The Framers of the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution were influenced by enlightenment era philosophical ideas about democracy. From these two foundational documents, one can discern several ideals that underpin our constitutional democracy namely: people have natural rights; government is created through a social contract; popular sovereignty; limited government and republicanism.
It is ideal in our constitutional democracy that individuals have unalienable natural rights which predate the creation of the government; therefore, they are not things the state grants its citizens. In the Declaration of Independence, natural rights are defined as the unalienable right to 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.' The ideal of the social contract says that to create a government and to empower it to do its work effectively, people must surrender these natural rights to the state. America's foundational documents are thus tools used to create an obligation on the state to protect the individual rights.
The ideal of popular sovereignty holds that the power wielded by the state is donated to it by the citizens of the United States. Thus if the government exercises the public power given to it by the citizens in an arbitrary manner, Americans have the right to tear up the social contract and start afresh. The ideal of popular sovereignty is the way the government is made accountable to the public on how it exercises the power it wields.
The ideal republicanism is based on the belief that the best form of government is the one in which elected leaders represent the will of the people. The ideal of limited government is the justifications for safeguards against arbitrary rule through provisions in the Constitution and other written laws which clearly define the scope of public power donated to the state by the popular sovereign.
Federal agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have the latitude to make subsidiary legislation to help it execute its mandate as defined by their enabling statutes however, the subsidiary legislation must conform with the form and spirit of our founding documents.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe work environments for their employees. OSHA's statutory role is to ensure employers are obeying clauses in the statute that seek to secure safe work environments. OSHA has given a notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for feedback from interested parties about proposed changes to OSHA regulations by altering the rules that require employers to track injuries and illnesses in the workplace.
OSHA wants to change these rules to reduce the costs of doing business which arise from complying with the current rule. Specifically, the proposed rule removes the obligation on employers to electronically submit information on work-related injuries and Illnesses as well as reports on these two things businesses with 250 or more employees. OSHA wants these types of employers to only electronically submit a summary of incidents of work-related injury or illness.
It is good for the economy to cut the cost of doing business because it encourages domestic and foreign investment. This is the clearest justification for the proposed rule change, however, as stated earlier, there is an obligation on the state to wield public power in a manner that doesn't contradict American democratic ideals.
The proposed rule will sacrifice the welfare of workers for the sake of profit. Workers, under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 have a statutory right to a safe work environment. This right creates an obligation on employers to provide them with a safe work environment. If the rules are changed in the manner proposed by OSHA, the chances of these statutory right workers have being violated increases. This is why the rule must not come into force. It would be far much better to leave things as they are now.
Deniz, K.(2018) Teamsters Statement on Proposed OSHA Rule Tracking Workplace Injuries and Illnesses. Retrieved from https://teamster.org/news/2018/08/teamsters-statement-proposed-osha-rule-tracking-workplace-injuries-and-illnessesCordaro,T.L.(2018) OMB Finishes Review of Revised "Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses" Rule. Retrieved from https://www.oshalawblog.com/2018/07/articles/omb-finishes-review-of-revised-improve-tracking-of-workplace-injuries-and-illnesses-rule/Huq, A., & Ginsburg, T. (2018). How to lose a constitutional democracy. UCLA L. Rev., 65(78).
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