OSHA Enforcement, Industrial Compliance and Workplace Injuries
Ann P. Bartel, Lacy Glenn Thomas
NBER Working Paper No. 953 (Also Reprint No. r0626)
This paper develops and tests a three-equation simultaneous model of OSHA enforcement behavior, industrial compliance and workplace injuries. The enforcement equation is based on the assumption that OSHA acts as a political institution that gains support through the transfer of wealth from firms to employees; the empirical results are largely consistent with this notion. Contrary to previous work, we find that OSHA enforcement efforts have, indeed, had a statistically significant impact on industrial compliance and, further, that this compliance has led to a statistically significant decrease in worker injuries. The point estimate of the elasticity of the lost workday rate with respect to the OSHA inspection rate is -.04.
Published: Bartel, Ann P. and Lacy Glenn Thomas. "Direct and Indirect Effects of Regulation: A New Look at OSHA's Impact." Journal of Law and Economics, Vol. 28, No. 1, (April 1985), pp. 1-25.