When Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) in 1970, it commanded industry to provide its employees with workplaces free from recognized dangers. The legislation declared that the safety of workers is a public concern, a concern vital to the community at large. Spokesmen for the then-presiding Nixon Administration praised the Act heartily and vowed to implement it energetically. "This bill opens up a whole new vista for the Labor Department," said the Secretary of Labor. "We plan to launch the administration of the Act with all the vigor and momentum we can generate."

Four years later, the "vigor" is exhausted, the "momentum" has fizzled, and the "vista" ahead is the same bloody stream of injuries and fatalities that has marred the past.