Eye on Ethics: Managing Risk—The Third Rail in Social Work Ethics
Department (Manual Entry)
School of Social Work
In electrical rail systems, the third rail carries very high voltage, so touching it is extremely dangerous. In social work ethics, I think of the third rail as those high-risk circumstances that greatly increase the likelihood of harm—to clients, third parties, and, possibly, social workers. These are the cases for which there are no simple answers, and there is some nontrivial risk no matter what course of action a social worker takes.
Reamer, Frederic G., “Eye on Ethics: Managing Risk—The Third Rail in Social Work Ethics,” Social Work Today. December, 2015, available at http://www.socialworktoday.com/news/eoe_1215.shtml