This paper presents a discussion and answers to various questions posed regarding certain ethical considerations on workplace health and safety. The subject case entails a workplace environment where some processing and productions leave behind substantial dust particles. The nature of the workplace is such that the dust beside being harmful to the health of the workers, also pose a danger to the safety of the factory. Dust particles can easily catch fire in case they come into contact with a burning item (Williams, 2003). The conditions in the factory are also understood to be favorable towards ignition of the fire. An employee of the factory has realized the presence of such conditions. The management has been made aware of the state. However, their response is rather negative and does not solve the problem. Various questions are responded to as follows.
I would report the situation to the relevant authorities given that the management has rubbished off the reports regarding the state of affairs. Failure to report would imply that no care or attention is paid to the lives of the workers (Mackie, 2011). In case I choose not to report the case, the main reason would be for protecting my job. The management and the owner do not seem to be keen of solving the matter. Their responses signal that they may take disciplinary action against anyone who reports the matter. Due to the need to avoid embroiling the factory into disputes, I may decide to ignore the problem and continue working as normal.
Where the situation is reported, the respective authorities may decide to close down the facility and hold the management to account for their actions and inactions. I may also be sacked from my job for exposing the failures of the enterprise. Possible consequences for failure to report would entail loss of lives and infection of lung diseases at some future date. Victimization may also be preferred against the worker who reported of the mistake. In case the matter is reported, that would amount to whistleblowing. The reason for that is that a wrongful act would be brought to the attention of the appropriate authorities for redress (Williams, 2003).
This section analyses the rationale for the above responses. Principles of utilitarian are used to help explain the reasoning behind the decisions. Utilitarian is an ethical based theory that seeks to establish the purpose for undertaking an activity based on the consequences or the outcomes (Scheffler, 2008). It implies that other parties, third parties are considered before commission or omission of an act. In case of a positive result, the act or omission is classified as ethical and good. A negative and harmful outcome would imply an unethical act. The discussion is undertaken under two scenarios; in case I report and on the other hand, I fail to report.
By reporting the state of affairs to the authorities, I would be guided by the principle of Bentham. He identified pleasure on one hand and pain on the other in decision making before resorting to an appropriate cause of action (Scheffler, 2008). In the subject case, the management and the owner are interested in keeping the factory operating and getting more income. There are no indications of their efforts to address the safety and health issues of their workers. Continued operations under similar conditions indicate that sooner or later a calamity would strike. The effects would be an illness to the workers or injury and death. Such would be a painful experience to the victims and their loved ones.
The reasonable and rational decision would be to report the matter to the respective state authorities. The agency would then take measures or steps to have the situation rectified. Any disciplinary actions would also be preferred against the management for their failure to comply with health and safety standards in the workplace (Mackie, 2011). That would mean that future employees or workers would have an appropriate environment as their workplace. Such would guarantee their health and safety.
Reporting of the matter to the relevant authorities would also be informed of the possible consequences of a loss to the owners and the management (Scheffler, 2008). In case a calamity strikes in the future due to the prevailing conditions, the management and the owner would no doubt be in hot soup. They could face prosecution for loss of lives or injury caused to their workers. Some of their assets would also be destroyed by fire. The foregoing implies a substantial loss to the owner. To avoid such disastrous events in the future, I would report the state to the relevant state organs.
Bentham’s principle would also apply in this case. The main consideration in this section would be the loss or suffering that may be caused to the management and the owner in case the matter is reported. Obviously, the factory would receive a negative publicity from the public and other stakeholders. The effects of such would imply suffering of losses to the enterprise. Such would lead to suffering and financial loss to the owners. The law also stipulates disciplinary action against employers who commit such an offence (Mackie, 2011). This may have an impact in their psychology. Therefore, to avoid the foregoing consequences accruing to the owner, I would not report the matter to the authorities.
The subject case entails a situation where a balance has to be struck between the need to appease the employer or follow what the best practice and ethical decision regards. Various utilitarian theories and principles help to explain the basis of reasoning and thereby decision-making. The bigger picture would entail a decision that ensures the welfare of all is guaranteed without compromising the health and safety of any one (Scheffler, 2008). Given that the management is not keen in addressing the dangerous issues reported, the matter should be reported to the concerned authorities for their further action.
- Mackie, J. (2011). "Utilitarianism". Ethics: inventing right and wrong. Penguin Books
- Scheffler, S. (2008). Consequentialism and its Critics. Oxford University Press
- Williams, B. (2003). “Utilitarianism". morality: An introduction to Ethics. Cambridge University Press.