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Regulations vs Standards – What’s the differences? Are they “Laws”?


Ancient history affects our lives every day. If you slept through your Ancient History class, WAKE UP!

In the mid-1700s BC, Hammurabi, the king of Babylonia, established 282 rules to provide standards of behavior and regulate interactions between his subjects. He set fines and punishments to meet the requirements of the law. This was the first written evidence in history of rules of conduct or, “Law” as we know it. The intent of the early law was to establish rules of conduct to ensure order and the safety and equal treatment of Hammurabi’s subjects. However, we also know that this set of laws was known as “The Eye for an Eye” laws.

Today we operate as an industry under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration established by the US Government in 1971 and the agency was called OSHA. OSHA likes to call their rules “Standards” and not “Regulations”, when in fact they command the force of law. There are fines and penalties assessed when the intent is to carry out the legislation in the area of jurisdiction. In layman’s language, rules are rules and no matter what you call them, if they contain penalties assessed by a government agency, and there are penalties attached to violations, they are “Laws” and you must comply. There is no intent to draw any similarities between the two sets of laws or administration of those laws. The intent is to show that rules and laws are as ancient as history and recognized as a necessity of life.

We’ve come a long way from Hammurabi and his 282 “Eye for an Eye” rules. We’ve worked through Jack Sparrow and the Pirate’s Code and to where we are today with laws established to regulate behavior and designed to protect civilization. Think about it. What would our lives be like with no rules? There are people in this world we live in that say we have too many rules. They claim that we don’t need any rules at all but that’s impossible. That’s how wars begin. While too many rules can be true in some cases, and there can be bad rules, the majority of us, agree or not, know that rules and laws are intended to preserve and protect. They are laws we must live by. We just need to know what they are.

Jeff Blomgren

Director of Safety

Petticoat Schmitt Civil contractors, Inc.

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