This article analyzes and criticizes the “technocratic” view of occupational health and safety policies, which sees the values of the personnel in “post-industrial” regulatory agencies as the most important determinant of those policies. It takes an alternate position, which explains occupational health and safety policies as primarily resulting from the different degrees of political power of the two major classes (capital and labor), and from the set of influences exerted on the regulatory agencies by the instruments (e.g., parties, unions, trade organizations) of those classes. It shows how an analysis of the historical evolution of those classes in Sweden and their conflict in both civil and political societies explains Swedish occupational health and safety policies better than a mere analysis of the regulators' views. And it concludes that the occupational health and safety policies in Sweden are not identical to those in the U.S.—as the “technocratic” theorists assume—but rather offer more protection to the workers than U.S. policies do. This situation is a result of labor having more power in Sweden than it has in the U.S. The different class formations and class behavior in the two societies are compared, and the implications of this comparison for occupational health and safety policies are discussed.

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