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.