All About Asbestos

All About Asbestos

Ethics when it comes to Asbestos removal


22 Feb 2013

When it comes to removing asbestos, there are a range of contractors from which a customer may choose. They range from unlicenced cowboys with a ute, trailer, and a sledgehammer, to licenced professionals with expensive machinery and safety equipment. They range in education from the high school drop out, to post graduate Scholars such as myself.

While my Degree may not be in the 'science' of asbestos removal, it did cover 'Morality and Ethics'.

Morality and Ethics are essential to business relations and help to develop the trust that is so crucial to a harmonious and Just society.

Of course one does not need to be tought Morality and Ethics at school, but can develop these traits as a result of good parenting while one is young and impressionable.

So what exactly is Morality and Ethics and how does it relate to asbestos removal?

Ethics is related to morality but it is not the same thing. 'Morality' comes from the Latin word 'moralis' which is more concerned with what we believe is good and evil (bad) or, right and wrong. Our morality is a set of 'pre-packaged answers', if you like, to the question posed by ethics: “what ought I to do?”.

Our own individual morality gives us the values and principles for making our decisions when we are faced with that question.

In Australian society, although secular, we have a tradition of Christianity and christian morality whereby the Golden Rule is to treat others as you would like be treated yourself. If you would not like an asbestos remover to come and smash up asbestos near/at your home, you most certainly would not do it at theirs.  This may sound perfectly reasonable, indeed, obvious, however things can become skewed when we combine morality with Ethics.

Ethics is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. While our moral code of right and wrong is hopefully dictated by the 'Golden Rule', just how we come to determining the Golden Rule individually may be scewed by things such as Values.

In Australia, hard work, and safe working practice is highly esteemed. Money and wealth is esteemed almost as equally and this creates an energetic and innovative economy with a healthy middle class population.

However, the value that individuals place in any of these principles, practice, and objects is not equal, nor is it even in the same order.

One individual may reason that hard work is virtuous, but this virtue is negated if the work is carried out in an unsafe manner. This may be exemplified in the aphorism 'quality over quantity'.

On the other hand, a different individual might reason that safety is a subjective word, and that what is safe for some, may not be safe for others. He might value hard work more than safety, and that safe practice is a costly hindrance to productivity.

The same is true when it comes to money and wealth. Our first individual believes that hard work and safe practice is virtuous, and that money is a reward for this virtuous behaviour. Thus virtuous behaviour becomes a means to the end of aquiring money and wealth.

Our second individual values money and wealth in and of itself. Money is the reward for the completion of the job, by any means necessary, and the faster the better. Money is valued above safety and hard work, thus putting the safety of the customer and neighbours at risk. Instead of the slow, tedious, removal of all fastenings and allowing sheets to be removed whole and intact. The sheets are just broken off and removed in pieces. Fibres are released en masse, and surrounding earth or furniture is contaminated.

Each of these individuals may follow the same Moral Code, but follow very different pathways in order to reach it, and it is this pathway that MUST be of concern to any customer seeking work done by an asbestos removal contractor.


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