Wooden is a large factory that specializes in creating wooden objects from shaving and shaping logs. I have been employed there for ten years and I’m well acquainted with everyone. I now face a dilemma, the factory has become unsafe. I have followed my chain of command and voiced my concerns and no one will take me seriously. I have no choice but to report this to outside authorities so my co-workers as well as the town is safe. Littlebury is a small town with a population of approximately 1,200 residents. In this small of a town everyone knows one another and Wooden is the largest employer. Wooden takes almost 1,000 logs a day and operates on a 24/7 basis. The activity at Wooden creates an enormous amount of dust, at least an inch thick on all of the equipment, flat surfaces and ceiling rafters. In some areas it is 3 inches thick and WOOD DUST IS A COMBUSTABLE MATERIAL. Employees’ have complained for years but no one has created a method to frequently clean the factory. I feel that I have no choice but to report it to the outside authorities because now a co-worker has reported she has seen sparks come off her machine.
I have reported this to everyone from the Safety Coordinator, Jason Rhine all the way up the chain to the Owner, Tony Lord. I have received responses from “There is no way an explosion could occur. Everyone knows that wood dust is not explosive. She probably saw some type of light reflection.” up to “You cannot prove that there is an explosion hazard here.” I have been threatened that without proof my concerns and comments will be taken as slander. My co-worker is asking me to call OSHA because if my years of service and she has only been employed for two weeks thus scared of losing her job. However, if I report it I feel as if even though I have ten years here at Wooden I would be harassed until I resigned or they found a reason to let me go. I also believe that we all live and work in such a small town where everyone knows everybody that I would be harassed outside of work. I do not want to see anyone get in trouble or lose their jobs. We all have families to feed and support. I have always tried to live my life by the Utilitarian code of ethics.
Utilitarian code of ethics is normally described as making ethical decisions based on the greatest good for the greatest number of people (Page 145 of Thinking Critically about Ethical Issues). In reporting this matter to OSHA I would have peace of mind knowing that I did the right thing in saving hundreds to thousands’ of people from getting seriously injured or even killed. I could live with the repercussions from my actions because on the alternative side of things it would eat me alive if an explosion did happen knowing that I had the knowledge and power to do something about it but chose to do nothing. Well I did it. I reported this serious violation of workplace safety to OSHA. I can now be labeled a whistle blower. Whistle blowing is a person that reports wrong doing or a violation of the law to the proper authorities (Whistle Blowing in the Public Sector). I feel as if I am morally justified in my actions because I have potentially saved hundreds (if not more) from serious harm or death and I did not participate in any illegal or moral and ethical wrongdoings of my employer.
Ruggiero, Vincent. Thinking Critically about Ethical Issues, 7th Edition. McGraw-Hill Learning Solutions, 2008, Page 145, retrieved on October 10, 2011
Santa Clara University, Retrieved on October 10, 2011, Whistle Blowing in the Public Sector, http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/focusareas/government_ethics/introduction/whistleblowing.html