An engineer should do his utmost to protect the health and welfare of the people who are subordinate to him. This paper focuses on the complex of measures a chemical engineer should take in order to solve the problem at the company where workers’ health is in danger.
Chemical engineer Don Hayward at ABC Manufacturing faced a contradictory issue. After complaints from the people he supervises about respiratory problems and smell in the working area, Don addressed his superior, Cal Brundage, and reported about the issue. Nevertheless, Cal told Don that air quality in the workplace is in compliance with OSHA guidelines. Despite the reply of Don’s supervisor, the engineer knew that OSHA guidelines did not apply to the chemicals his people were exposed to at ABC Manufacturing, because most of those chemicals have not been tested. Don conducted a literature research on this issue at ABC's science library. After he found the necessary source at the company’s library to learn more about this problem, his superior was trying to avoid signing the formal request for the necessary document for two months. In such a way chemical engineer of ABC Manufacturing Don Hayward faced a contradictory problem at his working place.
Dropping an issue is definitely not an option for Don. He proved to be a decent man in his attempts to make an independent research on the problem with dangerous chemicals. Moreover, he followed one of the key issues in the Engineering Code of Ethics, according to which engineers hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public in the performance of their professional duties. Thus, in Don’s case, he should take more sufficient steps to find out the reasons of his workers’ complaints and diseases and handle the problem.
First of all, he should address Cal’s supervisor, since Cal acted as a dishonest worker when he denied the existing situation, neglected the safety rules and provided Don with faulty information, pretending that the situation at the company did not exist. Chemical engineer should pay attention to written evidence to support the presence of the problem. Thus, he should also ask his workers to write corresponding reports and describe their complaints and provide analysis results from the hospital. Second, according to the Code of Ethics (n.d.), Don should notify the proper authority, such as the company’s Environmental and Health department, that the health of the workers has worsened, providing the doctor’s opinion about the health analysis results of the workers who developed respiratory diseases. It is necessary to emphasize that documented information is very important in this situation. In case the safety manager decides that incidents fail to warrant a report to OSHA, Don can use the documents and analysis results to prove that the problem exists. Code of Engineers Ethics also states that if an engineer is aware of any violation of this Code, he should report to appropriate professional bodies and to public authorities, when relevant. Thus, if company’s headquarters refuse to resolve the problem, Don should inform the city and state health authorities and require that a thorough examination of the possible contaminated area at ABC Manufacturing takes place.
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Engineers should not reveal facts, data, or information without the prior consent of their supervisors, but the seriousness of this situation overweighs the Ethic Code standards. Don’s decision to anonymously reveal an issue to the public via mass media can result in a serious scandal over his employer. On the one hand, it is unethical in regards to the company-employer relations and the aforementioned paragraph in the Engineers Ethics Code. On the other hand, running heads in the morning newspapers and TV shows with accusations of the company’s headquarters in ecological disaster can be the most persuasive way of influencing the company’s policy. Moreover, if Don signed the confidentiality contract, he would risk violating this agreement. However, if the company or public authorities would not correspondingly react to the given problem, then addressing the mass media is the only way for Don to draw attention to the health contamination problem at ABC Manufacturing.
Don should take all the necessary steps to resolve the existing problem if the company departments refuse to consider this issue: address the corresponding health and environmental departments of the company, contact the public health authorities.. He should also report about the dishonest worker who tried to disguise the important information in order to exclude such happenings at the company in the future. If urgent, an engineer could also inform the mass media about the fact that the company ignores an important health issue and provide necessary evidence, but this is the last resort in case all the previous measures have no result.
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