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Legal and Ethical Issues at Workplace Essay


In this paper, legal and ethical issues will be discussed in connection with the current, previous and potential future habitability of the “health and safety of employees,” which is currently an important issue was the state of each and every country. Estimated mortality, along with the injury shows that a number of companies in past and present encountered several problems as well as in the near future, they will also continue in the direction facing the types of ethical and legal issues.

All kinds of approximations and expenses related to workers’ health, along with safety and security that occurred in an organization depicts that safety issues were not a priority of the company; due to this the number of legal issues relating to costs and penalties can be experienced by companies (Granger 2010).

Understanding of Employee Health & Safety Issues

In the current competitive culture to the smooth performance of the company, it is necessary to ensure the safety and security of its employees. Health and safety includes an important part of work culture. Safety pertains towards act of defending physical well being of the employee (Clarke and White 2002). Additionally, it also involves risk of accidents involved due to the machinery, fire and diseases. Security issues towards defending facilities along with equipments from the unauthorized approach and also guarding employees at time if they have been on work. Generally responsibility of the employee health along with safety falls on supervisors or Human Resource managers of the company (Swanton 2005).

All these laws and plans for health and safety have been made by the government. These rules and regulations made ​​by the government shows that the director of personnel, organizations can help in the coordination of safety programs, resulting in employees aware of health and safety plans and policies of the company and to conduct a formal safety training, etc. In addition to supervisors and departmental heads are responsible for providing a safe working environment (Employees’ health and safety responsibilities, 2013). Subsequently some peculiar responsibilities have been decided by the government and organizations on the part of managers and supervisors which are as follows:

Responsibilities of Managers:

Observe health and safety of employees

Instruct employees to be safety alert

Look into accidents

Clearly communicate regarding safety policy to employees (Lefkowitz 2003)

Responsibilities of supervisors/departmental heads:

Offer technical training concerning to obviation of accidents

Align health and safety programs

Train employees on treating facilities and equipments

Formulation of safety reporting systems

Assertion of safe working conditions (Hooker 2002)

Within the framework of the organizations present different approaches to ensure the health and safety of its employees, but all of the approaches do not focus on the contribution of each of the design work and employee behavior to safety. Focus on both of these approaches is necessary to make this regulatory approach towards the safety and efficacy (Cahn and Markie 1998). Many organizational and individual issues are in the management of workers’ health and safety, which are as follows and should be managed ethically otherwise it can guide the organization in relation to the various legal issues.

Workplace Issues: Ethical and Legal

Physical Work Settings

The physical position of the individual affects the performance of employees, and some of the factors that include temperature, noise, lighting, the size of the working area and the type of materials that make an impact on staff working with these factors (Granger 2010).

Sick Building Syndrome

This is a situation in which employees are acute health problems and anxiety because of the time spent in the workplace. Some factors that can guide sick building recognize poor air quality, inadequate ventilation, inappropriate cleanliness, food smell and Adhesives, etc (Clarke and White 2002).


Ergonomics is the analysis of the physiological, psychological, and engineering design work prospects, letting factors such as fatigue, lighting, tools, equipment layout and placement of checks. This is the boundary between humans and machines. In such a situation, problems like back pain, eye strain and headaches appear because of the long working hours are spent (Clarke and White 2002).

Engineering of Work Equipments and Materials

Accidents happen used in the organization can be excluded in this way, by the right placement of unsafe vehicles. Besides the construction of machinery and equipment also operates a key role in the safety of employees, as offering security guards and hide in the equipment, emergency stop pushing and other materials can help reduce accidents significantly (Clarke and White 2002).

Cumulative Trauma and Repetitive Stress

Cumulative trauma disorders fall, when the muscles are constantly used to perform some tasks. This in turn causes damage to musculoskeletal and nervous system. Employees need to meet the high level of mental and physical stress and due to this kind of stress and trauma (Clarke and White 2002).

Accident Rates and Individuals

Individual access to a secure environment also helps to dive accidents. It’s generally more of a nuisance as stimulated due to careless approach staff than on the machines or the employer’s negligence. The positive attitude of organizations and employers to the work environment and other practices can contribute to safety of employees, and not some other issues (Clarke and White 2002).

Ethical Responsibility

Individual access to a secure environment also helps to dive accidents. It’s generally more of a nuisance as stimulated due to careless approach staff than on the machines or the employer’s negligence. The positive attitude of organizations and employers to the work environment and other practices can contribute to safety of employees, and not some other issues (Employee Health and Safety, 2013).

Ethical Theories

Consequentialist theory suggests that an act is morally wrong if it leads to the consequences of false or considered harmful by the vast majority of people in the community. Consequentialist theory requires evaluation of the actual effects of the law, which include the effects of direct and indirect alike. It also requires the use of some type of rules and evaluation criteria for determining whether the result is beneficial or harmful (Audi 1997).

The theory is prescriptive because it is the use of evaluative criteria to guide whether individuals should lead or avoid the act. For the application of this theory, there should be a general agreement in society to the nature of the evaluation criteria. This theory also suggests that the ethics of each case must be determined according to the specific circumstances without reference to the legal or moral standard is absolute (Cahn and Markie 1998).

Consequentialist approach and one that is utilitarian, which deals with the work on the basis of good winning or damage with the well-being or happiness as a result of the relevant assessment criteria. Consequentialist theory, however, suggests that the evaluative norms may be relevant to social or cultural factors.

When the consequentialist theory is applied to this situation (employee health and safety) it suggests that the actions of the managers and employers can be unethical if they do not care about employees’ health and safety. From the consequentialist perspective, the negative consequences of the managers’ actions far outweighed the positive consequences of increasing their personal wealth (Hooker 2002).

Deontological theories of ethics to determine the acts that constitutes or may not be based on the relationship which led to the duty. On the other hand, deontological theories do not examine the outcomes of acts. Deontological ethics also postulates that adherence to the Duty set by the social relations is a moral obligation (Audi 1997). In the approach to ethics is imperative developed by Kant, one of the maxims is to treat others as an end and never as a means.

Pluralistic intuitive approach to deontological ethics adopted by Ross suggests the existence of prima facie duties apply to all individuals regardless of the specific nature of the relationship. These duties include fidelity, and compensation after causing damage, and non-injury to others. These general duties, however, do not preclude the creation of specific duties in a relationship by explicit or implicit agreement (Cahn and Markie 1998). In addition, the deontological theories do not clearly describe the hierarchy of duties when a conflict arises between obligations, although there is general agreement that the duty not to harm others takes priority over other duties.

Applying deontological theories to this situation (employee health and safety) requires assessing the general and specific duties of the managers and employers arising from their relationships to the firm and its stakeholders. The mangers have general duties for workers’ safety, accidental harms, and other health issues and to make reparations in the event if they are harmed because of the lack of safety measures (Hooker 2002).

Virtue ethics postulates the existence of a fixed set of moral rules that an individual can use to determine the rightness of an action. A virtue is a disposition to respond in a good or appropriate way to a situation or event. From this perspective, virtue is character trait. At the same time, virtue ethics has a normative dimension in which it describes the types of responses to situations that are moral or appropriate for all people (Audi 1997). In this theoretical approach, an action is right only if it is the action that an individual with a virtuous character would perform in the same situation.

Applying virtue ethics to this situation leads to the conclusion that the managers of a firm may be unethical because they did not behave in a manner expected of a virtuous person in the situation if any of the employees got hurt, injured etc. Although consequentialist theory, deontological theory, and virtue ethics have different approaches to assessing ethical behavior in an organization they arrive at the same conclusions (Cahn and Markie 1998).

The consequentialist theories view the outcome of the harm caused to employees as the critical factor determining the ethics of the behavior. The deontological theories examine the breach of laws under OSHA and implicit duties as the controlling factor determining the ethics of any accidental events in an organization. Virtue ethics propose that virtuous people would not have performed the acts of irresponsibility and carelessness. The behavior of the managers and employers is said to be unethical regardless of the ethical framework used for evaluating the events leading to the collapse of the firm (Employee Health and Safety 2013).

Legal Responsibility

Numerous laws are contrived to defend workers from illness and injury. Most prominent act in this regard is the “Occupational Safety and Health Administration” that was created in 1970 within the “U.S. department of Labor” (Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 2013). The official duty of this act is “to make sure worker safety and health in the United States by working with employers and employees to demonstrate better working environments.” (Employee Health and Safety 2013)

The implementation of this act had helped in cutting workplace deaths by “more than 60 percent and occupational injury and illness rates by 40 percent”. This act had explicated number of responsibilities for employers along with numerous rights of employees that can be used by an employee if he does not found organization concerned about his own health and safety (Occupational Safety and Health Administration 2013). From the time of this acts implementation various organization and employers are charged for not asserting with their determined responsibilities.

Employer Responsibilities under OSHA:

Under this act following are the duties and responsibilities of employer towards their employees’ health and safety:

Meet with general duty obligation to offer a workplace free from documented hazards that are inducing or are potential to induce death or serious physical harm to employees and follow with standards, rules and regulations issued under the act.

Define yourself and your staff with mandatory OSHA standards and make copies available to staff for reconsideration upon request.

Continuous assessment of workplace conditions to ensure that they meet with appropriate standards.

Minimize and reduce safety and health endangerments.

Ensure that employees have and use safe tools and equipments.

Offer medical examinations’ whenever required by OSHA standards.

These are some peculiar responsibilities of employers along with number of other responsibilities. (Employee Health and Safety 2013)

Employee Rights under OSHA:

Under OSHA rules, employees have a right to know about the hazards to which they may be exposed at work. In addition to this employees have a right to seek a safe workplace without fear of punishment. The right is spelled out in section 11(c) of the act and all employees are covered except workers who are self employed and public employees in state and local government. This law also delineates that employers should not punish or discriminate against workers for exercising complaining and filing safety and health grievances. This detailed discussion of employee health and safety concerned act OSHA depicts that it is necessary to organize and employers to adhere to their responsibilities and only they can be charged and directed in a number of other issues that would cause damage to its image as well (Occupational Safety and Health Administration 2013).

In addition to OSHA other acts efforts in this regard are “Worker’s Compensation Law” (Occupational Safety and Health Administration 2013). The law deals with all accidental injuries and occupational diseases and during the growing and compass work. This involves a disease or injury resulting from such injuries. In general, this law does not offer compensation for any of the following conditions:

Mental or nervous injury due to stress

There is a work-related condition that causes the employee to have a fear or dislike of another individual race, color or national origin, religion, sex and age.

Pain and suffering from the condition (Employee Health and Safety 2013).

Under this law, the employer can be injured worker litigation to bring about the incident cannot be injured worker litigation employer to injury. This trade-off of this law makes it possible to injured workers to receive immediate medical care, at no cost to the injured worker, without any thinking about who was at fault, the employer or the employee. In the civil law is the perception that the negligence must be demonstrated through litigation before any compensation is awarded (Occupational Safety and Health Administration 2013).


Organizations should work to improve the welfare of employees and, therefore, should be trouble-free. Terms of health, safety, and security are closely related to each other. Health was the general state of well being. This not only allows for the physical well being selected, however, also along with his healthy mind and body. It is believed that every organization should take care of the physical parameters of the work in which its employees work otherwise it can lead to a number of ethical and legal issues. Due to the legal act one can confer that each and every organization should follow with their ethical responsibility towards employees’ health and safety as they are also a vital part of the country and society from which it also belongs.


In the end, of the detailed discussion of ethical and legal issues in regard to employee health and safety we can conclude that organizations can avoid all these issues if they manage it with all-inclusive efforts from the time to employee hiring to his performance at workplace. If an organization abides with the established rules and regulations it will achieve immense success in the maintenance of employee health and safety. Adoption of appropriate laws and acts along with appropriate implementation of essential programs can furnish an organization with effective approach to manage and handle employees’ health and safety.


Audi, R. (1997). Moral knowledge and ethical character. New York: Oxford University Press.

Cahn, S. & Markie, P. (1998). Ethics: History, theory, and contemporary issues. New York: Oxford University Press.

Hooker, B. (2002). Ideal code, real world: A rule-consequentialist theory of morality. New York: Oxford University Press.

Lefkowitz, J. (2003). Ethics and values in industrial organization psychology. Mahwah NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Swanton, C. (2005). Virtue ethics: A pluralistic view. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.

Hughes, Phil and Ferrett, Ed (2009) Introduction to Health and Safety at Work. taylor & francis; 4 edition

Jane Clarke; Alex White; (2002) A guide to good employment practice in the community & voluntary sector. Dublin: Combat Poverty Agency.

Granger, Lisa (2010) Best Practices in Occupational Health, Safety, Workers Compensation and Claims Management for Employers: Assisting Employers in Navigating “The Road to Zero”. Universal Publishers

Employee Health and Safety. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.wbcsdcement.org: http://www.wbcsdcement.org/index.php/key-issues/health-and-safety

Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.osha.gov: http://www.osha.gov/

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