Lecture 8 - e-Handout Business & Professional Ethics...

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e-Handout Business & Professional Ethics Lecture 8 1 Dr. David E. McClean This Lecture Addresses Issues of Occupational Health and Safety Here are some tragic cases to think about as you considered the subject of occupational health and safety: 1. The Triangle Factory Fire . On a cold Saturday afternoon, March 25, 1911, a terrible fire raged on the top floors of the Asch Building in lower Manhattan, a building that remains to this day. The fire started in the Triangle Waist Company, which dealt in apparel and so used a large volume of fabric. When the fire was over, 146 of the 500 employees had died, most being burned to death or asphyxiated by smoke, or both. Others jumped from the windows to avoid the flames, or fell to their deaths because of fire escapes unable to support the weight of so many people. Escape by other means was nearly impossible because the managers blocked or locked exit doors to make sure that employees would not steal fabric or clothing. Many of the dead were young female immigrants who had no prospects for other work. 2. Union Carbide in Bhopal . In Bhopal, India, the worst industrial accident ever recorded took place in on December 3, 1984. The Union Carbide corporation’s plant accidentally released forty-two tons a toxic gas, methyl isocyanate (MIC). Over half a million people were exposed to the gas, along with other gases. The gas killed many immediately. The initial death toll was 2,259, but subsequently an initial death toll of 3,787 was officially recorded. Some estimated that upwards of 10,000 men, women and children died within 72 hours. Since 1984, it is reported that 25,000 others have died due to the effects of the gases. It has been concluded that the case of the leak was poor maintenance and safety conditions in the Bhopal plant. 3. Johns-Manville and Asbestos . In 1951, asbestos companies hid any references to the fact that cancer may be associated to asbestos exposure, and deleted that information from a study that they were about to publish. Johns-Manville was one of these asbestos companies. Its medical director tried to get warning labels attached to the products being delivered to consumers. The only reason why those labels never appeared had to do with concerns for profits. In 1953, another asbestos company’s safety director wrote a letter to the Indiana Division of Industrial Hygiene, recommending that acoustic plaster mixers wear respirators "because of the asbestos used in the product." Another company official noted that the letter was "full of dynamite" and urged that it be retrieved before reaching
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e-Handout Business & Professional Ethics Lecture 8 2 Dr. David E. McClean its destination. A memo in the files noted that the company "succeeded in stopping" the letter, which "will be modified." Since the 1950s, thousands of cases of a very debilitating cancer, mesothelioma , have been reported. This cancer is almost always associated with asbestos exposure. Many workers in asbestos companies and in
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This note was uploaded on 03/15/2012 for the course PHILOSOPHY 201 taught by Professor Morgan during the Spring '08 term at Rutgers.

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Lecture 8 - e-Handout Business & Professional Ethics...

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