10 Disasters That Sparked New Safety Regulations

10 Disasters That Sparked New Safety Regulations


Disasters involving disease, fire, maritime catastrophes, mine explosions, airplane crashes, oil spills, and earthquakes have led to the losses of millions of dollars and hundreds, even millions, of lives. Man-made cataclysms are sometimes preventable. On occasion, they occur because of violations of existing safety laws or regulations. Other times, they are due to carelessness. Natural disasters may not be avoidable, but their ill effects sometimes can be reduced.

Although disasters are horrific, they often expose weaknesses in the safety laws and regulations designed to protect people from the property loss, injury, and death that such events typically cause. Sometimes, disasters also indicate a need for new ordinances. Often, such events motivate officials to take administrative, legislative, and judicial actions that are long overdue.

Here are 10 disasters that sparked new safety laws and regulations.


10 Black Death


Photo credit: protomag.com

In October 1347, a dozen Genoese ships, having sailed through the Black Sea, docked at Messina, Sicily. Most of the sailors aboard were dead. The few who had lived were deathly ill. From their boils, their illness took its name: the “Black Death.” Although authorities ordered the “death ships” to return to sea, the Black Death killed over 20 million people in Europe — one-third of its population — over the next five years.

Italian cities were the first to combat the Black Death with new safety laws and regulations. Venice barred ships suspected of carrying the plague from its ports. The city subjected other ships and their passengers to quarantine for 30 (later 40) days. The dead were interred in isolated graveyards in accordance with regulations specifying procedures for collection, conveyance, and burial. Pistoia restricted “imports, exports, and travel,” and Milan established a “pesthouse” outside the city gates for infected individuals.

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