This study is about regulation and its reform. On July 2, 1982 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a major regulatory reform -- the Voluntary Protection Program. Under its auspices, companies with exemplary in-house safety systems can join the program, assume many of the responsibilities normally handled by OSHA inspectors, and thereby be exempted from regular OSHA inspections. The keynote is self-regulation. As the 1980s come to a close, perhaps no question will be more central to the political debate on social regulation and its reform than the one raised by OSHA's shift in regulatory strategies -- when regulatory enforcement is relaxed, will business firms behave responsibly?
Must government regulation be stringently enforced to ensure responsible corporate conduct? Or can cooperative regulatory strategies be just as effective?
We can now begin answering these questions. The original model for OSHA's nationwide reform was developed in California, where, more than three years before federal OSHA's policy became law, OSHA officials from California and the federal government began testing a similar strategy of regulation. The Cooperative Compliance Program (CCP) was initiated in 1979, and the last project carried out under its auspices was completed in 1984. So it is now possible to begin to analyze the program and its accomplishments.
Briefly, the CCP was a three-way arrangement involving unions, management, and California OSHA (CAL/OSHA). The program's