The state, class and occupational health and safety: locating the capitalist state's role in the regulation of OHS in NSW
This paper adopts a Marxist political economy approach to locate the place of an occupational health and safety (OHS) legal regime within capitalist economic, political and social relations. A theoretically rigorous account of OHS regulation requires a systemic integration of class and the state as analytic categories. It is argued that OHS regulation is a product of the historical epoch of capitalism in which it is inserted and the nature of the state as a ‘strategic-relational,’ form-determined social relationship. This hypothesis is tested through an analysis of the legislation in New South Wales (NSW) emanating from the findings of the 1972 UK Robens Committee and 1981 NSW Williams Report. It is demonstrated that the case study period represents a transitional era in which the impulses to regulate OHS stem from both a labour movement strengthened by the post-War Fordist boom and an ‘institutional search’ to find ways out of the developing economic crisis.
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