Advocacy group: Regulations save lives, prevent injuries

Washington – A new report analyzing five occupational safety and health rules found that despite initial opposition, the rules saved thousands of lives and prevented thousands of injuries.

The Washington-based nonprofit consumer advocacy organization Public Citizen released the report (.pdf file) Aug. 15. It examined:

  • Cotton dust (1910.1043). The analysis found that after the rule was implemented, the number of byssinosis cases – commonly known as brown lung disease – decreased 97 percent.
  • Lockout/tagout (1910.147). Hazardous energy-related deaths dropped between 30 and 55 percent following this rule’s enactment, and groups that originally opposed the regulation now support it, the report said.
  • Construction excavation (1926.651). This rule helped decrease the average annual fatality rate from cave-ins by 40 percent, according to the report.
  • Grain handling facilities (1910.272). At certain facilities, the number of explosion-related deaths fell 95 percent, according to one organization that initially opposed the rule, the report said.
  • Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969. After its passage, the fatality rate in underground coal mines dropped 50 percent in four years. The law later was updated to the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (which itself was amended in 2006).

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