The History and Evolution of Construction Safety Regulations

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The History and Evolution of Construction Safety Regulations
The emphasis on safety regulations in the construction industry has grown exponentially over the past 125 years. Today the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), is the primary agency for safety legislation in the United States. Construction regulations are addressed in section 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). But how did OSHA come about? In this report I will address the evolution of construction regulations in the United States.

In 1887 Congress passed the Interstate Commerce Act to regulate the railroad industry. The act created the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). This was a huge step in legislation because it became the first regulatory
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While knowledge of construction safety flourished, legislation regarding safety remained stagnate. It wasn’t until 1934 that safety in the workplace would make a major leap forward with the development of the Bureau of Labor Standards. It was the first permanent Federal agency established to promote safety for the entire American work force. Safety on the job was beginning to take precedence with the government, but industry leaders fought hard against it. In 1938 the Bureau passed the Fair Labor Standards Act which set a minimum wage and banned child labor. This greatly affected all industries, including the construction industry. While several other general laws were passed that affected the construction industry as well as all other industries, it would be yet another thirty-five years before safety legislation would be written specifically for construction safety. This would take place with the passing of the Construction Safety Act of 1969 which required the Secretary of Labor to seek the advice of the newly formed Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) in determining construction standards.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was established as a special agency to administer the Occupational Safety and Health Act passed in 1970. OSHA used the Bureau of Labor Standards as the foundation for
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