Industrial Health and Safety: The Need for Extended Federal Regulation

It is the purpose of this article to raise and answer these questions: (1) Is the current level of injury frequency on the job unsatisfactory? (2) If so, can this level of injury frequency be reduced through more effective industrial safety regulation? (3) To what extent and for what reasons have existing regulatory programs, both public and private, succeeded in reducing frequency rates? (4) In what manner, if at all, should the Federal Government extend its regulation of industrial safety? An affirmative answer to the first two questions is preliminary to the other inquiries. It will be worthwhile to proceed to a discussion of alternative courses of action only if we are convinced that further reduction of industrial hazards to health and safety is both necessary and possible. The author concludes herein that both questions are to be answered in the affirmative. These conclusions require a thorough examination of the third question. If present methods of regulation under existing regulatory programs, be they governmental or private, are proceeding in an adequate manner toward the achievement of satisfactory levels of occupational safety, then there would be little justification for additional federal activity. However, the author concludes that this is not the case and that current regulatory activities are inadequate. The fourth question is thus concerned with two remaining inquiries: (a) Would it be nonetheless advisable to attempt to modify existing programs rather than to attempt a federal remedy? (b) If not, what sort of general program for federal regulation should be instituted?