Regulation works

September 21, 2011

Jim Weygand writing at the Twin Cities Daily Planet in Minnesota, defends government regulation:

For example there is not an industry today that is not safer than it was prior to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) in 1970. Since OSHA was created in 1970, workplace fatalities have decreased 60% despite the more than doubling of the work force. Job related injuries and illness rates have decreased by 40%. And, yes government regulation has increased.

We can also credit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the restrictions on DDT that have brought our eagle and ospreys back from the edge of extinction as well as protecting us from its effects.

It has worked to prevent future Love Canal type environmental disasters. Government controls on nuclear power have prevented a Chernobyl disaster in this country.

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Trafficking workers’ bodies for profit

May 27, 2008

If a guy beats someone to death, it’s murder, right?  And so the nation’s labor laws hold an employer liable for the death of a worker when unsafe working conditions caused the death.

But what if the worker doesn’t die?  What if the worker only loses his arms, or legs, or arms and legs?

No death, no crime, U.S. law says. 

What if the employer poisons the worker with cyanide that eats away the worker’s brain

No death, no crime, U.S. law says.

My colleagues and I were shocked to learn that an employer who breaks the nation’s worker-safety laws can be charged with a crime only if a worker dies. Even then, the crime is a lowly Class B misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of six months in prison. (About 6,000 workers are killed on the job each year, many in cases where the deaths could have been prevented if their employers followed the law.) Employers who maim their workers face, at worst, a maximum civil penalty of $70,000 for each violation.

Read a plea to change the law, in the New York Times, from David H. Uhlmann, a law professor at the University of Michigan.


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