Ethical Analysis of Hyatt Regency Hotel Walkway Collapse
The collapse of the overhead walkways in the Hyatt Regency hotel occurred on the 17 June 1981 (Garmon 1982), as a result 114 people were killed (Poel & Royakkers 2011) and many injured. An investigation was lead to determine the cause of the incident. Ultimately, it was concluded that the failure of the walkways were attributed to the fact that the construction did not meet the Kansas City Building code requirements coupled with miscommunication within the project between designers and constructors (Stalking the Causes of the Hyatt Tragedy 1981). The ethical implications due to the failure of the walkways lead to many moral problems regarding the procedure of duty and responsibility of authority.
Within this incident there are a number of parties that hold an interest in the results and findings of the case. These are known as stakeholders and can be ordered into the following sets: the victims and family members of those in the disaster; the Hyatt Regency Hotel as a corporation; the building contractors; and the engineers and the firms that they are associated with. The main interest of the majority of these parties is to reduce costs and allow for greater ease of construction. This interest raises a moral concern of where cost reduction can be maximised without impairing the safety of other stakeholders such as the users of the hotel. The users of the hotel as well as the victims of the incident and their families hold the interest that they are entitled to the use of the construction without fear of their own safety. This conflicting moral issue raises the concern that the safety of individuals shouldn’t be sacrificed in order to reduce costs and to cut corners in order to ease construction. The moral problem encompasses the responsibility of the designers and constructors to ensure the safety of people’s lives whilst in use of their designs over minimising costs. The main design of the walkway...
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Garmon, L 1982, Code breach blamed for hotel disaster, Science News, 121, 10, p. 149
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Poel, I & Royakkers, L 2011. Ethics, Technology and Engineering: An Introduction, 1st edn, Wiley-Blackwell, UK
Stalking the Causes of the Hyatt Tragedy, 1981, Science News, 120, 13, p. 196
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