The following case involved Gene Elliot who was employed for Mabey Bridge and Shore. Mabey Bridge and Shore was a small business that rented temporary steel pedestrian bridges to other companies. In this particular case, Mabey Bridge and Shore rented a pedestrian bridge to Turner Construction. Turner Construction decided that it was necessary to use a subcontractor to actually perform the work, and this is where a company by the name of B&C Steel came into play. Apart from renting a bridge, Turner Construction also “rented” the services of Gene Elliot, an employee of Mabey Bridge and Shore, to oversee that B&C Steel performed the work satisfactorily under OSHA standards and general safety procedures for this line of work. I will attempt to explain why I believe Turner Construction is responsible for the injuries that Gene Elliot received while on the job. Ethical Point of View
According to Velazquez (2010), “Each year more than 4,000 workers are killed and 3,000,000 are seriously injured (killed or disabled) while on the job” (p. 418). Velazquez (2010), also points out that risk, unfortunately, is unavoidable in many occupations. There are rules and regulations in play to protect employers/employees should an injury result due to work related circumstances. In this particular situation, B&C Steel had not followed the proper procedures to ensure that the highest level of safety was practiced. In the very beginning the warning signs could be seen when B&C Steel had not adequately checked their route, and their truck hit a power line causing a fire. When it came time for the actual installation of the pedestrian bridge, B&C Steel employees neglected to acknowledge an all-stop OSHA signal made by Gene Elliott. Gene Elliott witnessed safety hazards that would have resulted in the bridge ending in failure. Not only did the bridge collapse, Gene Elliott fell along with it. Due to this factor, Gene Elliott suffered multiple permanent injuries. It is easy to point the finger and blame on another.
This is exactly what Turner Construction and B&C Steel were trying to do. No one wanted to accept blame for the situation on hand. From an ethical standpoint, I believe it was the moral responsibility of Turner Construction to accept responsibility for what had occurred. According to Velazquez (2010), “A person or in this case organization, is morally responsible if an injury occurred when it could have been prevented” (p. 58). Another aspect to take into consideration, is the concept of ignorance. Through ignorance, moral responsibility can be limited. It can be claimed (as in the case reviewed), that the companies should not be held responsible for matters out of their control. I personally would argue this as deliberate ignorance, where the text clearly states that negligent or deliberate ignorance can be controlled. This in turn results in the company still considered to be responsible. Velazquez (2010) states, “However, to the extent that our ignorance of moral standards is the result of freely choosing not to figure out what these standards are, we are responsible for our ignorance and for its wrongful or injurious consequences” (p. 59).
Section 8.41.401 of the Colorado Worker’s Compensation Act states, “The company hiring out the work to any lessee, sub-lessee, contractor or subcontractor shall be construed to be an employer and injury or death of an employee becomes their liability. This statement alone leads me to believe that Turner Construction should be held as the responsible party for the injuries incurred by Gene Elliott. Turner Construction alone made the decision to use a subcontractor (B&C Steel), to perform the work needed for the completion of the pedestrian bridge. I believe that Gene Elliott was just doing his job to ensure the safety of all parties involved as specified by OSHA. Turner Construction can argue that Gene Elliott was not technically an “employee” of their organization, but I do believe there is room for dispute on that matter based on the law. Conclusion
At the end of the day, Mabey Ridge made an agreement with Turner Construction. Turner Construction made the decision to use a subcontractor, B&C Steel, to perform the work that they had been assigned to complete. From the moment Turner Construction decided to use a subcontractor, I believe it was their responsibility to ensure that all safety procedures/protocols were followed by B&C Steel to ensure the successful completion of the bridge. Due to the fact that the employees of B&C Steel decided to make their own rules, an innocent man trying to do his job got injured. The injuries were permanent, and I believe this resulted through no fault of his own. Mr. Elliott witnessed a potentially fatal situation, and used the OSHA protocol to attempt to fix the situation.
Velasquez, M. G. (2012). Business ethics: Concepts and cases (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.