries but with a similar working environment to that of Qasco. Originality/value – Generally, the results of this research should enhance the current practices of QCCs implementation, which mostly follow narrowly-focused approaches. In essence, the results of this research will help management in making crucial decisions and in resource allocations that are required to make the QCCs implementation a success.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to attempt to: explore the problems that the production division of Qatar Steel Company (QASCO) typically encounter in implementing QCs, identify the critical success factors promoting QCs implementation and discern the real benefits of QCs implementation. Design/methodology/approach – Data for this study were collected using a self-administered questionnaire that was distributed to 400 QCs members within the five departments (i.e. Manufacturing, Maintenance, Direct Reduction, Material Control and Technical departments) which comprised the production division of QASCO. Of the 400 questionnaires posted, a total of 197 were returned and used for the analysis. Findings – The results of the study indicated that lack of support from top management was reported as the biggest problem impeding the implementation, and also commitment and support from top management were reported as the most important success factor of QCs implementation in the five departments. More importantly, the findings indicated that QCs implementation has created an atmosphere of cooperation within QASCO and produced many positive results including improving quality, increasing productivity, and improving the management style. Research limitations/implications – The sample is restricted to only a single division, i.e. the production division of QASCO, so it would be strongly recommended that data be gathered from various divisions of QASCO, i.e. replications of this study are required to generalize its findings. Studying the deriving and inhibiting forces to QCs implementation in practice remains a task that requires further attention from researchers, whatever their motivations. Practical implications – The findings are important and relevant to all the departments in QASCO. The study hopes to create more awareness among management and employees of the strategic importance of QCs to operational processes. More importantly, the benefits attained would be a motivating factor for managers to use QCs. Originality/value – The research provides empirical insights to the growing body of knowledge on QCs implementation. Most of QCs research has been done in developed countries. The study presents the successful adoption and implementation of QCs in a manufacturing firm in a developing country of the Middle East where published research results on the successful use of QCs have been rather scarce.TQM Journal 01/2009; 21(1):87-100.
How quality control circles
enhance work safety: a case study
Salaheldin I. Salaheldin and Mohamed Zain
Department of Management and Marketing, College of Business and Economics,
University of Qatar, Doha, Qatar
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore how quality control circles (QCCs) enhance work
safety in a manufacturing firm in a developing country environment of the Middle East.
Design/methodology/approach – This paper is an exploratory investigation into the role of QCCs
in enhancing work safety based on a case study method. This includes: a comprehensive scrutiny of
the relevant literature; and an analysis of a case study of QCCs implementation for enhancing work
safety in Direct Reduction Furnace Zone at Qasco, a steel mill in the State of Qatar.
Findings – At the outset, the QCC team identified three specific targets for them to achieve in order to
ensure a safe work environment for its workers. After having identified the causes of the problems, the
team members were able to analyze the problems, generate alternative solutions, and eventually
implement the best solutions. Consequently, the members were able to achieve all their targets.
Research limitations/implications – There is a need to empirically test and refine the critical
factors affecting the successful implementation of QCCs and to explore the most important barriers
that might impede the success of their implementation.
Practical implications – The findings of this study can be considered as a roadmap for successful
implementation of QCCs in all the subsidiaries of Industries Qatar, the parent company of Qasco, and
perhaps in all other organizations in the different sectors and industries but with a similar working
environment to that of Qasco.
Originality/value – Generally, the results of this research should enhance the current practices of
QCCs implementation, which mostly follow narrowly-focused approaches. In essence, the results of
this research will help management in making crucial decisions and in resource allocations that are
required to make the QCCs implementation a success.
Keywords Performance measures, Quality control, Quality circles, Safety, Qatar
Paper type Case study
Quality control circles (QCCs) were defined by Ishikawa (1985) as “small group of
workers, from the same work place, who meet together on a regular, voluntary basis to
perform quality control activities and engage in self and mutual development”. A QCC
is a team of up to 12 people who usually work together and who meet voluntarily on a
regular basis “to identify, investigate, analyze and solve their work-related problems”
(Department of Trade and Industry (UK), 1992, in Millson and Kirk-Smith, 1996). These
people are trained to structure problem identification, evaluation, solution and
presentation stages and to use associated techniques such as Ishikawa’s seven tools –
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
The authors would like to thank the Qasco’s QCC members at the Direct Reduction Plant,
particularly Eng. Ahmed Sabt (Manager of the Engineering Department), Eng. Adil Al-husseini
(Manager of the Technical Department), and Eng. Wakeel Ahmed, also from the Technical
Department, for their valuable support in order for them to complete with this research paper.
The TQM Magazine
Vol. 19 No. 3, 2007
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
process flowcharting, histograms, check sheets, Pareto analysis, cause and effect
diagrams and control charts (Ishikawa, 1976).
The main purpose of the regular meetings among the team members is to achieve
customer (internal and external) satisfaction through continuous improvement and
teamwork (Goh, 2000). To achieve this result it is important for the members to have a
good understanding of the role of customer and the involvement and commitment of
employees throughout the organization (Besterfield, 1994). In other words, to be
successful the initiative requires intense focus on customers and on business processes,
a strong spirit of continuous improvement, coordinated teamwork, and proactive
employee participation (Harris, 1995).
Moreover, QCC represent groups of employees who meet on a regular basis to
discuss work related problems and provide solutions to them. These groups are called
a variety of names including employee-involvement teams, problem-solving groups
and process-improvement teams (Olberding, 1998). In order for these groups to be
successful, the approach used must be compatible with the firm’s management
philosophy on how to relate to employees. The groups also depend on management
being supportive and involved (French, 1998). An example of the initiative to involve
employees is seen at the Ford Motor Company. Ford claims that QCC were successful
in improving product quality and reducing production costs as well as absenteeism
More importantly, the literature review reveals that workers safety is one of the
most basic issues in job design. Therefore, worker safety problems impede the
effectiveness of operations within manufacturing firms (Slack et al., 2003; Stevenson,
However, an extensive literature review revealed that there has not been any
reported cases of the role of QCCs in enhancing work safety within manufacturing
firms. Accordingly, this paper attempts to highlight how a major steel manufacturing
firm in Qatar (Qasco) has undergone a successful journey in using QCCs to enhance
work safety in its operations.
The case study begins with the importance of this paper. Next, the case presents a
literature review of the implementation of QCC within organizations. Following this,
the case describes the role of QCC in eliminating unsafe situation in the Direct
Reduction plant of Qasco and evaluates its role towards that aim. Finally, the case
study closes with some concluding remarks.
A considerable number of literature on QCCs has developed over the past three decades
since the first time the program was used in Japan in 1962, in the USA by Lockheed in
1974, and in the UK by Rolls-Royce in 1978 (Boaden and Dale, 1993). Nowadays, there
are many applications of the program in both manufacturing (for, e.g. see Dale, 1984;
Banas, 1988; Collard and Dale, 1989; and Pinnington and Hammersley, 1997) and
service (e.g., see Berry et al., 1989; Smith and Lewis, 1989; and Millson and Kirk-Smith,
According to Piczak (1988), among the potential advantages of QCCs include: they
involve and develop employees, and can directly address problems in areas such as
quality, productivity, efficiency, costs, communication, absenteeism, staff turnover and
grievances as well as competition. Furthermore, the techniques also result in other
benefits including helping: employees learn to work towards a common goal with
people at different organizational levels and from different parts of the organization,
thus reducing communication barriers between managers and staff; increase in job
satisfaction and decrease in frustration among them; increase the members’ skill levels;
and increase their control over their own environment (Piczak, 1988).
Past researches have found both successes as well as failures with the use of QCCs
by organizations. For example, research by Lee and Lam (1997) on the use of QCCs by
Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation hasfound that the use of QCCs together with the
ISO 9001 quality system has resulted in significant increase in the reliability of the
electric passenger train service while at the same time it resulted in a decrease in the
maintenance costs. Also, according to Johns and Chesterton (1994), ICL of UK was
saved from bankruptcy because of the introduction and implementation of a system of
QCCs throughout the manufacturing division in 1983. However, in another example, an
empirical study of the use of QCCs within Land-Rover in the UK by Pinnington and
Hammersley (1997) did not produce positive results, where after nine years of
operations, Land-Rover’s QCC program was terminated in early 1997. The researchers
argue that the program was a failure because the management of the company did not
want to experiment further with a participative approach to management.
Nevertheless, Hill (1995) and Hill (1996) claim that the failure of many British and
Western QCC programs to achieve what was expected of them during the 1980s were
due to the setting of inappropriate objectives and faulty implementation and not due to
their lack of intrinsic merits.
Moreover, the literature review reveals that most organizations operate in an
environment of risk (such as manufacturing companies) and the key to business success
is to reduce this risk to an acceptable or tolerable level (Fuller and Vassie, 2001).
Worker safety is one of the most important sources of risk. Workers cannot be
effectively motivated if they feel they are working in a dangerous environment
(Stevenson, 2005). More importantly, work safety is one of the criteria that is used to
judge a good layout within manufacturing firms (Slack et al., 2003).
An effective program of safety control requires the adoption, use and pervading
safety culture within organizations (Back and Woolfson, 1999). Also, workers must be
trained in proper procedures and attitudes, and they can certainly contribute to a
reduction in hazards by pointing out if hazards exist in the workplace to the
management (Slack et al., 2003).
One of the effective training tools that can be implemented to help workers
overcome any problems they might face them in their work environment is QCCs.
Accordingly, this case study attempts to demonstrate that a movement towards a
lower level of unsafe work is accelerated by the adoption of one of the most important
continuous improvement initiatives or programs, such as QCCs.
As the nature of this research problem is exploratory and descriptive, and the context
is organizational, a case study research design was selected as in Pinnington and
Hammersley (1997), Goh (2000), and Canel and Kadipasaoglu (2002).
Data for this case study was collected via personal interviews with the QCC
members of the Direct Reduction Plant of Qasco, the QC facilitator, the QC leader, five
managers from various levels, three supervisors, and two technicians during the
months of May and June of 2005. Data was also gathered from secondary sources such
as the company’s internal publications and newsletters as well as the Internet.
Qatar Steel Company (Qasco) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Industries Qatar (a
Qatari shareholding company) is the first integrated steel plant in the whole Arabian
Gulf. The company was established on 14 December 1974, but steel production at the
plant started only in 1978. The mill is located in Mesaieed Industrial City, 45 kilometers
south of Doha, the capital of Qatar.
The integrated plant consists primarily of four units: Direct Reduction, Electric Arc
Furnace, Continuous Casting, and Rolling Mill. Other auxiliaries include the Material
Receiving/Handling, Main Power Substation, Quality Control Centre, Maintenance
Shops, and other facilities as sea/fresh water, compressed air, natural gas and a clinic.
The whole plant including its administrative offices occupies a land area of
707,000sq.m. Adjacent to the land is a further land area of 375,000sq.m reserved for
future development and expansion of the plant.
With its latest production technology and equipment, the plant generates an annual
production of 1.2 million tons of molten steel and 740,000 tons of rolled iron per year.
The plant employed a total workforce of approximately 1,250 employees comprising 12
different nationalities. With the exception of the office staff, the mill is run on a 3-shift
system. Since the start of its firstproduction, the company has undergone rapidgrowth
and expansion and has achieved many milestones, certifications and awards including
JIS Mark and ISO 9002 certifications.
Over the years, Qasco has gained a reputation as a manufacturer of first class
products. Its product quality is tailored in accordance with international standards. For
example, in addition to getting ISO 9002 certification in 1992, the product and
management quality of the company has been endorsed by the UK-based Certificate
Authority for Reinforcing Steels (CARES), an authority which is accredited by the
United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) to ISO Guide 65 (product certification)
and ISO Guide 62 (quality management systems certification using ISO 9001 (www.
qasco.com.qa/, 14 October 2006).
The product is supported by an effective and reliable delivery and after sales
service. Its proximity to other GCC countries enables it to supply a sizeable portion of
the regions’ requirements, as well as Qatar’s own domestic need.
The case study
Hazardous conditions in Qasco’s direct reduction plant
Direct Reduction plant is inevitably vital in the production cycle of Qasco as it controls
the cost of production and the profitability of the company. The plant produces sponge
iron used by the electric arc furnace for making molten steel. Natural gas and oxide
pellets are its feed stocks and the process is called the Midrex process. There are three
main facilities in the plant:
(1) Material handling (MH) system which supplies oxide pellets to shaft furnace
and sponge iron to the Melting shop.
(2) Reformer which produces reformed gas used by the Reduction Furnace.
(3) Reduction furnace which reduces the oxide pellets to sponge iron.
The material handling and direct reduction maintenance sections of the plant maintain
each static and rotating equipment of the plant in order to ensure its maximum
utilization. The responsibility of the maintenance section is also to maintain a smooth
trouble free plant operations and to upgrade and develop the equipment in order to
enhance the productivity at reduced production costs (see Figure 1).
In accordance with the plant layout all equipments in the plant are classified into
four zones: material handling system; process system; shaft furnace; and dust
To assure maximum plant availability, the plant places high emphasis on the safety
of the equipment in order to safe guard the workers. To achieve this objective, during
the one-year period from January to December 2004, the QCC team studied all the four
zones in order to determine which specific operations are hazardous to the workers
while doing the jobs. From the study, the breakdown of the percentages of the
hazardous jobs carried out by the workers in all the four zones is shown in Figure 2.
From the pie chart it reveals that most (60 per cent) of the unscheduled jobs were
hazardous during execution of DR shaft furnace. The QCC members further analyzed
the unscheduled jobs and execution difficulties using a Pareto graph over the one year
period. The results obtained are shown in Figure 3.
After having acknowledged the unsafe conditions in the DR shaft furnace and in
order to tackle them successfully, the QCC team selected a theme for their QCC
program as “To enhance the working safety in DR furnace zone”. Basically, the main
reasons for selecting the theme were due to:
. unsafe working environment at the plant;
. a possibility of human and equipment accident could occur; and
Percentages of the
. delays in job execution could occur. In order to plan and execute the QCC
activities, the QCC schedule (see Figure 4) was prepared by the team.
Using a Cause and Effect or Fishbone diagram (Figure 5) the QCC members were able
to analyze the various problems.
Specific problems faced by the QCC team:
(1) TGS and CZS “U”-Seal. The TGS and CZS “U” Seal is a barometric seal which
blocks the system gases from escaping, seals the scrubber and maintains the
system pressure. The scrubber “U” seal level was maintained by a water
column. The continuous presence of carbon monoxide (CO) gas at the vent area
and its direct contact with water is very dangerous since the gas is highly
flammable and explosive. Furthermore, several repair works such as welding
and gas cutting jobs carried out in the furnace during the plant operations could
cause sparks to get into the vent mouth which could cause fire. This could even
lead to plant stoppage. During the one year period, there were two instances of
fire accidents occurred at the plant.
(2) DR furnace hatches. All the top and bottom hatches of the DR furnace have to be
opened in order to carry out any sort of repair activities. The first priority for
the workers to do is to open the top hatch cover in order to facilitate quick and
sudden cooling of the furnace as the tendency of the hot gas flow is always
towards the top. The top hatch is bigger in size (about 1.5m in diameter and
300mm in thickness) and weighs approximate 500kg. Opening and pulling out
of this hatch cover is very difficult and unsafe due to the high temperature and
Percentages of hazardous
The QCC schedule
Cause and effect diagram
the jamming of the furnace refractory shell. After pulling it out, the hatch cover
needs to be shifted using chain blocks to a nearby and convenient location,
away from the workers walkway.
(3) Furnace top seal cone and distribution legs. In an effort to increase productivity,
lime coating of the oxide pellets was introduced. Due to this, dust built-up at the
furnace top seal cone and distribution legs increased. The dust later became
harden causing the area to diminish in size and interrupting the material flow
resulting in lowering of quality and production loss. To overcome the problem,
a temporary platform with scaffolding material was erected at the top seal cone
area for the purpose of hammering and unplugging the top seal cone with a
swinging hammer. The hammer is located at about 3 m height from the existing
floor. However, while hammering the top seal with great force the platform
started to shake and causing it to be imbalance and increasing the chances of an
accident to occur.
A summary of the problems encountered by the QCC members and their resulting
countermeasures is shown in Table I. To eliminate these problems through the QCC
principle of Plan – Do – Check – Act, the team fixed their target as:
. ensuring safe working environment;
. assuring human and equipment safety; and
. ensuring smooth execution of jobs.
Problems before QCCReason Countermeasure Remarks
Problem 1: Unsafe point at TGS and CZS “U” seal vent pipe
TGS and CZS U seal
vent pipe caught fire
due to presence of CO
while welding and gas
cutting on furnace top
Sparks flying from the
work area and getting
into the U-seal vent
Work area covered by
tarpaulin and heat
1. Proper sealing of the
area was not
possible. So the job
Problem 2: Unsafe point during opening and transferring of Furnace top hatch
Furnace top hatch cover
transferring was a
difficult and tiresome
Bigger in size, heavy
and heat radiation,
Several chain blocks
were provided, wedging
and manually pushing
by crow bar, and
1. Wedging and
damage to the hatch
2. Cover extraction and
difficult and unsafe
3. More manpower
Problem 3: Unsafe point during opening and transferring of the furnace top hatch
Unplugging of the top
seal cone area using a
swinging hammer on
the scaffolding was
Platform was weak and
Wearing of safety belt
1. Full concentration not
higher possibility of
Problems analysis and
Efforts to overcome the problems
Problem 1: U seal vent pipe caught fire due to welding sparks while executing repair jobs
on the furnace. In order to overcome the problem, the QCC members conducted a couple
of trials. The first trial involved covering the U-seal vent mouth with a fire resistant
non-asbestos cloth. After carrying out this trial, the QCC members were able to
evaluate the results (see Table II).
As the above trial produced significant de-merit and disadvantages, the QCC team
decided to do a second trial, i.e. by installing a hinge-type metallic cover with stopper
and chain. The result of this second trial is shown in Table III.
After this modification is made, if unexpected seal loss occurred during any welding
job in the furnace area, the cover will be opened by the pressurized hot water and it will
be closed automatically. After the job is completed, the cover can be opened manually
by pulling the chain from the furnace platform by a single person without the need to
use a crane.
Problem 2: Opening, closing, and transferring difficulties of the furnace top hatch
cover. To execute any repair activities in the shaft furnace, all the hatches from top to
bottom need to be opened to allow for quick and sudden cooling of the furnace. Also,
the extraction and transferring of the top hatch cover was a difficult and tiresome
activity (see Table IV).
After a detailed study of the situation, the QCC members decided to simplify the
method for extracting and transferring the top hatch cover safely. Two evaluation
trials were carried out. The first trial (in February 2005) involved using a jack to
TroubleIdea Merit De-merit Remarks
Fire at the U-seal
U-seal vent with
Prevent fire Mouth covering
due to continuous
presence of CO in
the area and due to
loss due to hot
water which could
1. Job is unsafe
2. Repeated job
3. High altitude
4. Crane is required to
do the job
Problem 1 – Evaluation
of Trial No. 1 (March
Trouble IdeaMeritDe-merit Remarks
vent mouth with
was unsafe and
with a stopper plate
the need for human
to handle the U-seal
vent mouth and
removed the need to
use the crane
Nil Any gas
on the furnace can
be executed in a safe
manner and without
Problem 1 – Evaluation
of Trial No. 2
extract top hatch cover from the furnace. To do this, the QCC members modified the
hatch cover with a 2-sided projection plate and used a hydraulic jack to eject the cover.
The result of the evaluation of Trial 1 is shown in Table V.
After the implementation of the jacking provision the hatch cover extraction
procedure became simplified. But the transferring of the hatch cover to a safe location
by means of chain blocks was difficult and unsafe. The work group became exhausted
due to heat radiation from the hot air blowing out from the furnace. The approximate
temperature of the hot air was more than 3008C. Thus, the QCC team decided to carry
out another trial (in February 2005) involving the use of a traveling hoist provision at
the top hatch area.
To do this, the QCC members installed a traveling hoist mechanism with “I” beam to
enable quick and easy handling and transferring of the hatch cover to a safe location
with minimum use of manpower. The team members could now start to carry out
internal repair activities of the furnace three to four hours ahead of time, during the
shut down by quick extraction and transferring of top hatch cover. Thus, after
implementing the traveling hoist, hatch cover shifting to safe area and re-fixing it in
the furnace became easy and safe (Table VI).
Problem No. 3: Top seal cone unplugging was inconvenient due to weak and improper
platform. The third problem faced by the QCC team is shown in Table VII. To
overcome the problem, the team members carried out a trial (in May 2005) which
involved the installation of a rigid platform with safety hand railings and a ladder
(Table VIII). By installing these facilities, hammering jobs on the top seal cone became
safer and more effective. Also, free flows of the material were also assured.
Problems before QCC ReasonCountermeasuresRemarks
Opening, closing, and
transferring of the
furnace top hatch cover
was difficult and unsafe
Big size, heavy, heat
area, and jamming with
the furnace shell
Several chain blocks
were provided; wedging
and manually pushing
using a crow bar, and
providing a manual
transferring was a
exhausted due to heat
radiation and area
manpower was required
Second problem and its
TroubleIdea MeritDe-merit Remarks
the furnace top
hatch cover was
Provided a jacking
provision on both
sides of the hatch
the cover to a safe
area was very
difficult by means
of chain blocks.
the heat radiation
area continued to
Problem 2 – Evaluation
of Trial No. 1
Cost and benefit analysis
The efforts carried out by the QCC to improve the quality of the plant operations have
resulted in some financial savings to the company. As can be seen in Table IX, the
eradication of the problems (which has cost the company 26,400QR per year in
maintenance cost) by the QCC members has resulted in a net saving of 20,080QR for
2005 alone (after deducting 1,320QR annual maintenance cost after the QCC
implementation and the one-time QCC expense of 5,000QR (covering the costs of
beverages and light meals for the QCC team members over the period of 15 January to
15 December 2005)). Thus, in the subsequent years we can expect that the annual
saving will be more that the above figure since the QCC expense mentioned above was
a one-time expense.
In addition to the above financial benefit, the company also gained some intangible
TroubleIdea Merit De-meritRemarks
Furnace top hatch
was difficult, unsafe
Provided a traveling
hoist mechanism at
the top hatch area
After extracting the
hatch cover from the
furnace it can be
shifted to a safe area
Nil Hatch cover
transferring job was
made easy and safe
with minimum time
of workers at the
heat radiation area
can now be avoided
Problem2 – Evaluationof
Trial No. 2 (March 2005)
Problems before QCC Reason Countermeasure Remarks
Unplugging of the top
seal cone area by a
swinging hammer on
the scaffolding was
height was too high.
platform was shaky and
Workers were made to
wear a safety belt
1. Slipping possibility
2. Full concentration
not attained while
3. Humanly unsafe
Third problem and its
Trouble Idea Merit De-meritRemarks
Unplugging of the
top seal cone by a
on the scaffolding
installed a rigid
platform with hand
railings at the top
seal cone area
With these added
hammering jobs on
the top seal cone
became safer and
more effective. They
also assured free
flow of the materials
Problem 3 – Evaluation
of Trial No. 1 (June 2005)
. ability of the managers and workers to identify future safety problems;
. improved workers’ self-confidence;
. improved technical skills of the workers in identifying problems; and
. improved workers’ safety.
Contribution, managerial implications and conclusion
The contribution of this study is threefold. First, the findings of this case study
contribute to operations management literature in general and to QCCs literature in
particular. This may provide some ideas for other researchers to execute more research
in the field of the QCCs implementation.
Second, there has not been any reported cases of success in the use of QCCs in any of
the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. Thus, this paper represents a first
attempt at reporting a success story of the effective use of the technique in the State of
Qatar, a member of the GCC countries.
Third, a very significant contribution of this case study represents a first attempt at
reporting the role of QCCs in enhancing work safety within manufacturing companies
which can be used as a template for other manufacturing companies.
This case provides a useful insight into the practical implementation of a QCC
program in the company in its efforts to provide a safe working environment to its
workers. The collective efforts undertaken by the QCC team members have enabled
them to identity the safety problems faced by the plant and to carry out the necessary
steps to eradicate the problems which have eventually enabled the firm to improve the
safety of its workers and the quality of its operations.
On the whole, the QCC program has enabled the members not only to achieve all the
three targets they set at the beginning of the program, but it also helped them resolve
the unsafe working atmosphere at the Reduction furnace, improve their self confidence
and technical skills in tackling problems, and enable them to enjoy trouble-free
operations of the equipments as well as ensuring the safety of their workers.
QCCs in this case study are used as an innovative tool to manage work safety within
a large public company where social objectives such as workers’ safety are critical.
Total maintenance cost before QCC
Man hour cost for U seal job
Hiring of crane cost
Man hour cost for top hatch cover open/ close 2 £ 48hr £ 20QR
34 £ 16hr £ 20QR
34 £ 4hr £ 100QR
Total maintenance cost after QCC
Man hour cost for U seal job
Hiring of crane cost
Man hour cost for top hatch cover open/close 2 £ 16hr £ 20QR
QCC. Expense (light meals and refreshments) 5,000.00QR
Total cost after QCC
34 £ 1hr £ 20QR
Circle þ QCC expense 25,000 þ 1,320 ¼ 6,320.00QR
26,400 26,320 ¼ 20,080.00QR
Note: US$1:00 ¼ 3:65QR (Qatari Riyals)
Net savings obtained by
the QCC team
Management at Qasco must realize that QCC should be embraced as a part of the
organization instead of being positioned as a special activity or a quick lead-up to total
quality management (TQM) (Hill, 1995).
The findings of this case study concur with the findings of Goh (2000) who found
QCCs, if properly used, are good source of an improvement in the staff’s
problem-solving ability. This in turn, expands the capacity of the workforce to
contribute positively to collaborative decision making and to manage their own work
Qatari managers should realize that there are many factors affecting the
effectiveness of safety management such as: availability of clear procedures for safety
issues, keeping employees informed about safety issues, reporting all unsafe
situations, ensuring that all workers are aware of safety standard and checking that
safe procedures are implemented.
Managersshould perceivethat the key approach to overcome unsafe work problems
is to implement a systematic and structured improvement process, i.e. via QCC
programs or initiatives.
Policy makers in the Qatari industrial sector should realize that the purpose of QCC
is not only to solve operations problems but also, to close the gap between workers and
administration which will lead to a more efficient and better utilization of resources.
Limitations and suggestions for future research
This study provides a foundation for further research regarding the implementation of
QCCs in the Qatari industrial sector. Moreover, the results of this study suggest that
further research will be more meaningful if it focuses on the critical factors affecting
the successful implementation of the QCC. Furtherstudies may be necessary in orderto
demonstrate that safety climates can be benchmarked in an offshore operational
This study suggests that further investigations into the ways to utilize QCCs for
improving the safety of workers at their workplace and the quality of company’s
operations. Thus, this case study will be of value to academics who are interested in
how QCC enhance the safety of workers at their workplace. Finally, the results of this
study suggest a novel framework that can provide a basis for further research into the
profound nature of work safety.
Back, M. and Woolfson, C. (1999), “Safety culture – a concept too many?”, The Safety and Health
Practitioner, January, pp. 14-16.
Banas, P. (1988), “Employee involvement: a sustained labor/management initiative at the Ford
Motor Company”, in Campbell, J.P. and Campbell, R.J. (Eds), Productivity in Organizations:
New Perspectives from Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Jossey-Bass, San
Berry, L., Bennett, R. and Brown, W. (1989), Service Quality: A Profit Strategy for Financial
Institutions, Dow-Jones Irwin, Homewood, IL.
Besterfield, H. (1994), Quality Control, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
Boaden, J. and Dale, G. (1993), “Teamwork in services: quality circles by another name?”,
International Journal of Service Industry Management, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 5-24.
Canel, C. and Kadipasaoglu, S. (2002), “Quality control circles in the veterans administration
hospital”, International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 15 No. 6, pp. 238-48.
Collard, R. and Dale, B. (1989), “Quality circles”, in Sisson, K. (Ed.), Personnel Management in
Britain, Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 356-77.
Dale, G. (1984), “Quality circles in UK manufacturing industry – a state of the art survey”,
Occasional Paper No. 8402, UMIST, Manchester.
(The) Department of Trade and Industry (1992), Quality Circles – An Executive Guide,
an Enterprise Initiative booklet from the “Managing into the ’90s” programme, DTI,
French, L. (1998), Human Resource Management, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.
Fuller, C. and Vassie, L. (2001), “Benchmarking the safety climates of employees and contractors
working within a partnership arrangement: a case study in the offshore oil industry”,
Benchmarking: An International Journal, Vol. 8 No. 5, pp. 413-30.
Goh, M. (2000), “Quality circles: journey of an Asian public enterprise”, International Journal of
Quality & Reliability Management, Vol. 17 No. 7, pp. 784-99.
Harris, R. (1995), “The evolution of quality management: an overview of the TQM literature”,
Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences, Vol. 12 No. 2, pp. 95-105.
Hill, H. (1996), “Organizational learning for TQM through quality circles”, The TQM Magazine,
Vol. 8 No. 6, pp. 53-7.
Hill, S. (1995), “Fromquality circlestototal qualitymanagement”,inWilkinson, A.and Wilmott, H.
(Eds), Making Quality Critical, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, pp. 33-53.
Ishikawa, K. (1976), Guide to Quality Control, Asian Productivity Organization, Tokyo.
Ishikawa, K. (1985), What Is Total Quality Control? (translated by Lu, D.J.), Prentice-Hall,
Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
Johns, N. and Chesterton, J. (1994), “ICL Kidsgrove: engineering a quality culture”, International
Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 6 Nos 1/2, pp. 25-9.
Lee, S. andLam, K. (1997), “Managing quality at an engineering maintenance centre: fromQCC to
ISO 9001 and beyond”, International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, Vol. 14
No. 2, pp. 118-37.
Millson, F. and Kirk-Smith, M. (1996), “The effects of quality circles on perceived service quality
in financial services”, Journal of Marketing Practice: Applied Marketing Science, Vol. 2
No. 4, pp. 75-88.
Olberding, R. (1998), “Toyota on competition and quality circles”, The Journal of Quality and
Participation, p. 52.
Piczak, W. (1988), “Quality circles come home”, Quality Progress, December, pp. 37-9.
Pinnington, A. and Hammersley, G. (1997), “Quality circles under the new deal at Land-Rover”,
Employee Relations, Vol. 19 No. 5, pp. 415-29.
Slack, N., Chambers, S. and Johnston, R. (2003), Operations Management, 3rd ed., Prentice Hall,
Smith, M. and Lewis, R. (1989), “Customer care in financial service organisations”, International
Journal of Bank Marketing, Vol. 7 No. 5, pp. 13-22.
Stevenson, W. (2005), Operations Management, 8th ed., Mc-Graw-Hill, London.