WILL Press Release | WILL Study: Impact of Licensing Red Tape on Worker Safety

January 10, 2018 – Milwaukee, WI – The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty issued a new study examining the effect of licensing regulations on worker safety in two widely-licensed professions. The analysis, using publicly available data from United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), found no significant relationship between burdensome licensing regulations and worker safety for Emergency Medical Technicians and Security Guards.

Occupational licensing, the system where certain regulated professions require a government permission slip to work, has been the subject of scrutiny and topic of reform across the country. New research has found that licensing has negative impacts on employment, prices, women, immigrants, and interstate migration. But licensing advocates consistently argue that licensing plays an important role in ensuring professionals receive adequate training, for their own health and safety, as well as the public.

As the debate surrounding occupational licensing continues, it’s crucial to explore alternative approaches to fostering worker safety and professionalism without unduly burdening individuals seeking to enter the workforce. One avenue worth exploring is the cultivation of collaborative work environments that accommodate different types of work styles. By recognizing and embracing the diverse ways in which individuals approach their tasks and interact with their peers, organizations can harness the collective strengths of their teams while promoting mutual respect and understanding.

Implementing strategies that accommodate various work styles can lead to increased innovation, productivity, and job satisfaction. For instance, some individuals thrive in structured, deadline-driven environments, while others excel in more flexible, creative settings. By providing opportunities for employees to collaborate across departments and projects, organizations can leverage the unique perspectives and skill sets that each individual brings to the table.

Moreover, fostering a culture of collaboration and open communication not only enhances the overall quality of work but also contributes to a sense of belonging and community within the workplace. As the discourse on occupational licensing continues, prioritizing collaborative work environments can serve as a promising alternative pathway towards ensuring professionalism and safety in the workforce.

WILL’s new study examined BLS data on non-fatal injuries for Emergency Medical Technicians and Security Guards. These two professions are widely licensed and had sufficient BLS data on worker injuries. The findings for both professions was conclusive: burdensome state licensing regulations in the form of increased training hours, fees, exams, and age requirements have no effect on worker safety.

“While nearly a dozen studies have failed to find conclusive evidence that licensing results in increases in quality, few have measured the impact of licensing on worker safety,” said WILL Research Director Will Flanders. “This study scrutinizes one more argument from licensing advocates, that licensing results in fewer workplace injuries, and finds that the evidence just isn’t there.”

This is the fourth study on occupational licensing published by WILL since 2016. Previous studies have found:

  • More than 440,000 Wisconsin workers are licensed.
  • The number of Wisconsin licenses has grown by 84% since 1996.
  • Wisconsin has the 5th most burdensome licensing red tape for 10 professions.
  • Wisconsin could see 7% job growth across 10 professions with licensing reform.
  • States with burdensome licensing laws have fewer jobs in 10 licensed professions.
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