Why I Appreciate OSHA

A trip I recently took to Vietnam made me realize the importance of U.S. safety regulations.

I once had an acquaintance who told me that he had just returned from a trip to Puerto Rico where he had stayed in a house with a classmate of ours from the FBI National Academy.  He told me that while he was on that vacation, he had gained a great appreciation for our nation’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). I had not travelled much outside the United States at the time and failed to fully understand his comment.  A recent trip to Vietnam, however, really reinforced my friend’s opinion about government safety regulations.  

As with all my previous trips to the country, I had a great time. Most folks I met really like Americans, and they were most gracious. A number of people invited us into their homes for lunch or dinner as is a typical Tet tradition. Vietnam is a beautiful country with some of the best food to be found anywhere. But the difference in how safety is viewed is pretty noticeable, as is the case in many other parts of the world. 

Despite the fact that one can easily drop between half million and several million U.S. dollars to buy a house in District Seven of Ho Chi Minh City, the lack of housing codes, safety regulations and an equivalent counterpart to OSHA can’t be found in even these high-end homes, many places of business, as well as on K-20 campuses. Though there is no shortage of unaddressed safety concerns on American campuses, one can much more readily find astounding safety concerns in developing nations around the globe.

In my last trip, one 13-hour drive during the Tet holiday was particularly frightening. Lam, my brother-in-law, however, was not at all concerned with the numerous close calls with tourist buses as they passed other vehicles on curves in the mountains. Perhaps he wasn’t afraid because he survived five years of fighting the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia as well as three months fighting Chinese troops in Vietnam. For me, the drive was a bit much. One only has to take a trip to Southeast Asia, India, Tel Aviv or Bolivia to gain proper perspective of drivers in Washington D.C., Los Angeles or New York City.

While a growing number of businesses and schools in Vietnam are built and operated in a much safer manner, the general level of life safety is not as well addressed with the resulting deaths and injuries that one might expect. 

Every time I return from another country anywhere in the world, I have a greater appreciation for our freedoms and many other things about our way of life in the United States. When I return from regions where many aspects of safety are not so tightly regulated, I am grateful that we do have a system of checks and balances, not only in our government but in our approach to the protection of people. 


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Tagged with: OSHA

About the Author


Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a global non profit campus safety center. During his 30 year campus safety career, Michael has served as a university police officer, corporal, sergeant and lieutenant. He served as a school system police chief for ten years before being appointed the lead expert for the nation's largest state government K-20 school safety center. The author of 25 books on school safety, his work has taken him to Central America, Mexico, Canada, Europe, Asia, South Africa and the Middle East. Michael welcomes comments, questions or requests for clarification at [email protected]. Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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