Who Makes the Rules? Establishing Occupational Health and Safety Regulations
Keywords:Health and safety, Regulations
Appropriate regulations are fundamental to effective protection for occupational health and safety. This paper examines the process by which regulations are written and adopted. Ideally, a body of reliable scientific evidence would point to the need for regulation. A body of health and safety experts can examine the data and prepare regulatory language for implementation by the appropriate body. Normally, a consultative body of experts from management, government, labour and academia oversees this process. Ultimately, senior decision makers determine the regulation to be adopted. Experience with ergonomic regulations in the US and Canada show that this linear process can be interrupted at many points. In the US, no national ergonomic regulations exist after decades of effort offset by political intervention, while in British Columbia the adoption took years to achieve. The parties’ health and safety experts are crucial. They must understand the problems of regulation and enjoy the confidence of senior officials in their organizations to offset political opposition.
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