A “Nobler” Approach to Regulatory Reform: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Its Relationship to the Disadvantaged Corporate Citizen

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Political Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Kay Wolsborn, Political Science


Since its creation in 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been scrutinized, criticized, and reformed. Professor of Political Science, Charles Noble, in his book Liberalism at Work: the Rise and Fall of OSHA, criticizes our socioeconomic system for creating an OSHA that does little to protect a disadvantaged working class. He criticizes the twoeconomic schools of thought on the reform of OSHA -market- conservatism and rationalism. The market-conservative approach allows the market forces of supply and demand to regulate worker safety. The rationalist approach, on the other hand, calls for cost-oriented governmental regulation of worker safety. Those schools of thought, Noble contends, favor business interests, while doing little to advance the cause of worker safety. The OSHA that exists today is actually the product of many economic and non-economic schools of thought, but it is not the impotent agency that Noble describes. Today's OSHA is an agency that protects workers, while simultaneously protecting another disadvantaged group that Noble fails to recognize - small businesses.