July 1998

IZA DP No. 16: Immigration Labor and Workplace Safety

Using standard as well as recently developed univariate and bivariate count data models, this paper analyzes the determinants of workplace accidents using a firm data set for Germany. Given the tight system of public workplace safety regulation, introduced partly as early as in 1869, and the important role of foreign labor in manufacturing, the focus is on the impact of work organization and interdependence between native and foreign workers. The empirical results indicate that there are no significant differences between natives and foreign workers regarding technological determinants of workplace accidents. However, the employment of guestworkers has a strong positive effect on the job safety of natives. The estimates imply that a 1 percent increase in the employment of guestworkers is associated with a 1.7 percent decrease of less severe accidents and a 1.3 percent decrease of severe accidents of natives. The empirical results also indicate that foreigners= representation in the work council is an important factor for increasing workplace safety for guestworkers.