Inderscience Publishers

Occupational and non-occupational health risks: can double standards be justified?

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This essay considers the fact that health and safety standards allow for higher exposures in employees than the general public. The distinction between exposure and risk is proposed as a key determinant for the relevance of arguments put forward to support such double standards. The justification of 'double standards', for public and occupational (risk) exposure, is linked to two separate types of issues, namely empirical and normative ones. Whether we have reasons for accepting a double standard of protection depends on how we understand the double standard in relation to the distinction between exposures and risks, and emphasis should be placed on the need of normative support of double standards concerning risks. The relation between work-related risks and occupation is discussed and analysed, and it is argued that arguments for double standards of risks are linked to certain activities rather than to employment or occupation.

Keywords: contract of employment, double standards, ethical justification, ethics, exposure, health and safety standards, occupational health, health risks, work risks, risk assessment

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