Professor Melden says in his book, We are all familiar with such rules of conduct. Each society, religion, professional group, or distinguishable community has its principles, its standards of conduct. As persons who are concerned with being responsible in our conduct, we rely ordinarily upon a body of principles for guidance in conduct. Examples of these principles are all around us. In the Judeo-Christian community, there are at minimum the Ten Commandments. In every society, we have laws at the local, national and international levels which describe and dictate both unacceptable and acceptable behaviour. There are also the scientific method, the International Code of Ethics for Occupational Health Professionals and Guidance on Ethics for Occupational Physicians, to name a few examples. The list could go on and on. The point here is that we are exposed to a number of standards of conduct, or ethics, as we use the term. It is quite fitting that we begin the work of setting some standards for ourselves.
I’ve avoided working with couples.I see only sex addicts, and I don’t know that I have the energy for everythingthat’s been described, in terms of the ethical dilemmas which are inherent in it.
In the textbooks on ethical theory that we reviewed, however, the ethicists made a distinction between ethics and morals which we choose to accept for the sake of clarity. Melden (1955) and Mothershead (1955) both suggest that the word ethics is used when referring to a set of principles or standards for conduct, and that the word morals is used when referring to the conduct of a person or group, i.e., their behaviour. This usage is consistent with the replies of the CDC professionals.
Medical ethics began as a professional code for physicians and has now expanded and includes a variety of health care professions and health care organizations.
Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field? Is there a strong scientific premise for the project? If the aims of the project are achieved, how will scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice be improved? How will successful completion of the aims change the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field? How does the proposed research strengthen the understanding of ethical, legal and societal issues of genomic research in African populations? How will the goals of proposed research project address the goals of H3Africa?
4. Whenever appropriate, occupational health professionals must request that a clause on ethics be incorporated in their contract of employment. This clause on ethics should include, in particular, the right of occupational health specialists to apply professional standards and principles of ethics. Occupational health professionals must not accept conditions of occupational health practice which do not allow for performance of their functions according to the desired professional standards and principles of ethics. Contracts of employment should contain guidance on the legal contractual and ethical position on matters of conflict, access to records and confidentiality in particular. Occupational health professionals must ensure that their contract of employment or service does not contain provisions which could limit their professional independence. In case of doubt, the terms of the contract must be checked with the assistance of the competent authority.
This code lays down general principles of ethics in occupational health practice. More detailed guidance on a number of particular aspects can be found in national codes of ethics or guidelines for specific professions. Reference to a number of documents on ethics in occupational health are given at the end of this document. The provisions of this code aim to serve as a guide for all those who carry out occupational health activities and cooperate in the improvement of the working environment and working conditions. Its purpose is to contribute, as regards ethics and professional conduct, to the development of common rules for team work and a multi-disciplinary approach in occupational health.
In general, duties and obligations are defined by statutory regulations. Each employer has the responsibility for the health and safety of the workers in his or her employment. Each profession has its responsibilities which are related to the nature of its duties. When specialists of several professions are working together within a multi-disciplinary approach, it is important that they base their action on some common principles of ethics and that they have an understanding of each others obligations, responsibilities and professional standards. Special care should be taken with respect to ethical aspects, in particular when there are conflicting rights such as the right to the protection of employment and the right to the protection of health, the right to information and the right to confidentiality, as well as individual rights and collective rights.
The approach in occupational health is multi-disciplinary and inter-sectoral. There is a wide range of obligations and complex relationships among those concerned. It is therefore important to define the role of occupational health professionals and their relationships with other professionals, with other health professionals and with social partners in the purview of economic, social and health policies and development. This calls for a clear view about the ethics of occupational health professionals and standards in their professional conduct.
In 1995, an ILO international meeting of experts, composed of 21 experts drawn equally from governments, employers groups and workers organizations, adopted a Code of Practice on the Management of Alcohol- and Drug-related Issues in the Workplace (ILO 1996). This Code of Practice addresses many of the ethical considerations that should be examined when dealing with workplace-related issues concerning alcohol and drugs. The Code of Practice is particularly useful as a reference because it also makes practical recommendations concerning how to manage potential alcohol- and drug-related problems that may arise in the employment context.
Although employers should be sensitive to concerns that public health programmes have a persuasive rather than a coercive orientation, the appropriate ethical choice mitigates in favour of initiating and supporting such programmes not only for the potential good of the establishment in terms of economic benefits associated with fewer alcohol and drug problems, but also for the general well-being of workers.
One can question whether the workplace is an appropriate place to conduct prevention activities through information, education and training programmes. Such prevention efforts have an essentially public health focus on the health risks associated with alcohol and drug consumption generally, and they are aimed at a captive audience of workers who are economically dependent on their employer. The response to these concerns is that such programmes also contain valuable and useful information concerning the risks and consequences of alcohol and drug consumption that are particular to the workplace, that the workplace is perhaps the most structured part of a persons daily environment and may be a suitable forum for public health information, and that workers tend not to be offended by public health campaigns as a general proposition if they are persuasive but not coercive in terms of recommending a change in behaviour or lifestyle.