Health and safety on the job remain sources of bitter controversy in the public forums. Businessmen rail against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for its "dictatorial" enforcement of "oppressive" regulations, leading President Ford in early 1976 to demonstrate sympathy for their concerns. Labor leaders deplore the failure of industry and government to stem the toll of death and disablement from work-related disease. Members of' Congress, responsive to pressures from constituents, fill pages of the Congressional Record with reports of both employer vexations and employee tragedies.
Like ships passing in the night, advocates on both sides tend to regard one another at a distance and seldom join issues in rational debate. Industry harps on the bewildering multiplicity of OSHA standards, many of them trivial or vague. Some authors have deemed the nexus between standards and safety dubious and have further maintained that standards impose costs far in excess of any benefits they may bring. Small businesses feel at a particular disadvantage since they find it burdensome both to learn that the law requires of them and to fulfill their legal obligations. Labor, on the other hand, prefers to stress the menace of occupational disease. The silent violence inflicted upon workers by toxic substances gives no sign of abating. Indeed, recent reports indicate that the current knowledge of health hazards on the job signals but the tip of a deadly iceberg. Although Congress designed the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 in large measure to protect employees from these very risks, agency development of OSHA standards restricting exposures to harmful chemicals, dusts, and stresses has proceeded at an agonizingly slow pace.
55 Tex. L. Rev. 359-369 (1977) (reviewing Nicholas A. Ashford, Crisis in the Workplace: Occupational Disease and Injury (1976))
Scholarly Commons Citation
Page, Joseph A., "Workers' Health and Safety: Whose Costs, Whose Benefits?" (1977). Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works. Paper 1153.