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1156 Unsafe Factory Conditions

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,156 – Unsafe Factory Conditions.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,156. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

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This episode is a dialogue between Kathy Lee and Rashed about a factory, a place where things are made, that is not safe. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Kathy Lee: You won’t find any problems in your inspection of our factory.

Rashed: I’m glad to hear that. Where do these stairs lead?

Kathy Lee: It’s just a level for storage. You don’t need to see that.

Rashed: I need to inspect every part of this factory. Please step aside.

Kathy Lee: If you insist.

Rashed: You have people working on this floor and it’s not structurally sound, and certainly not intended for heavy manufacturing. This attic was never meant for industrial use.

Kathy Lee: It’s only temporary . . .

Rashed: There are no fire escapes, fire extinguishers, or emergency exits.

Kathy Lee: Well, I . . .

Rashed: None of the workers are wearing protective clothing and I see signs of child labor.

Kathy Lee: No, no, no, I wouldn’t hire anyone underage.

Rashed: I am ordering an immediate shutdown of this factory due to flagrant violations of building code and labor laws.

Kathy Lee: But you can’t do that! We have orders to fill.

Rashed: Not when this building is in danger of imminent collapse.

[end of dialogue]

Kathy Lee begins our dialogue by saying to Rashed, “You won’t find any problems in your inspection of our factory.” Kathy Lee, we understand from the dialogue, is the owner of a “factory” (factory). A factory is usually a place where things are made, physical things are produced. You might have a factory that makes shirts or chairs or automobiles.

An “inspection” (inspection) is when someone comes into a place and looks very carefully to make sure that all of the rules and laws are being followed. “Inspection” comes from the verb “to inspect,” which means to look at something closely, carefully. Rashed says, “I’m glad to hear that,” meaning I’m glad that I will not find any problems in my inspection.

He then asks, “Where do these stairs lead?” We use the verb “lead” (lead) when we are referring to where the stairs end up, where they go. If you ask, “Where does this road lead to?” you’re asking the place to which the road goes. In this case, Rashed is asking about the stairs: “Where do these stairs lead?” He could have said, “Where do these stairs lead to?” meaning “Where do they go? What happens if you go up them – where will you be?”

Kathy Lee says, “It’s just a level for storage,” meaning the stairs go up to a floor or level in the building that is used to keep things. “Storage” (storage) refers to keeping things that you are going to use later. Kathy Lee says, “You don’t need to see that.” Rashed says, “I need to inspect every part of this factory.” Rashed wants to see this place where the stairs lead to.

He then tells Kathy Lee, “Please step aside.” The phrasal verb “to step aside” means to move out of the way of someone. If you are standing in front of something or someone and that person wants to get at that thing, wants to look at it, and you are in his way, the person may say to you, “Please step aside” – please move your body so I can go through this area or see what you are standing in front of.

Kathy Lee responds to Rashed, “If you insist.” The expression “If you insist” means if you say you absolutely have to, or if you are demanding me to do this. Rashed says, “You have people working on this floor and it’s not structurally sound, and certainly not intended for heavy manufacturing.”

Rashed, we’re guessing, walks up the stairs and sees this level, this floor, and comments that it’s “not structurally sound.” “Structurally” refers to the building being built in a certain way, constructed or made in a certain way. “Structurally sound” refers to a building or a house that is built well, that is constructed so that it is safe, that is made so that it won’t fall down. If your house is structurally sound, it won’t fall down easily. It is built for normal use. It’s safe. Rashed, however, says that Kathy Lee’s factory is not structurally sound.

The floor that Rashed is on is “not intended for heavy manufacturing.” “Manufacturing” comes from the verb “to manufacture” (manufacture). “To manufacture” means to make something – again, to make something physical, like a chair or a computer or a piece of clothing. “Manufacturing,” then, refers to the process of making something. “Heavy (heavy) manufacturing” is making something that is very large, such as perhaps a car, or it could also refer to a large machine that is used to make something, and the machine itself might be heavy and therefore require a building that is strong enough to hold it.

Rashed says, “This attic was never meant for industrial use.” Rashed and Kathy Lee are apparently in the attic of this building. An “attic” (attic) is an area just below the roof of a building that is not normally used for anything, or perhaps is used only for storage, but in Kathy Lee’s factory it’s being used to make things. That’s why Rashed says, “This attic was never meant for,” or designed for, “industrial use” – that is, to be used to make things, to be used as part of a factory.

Kathy Lee insists, however, that “It’s only temporary,” meaning she’s only using this part of the building for a short period of time. Rashed then goes on to explain why this part of her factory is not safe. He says, “There are no fire escapes, fire extinguishers, or emergency exits.” Let’s start with that last term, “emergency exits.” An “exit” is a way to get out of the room or a building. An “emergency exit” is a door or window you use to escape a building that perhaps has a fire inside of it. It’s a way of getting out of a building or a house quickly.

A “fire escape” is a way of getting out of a building very quickly in case of a fire. Usually we associate fire escapes with ladders that go on the outside of a building, or metal stairs that are on the outside of a building that you use in order to get out of the building quickly if there’s a fire.

A “fire extinguisher” (extinguisher) is a small device you use to put out a fire. The phrasal verb “to put out” means, in this case, to stop the fire. “Extinguisher” comes from the verb “to extinguish,” which means exactly the same thing – to put out a fire, to stop a fire from burning. If you have a fire at your house or in the building where you’re working, the firefighters will come and try to extinguish the fire. They’ll try to stop the fire from burning, which is basically to get rid of the fire, if you will.

Rashed tells Kathy Lee why this area is not safe. She says, “Well, I . . .” she’s trying to come up with a reason or an excuse. Rashed continues to give reasons why Kathy Lee’s factory isn’t safe. He says, “None of the workers are wearing protective clothing and I see signs of child labor.”

“Protective clothing” is clothing that would prevent you from getting injured. Firefighters wear protective clothing that is meant to protect them from the heat of a fire. In some factories, the workers have to wear protective clothing if they are, for example, dealing with chemicals that might hurt them.

“Child labor” refers to using children, usually defined in the United States as those under the age of 16, as workers. With some exceptions, it’s illegal to have someone work for your, especially in a factory, if they are under a certain age – 16 or 18, depending on the kind of work they are doing.

Kathy Lee says, “No, no, no, I wouldn’t hire anyone underage.” “Underage” (underage) means someone who is not old enough legally to do a certain activity. So, for drinking alcohol in the United States, “underage” means under the age of 21. For working at most jobs, “underage” would mean under the age of 16. Kathy Lee says she would not hire, or employ, anyone underage.

Rashed says, “I am ordering an immediate shutdown of this factory due to flagrant violations of building code and labor laws.” Rashed, who we guess works for the government and has the power to inspect factories, says he is “ordering an immediate shutdown.” A “shutdown” (shutdown) – one word – is when a business stops operating, when a business closes, especially in the case of the government telling the business it hast to close.

A “flagrant (flagrant) violation” is a violation or breaking of the law or rule that is obvious, that anyone can see. Rashed says Kathy Lee’s factory has “flagrant violations of building code and labor laws.” The “building code” (code) refers to the rules that governments have for the way that a house or a building must be built in order to make it safe. “Labor laws” refer to laws that regulate who can work and for how many hours and under what conditions.

Kathy Lee says, “But you can’t do that! We have orders to fill.” Kathy Lee is telling the inspector that he cannot shut down her factory because the factory has orders to fill. “Orders” refer to requests that come from people who want to buy things from the factory. “To fill (fill) an order” means to give a company or a person what that company or person requested – to sell the person what the person wants to buy.

Rashed says that Kathy Lee cannot fill these orders as long as the building, the factory, “is in danger of imminent collapse.” Something that is “imminent” (imminent) is something that will happen very soon. Usually we use this adjective when we’re talking about something that is bad or dangerous that is about to happen. A “collapse” (collapse) of the building is when a building falls down or a house crashes down because of some structural problem or perhaps because of some other accident or maybe even an earthquake.

We have lots of earthquakes here in Southern California, where the ground moves. Well, that can cause buildings to collapse. The building basically falls down. Rashed is saying that Kathy Lee’s factory “is in danger of imminent collapse,” meaning it might fall down quite soon, and that’s why Rashed wants to close the factory.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Kathy Lee: You won’t find any problems in your inspection of our factory.

Rashed: I’m glad to hear that. Where do these stairs lead?

Kathy Lee: It’s just a level for storage. You don’t need to see that.

Rashed: I need to inspect every part of this factory. Please step aside.

Kathy Lee: If you insist.

Rashed: You have people working on this floor and it’s not structurally sound, and certainly not intended for heavy manufacturing. This attic was never meant for industrial use.

Kathy Lee: It’s only temporary . . .

Rashed: There are no fire escapes, fire extinguishers, or emergency exits.

Kathy Lee: Well, I . . .

Rashed: None of the workers are wearing protective clothing and I see signs of child labor.

Kathy Lee: No, no, no, I wouldn’t hire anyone underage.

Rashed: I am ordering an immediate shutdown of this factory due to flagrant violations of building code and labor laws.

Kathy Lee: But you can’t do that! We have orders to fill.

Rashed: Not when this building is in danger of imminent collapse.

[end of dialogue]

All of our dialogues are structurally sound – or at least grammatically sound, we hope – thanks to the wonderful work of our wonderful scriptwriter, Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2015 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
inspection – a detailed review of how well something is working and/or whether it is following all the rules and laws

* Inspections of daycare facilities focus on cleanliness, food preparation, and the number of children per worker.

factory – a large building where products are manufactured or produced

* As fewer people buy American cars, American car factories are closing.

structurally sound – referring to a building that is safe and that is not in danger of collapsing or otherwise falling apart

* Adam is earning degrees in architecture and civil engineering, so he is learning how to construct buildings that are structurally sound.

heavy manufacturing – businesses that are involved in making very large and very expensive products that are difficult to move and require a lot of large and expensive equipment

* This area has a lot of heavy manufacturing. For example, we have one company that makes airplane engines and another one that produces construction equipment.

industrial use – for use by large factories and related companies, not small business, retail stores, or residences (homes)

* The land surrounding the airport has been zoned for industrial use, because the city prefers to keep residential areas closer to the city center.

fire escape – an emergency route for leaving a building quickly if there is a dangerous fire

* Each hotel room has a map on the back of the door indicating the nearest fire escape.

fire extinguisher – a container filled with water, foam, or other liquid that can be used to put out a fires by allowing the fluid to flow out and onto the flames

* The fire spread throughout the building because none of the fire extinguishers were filled.

emergency exit – a door or window that allows one to leave a building, vehicle, or airplane quickly in case of a dangerous emergency

* This airplane has three sets of emergency exits: one at the front, one at the back, and one over the wings.

protective clothing – clothes that cover one’s body to prevent injuries, especially when made from fabrics that are resistant to fire and/or chemicals

* In the lab, everyone is required to wear protective clothing and eye goggles.

child labor – the use of children, especially those under the age of 16, to perform work, especially in a factory

* These factories sell their products at very low prices, but it’s because they rely on child labor and don’t pay their child workers very much.

underage – not yet an adult, typically less than 16, 18, or 21 years old

* Restaurants and bars have to pay large fines if they are caught serving alcohol to anyone who is underage.

shutdown – closure, especially of a business; when a business stops operating, either because the owners no longer want to operate it, or because regulators will not allow it to operate for a period of time

* If an inspector finds unhealthy conditions in the kitchen, she can order a shutdown of the restaurant.

flagrant – blatant; very obvious, not subtle or hidden

* The tourists’ flagrant disrespect for the holy site angered the local residents.

violation – an instance of not following a rule or law

* For each violation of the code of ethics, students may be suspended for a period of up to two weeks.

building code – a set of rules about how buildings may be used and what requirements must be met for that use to be allowed

* The building code requires each of these rooms to have a window or door.

labor laws – legal rules about who may work, for how many hours, and under what conditions

* The labor laws protect workers from being asked to work too many hours in dangerous conditions and for little pay.

imminent – coming soon, or about to happen, especially when referring to something bad

* New reporters says we’re in imminent danger if the hurricane turns westward.

collapse – when a building falls down, no longer having the support needed to remain standing

* The earthquake caused the collapse of many old buildings.

Comprehension Questions
1. Why is Rashed shutting down the factory?
a) Because the products are no longer profitable.
b) Because the workers are behaving poorly.
c) Because it has unsafe working conditions.

2. What doe Rashed mean when he says, “this building is in danger of imminent collapse”?
a) The building may fall down soon.
b) The building is extremely dirty.
c) The building will be leased to another company.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
sound

The phrase “structurally sound,” in this podcast, refers to a building that is safe and that is not in danger of collapsing or otherwise falling apart: “You should have an architect or civil engineer review those building plans to make sure they’re structurally sound.” The phrase “of sound mind” means sane, able to think clearly, and not suffering from a mental illness: “Do you think the witness is of sound mind? A lot of the things she is saying don’t make sense.” The phrase “a sound sleeper” describes someone who sleeps well and does not wake up easily: “Brian is a sound sleeper who almost never hears the baby crying at night.” Finally, the phrase “sound bite” refers to a short recording of an interesting quote or statement, especially something said by a politician: “The speech was full of good sound bites that will probably be on the news tonight.”

labor

In this podcast, the phrase “child labor” refers to the use of children, especially those under the age of 16, to perform work, especially in a factory: “The news commentator said that if people really cared about children in developing countries, they wouldn’t buy inexpensive products made in factories that rely on child labor.” If a woman “is in labor,” she is in the process of giving birth to a baby: “Maya was in labor for almost eight hours before the baby was born.” Finally, the phrase “a labor of love” refers to something that is very difficult or challenging, but that is done because the person loves it and thinks it is important: “Building cribs and sewing baby blankets for each of the grandchildren takes hours, but it is a labor of love.”

Culture Note
The Los Angeles Garment Workers Strike of 1933

In the early 1930s, the “garment” (clothing) industry was one of the fastest-growing industries in Los Angeles. The industry had a high “demand” (want and need) for female workers, and many of the women who worked in the garment factories were Mexican immigrants, but the women were paid very little for their work.

“Unions” (organized labor; groups of workers who cooperate to get better wages and better working conditions) were becoming increasingly common, but they rarely worked with “minorities” (people who are not a member of the majority cultural group). In 1933, a woman named Rose Pesotta began organizing the Mexican garment workers, and they began their “strike” (a period of time when people stop working in order to force employers to give them what they demand) in the fall of 1933. The strike mostly focused on Mexican American workers, but organizers also used “bilingual” (in two languages) materials to reach out to other workers.

The garment workers were demanding a “minimum wage” (a minimum amount of money that is paid for each hour of work), a 35-hour workweek, and safer working conditions, among other things. The strike lasted 26 days, and it was sometimes “violent” (causing harm or death to people, and/or damage to property). Strikers shouted and “attacked” (physically fought with and hurt) their co-workers who were not participating in the strike, and 50 of the strikers were “arrested” (put in jail).

“In the end” (finally), the strikers “prevailed” (won). They received the things that they had demanded, and they returned to work as part of a union called the Dressmakers Union Local 96.

Comprehension Answers
1 -c

2 - a