Ethics refers to the decision that an individual or an organization has to make between the right(ethical) and wrong(unethical) for the betterment of themselves or the company or the nation. Ethics plays a very Important role in every person’s life which directly affects the consequences to be faced by the individual or a company. Business ethics is most necessary as the decisions take in business directly affects the employees, people, organization and country in the short run or long run.
Ethical issues include prescriptive approaches:
· Consequential Theories (Focus on Consequences)
· Deontological Theories (Focus on Duties, obligations and principles)
· Virtue Ethics (Focus on Integrity)
People face some issues such as Conflict of Interest, Ethical Climate, Corporate Social Responsibility and many other factors. These problems create negative consequences on taking wrong decisions.
(Dutta, 2017)Talking about business ethics, I would like to describe Bhopal Gas Tragedy which is one of the worst industrial mishap of the world. Union Carbide, a chemical factory located in the capital of Madhya Pradesh of India, Bhopal raised a very major mishap when a poisonous gas leaked from the factory post-midnight on December 3, 1984 which killed thousands of people. According to official records, it has been discovered that 3,787 people died due to this tragic event. The government issued an affidavit in 2006 stating that Bhopal gas leak caused 5,58,125 injuries which includes 3900 severely and majorly disabling injuries.
The gas leak in the Union Carbide was reported after midnight on the intervening night of December 2 and 3. The incident had taken place at plant C in the factory. The gas was spread over large areas of the city resulting in killing people asleep and awake. According to the government’s affidavit, almost 3000 people were killed by the poisonous gas. It is estimated that 40 tons of methyl isocyanate and other chemicals leaked from the factory.
It was discovered that the methyl isocyanate got mixed with the water which was used for cooling the plant from Plant C. The mixture led to generation of a high volume of gases which put huge pressure on tank number 610. The gaseous pressure released tones of poisonous gas through the tank cover which mixed up into a large area. Almost5,00,000 people were exposed to these gases.
Bhopal’s population was almost over 8.5 lakh back in 1984 out of which half the population was already affected by these poisonous gases. People were suffering from coughing, itching eyes, skin and breathing problems. The gas led to hemorrhage, pneumonia and death. The worst affected were the villages and slums in the neighboring areas of the factory. People started running to hospitals resulting in chaos. The officials did not even ring an alarm. The alarm system of the factory was not working of which the managers could do anything. Lack of hospitals also caused a lot of problems as not even half the affected population could be accommodated in these hospitals. The doctors also couldn’t figure out the reason of the occurring at first being no statement released from the factory officials. Symptoms of methyl isocyanate were not immediately detected. Almost 55000 patients were treated in just 2 days in two hospitals. The government declared the gases being sustained in 8 hours but the city still finds trails even 33 years later.
Conflict of Interest-
Conflict of interest refers to the priority of an individual while taking a decision whether it may be in concern to the public or the organization or the individual’s own self. The decision taken may directly affect either if the above mentioned depending on concern the decision has been taken. It is the responsibility of the individual to decide figure out the ethical and unethical option he/she has to decide on. The company officials compromised a lot of important measures that must be taken in an organization for the betterment of the employers, employees and the public in the surrounding areas. The company being involved in multiple interests led to conflict of interest which also led to reducing the motivation and the moral of the employees and the organization. The company set profit maximization as its first priority and motive leading to cost minimization. This resulted in decline in the quality of man power, skill level and specialization of the workers of the plant. This also affected the company being a factor related to the gas tragedy. The employee training was not up to the mark which resulted in mis happenings which also resulted in technicality of the employees as per the requirement of the company plant.
Giving priority to profit maximization over the betterment of the employees and the organization resulted in one of the worst tragic mishap across the world as the employees present at the site were not well trained enough to respond immediately to the occurring. Better skilled and knowledgeable employees could have made a difference.
According to reports and statement of employees, it has been stated by an employee that there was a problem with the machinery. On 2 December, during the evening, the periodic washings were being done around 9:30 pm. The worker stopped the washing when he realized that the slip blind was not inserted into the pipe. This slip bind ensured that the water didn’t go back up towards the storage tank. He reported this to the immediate supervisor who was an operation supervisor and not a maintenance supervisor who asked him to continue anyways. Due to the blockage, the water started backing up but this was not noticed and washing continued till the third shift around 10:45 pm. Water flowing into the tank started mixing up with the stored MIC through a partly opened isolation valve that should have been closed after the last draw out of MIC. This resulted into high pressure and caused a rupture in the tank which led to a leakage of volatile poisonous gas which caused 40 tons of vapor within an hour.
Instructing the worker to keep working knowing the situation of the machinery was highly unethical. The worker was also at fault who consulted the wrong supervisor instead of the maintenance supervisor. Although the worker cannot be blamed for the happening because of lack of education and training provided to these workers by the authorities towards the interest of profit maximization. The worker could have made a proper judgement if he were well trained and educated regarding the safety protocols and standards. If the worker could have made the right decision or the supervisor would have guided him in the right way then such a tragic disaster could have been avoided.
Responsibility for Safety-
Responsibility of safety is the most important aspect and is the highest ethical priority of and industry which is necessary for the employees, company, people and surroundings around the factory /company area. The engineers who set up this machinery must avoid catastrophic failures which lead to damage of property and environment of the user of the machinery and may also avoid injury and loss of life.
The employees working in these factories should be at first priority regarding their safety, health and welfare. A proper safety plan must be designed and taught to all employees working in the area. It was discovered that a major portion of safety assistance systems were not working or operating properly. Safety measure were not being taken properly such as the vent of gas scrubber which were designed to neutralize the gas were shut down at times when the superiors though that it was not needed which was inappropriate as these regulated the gas. The flare tower which was set up there was capable of handling only a quarter of the gas that leaked in 1984. Machines and refrigerators were shut down at times to save electrical bills. These refrigerators were used to cool down the machines which when shut down increased the temperature 4 to 5 times compared to normal temperature. The tanks were overfilled with MIC which were supposed to be filled only up to 60%. The water safety system was also very weak to sustain the escaping gas. The water was not sprayed enough.
A proper safety system would have been able to avoid the tragedy or at least could have been capable of reducing the effect it caused on thousands of people. (https://www.uniassignment.com/essay-samples/construction/ethical-case-study-bhopal-disaster-construction-essay.php)
Such a tragic event created a massive impact on people and the industry sector which could have been avoided with proper precautions and safety measures. The company authorities made a bad decision by giving more priority to profit maximization compromising the expenses on training and education of the employees which led to major consequences. Employees play every major role in the functioning of a company which could cause major damage to the company and surroundings if not well trained. This also relates to the wrong decisions taken by the workers and the supervisor which could have been avoided if they well knew about safety measures.
All industries should be well developed and the employees should be well trained and allotted specific jobs according to their set of skills gained by them. The recruitment of employees must be significant related to the job fields. The law should also enforce proper inspections on the environment and employees of the companies to check on safety requirements or policies. A safe and secure workplace can also promote morale and increase productivity.
Future leaders all over the world must promote ethical work places which would not only promote the betterment of the people and industries but also avoid such tragic mishaps which made such a major impact on the people and the city of Bhopal and its surroundings.
Ethical decisions in business will not only promote the betterment of industries and employees but will also make this world a more better place to live in and develop a nation at a very high level.