Workers In Peril, and What We Can Do to Help Them
President Obama is now in the process of appointing a new administrator for the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), a key executive branch office in rulemakings and public protections. The next OIRA Administrator will need to help lead the charge in fighting for important rules - many of which have been delayed for months - that protect Americans, whether they are protecting the lives of workers, ensuring the safety of our food and consumer products, or stabilizing our financial system.
It is an unfortunate truth that it often takes a disaster to produce enough public outrage to force lawmakers to respond to a problem. Recent events in Texas, the memory of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and the building collapse in Bangladesh rightly have Americans wondering how these disasters happen in the first place and how we can protect ourselves and others from them in the future. The bottom line is that these disasters underscore the need to change the way we think about regulation and recognize the crucial importance of standards and safeguards that protect Americans and hold industry accountable for wrongdoing.
In West, Texas we’ve seen what happens when there is inadequate regulation and federal oversight. There are other tragic examples of what can happen when there is no strong regulatory apparatus to protect citizens from danger. In Bangladesh last week, at least 800 workers lost their lives because the owners of the garment factory that collapsed were allowed to flout rules and building codes. Hundreds more Bangladeshi workers have died over the past few years because clothing factories are not held to the same building and fire safety standards as factories in the United States.
As we unite in solidarity with the American and Bangladeshi families who lost loved ones in these tragedies, we should also be thankful that we have a system of protections and recognize the need to strengthen it, so others can be spared the loss these families have endured
If we want to avoid future disasters, then we can start by sending the next OIRA director a clear message: regulations do not kill jobs—they save lives.
Other resources on the disasters:
Center for Effective Government- Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion Raises Important Questions about Risks Industrial Facilities Pose
Resources on OIRA nomination: