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Ethics

In: Business and Management

Submitted By renee8987
Words 889
Pages 4
ETHC 232
Week 6 You Decide
“Wooden”
Since being continuously employed at the “Wooden” factory for more than ten years, I am facing a truly difficult ethical decision: Am I going to blow the whistle or simply just mind my own business? You see, one of my co-workers, Karen Parse, has witnessed sparks in the area by her work station and is deeply concerned about the possibility of fire or even worse, explosion. At the factory we shave and shape up to one-thousand logs daily. It is because of what we do that there is usually, in most areas, at least an inch of wood dust, with up to three inches in others. As we all know, wood dust is a combustible material and can be explosive with the right ignition source. Karen is very worried because of this knowledge and based on what she saw with her own eyes, along with the fact that a plant in her hometown recently exploded as a result of ignited wood dust has me worried as well. Karen is new at Wooden, with only two weeks under her belt, and is pleading with me to file the complaint due to my long history with the plant. I believe I shall first seek some advice within the workplace and see if anything can be done without filing a complaint. After speaking with three other people within the company regarding the matter (the safety coordinator, area manager, and owner), I am sad to say that I am still completely lost. All three advise against taking any action which may shut down the plant for a couple days. Two days is exactly what it would take to clean the factory and clear the dust, which can also contribute to respiratory problems along with the explosion hazard. Jason Rhine, the safety coordinator, says an explosion from wood dust is not even possible and that Karen was probably just seeing things. He says that I should do nothing and that he will schedule a cleaning next month. His response makes him question his role in the safety of the plant since I know for a fact an explosion could be a possibility. The area manager, Alex Riveria, doesn’t seem too concerned either. He seems a bit cocky in his answer, stating that he is an expert and I should just leave it to him as to not cause any trouble. When I mentioned this potential problem to the owner, Tony Lord, he became defensive, and in a threatening manner, stating that he would not tolerate a disloyal employee. I could lose my job over this, but I feel in my heart that I must agree with Karen and report the problem to OSHA. I need to weigh the consequences first. Of course as with any action, there are consequences, whether good or bad. If I report this situation to OSHA, they will come into the plant and investigate the health and safety conditions the employees here at the plant face every single day, as is their job. This will result in the shutting down and cleaning of the plant for two days. Crews from other companies will have to come in to do cleaning and inspections. This could leave many if not all of the plant employees, out of work for two days, putting a dent in their financial situations. I myself, as well as Karen, could face termination for this. If not termination, one of the many forms of retaliation whistleblowers face. On the other hand, if I continue to say nothing, nothing will be done as usual. The dust will continue to pile up, and up to twelve-hundred people, daily, will face the threat of explosion and respiratory illness, both of which can result in death. Based on these consequences a decision has been reached. My conclusion is that OSHA will be contacted. This decision has been made due to my strong sense of utilitarianism in ethics. I must do what is best for the greater good of my fellow co-workers, the people I consider to be friends and even family. Yes, they will more than likely be angry at me for losing work for a couple of days, and I will possibly be shunned by everyone except for Karen, but as long as I know everyone is safe and healthy I can live with my decision and consequences. I have to think that not everyone will be upset as many others have complained about the dust. They may not like losing work but hopefully will not mind too bad considering the fact that their complaints will finally be answered. I feel that whistleblowing in this case is morally justified and I am okay with it. Yes it is possible that Karen could have been seeing things in paranoia about the factory in her hometown. What she saw may have been real. Either way it is still a major safety concern. Even if there is no threat of this, there still lies the threat of respiratory problems from the unnecessarily thickened amounts of wood dust. The employees have complained about the safety and health issues for many years and the bosses have ignored the concerns of their employees and have refused to make changes. Now they will have no choice.

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