Worker Health and Safety Struggles: Democratic Possibilities and Constraints

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New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy. Volume 6, Number 2 (1996), p. 61-69.


capitalism and occupational health; occupational health and safety hazards; occupational saftey and capitalism


The central point of this article, written in 1995, was that health and safety struggles can be at the vanguard of challenges to a legal social order that tolerates poor labour standards and high levels of worker exploitation. Workers who fear their work is making them sick or subjecting them to high levels of injury and disablement know first-hand that the values of democracy, autonomy, equality and community are denied and not realized by current arrangements. By drawing on that experience and explicitly linking health and safety demands to an alternative vision of social justice, one in which workers enjoy greater levels of autonomy and democratic control at work, progressive social change has occurred in the past, and can occur in the future.

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