Workplace Safety Policy: Past, Present, and Future
With an annual budget of about $400 million, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is about 5 percent the size of the Environmental Protection Agency, another federal agency created by President Richard M. Nixon in 1970, the "Year of the Environment." Nearly all workers in the United States come under OSHA's juridction, with some notable exceptions, including miners, transportation workers, many public employees, and people who are self-employed. OSHA is currently responsible for ptoecting over 100 million workers at 6 million work sites with the help of only about 2,000 workplace health and safety inspectors. Nevertheless, suppoers of OSHA argue that it has significantly improved worker safety over the last 30 years and that a beefed-up enforcement effort would produce even greater improvements. We examine the available evidence and find little support to the notion that OSHA has effectively reduced accidents and diseases in the workplace or that a more vigorous enforcement campaign would be likely to do so. Other policy instruments--tort laws, state Workers' Compensation insurance programs, and research and public education on the causes and consequences of work hazards--now keep workplace deaths and injuries low and can reduce them even more. The wage premiums, estimated at $210 billion per year, that workers receive for accepting job-related health hazards give employers a stronger economic incentive to eliminate workplace health and safety hazards than the $132 million per year in fines imposed by OSHA and its state counterparts for violations of workplace safety standards. Because of the heterogeneity of workers and firms, we argue that public policy should expand the economic incentives for workplace safety while allowing firms and workers freedom to discover on their own the best ways to improve workplace safety.
|Date of creation:||Oct 2000|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: 426 Eggers Hall, Syracuse, New York USA 13244-1020|
Phone: (315) 443-3114
Fax: (315) 443-1081
Web page: http://www.maxwell.syr.edu/cpr.aspx
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Viscusi, W Kip & O'Connor, Charles J, 1984. "Adaptive Responses to Chemical Labeling: Are Workers Bayesian Decision Makers?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(5), pages 942-956, December.
- Kniesner, Thomas J & Leeth, John D, 1995. "Numerical Simulation as a Complement to Econometric Research on Workplace Safety," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 99-125, March.
- Viscusi, W Kip, 1979. "Job Hazards and Worker Quit Rates: An Analysis of Adaptive Worker Behavior," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 20(1), pages 29-58, February.
- Kniesner, Thomas J & Leeth, John D, 1991. "Compensating Wage Differentials for Fatal Injury Risk in Australia, Japan, and the United States," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 75-90, January.
- John W. Ruser, 1985. "Workers' Compensation Insurance, Experience-Rating, and Occupational Injuries," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(4), pages 487-503, Winter.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:max:cprpbr:19. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Kelly Bogart)or (Katrina Wingle)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.