Title

Transmitting the Costs of Unsafe Work

Publication Title

American Business Law Journal

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Fall 2017

Abstract

This article investigates the ways in which employers are made to "feel" the costs generated by workers' occupational illnesses and injuries. In economic terms, many of those costs are externalized, i.e. experienced by parties other than the employer, whose safety decisions are therefore distorted. The law and the labor market set up a variety of mechanisms that may transmit costs back to the employer: workers' compensation claims, government complaints, union activity, workers' demands for safety improvements or compensatory wages, and worker quits. Yet each of these requires that workers have sufficient knowledge, power, and resources to act as cost transmitters. Using worker survey data, this article explores cost transmission at the bottom of the labor market. Finding flaws in the operation of all cost transmission mechanisms, the article proposes a hybrid system that would give a greater role to government enforcement and consumer and investor pressure, as well as unions, filling in where workers are particularly unwilling or unable to transmit costs effectively themselves.

Comments

External Links

Westlaw

Lexis Advance

SSRN

Recommended Citation

Charlotte S. Alexander, Transmitting the Costs of Unsafe Work, 54 Am. Bus. L.J. 463 (2017).

DOI

10.1111/ablj.12104

Volume

54

Issue

3

First Page

463

Last Page

517

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