The Legal Argument to Benzine in the Workplace

The legal argument

Under occupational safety and health administration regulations,
Employers have the primary responsibility to

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1.provide a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees;

When considering Benzine in a work environment the federal guidelines recommend a saturation of 10 parts per-million. This is because there is a proven risk of death or serious bodily harm through continued exposure to this gas.

Although the New York state regulated guidelines on the saturation of this gas in the workplace do not explicitly adhere to this rule, the chemical company mentioned in the case study is about 100 times above the regulated guidelines. Because the spirit of the law in this instance advocates the protection of workers and the provision of a healthy and safe work environment, by having such a high saturation of a hazardous gas in the plant under ethical considerations of rights and justice, the chemical company is effectively denying their workers the right to life and the additionally the right to bodily integrity.

As above, the responsibility of employers is to provide a safe working environment indiscriminate of the role the worker plays in the organization. However in the said chemical company, the workers with the least bargaining power are placed in the most hazardous working environment. Again although the OSHA guidelines prohibit employers from discrimination of workers for filing safety and health complaints, there is no regulation per-se that prohibits this behaviour. Ethically under Rawls distributive justice, the workers with decisive power are placing the plant workers at risk even though they may be considered the ???least??? in the organization.

Additionally under OSHA guidelines, workers must

2. Not discriminate or retaliate against an employee for using their rights under the law.
However, in the cases study one of the managers describe a situation where by

???..insisting upon funding for a project that won??™t meet targeted rates of return is a sure fire way to be shown the door marked exit in large black letters..???

This suggests that even pursing improvements in health and safety may indeed be mutually exclusive to keeping your job in this company. This is an instance where the said chemical firm is violating the spirit and the letter of the law.

Another example of out rightly illegal behaviour of the said chemical firm is illustrated by one of the general duty clauses by the OSHA. Where the employer should provide

Clean air. Air of such purity that it will not cause harm or discomfort to an individual if it is inhaled for extended periods of time.


Susan Shapiro describes how saturated with Benzine the air in the plant is during her visit. In addition, she outlines how the workers in the plant were visibly uncomfortable.

Looking at what the OSHA regulations on worker health and safety, it is clear that the chemical company needs to revise its health and safety policy in regards to benzine. Their behaviour can be described as unethical and in some instances illegal. I would therefore continue the campaign to force them to revise this policy.

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