Ethical Dilemma in Workplace Health and Safety Discussion

Ethical Dilemma in Workplace Health and Safety Discussion

Ethical Dilemma in Workplace Health and Safety Discussion

Following is a list of sites relating to workplace safety. Refer to them as you deem necessary. You will find these helpful in your case research.

Business Case for Safety and Health. (n.d.). Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Retrieved May 26, 2014, from

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. (2014). Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved May 26, 2014, from<

Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2014). US Department of Labor. Retrieved May 26, 2014, from

Safety Online. (n.d.). Retrieved May 26, 2014, from

Workplace Safety (n.d.).National Safety Council. Retrieved May 26, 2014, from

Case Video

Leading energy company tackles slips and trips (n.d.). Health and Safety Executive. Retrieved May 26, 2014, from

Modular Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, the student will be able to satisfy the following outcomes:

Identify the utilitarian issues surrounding workplace safety.

Identify the deontological implications of workplace safety.
Prepare an integrated analysis of an ethical dilemma.
Discuss the question of liability for workplace injuries.
Module Overview

Stakeholders and Workplace Health and Safety

Working people die, or are seriously injured, on the job nearly every day. From industrial accidents to delivery vehicle accidents, from secondhand smoke and industrial chemicals to repetitive-motion disorders and excessive noise, working people get hurt.

However, the term “safety” is a bit misleading. Just about every workplace has its hazards. A workplace is generally judged to be safe if the attendant risks are judged to be acceptable.

A radiologist working with X-rays knows that there is a risk.
An ironworker involved in bridge construction knows there is a risk. Ethical Dilemma in Workplace Health and Safety Discussion
What constitutes an acceptable risk for that particular occupation?

One criterion must be the notion of “reasonableness.” Government agencies routinely talk about “unreasonable risk of injury” on the job as the criteria for determining acceptable safety standards. While experts are routinely brought in to determine risk by a “rule of reason,” this is a rather murky and ill-defined way of thinking.

The following categories need to be considered when thinking in terms of acceptable and reasonable risk:

Knowledge of the risk
The risk is necessary and unavoidable.
The highest level of protection possible is provided.
From a utilitarian or stakeholder perspective, when employees get injured it can cost the company money. Time away from work, finding temporary help, morale problems, and training new people is expensive. All this can significantly impact the company’s competitive standing. Costs to society for workers’ compensation claims can be dramatic. Of course, it is not that good a thing for the employee either. Time away from work, pain and suffering, lost wages, all have an adverse impact on the employee.

From a deontological perspective, the issue we are concerned with lies in a worker’s right to a safe workplace. Every employer has a duty to provide his or her employees with a safe working environment—a positive contractual right.


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