Workplace health and safety is an ethically discriminatory practice relevant to modern business. Organizations often disregard the rights of their employees for safety conditions of work, which leads to the development of chronic illnesses, mental health problems, injuries, and even deaths. The critical detail is that business lacks supervision from the side of independent organizations that promote workers’ rights, which makes the employer responsible for the conditions in the particular company. There is no need to say that not all employers are moral enough to guarantee their workers all requirements that promote safety. In most cases, the safety of the employees is the way to save finances and emotional resources for the company, which leads to serious adverse outcomes. In this paper, the problems connected with workplace safety and health are discussed and analyzed from the perspective of utilitarianism. It is possible to hypothesize that from a practical standpoint, creating a safe environment for the employees guarantees a more sustainable and profitable development of business, which justifies the moral need to promote healthy and safe workplace conditions.
Description of Practices
Poor working conditions and lack of safety rules at the workplace often lead to the aggravation of the individual’s chronic illnesses. According to the estimates, seven deaths from 10 result from the chronic disease that does not receive adequate medical assistance (Fischer et al. 1156). Among the factors that lead to chronic illnesses are poor nutrition, bad eating habits, high level of alcohol consumption, depression, and high blood pressure (Fischer et al. 1156). Stress at the workplace, inability to spare an hour to have a healthy meal and lack of opportunities to eat healthy at work are among the details that contribute to the development of chronic illnesses. Therefore, the employee becomes ill and unable to perform their responsibilities at work because the employer does not allow them to preserve life-work balance and have a healthier schedule.
The employee’s legal status influences the safety conditions at the workplace, which creates moral bias. According to the statistics provided by the Health and Safety Executive, self-employed and temporary workers have the highest rate of injuries and health problems that occur at the workplace. Approximately 30 percent of all fatal cases at the workplace are connected with people who work in small enterprises or are not fully employed (“Health and Safety Regulation” 84). Working full-time in large companies has lower injuries and health problems connected with their employment, which shows the existing bias in this sphere (“Health and Safety Regulation” 84-85). This disparity shows inequality in safety conditions depending on the status of the worker and the type of organization where the person works.
From the utilitarian point of view, pursuing business ethics concerning health and safety issues is justified for several reasons. The main reason is financial profit connected with the appropriate implementation of these practices. It is critical to understand that all workers have their economic costs and paying for extended health insurance is not profitable for the company (Azzi 10). Moreover, a person with chronic illnesses is more likely to work less than a completely healthy employee.
The second issue that makes pursuing ethical principles in health and safety policy is the happiness of the dominant majority in the company. The utilitarian perspective regards the happiness of most people as the ultimate goal that all people should try to achieve (Varouxakis, Philp 207-208). It is possible to illustrate this hypothesis with the following claims from Mill’s utilitarian theory:
“Mill says that the advance of civilization involves a move towards social equality and the harmonization of interests. His account of this progress towards equality and harmony is part of his argument regarding the sufficiency of the utilitarian sanction. It is the claim that the feeling of duty, which can come to be associated with the idea of the general happiness, is capable of being sufficiently strong to motivate the members of a society of utilitarians because of its connection with a powerful natural sentiment.” (Varouxakis, Philp 212)
These lines show that happiness connected with the equality of all people is essential in forming a just society. Businesses should also use these principles to develop in the right direction. It is also vital to mention that those workers whose conditions of employment are safe and do not make them feel worse are motivated to stay in the company for a long time. Therefore, they are more likely to contribute to developing a business that has a more humane attitude to them and cares for their health.
Therefore, two main reasons foreground the necessity of promoting a healthy and safe environment in the workplace. It makes creating a healthy and safe environment at the workplace justified from the utilitarian point of view because healthy workers increase the organization’s profit in the long-term perspective. Moreover, implementing safety and health rules in the company allows businesses to increase happiness among most employees, which is valuable from a utilitarian standpoint.
It is possible to recommend that the business pay more attention to the employees’ work conditions and ensure that all safety principles are followed. First of all, it is essential to pay attention to the employment format because trainees and people with the not standard full employment usually suffer in this sphere. Second, there is a vital need to establish autonomous organizations that supervise business concerning the health and safety conditions of the employees (“Health and Safety Regulation” 85). In most cases, people who belong to vulnerable groups in society cannot protect their rights at work, which makes them victims in business and leads to the aggravation of their vulnerable state.
Summing up, the utilitarian perspective shows that creating a safe environment for the employees is justified both from the moral and the economic perspectives. It guarantees the business a stable development based on the principles of sustainability, the happiness of most employees, and the motivation of these individuals to work in the particular company. People whose rights are respected at the workplace are unlikely to change their place of work and have the stable motivation to preserve their position. Therefore, it contributes to business development and the increase in profit. Moreover, the business has moral obligations that emphasize the importance of caring for the employees and creating healthy and safe work conditions. These aspects guarantee that the company understands the rights of its workers and does not want to lose its employees because it violates the principles of business ethics. Therefore, the principles of utilitarianism justify the moral need for a healthy and safe workplace policy that guarantees that most employees are satisfied with their work conditions.
“Health and Safety Regulation.” Institute of Employment Rights Journal, vol. 3, no. 1, 2020, pp. 84–93.
Azzi, Dr. Manal. “What does the future hold for safety and health at work?” International Union Rights, vol. 26 no. 2, 2019, p. 10-19. Project MUSE.
Fischer, Leah S., et al. “CDC Grand Rounds: New Frontiers in Workplace Health.” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, vol. 67, no. 41, 2018, pp. 1156–59.
Varouxakis, Georgios, Philp, Mark. Happiness and Utility: Essays Presented to Frederick Rosen. UCL Press, 2019.