Government regulation in response to loss of life due to Boiler explosions on river steamboats was a profound change in views regarding the role of government in the affairs of private business.
The first major legislation was the Steamboat Act of 1838 which focused on criminal negligence of captains and operators which proved to be ineffective. The Steamboat Act of 1852 by contrast focused on the technical side, licensing, boiler inspections and the like.
The Buffalo Association of Engineers which later led to the MEBA was founded in 1854 to promote the use of qualified engineers on steamboats: MEBA History.
The earliest efforts of the new association revolved around proper enforcement of the Steamboat Act of 1871. The M.E.B.A. also worked towards proper examination and licensing of engineers, and the abolition of controversial license fees. It fought against the use of foreign engineers on internal waters and summary revocations of licenses for union activities and protests over safety.
Here is an article that gives an overview: Roiling on the river
A century and a half ago, boiler explosions aboard steamboats were the disaster feared by the traveling public. The death toll from one explosion, that of the Sultana, on the Mississippi River probably exceeded that of the Titanic. Authors Charles Dickens and Mark Twain wrote about these explosions at some length. The public outcry over such explosions forced Congress to enact the first national transportation safety acts.
Here is a paper about the debate of the role of the federal government : Bursting Boilers and the Federal Power
The innovation responsible for the changed attitude toward government regulation was the steam engine.