Risky Occupational Environments, the Double Standard, and Just Compensation

Kristin Shrader‐Frechette

in Environmental Justice

Published in print October 2002 | ISBN: 9780195152036
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833665 | DOI:

Series: Environmental Ethics and Science Policy Series

 Risky Occupational Environments, the Double Standard, and Just Compensation

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Using case studies focusing on higher workplace risks because of exposure to pollutants in exchange for “hazard pay” or a “compensating wage differential,” the chapter analyzes the ways in which workers are victims of environmental injustice. Using detailed data about a Department of Energy cover‐up of occupational risks, the chapter reveals the hazards faced by the 600,000 U.S. D.O.E. workers in nuclear energy and nuclear weapons facilities. Workers would receive equal treatment if they were really compensated for the higher risks they bear, but they are not typically compensated, even though they face pollution often 50 times higher than members of the public. Moreover, occupational pollution threatens the integrity of the gene pool, so workers cannot give genuine informed consent to these risks because they cannot consent for others who may be innocent victims of it.

Keywords: compensating wage differential; Department of Energy; environmental injustice; equal treatment; future generations; hazard pay; informed consent; justice; nuclear energy; nuclear weapons; risk; workplace

Chapter.  13872 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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