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Data Mining Mining Data: MSHA Enforcement Efforts, Underground Coal Mine Safety, and New Health Policy Implications

Author

Listed:
  • Thomas J. Kniesner

    (Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University, 426 Eggers Hall, Syracuse, NY 13244)

  • John D. Leeth

Abstract

Studies of industrial safety regulations, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in particular, often find little effect on worker safety. Critics of the regulatory approach argue that safety standards have little to do with industrial injuries and defenders of the regulatory approach cite infrequent inspections and low fines for violating safety standards. We use recently assembled data from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) concerning underground coal mine production, safety inspections, and workplace injuries to shed neew light on the regulatory approach to workplace safety. Because all underground coal mines are inspected at least once per quarter, MSHA regulations will not be ineffective because of infrequent inspections. We estimate over 200 different specifications of dynamite mine safety production functions, including ones using eliberately upward biased estimators, and cherry pick the most favorable mine safety effect estimates. Although most estimates are of insignificant MSHA effects, we select the single regression specification producing the mmost favorable MSHA impact from the agency viewpoint, which we then use in a policy evaluation. We address the question of whether it would be cost-effective to move some of MSHA's enforcement budget into alternative programs that could also improve the health of the typical miner. Even using cherry-picked results most favorable to the agency, MSHA is not cost effective at its current levels. Even though MSHA is a small program when judged against others like OSHA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), MSHA's targeted public health objective could be much better served (almost 700,000 life years gained on balance for miners) if a quarter of MSHA's enforcement budget were reallocated to other programs such as more heart disease screening or defibrillators at worksites.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas J. Kniesner & John D. Leeth, 2003. "Data Mining Mining Data: MSHA Enforcement Efforts, Underground Coal Mine Safety, and New Health Policy Implications," Center for Policy Research Working Papers 52, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
  • Handle: RePEc:max:cprwps:52
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Luojia Hu, 2002. "Estimation of a Censored Dynamic Panel Data Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(6), pages 2499-2517, November.
    2. Ziliak, James P, 1997. "Efficient Estimation with Panel Data When Instruments Are Predetermined: An Empirical Comparison of Moment-Condition Estimators," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 15(4), pages 419-431, October.
    3. Viscusi, W Kip & Aldy, Joseph E, 2003. "The Value of a Statistical Life: A Critical Review of Market Estimates throughout the World," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 5-76, August.
    4. 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.
    5. Hall, Peter & Horowitz, Joel L, 1996. "Bootstrap Critical Values for Tests Based on Generalized-Method-of-Moments Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(4), pages 891-916, July.
    6. repec:spr:portec:v:1:y:2002:i:2:d:10.1007_s10258-002-0009-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Auld, M Christopher, et al, 2001. "The Efficacy of Construction Site Safety Inspections," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(4), pages 900-921, October.
    8. W. Kip Viscusi, 1994. "Mortality Effects of Regulatory Costs and Policy Evaluation Criteria," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(1), pages 94-109, Spring.
    9. Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1997. "I Just Ran Two Million Regressions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 178-183, May.
    10. Lovell, Michael C, 1983. "Data Mining," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(1), pages 1-12, February.
    11. repec:cup:apsrev:v:74:y:1980:i:03:p:745-756_16 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Manuel Arellano & Stephen Bond, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 277-297.
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    Cited by:

    1. Wing, Coady & Marier, Allison, 2014. "Effects of occupational regulations on the cost of dental services: Evidence from dental insurance claims," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 131-143.
    2. Gautam Gowrisankaran & Charles He & Eric A. Lutz & Jefferey L. Burgess, 2015. "Productivity, Safety, and Regulation in Underground Coal Mining: Evidence from Disasters and Fatalities," NBER Working Papers 21129, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Thomas J. Kniesner & W. Kip Viscusi & Christopher Woock & James P. Ziliak, 2012. "The Value of a Statistical Life: Evidence from Panel Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(1), pages 74-87, February.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy
    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions

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