Above we have talked about legal Acts that encourage care of the individual and care within the workplace but one other area worth mentioning here is care of the environment. Care of the environment, as we have already mentioned, should be in the professional’s mind from a moral and ethical perspective, but like many areas there are also Acts of Legislation to ensure and encourage its protection.
One Act that deals directly with this area is the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Not only will consideration of this Act encourage ethical actions (care in the workplace) but it will also lead to greater care of the environment (which society might expect) but also care of the wider arena of society.
An example: if we were wishing to build a factory that manufactured laptop computers we would have to take in to account any potential toxic chemicals that might be used, or produced as by-products in their manufacture, and accordingly take action to manage or ideally eliminate these toxic chemicals. Assuming elimination of the hypothesised toxins was not viable, for whatever reason, then the professional would be faced with the task of disposing of the toxins, either at the time of production or at the time of disposal of the product once it reached its end of life.
We are keeping this simple here so we will assume that certain chemicals left over may be such that they could simply be washed away. But, if we refer to the section within the Environmental Protection Act 1990 titled Discharge and scope of functions then we find 3a(ii) that tells us that, essentially, in Scotland, it is SEPA (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) that is the organisation that must be consulted to gain authority and direction on what possible routes might be available toward the disposal of the identified toxins.
For example, if we requested to wash the toxins away from the production line and dispose of the toxic water in to the surrounding ground or local river then it would be SEPA that would be consulted and it would be SEPA that would permit or disallow this action with full backing of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and, by association, the legal system.
Next: Ethical Considerations