American business has grown over the past several decades, so have the number of laws, rules, and regulations governing the operation of such business. These laws and regulations are generally of types: 1) to promote market competition and to keep the power of large corporations under control, and 2) to mitigate the adverse effects of business activity on individuals and organizations. These laws and regulations are often beneficial but they come at a cost. These costs are not always obvious but they include the cost of compliance as well as the increased risk of litigation. These costs affect all businesses no matter how large but they hit smaller businesses particularly hard. The purpose of this paper will be to examine the various laws and regulations affecting employee safety in the United States and determine their advantages and disadvantages.
Employment laws, regulations, and policies have become burdensome for American businesses. Whether it is the laws governing minimum wage, discrimination, worker's compensation or unemployment not everyone agrees on their benefits. The laws and regulations are obviously intended to protect employers and employees but the reality is that such laws and regulations also add costs for the employer. Theoretically, the laws and regulations are designed to balance the costs and benefits but there are strong arguments that this is not always the case.
Examining the various laws and regulations attached to doing business today in the United States is an awesome task. The number of such laws and regulations are burdensome in themselves but applying and complying with such laws and regulations is equally as difficult. Whether it involves the hiring of employees, the paying of employees, ensuring their safety there are a plethora of laws and regulations governing each human resource concern.
Historically, the relationship between employer and employee was a personal one and there was little or no government involvement but this situation began to change in the late 1800's and the change intensified in the mid-twentieth century as the rights of workers became a major social concern. From this small beginning laws and regulations have grown exponentially to the point that many employers argue that they have become burden to the point of being oppressive.
Although burdensome workplace safety is a priority in today's business world and stringent efforts are made to eliminate personal injuries and illnesses from occurring in the workplace. There are strict laws and regulations governing such activities on both the state and federal levels. Wherever there is an overlap or contradiction between the two levels of law the federal laws and regulations preempt the state ones unless the state has previously received permission from the Secretary of Labor for the implication of its own plan.
The most significant and, far reaching law, governing the area of employee safety is the Occupational and Safety Health Act (OSHA). This law was enacted by the U.S. Congress to regulate safety and health standards in any business engaged in interstate commerce and are enforced through the United States Department of Labor. The day-to-day operation of OSHA is overseen by the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health and its collateral Review Commission that reviews citations that are issued to employers for violations. Employers found to be in violation of OSHA standards have the right to seek court review of any Commission findings.
The OSHA rules and regulations are a classic example of the burdensome and extensive nature of government involvement in the operation of business in America. Currently, OSHA regulations fill five volumes of the Code of Federal Regulations which is the official codification of the general and permanent rules and regulations published and in effect by the Federal Government.
In addition to the rules and regulations applied by the Federal Government each of the individual states are also authorized to promulgate laws and regulations to govern the operation of businesses within their borders. The states, however, are not allowed, without permission OSHA, through the Secretary of Labor, to apply such regulations in areas already covered by OSHA. Prior to the enforcement of any regulation, the states must first apply for permission for federal approval. The volume of state regulation varies from state to state. Not surprisingly, the states in the industrial portion of the country tend to have more regulations on their books with the State of California leading the way.
In application, OSHA rules, and most state enacted regulations…