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OSHA's Role in Promoting Occupational Safety and Health (Foundations and Trends(r) in Microeconomics)

OSHA's Role in Promoting Occupational Safety and Health (Foundations and Trends(r) in Microeconomics)

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OSHA's Role in Promoting Occupational Safety and Health examines the four pillars of the US safety policy system with a focus on the most recent effort - the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The goal is to determine how OSHA could best use its limited resources to improve worker safety and health in light of incentives already created through the labor market, state workers' compensation insurance programs, and the legal system. After an introduction, the next section develops the general economic model of production and the workplace when there are inevitable risks to safety and health. The third and fourth sections present the institutional details of OSHA and the nature of workplace fatalities and nonfatal injuries in the United States. The survey moves on to examine the evolving enforcement of OSHA regulations over the forty years of its existence and the corresponding empirical estimates of its effectiveness in improving worker safety and health. The next three sections discuss the other three pillars of the US safety policy system, detailing their strengths and weaknesses in generating appropriate safety incentives. The following sections evaluate the likely impact on worker safety of expanding OSHA enforcement power and assess the cost-effectiveness of OSHA in its entirety and some of its regulations individually. The survey concludes with recommendations on how best to improve OSHA's effectiveness in promoting worker safety and health. Finally, the author shows that no evidence exists that by magnifying OSHA's enforcement powers, either by increasing the frequency of inspections or by raising the level of fines for noncompliance, worker safety and health would improve dramatically.