The role of OSHA in social change was discussed. According to the author, OSHA still serves well the social purposes for which it was created such as the regulatory action and enforcement, research, and education needed to create a safe work place. It has also served to reduce labor and management strife over health issues. Social change is often burdened with vestigial remnants of earlier stages. Within the bureaucracy charged with implementing the environmental protection laws of the US there is a state of civil insurrection by vestigial elements. Those who have failed to extend their power in the legislatures and in the courts nevertheless have found some success in fostering the abandonment of the democratic and democratically derived system of environmental laws. The fundamental issue is not whether adoption of the updated threshold limit values is the most effective means of increasing the level of protection afforded by OSHA standards. The question is whether the Act should be rewritten by administrative decree and if the Act is defective, why the Secretary of Labor has not brought the defect to the attention of Congress. The attention given to the ACGIH environmental values obscures the fundamental redefinition of the concepts and term standard. The author concludes that court, legislative and mass media pressures are adequate to generate the political action by which the democratic institutions can be protected. Vestigial failures in this society have been identified and will be dealt with by citizens never before so empowered through social change.
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