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Regulatory Body

Last updated: December 17, 2021

What Does Regulatory Body Mean?

A regulatory body is a public organization or government agency that is responsible for legally regulating aspects of human activity.

The role of the regulatory body is to establish and strengthen standards and ensure consistent compliance with them. Various regulatory bodies oversee different sectors of the economy and public life, including transportation, education, and the sale of food and drugs.

Workplace health and safety is oveseen by state, national, and international regulatory bodies.

Regulatory bodies are also known as regulatory agencies, regulatory authorities, or regulators.

Safeopedia Explains Regulatory Body

The role of a regulatory body is to:

  • Impose requirements, conditions, and restrictions on businesses and organizations
  • Draft, issue, and revise standards
  • Conducting inspections and audits
  • Enforcing standards by issuing fines and other consequences for violations

Other responsibilities include:

  • Promoting fair trade
  • Protecting consumers
  • Adjudicating controversies
  • Conducting hearings
  • Providing ordinary administrative services

A Brief History of Regulatory Agencies

The concept of regulatory agency has its origin in the United States and the first such agency was the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). ICC was established by Congress in 1887 to regulate the railroads, which was later extended to motor carriers, inland waterways, and oil companies.

Railroads were privately owned and unregulated in the years following the civil war and they held a natural monopoly in the areas solely served by them. They had the power to set prices, exclude competitors, and control the market in several geographic areas.

The ICC addressed the problem of monopolies by setting guidelines for the railroads to conduct business. With the support of major political parties and pressure groups from various parts of the country, the act became law. The ICC became a model for future regulatory agencies and the act remains one of the most important documents for future government regulation of private business.

Some significant regulatory agencies include:

  • The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA)
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH)
  • The Department of Transportation (DOT)
  • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
  • Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Regulatory Agency Categories

There are three main categories of regulatory agencies:

  • Independent regulatory commissions - These bodies are relatively free from executive control and are run by multimember boards appointed by the President with the consent of the senate
  • Executive agencies - These are part of the executive branch of government and its administrators and top assistants are appointed by the President
  • Government corporations - These agencies are completely owned by the government and created by a statute to serve a specific purpose
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