General Motors instructed its engineers to soften the language they used in reporting possible mechanical problems.
The company discouraged words including “safety” and “defect” when describing product risks and even explicitly told them to avoid using terms such as “widow-maker” and “Hindenburg.” Documents used during a 2008 technical learning symposium were released by the U.S. government, exposing a dangerous corporate culture that frowns on finding potentially costly flaws.
Yesterday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration slapped GM with a $35 million fine – the maximum allowable penalty – for its delayed response to the ignition switch recall.
Examples found in the documents include GM advising its engineers to use “does not perform to design” rather than “defect” and “condition” instead of “problem.” General Motors has issued a statement stating that the company’s culture has changed since the 2008 training session and has cited a program GM it has put in to encourage candid conversation about safety issues among GM engineers.
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[Source: Automotive News]