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Recent Reports

June 25, 2014 - A Rising Tide
Jan. 14, 2014 - Part 2: Beware of a Naive Perspective
Jan. 7, 2014 - Part 1: Beware of a Naive Perspective
June 12, 2013 - The Perils of OIRA Regulatory Review
More - See More Government Reform Reports

Government Reform Key Reports

Aim Higher: New York Should Reform Its Workers’ Compensation Laws to Reduce Injuries
May 6, 2013

This paper highlights the economic burden of occupational injuries in New York state’s private sector industries by estimating the direct, indirect, and quality of life costs resulting from occupational injuries. From 2010 to 2012, private sector occupational injuries in New York cost the State economy $10.9 billion, according to our analysis.

Recently, the New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. proposed making significant reforms to New York’s workers compensation system. We generally agree with his proposal, and believe the changes should include measures to reduce workplace injuries. New York has long been at the forefront of safety reforms, and the district attorney's report provides an excellent opportunity to further expand workplace protections. Read the report.

The Price of Inaction: New York
The Cost of Unsafe Construction in New York City

November 14, 2013

During 2011 and 2012, 1,513 construction workers lost their lives on the job in the United States, more than any other industry. Thirty-six of these fatalities occurred in New York City.

New York City could reduce the risk of construction industry fatalities by requiring the use of registered New York State apprentices on all publically assisted development and construction projects, including those financed through public benefit corporations. Intro 1169-2013, a bill introduced in the New York City Council, would seek to improve safety by closing gaps in requirements for employers to maintain apprenticeship programs. Safety training is the cornerstone of apprenticeship programs. The benefits of these programs are shared by industry, workers and taxpayers. Read the report.

Reality Check: The Forgotten Lessons of Deregulation and Unsung Successes of Sensible Safeguards
April 3, 2013

Reality Check, a book by Public Citizen's Taylor Lincoln, provides an in-depth reminder of how deregulation and lax regulation derailed the economy and puts forth a series of case studies that counter allegations that have been made against regulations in recent years. Contrary to oft-recited allegations that public safety rules are a drag on the economy, the case studies in this book show that regulations have a remarkable record of benefiting industry, as well as the public. Read the report.

The Price of Inaction: California
A Comprehensive Look at the Costs of Injuries and Fatalities in California's Construction Industry

November 18, 2012

This report quantifies the estimated costs of deaths and injuries in California's construction industry by considering an array of factors. From 2008 to 2010, 168 construction workers were killed in workplace accidents in California. Additionally, the state recorded 50,700 construction-industry injuries and illnesses that required days away from work or job transfer.

Drawing on a comprehensive 2004 journal article that analyzed the cost of occupational injuries, and combining the paper’s findings with updated fatality and injury data, Public Citizen determined that such incidents cost the state’s economy $2.9 billion during the three-year period. Read the report.

The Price of Inaction: Washington
A Comprehensive Look at the Costs of Injuries and Fatalities in Washington’s Construction Industry

October 23, 2012

This report quantifies the estimated costs of deaths and injuries in the state’s construction industry by considering an array of factors. From 2008 to 2010, Washington recorded 34,700 construction industry injuries and illnesses, of which 16,600 required days away from work, job transfer or restriction. Additionally, 39 construction-related fatalities were reported in these years.

Drawing on a 2004 analysis on the cost of occupational injuries in combination with newer data, Public Citizen determined that such incidents cost the state’s economy $762 million during the three-year period. Read the report.

The Price of Inaction: Maryland
A Comprehensive Look at the Costs of Injuries and Fatalities in Maryland’s Construction Industry

August 7, 2012

Occupational injuries and fatalities in the construction industry cost Maryland residents $712.8 million between 2008 and 2010, a new Public Citizen report shows. The report, “The Price of Inaction: A Comprehensive Look at the Costs of Injuries and Fatalities in Maryland’s Construction Industry,” quantifies the estimated costs of deaths and injuries in the state’s construction industry by considering an array of factors.

This report concludes with an innovative and inexpensive policy recommendation for the state to use its buying power to compel contractors to act in safe and responsible ways. Read the report.

Contract Killers: Government Agencies Award Taxpayer Dollars to Contractors That Disregard Worker Health and Safety
March 29, 2012

Taxpayer dollars should only reward companies that safeguard their employees from dangerous work conditions. Yet throughout the United States, government agencies at the state, local, and federal levels award contracts for bridge repair, sewer installation, school renovation, and other construction projects to irresponsible companies that endanger their employees’ lives. When government agencies fail to properly assess construction companies’ health and safety performance, the results can be both deadly and expensive. This report highlights cases in which companies with demonstrated health and safety problems go on to win government contracts around the country, often with disastrous consequences. Read the report.

Regulation: The Unsung Hero in American Innovation
October 5, 2011
Many regulations that were originally scorned by politicians and industry as signaling the death of product lines, companies, and jobs – including those requiring more efficient light bulbs and banning chemicals that damage the ozone layer – in fact stimulated healthy innovations that have protected American lives and saved billions of dollars without harming industry, according to a report by Public Citizen.

“Regulation: An Unsung Hero in American Innovation,” describes five regulations that were originally excoriated but have resulted in innovations that improved public safety, helped the environment and led to better products.

The report comes as public protections are under attack from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and big business allies in Congress, who focus on the cost of rules while ignoring their public safety benefits and their potential to spur innovations. Read the report.

OSHA Inaction: Onerous Requirements Imposed on OSHA Prevent the Agency from Issuing Lifesaving Rules
October 5, 2011
According to certain pundits, a “regulatory hurricane” is brewing. Yet when it comes to health and safety protections for workers, there has been a regulatory drought. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has produced fewer regulations during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama presidencies than during any other similar period in the agency’s history. While OSHA was once able to develop a rule in less than a year, the process now exceeds six years on average. Five pending OSHA standards have been subject to delays ranging from 4 to 31 years. Analyzing OSHA’s risk assessment data, we found that eliminating the delays would have prevented more than 100,000 serious injuries, more than 10,000 cases of occupational illness and hundreds of worker fatalities. Read the report.

Regulations at Work: Five Rules that Save Workers’ Lives and Protect their Health
April 15, 2011
Lax regulation was a chief culprit in a number of recent disasters in the U.S. The financial meltdown, the BP oil spill, and the Upper Big Branch mine explosion each demonstrate the need for government oversight of corporations. But despite this recent history, Republicans, small-government conservatives, and even some Democrats have spent much of the past two years denouncing regulations and blaming them for slowing the economic recovery.

But the real-world record contradicts the critics’ narrative. Contrary to the broadsides against regulations in general, many actual regulations impose minimal costs on industry in proportion to the benefits they yield. This paper looks at five worker-safety regulations that were tremendously successful in reducing employee injuries, illnesses and fatalities. Read the report.

Cranes and Derricks: The Prolonged Creation of a Key Public Safety Rule
April 2011
Federal agencies have long been the object of scorn and criticism by political actors who claim that the employees of public health agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration act as unelected, unaccountable autocrats who hand down burdensome safety rules with little concern about their effects on businesses. But the process of writing these rules is usually long, complicated and involves significant input from affected industries and other stakeholders. In fact, the federal agencies that are charged with protecting public health and safety may be some of the most tightly “regulated” entities in the United States.

This report recounts the creation of an important rule that was badly needed to protect workers — and, sometimes, passersby — from the dangers posed by cranes at construction sites. If ever there were a rule that seemingly should have breezed to adoption, this was it. Problems with the existing standard were widely acknowledged, the urgency of preventing avoidable deaths and injuries was clear, and the regulated industries were advocating for a new standard. But a dozen years would pass, spanning three presidential administrations, before the revised standard was in place. Read the report.

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