Explain the need for current regulations and legislation in safe working practices.

Expert Answers
bandmanjoe eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Safe work practice regulations and rules are laws that are put into place to protect the people who work under those particular conditions.  These type of laws stem from a time where there were no particular laws safeguarding workers health and welfare.  During the industrial revolution, workers were one step above being regarded as a dispensable commodity.  In the United States during the Great Depression, one was fortunate to find work, let alone make demands or expect reasonable working conditions.  The resource I have attached below details the Lead Safe Working Regulations that address the health liabilities involved with workers removing old lead-based paint, which can have potentially life-ending ramifications.  Usually these types of regulations have the workers safety and health in mind.  I am sure you have seen the employees at Lowes or Home Depot get on motorized lifts to remove merchandise from the top-tier level.  Notice they cordon off the area they are working in, they wear protective eyewear, and they have a safety harness they must wear while operating the lift.  All these rules and regulations are in place to protect the employee against bodily harm, and, in this litigous society, to protect the store against lawsuits resulting from negligent injury on the job to an employee not following the rules.

teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If companies aren't required to follow safety regulations, injuries to workers and deaths can occur. For example, in 2010, 29 coal miners were killed in the Upper Big Branch mine disaster in West Virginia. Investigators discovered many safety violations at the mine, and Massey Energy, which owned the mine, was held legally responsible for the disaster because they violated safety requirements. It was heavily fined. 

Because business is competitive and because businesses often succeed by delivering goods at the lowest possible price, without regulations that are required by law and strongly enforced, businesses will naturally look to cut costs. Their primary requirement under the logic of capitalism is to make a profit. If they can, they will forego expensive or even inexpensive safety measures in order to make more money: money-making is their mission. It is only if the profit of cutting safety measures is curtailed or negated by the cost of fines that the companies have incentives to do the right thing. Otherwise, it becomes a "race to the bottom," as, to survive, each company must do what it can to maximize profit. Government regulation is, many would argue, a necessary check on capitalism that takes human suffering into account.