Online Program

Impact of contracting on occupational injuries and fatalities in underground coal mining

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Marric Buessing, ABD, Department of Economics, Boston University, Boston, MA
David Weil, Ph.D., School of Management, Boston University, Boston, MA
Background: Contracting out of mining operations has increased significantly in the underground coal mining industry over the last decade. Contract miners are hired by coal operators to extract coal, usually for a specified price and using equipment often leased from the operator or mine controller. We hypothesize that the market and organizational incentives facing contractors increase the likelihood of traumatic injuries and fatalities to their workforce relative to miners working directly for operators in comparable mines. We further hypothesize that contracting has larger effects on health and safety outcomes in mines that are not vertically integrated (i.e. where a controller does not own both processing and mining facilities) and where the controller of the mine using contractors has a high rate of prior violations with the Mine Safety and Health Act. Methods: We test this hypothesis using data from the Mine Safety and Health Administration for the period 2000-2012. We statistically model the determinants of injuries and fatalities based on contract status along with mining methods, geologic characteristics, union status, size of mine and controller, and prior history of violations. Results: Our preliminary findings suggest increased risk exposure for contract miners, particularly in a subset of non-vertically integrated mining operations. We also find interaction effects between prior violation experience of mine controllers with the health and safety outcomes of their contractors. Conclusions: These findings have important implications for enforcement and public policies and extend the findings of the adverse impact of subcontracting on health and safety to the mining sector.

Learning Areas:

Biostatistics, economics
Occupational health and safety
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Analyze the impact of contracting out work on health and safety outcomes in the underground coal mining industry and assess the magnitude of its effects relative to other determinants of injuries and fatalities; to evaluate the ability to predict health and safety risks through observable characteristics of mining organizational structure including vertical integration and the use of contracting; to assess the interaction of contracting with prior violation history of the companies that own the mines using contractors.

Keyword(s): Occupational Injury and Death, Regulations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am pursuing a Ph.D. in labor and organizational economics at Boston University. My thesis is related to governance structures and how they interact with health and safety and labor market issues including health and safety in the mining industry. I have deep understanding of regulations regarding mining and the data bases maintained by the Mine Safety and Health Administration used for this study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.