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Applied Professional Ethics: A Workplace Safety Issue?


Title: Ethics: A Workplace Issue? Author: AELap4 Last modified by: Paul Hutter Created Date: 12/6/2011 2:28:23 PM Document presentation format: On-screen Show (4:3) – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Applied Professional Ethics: A Workplace Safety Issue?

Applied Professional Ethics A Workplace Safety
Why Ethics?
  • Today more than ever the media is filled with
    stories of corporate scandals and ethical
    dilemmas in organizations, and the issue is not
    just related to large for-profit corporations,
    small, and not-for-profit organizations have been
    experiencing similar concerns.
  • These stories reflect poorly on the organizations
    and the individuals involved.

Ethics Some Background
  • Common attitudes regarding ethics
  • Pretending that an act is not really unethical
  • Excusing an action by saying it is in the
    organizations best interest
  • Assuming the behavior is okay if no one finds out
    about it
  • Expecting a supervisor to support and protect the

Ethics Some Background
  • Reasons employees engage in unethical behavior
  • To meet organizational goals and schedules
  • To help the organization survive
  • To comply with a management directive
  • Ethics involve a complex set of internal
    external variables

  • Each persons basic system of personal values
    serves as a guide to everyday behavior. These
    values give direction to life and become
    particularly important in situations where the
    need to choose among two or more possible courses
    of action exists.
  • In teams, complete the worksheets assigned and be
    prepared for group discussion

An Ethics Model
Personal or Organizational
Value System
Responsibility to Others
Behaviors, Actions, Policies, Practices
Concepts and Graph reprinted by Permission of
ASTD Press Ethics for Trainers.
Values The Center
  • At the center of the Ethics Model are values.
  • Both individuals (Personal), and organization
    (organizational) operate from a value system
  • But they tend to be different

A Model of Ethics
  • A Value System
  • Individuals at work operate based on personal
    work values, including
  • Honesty
  • Friendliness
  • Respect
  • Self- directedness
  • Trust
  • Self-interest
  • Helpfulness
  • Balance between work family life

A Model of Ethics
  • Organizations operate from the following values
  • Service
  • Safety
  • Quality
  • Diversity
  • Respect
  • Profit
  • Awareness depends upon the degree to which values
    have been internalized by employees and the
    degree to which an individual feels inconsistency
    with the organizational value system, or with
    his/her own value system.

A Model of Ethics
  • Responsibility to Others
  • Individual family, friends, the community, and
    society at large.
  • Employee self, clients, co-workers, supervisors
    and the organization.
  • Organization shareholders (stakeholders),
    members, employees, suppliers, customers.
  • The potential for conflict among these audiences
    is significant

A Model of Ethics
  • Behaviors, Actions, Policies and Practices This
    is the layer in which a formal code of conduct is
    utilized to manifest individual behaviors,
    professional practices, and organizational
    decisions and actions.

Three Ethical Bases
  • A process to think through the situations and
    dilemmas faced in the workplace.
  • The Ethic of Justice How shall we govern
    ourselves? Right vs. Wrong Include the six
    stages of justice
  • Punishment obedience the threat of punishment
    is what guides
  • Individual instrumental purpose exchange own
    interest may not agree

Three Ethical Bases-Ethic of Justice (cont.)
  1. Mutual interpersonal expectations, relationships
    and conformity the right thing is that which is
  2. Social system what is the greater good for
  3. Prior rights and social contract what makes a
    good society ethics morals vs. the law
  4. Universal ethical principles principles of
    respect for other people. Commitment to the
    principle over the law

Three Ethical Bases
  • The Ethic of Care has to do with quality of
    life and fidelity to individuals, What is good
    versus what is bad for the other person, What
    do our relationships require of us? It
    requires acknowledging and honoring the dignity
    of each person.
  • Focal Points cultural enrichment,
    individuality, loyalty, human potential, human
    dignity, empowerment, and environment.

Three Ethical Bases
  • The Ethic of Evaluation
  • Who controls?
  • What legitimates?
  • Who defines?
  • What groups dominate?
  • Who defines value in a situation?
  • What groups. If any, have advantages over
  • Aware of injustices embedded in the system -
    Racism, classism, sexism

Ethics Awareness
  • Behaving ethically enacts a complex set of
    variables that requires an individual level of
    awareness that the situation should be
  • Ethical Codes codes designed as a guide to
    support day-to-day decision making at work.
  • They clarify values and principles.
  • They are not designed as formulas for providing
    simplistic answers to complex ethical dilemmas.

Ethics Awareness
  • Components of Codes can have legal benefits,
    lead to increased job satisfaction, decreased
    observation of misconduct, decreased pressure to
    violate ethical standards.
  • Codes and openness around them can enable
    employees to ask questions and seek guidance, and
    enable management to set expectations.

Ethics Awareness
  • Typical topics
  • Safety Policy
  • Definitions of conflict of interest
    confidential information
  • Policies related to product and services
  • Polices related to the use of company assets
  • Employment policies and procedures

Ethics Awareness
  • Typical topics
  • Policies and procedures related to relationships
    with other employees, vendors and contractors
  • Policies related to gifts, gratuities, and
  • Policies to political contributions and activity
  • Regulatory and compliance matters

Decision Making Process
  • Ways to judge the quality of a potential
  • Is what I am about to do legal?
  • Would I be ashamed if my mother knew that I had
    done this?
  • Will this decision pass the scrutiny of my

  • The Compliance Filter Will the decision be
    legally acceptable?
  • The Policy Filter Is this decision acceptable in
    light of the organizations policies, procedures
    and guidelines?
  • The Values Filter Will the decision or action
    conform to the organizations values?
  • The Self Will the decision or action satisfy
    my personal values?

Concerns in Safety Ethics
  • The practice of safety often has an ethical
  • Often, the most ethical route is obvious, such as
    the choice between a legal option and an illegal
  • Other times, multiple considerations may cloud a

Black White to Gray
  • The safety profession is more black and white
    than we are led to believe.
  • In some instances, we have grayed our profession
    in order to accommodate the variances that we see
    management react to. Instead of standing up for
    what we believe to be the ethical choice of
    action, safety professionals may have a
    propensity, in order to survive in the
    organization, for compromise.

  • Some in the profession suggest that when safety
    considerations come up against productivity and
    quality concerns, the latter two usually win out.

Ethics-Based Safety
  • This approach incorporates ethical decision
    points into the work process, providing multiple
    opportunities to stop and consider the most
    ethical course of action.
  • The process begins with significant shifts in
    safety culture at all levels of the organization.

Personal Ethics
  • Personal ethics play a critical role in safety
  • Even in an environment where safety was not
    necessarily a top priority for management, a
    first-line supervisor with a personal commitment
    to safety could make a positive difference.
  • Andrew Kapp, associate professor in the
    Department of Occupational and Environmental
    Safety and Health at the University of

Change Agent
  • Safety professionals need to take on the role of
    change agents, which sometimes means working in
    places that lack a strong commitment to safety.
  • Safety professionals do not have to sacrifice
    their jobs because they disagree with an
    employer, but they have a moral responsibility to
    make their objection known.

Case Study
  • Public Health, Safety and WelfareCompliance with
    Fire Code
  • Case No. 08-12
  • "Reprinted by Permission of the National Society
    of Professional Engineers (NSPE)

Thank You
  • 406.248.6178