The services performed by industries like logging, fishing, mining, firefighting, truck driving, and the military are critical to sustaining the standard of living as we know it in the U.S. and across the world. But they also expose people employed in those fields to significant physical risks.
A new paper by Wharton legal studies and business ethics professor Robert Hughes takes a closer look at the ethical questions facing companies that employ workers in physically dangerous jobs. In “Paying People to Risk Life or Limb,” which was published in the journal Business Ethics Quarterly, Hughes argues that simply offering employees higher pay to do a physically dangerous job doesn’t make it ethically permissible for companies to put them at risk, nor is it a good reason to put off implementing necessary safety measures.
Hughes, whose background is in moral philosophy, examines the ethics of jobs that run the risk of bodily harm with a philosophical lens. Moral philosophy takes on the task of thinking through difficult ethical issues in a rational and principled way. When a company exposes its employees to risk, how does the company determine the extent of risk, how does the pay scale reflect the extent of risk, and at what point does a company draw the line?
Read more at Knowledge@Wharton.