Ethical Behaviour for Safety Professionals

Ethical Behaviour for Safety Professionals

Guest post by the late George Robotham 

See also: Safety Professionals Behaving Badly


During my time in business I have had to face ethical issues. I have to say sometimes my behaviour has not been as squeaky clean as it could have been.

Ethical behaviour

Appropriate behaviour. It is based on morals; it is choosing the right and the good. Generally you should act in a manner that would not cause embarrassment if the behaviour was revealed on TV News.

Ethics and leadership

Honest and ethical behaviour is the centre piece of leadership, we constantly hear about otherwise highly competent leaders who fail because of ethical issues. When highly ethical leaders do not take up the leadership challenge less ethical people will fill the void. This appears to happen commonly in politics, business and the sporting world.

I was fortunate enough to attend a presentation on leadership by the late General Norman Schwarzkopf, he kept coming back to “Failures in leadership are invariably failures in character not competence” He gave many examples of high profile, highly competent leaders who fell on their sword because of ethical issues.

Leaders who indulge in unethical behaviour will be found out eventually and lose all credibility.

One job I had the paymaster was siphoning off funds to pay his gambling debts. The company found out about it, offered him the opportunity to pay back the money without legal action or loss of job. He took a pistol into the toilets and shot himself.

Sometimes it is the little things that matter

Ever had the opportunity to fill up a jerry can of fuel for your private use when refuelling the company car?

Ever had the opportunity to put private expenses on the company credit card?

With one group I knew people used to all climb in a cab, grab cab receipts and write cab receipts out for each other, this used to pay for the grog for the trip

One job I had the company warehouse was referred to as Mitre 11. No one bought hardware items from the hardware shop in town preferring to pinch them from the onsite warehouse.

Ever had a consultant / supplier offer you a kick back if their proposal receives favourable consideration?

The situation now

I try to be highly ethical in my behaviour now, that way there are no nasty surprises. Being in an occupation about values your credibility as an OHS person will suffer through ethical issues.

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