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OSHA Enforcement and Workplace Injuries: A Behavioral Approach to Risk Assessment

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  • Scholz, John T
  • Gray, Wayne B

Abstract

We develop a model of risk assessment that incorporates assumptions from the behavioral theory of the firm into conventional expected utility models of compliance, and test the model using data on injuries and OSHA inspections for 6842 manufacturing plants between 1979 and 1985. Four hypotheses are supported--the specific deterrence effect of an inspection, the importance of lagged effects of general deterrence, the asymmetrical effects of probability and amount of penalty on injuries, and the tendency of injury rates to self-correct over a few years. The model estimates that a 10 percent increase in enforcement activities will reduce injuries by about 1 percent for large, frequently inspected firms. prior analyses reporting lower impacts (Smith, 1979; Viscusi, 1986) are replicated to distinguish between sampling and modeling differences. The results suggest that further compliance theory needs more detailed models of risk-assessment processes to be tested on samples of firms most affected by enforcement. Copyright 1990 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

Suggested Citation

  • Scholz, John T & Gray, Wayne B, 1990. "OSHA Enforcement and Workplace Injuries: A Behavioral Approach to Risk Assessment," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 283-305, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jrisku:v:3:y:1990:i:3:p:283-305
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. "Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
    2. Sarin, Rakesh K & Winkler, Robert L, 1992. "Ambiguity and Decision Modeling: A Preference-Based Approach," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 389-407, October.
    3. Bernasconi, Michele, 1992. "Different Frames for the Independence Axiom: An Experimental Investigation in Individual Decision Making under Risk," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(2), pages 159-174, May.
    4. Hans-Werner Sinn, 1980. "A Rehabilitation of the Principle of Insufficient Reason," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 94(3), pages 493-506.
    5. Camerer, Colin & Weber, Martin, 1992. "Recent Developments in Modeling Preferences: Uncertainty and Ambiguity," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 325-370, October.
    6. Goeran Skogh, 1999. "Risk-Sharing Institutions for Unpredictable Losses," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 155(3), pages 505-505, September.
    7. Michael G Faure & Göran Skogh, 1992. "Compensation for Damages Caused by Nuclear Accidents: A Convention as Insurance," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan;The Geneva Association, vol. 17(4), pages 499-513, October.
    8. Viscusi, W Kip, 1989. "Prospective Reference Theory: Toward an Explanation of the Paradoxes," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 235-263, September.
    9. Camerer, Colin & Kunreuther, Howard, 1989. "Experimental Markets for Insurance," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 265-299, September.
    10. W. Viscusi & Harrell Chesson, 1999. "Hopes and Fears: the Conflicting Effects of Risk Ambiguity," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 47(2), pages 157-184, October.
    11. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1971. "Increasing risk II: Its economic consequences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 66-84, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Tomas Philipson & George Zanjani, 1997. "Consumption vs. Production of Insurance," NBER Working Papers 6225, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Wayne B. Gray & Ronald J. Shadbegian, 2007. "The Environmental Performance Of Polluting Plants: A Spatial Analysis," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 63-84.
    3. Dietrich Earnhart & Lana Friesen, 2013. "Can Punishment Generate Specific Deterrence Without Updating? Analysis of a Stated Choice Scenario," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 56(3), pages 379-397, November.
    4. Masaru Sasaki, 2010. "Unemployment and Workplace Safety in a Search and Matching Model," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 10-14, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP).
    5. Stavros A. Drakopoulos & Ioannis Theodossiou, 2016. "Workers’ risk underestimation and occupational health and safety regulation," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 641-656, June.
    6. Thomas J. Kniesner & John D. Leeth, 2004. "Data Mining Mining Data: MSHA Enforcement Efforts, Underground Coal Mine Safety, and New Health Policy Implications," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 29(2), pages 83-111, September.
    7. Wayne B. Gray & John Mendeloff, 2002. "The Declining Effects of OSHA Inspections on Manufacturing Injuries: 1979 to 1998," NBER Working Papers 9119, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Alm, James & Shimshack, Jay, 2014. "Environmental Enforcement and Compliance: Lessons from Pollution, Safety, and Tax Settings," Foundations and Trends(R) in Microeconomics, now publishers, vol. 10(4), pages 209-274, December.
    9. Stephen Finger & Shanti Gamper-Rabindran, 2013. "Testing the effects of self-regulation on industrial accidents," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 43(2), pages 115-146, April.
    10. Earnhart, Dietrich & Segerson, Kathleen, 2012. "The influence of financial status on the effectiveness of environmental enforcement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 670-684.
    11. Wayne B. Gray & Ronald J. Shadbegian, 2004. "When and Why Do Plants Comply? Paper Mills in the 1980s," NCEE Working Paper Series 200407, National Center for Environmental Economics, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, revised Jul 2004.
    12. Hirschauer, Norbert & Zwoll, Stefan, 2006. "Understanding and Managing Behavioural Risks -The Case of Food Risks Caused by Malpractice in Poultry Production," Working Paper Series 10287, Humboldt University Berlin, Department Agricultural Economics.
    13. Christine Jolls, 2007. "Employment Law and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 13230, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Jonathan M. Lee & Laura O. Taylor, 2014. "Randomized Safety Inspections And Risk Exposure On The Job: Quasi-Experimental Estimates Of The Value Of A Statistical Life," Working Papers 14-05, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    15. Lana Friesen & Dietrich Earnhart, 2012. "Environmental Management Responses to Punishment: Specific Deterrence and Certainty versus Severity of Punishment," Discussion Papers Series 463, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
    16. repec:cen:wpaper:12-21 is not listed on IDEAS

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