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CHAPTER 7:

ETHICS AND WORKPLACE SAFETY

Introduction

Worker have a right to be protected against workplace hazard that


can cause injury, illness, and even death. Some accidents and
exposures are unavoidable but can be prevented at considerable
cost.

Questions can also be raised about the right of employees to be


given information about the workplace hazards to which they are
exposed, their right to refuse to perform dangerous work without
fear for dismissal or other reprisals.

This chapter concerned with the right of workers in matter s of


occupational health and safety. It involve the obligation of
employers with respect to worker and government regulation of the
workplace such as Occupational Safety and Health Administration
(OSHA)

ETHICS AND WORKPLACE SAFETY


The link between ethics and safety, although neglected, is not a new one. In
fact, some have argued that organizational concern for safety is intrinsically
related to organizational concern for ethics.
In terms of perceptions, organizations that place a high importance on safety
are usually perceived as more ethical than those that do not.
The practice of safety often has an ethical component. Often, the most
ethical route is obvious, such as the choice between a legal option and an
illegal one.
Most safety professionals probably follow similar ethical guidelines; the
challenge comes in applying them when facing situational constraints and
organizational priorities.
The process begins with safety culture and management truly valuing

ETHICS AND WORKPLACE SAFETY

Employers will consider the trade-off between costs and safety.


As a business decision, workplace safety has implications of
expenses and time.

Managers must understand the importance of work safety, and


not view it as a sunk cost, but as an investment for a business.

Importance of Ethics in Workplace Safety

Safety programs based on ethics is better for sustaining and managing


future safety issues.

It is no necessary based on compliance with regulations but it is the right


thing to do. Managers must lead a culture that values safe behavior for the
sake of ethics, and not for the purpose of regulatory compliance.

Ethics will produce outcomes such as justice, open communication,


sensitivity towards others, organizational support, and management
credibility.

Managers are ethically obliged to use their authority to increase safety.


Proper attention to workplace safety can result in improved morale,
increased job satisfaction, and greater health for the organization as a
whole.

EXAMPLES

On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded


shortly after liftoff, killing all seven crew members. In the
months after the disaster, the government commission created
to investigate the causes of the accident. Source revealed that
MTI management had been alerted to the cold weather danger
to the O-ring booster joints well in advance of the decision to
launch Biosjoly had submitted. A memo warning that the seals
would not be functional in cold weather, but MTI management
classified the document as company private so it never
reached NASA. Disregard for this warning not only resulted in a
disastrous breach in safety, but was also a reflection of a
significant flaw in the ethical decision-making process of MTI

The Right to Safe and Healthy Workplace

Fundamentally, the right of employee s to a safe and healthy and


employer s have obligation to provide working conditions free from
hazard.

Some writer based a right to safe and healthy workplace on Kant


theory that a person ought to treated as ends rather than as means.

OSH Act granting all employees the right of a safe and healthy
workplace but it rely on the cost-benefit analysis. It employ
Utilitarian theory in order to balance the cost to industry and saving
to the economy as a whole.

Regardless of the ethical reasoning used, workers have an


undeniable right not to be injured or killed on the job.

However, it is not clear what specific protection workers are entitled


or what specific obligations employer have with respect to
occupational health and safety.

. The Right to Safe and Healthy Workplace

In most workplace accidents, however, employers can defend themselves


against the charge of violating the rights of workers with two arguments:

a)

Not the direct cause Employer actions were not the direct cause of the
injury. This is because the industrial accidents are typically caused by
combination of things, including the actions of worker themselves. Thus, it
is difficult to assign responsibility to any one person. Then it is because it
is not practical to reduce the probability of harm any further. As long as
employer are not negligent in meeting minimal obligations, they are not
generally held liable for injuries resulting from industrial accidents.

b)

Worker voluntarily assume the risk: Employees voluntarily assume the


risk inherent in work. Some jobs such as coal mining and construction are
well known for their high rates of accidents., yet individual can freely
choose these links of work even when safer employment is available. The
hazardous jobs might offer greater wage to compensate greater risk.
Unless the employer or fellow employees is negligent in some way, they
have no one to blame but themselves.

Ethical climate

Safety professionals do not make decisions in a vacuum. The personal


safety ethics are something that you have formed over your life
experience and value.

The organizational ethical climate can have an influence on the


personal safety ethic.

Ethical climate refers to the organizations shared perceptions about


what behaviours are considered right or wrong.

Companies may value safety but for different reasons based on their
ethical climate.

Ethical climate types are linked to incidences of injuries and two types
of safety-enhancing behaviours: safety compliance and safety
participation

Ethical climate

The three climate types are as follows:

Utilitarian (also called benevolent) revolves around the most good for the
most people. Utilitarian climate was associated with fewer injuries.
Communicate that helping to maintain a safe and healthy workplace will
benefit fellow employees.

Principled supports following fundamental universal truths (i.e., obeying


the law or doing the right thing). Principled climates showed more
motivation to comply with rules. Safety is a key tenet driving the
organization

Egoist promotes self-interest. For example, in an egoist climate, let


workers know that following the rules is in their best interest because
being injured would reduce their quality of life. Egoist climate was
neither positive nor negative in terms of injuries and safety motivation.

Techniques for a Safe Workplace

Employees expect management to act responsibly and to put


employee health and safety first, far above and well beyond any
other concern of the business. In order to create a safe workplace,
employers can use the following techniques:

Set up a safety incentive program to motivate workers to comply


with workplace safety guidelines.
Adopt a zero-tolerance policy on workplace violence and safety
violations.
Ongoing safety training for employees.

These techniques in the long run will bring savings of time, money,
and injuries

Conclusion

A safer workplace has healthier workers, less costs,


more efficiency, and overall, higher quality. Employers
must go above and beyond of what is required and
create a culture of care and respect for their valuable
assets, employees.

Companies should have safety programs blended into


their business plans and cultures. The results of
having integrated safety programs include fewer
accidents, waste, and downtimes.