Regulating Workplace Safety: System and Sanctions

Regulating Workplace Safety: System and Sanctions

Regulating Workplace Safety: System and Sanctions

Regulating Workplace Safety: System and Sanctions

Synopsis

Drawing from experience internationally, on recent and important developments in regulatory theory, and upon models and approaches constructed during the author's empirical research, this book addresses the question: how can law influence the internal self-regulation of organisations in order to make them more responsive to occupational health and safety concerns? In this context, it is argued that Occupational Health and Safety management systems have the potential to stimulate models of self-organisation within firms in such a way as to make them self-reflective and to encourage informal self-critical reflection about their occupational health and safety performance. This book argues for a two track system of regulation under which enterprises are offered a choice between a continuation of traditional forms of regulation and the adoption of a safety management system-based approach on the other. The book concludes with a discussion of the use of criminal and administrative sanctions to provide organisations with incentives to adopt effective Occupational Health and Safety management systems. The book proposes a wider range of criminal sanctions and sentencing guidelines to ensure employers receive sentencing discounts where they have introduced effective management systems.

Excerpt

This is a book which turns the results of theoretical inquiry and empirical research to the interests of public policy. It presents us with new ways of thinking about the problem of how best to regulate occupational health and safety. Its organising question is how law can more effectively penetrate organisations so that they become more responsive to regulatory efforts.

The authors start from the position that the current system of implementation and enforcement has outlived its usefulness. The problem with present practice, the authors argue, is that it has been incapable of adjusting to recent, rather rapid, changes in the economy and the character of employment. In particular, current regulation has simply been unable to deal with many workplace problems, has failed to stay abreast of changes in workplace and employment practices, has not got to grips with new workplace hazards, and has often imposed requirements upon employers that are difficult to comply with. To make regulation more sensitive yet more effective the authors conclude that we need to contemplate parallel systems of regulation--a 'two-track' policy--in which traditional regulatory methods are allied with a systems-based approach which seeks to surpass existing standards. The authors do not seek to abandon or to play down the role of the criminal sanction in all of this but argue for its deployment in a more strategic and systematic way than is evident in current practice. They go on to explore what the implications of their dual system would be for inspection, enforcement, and sentencing in a careful and thorough mapping of an integrated system of punishment for regulatory violations.

This book is no parochial survey of local practice, but is based on a searching analysis of the international literature, and on a series of interviews conducted in Australia, Denmark, Sweden, the UK and the USA. It is a wide-ranging, subtle, and sophisticated appraisal that takes proper account of different regulatory problems and different regulatory responses by firms. The work is directed firmly towards policy, but its approach is one that respects, and draws heavily from, socio-legal theory. What the authors have to say will be of particular interest to occupational health and safety policy-makers, as well as to those scholars interested generally in regulation. Oxford Socio-Legal Studies has already published a number of important books which offer fresh thinking about regulatory . . .

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