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Ethics education a must for safety professionals, study says

October 16, 2013
KEYWORDS ASSE / EHS profession
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ethicsA recent study examining ethical reasoning among safety, health and environmental (SH&E) professionals is expected to help educators determine how to integrate a moral and ethical base within safety curricula to prepare future safety professionals to have an ethics based thought process when they enter the work force. The study is the subject of Commitment, Ethics and Compliance, A Look at Perceptions in the SH&E Profession, a peer-reviewed feature in the September issue of Professional Safety, the journal of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).

“This is one of the first snap shots taken of the safety and health profession as far as an ethics review,” explained the article’s author John (Jay) Wells, Jr., Ed.D., CSP. “Many other professions have ethics standards, and we are in an industry that is impacted by ethical and moral decisions.”

The study examines the differences in professional commitment among safety professionals of various birth years. Study participants reported working in the safety field for five years to 44 years. Results indicate that those born between 1925 and 1945 showed the highest level of professional commitment, followed by those who were born between 1979 and 2002.

Most of the study’s respondents demonstrated a solid grasp of ethical decision making. Given the level of ethical reasoning in today’s global economy, the article states that educators should realize the importance of ethics and moral reasoning as it applies to all professions.

“From an educator standpoint, the study is a measure to review curriculum, and how it affects future safety and health professionals and their thought process,” said Wells. “It should help provide a moral and ethical base to consider when they are on the job.”

According to Wells, the study is the first of its kind and future research is warranted to study SH&E professionals of varied educational backgrounds to capture a better snapshot of the ethical reasoning in the profession.

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