BUS 515 – Exam Paper
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1. In your judgment, did Dow and Shell before 1977 do all they should have done for workers involved in the manufacture of DBCP? Explain your answer in terms of the ethical principles that you believe are involved.
During the launching stage of DBCP, Dow had spent 2 years doing toxicology tests on the risk of DBCP, followed warning labels pasted on the products. Such actions listed out the potential threats DBCP may bring to users, like negative effects via skin contact, orally taken and inhaled in vapors. A set of warning wordings were built and printed on products to guide users using it in a safe way, like in area with enough ventilation.
Along the years of launching, Shell also commissioned the University of California on toxicological properties studies, which drilled down to adverse effect of vapor after inhaled by live beings. A safety ceiling of DBCP fumes in parts per million set a good standard for safe working environment for manufacturing labor.
At this stage, under presence of preventive measure to users and workers, Dow and Shell were doing enough provided that no hazardous health threats to human were discovered at the time being. The 2 years spent on assessment of potential threats of DBCP causing to live being was also an implication of Social Contract Theory, which is to make profit along the standard of objective morality.
Yet, upon release of the combined study by Torkelson-Hine discovering the adverse effects of DBCP caused to testes of live-being, Dow and Shell turned to respond to stakeholders’ interest more than considering the safety of DBCP manufacturing workers, “They went to the federal to register the research result as commercial secret”. This was sad but understandable act as this protected the firm’s interest from preventing potential competitors’ entry for a fraction of costs and very little risk.
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