chapter  7
20 Pages

Prevailing Wage Laws and Injury Rates in Construction

Construction is one of the most dangerous industries in the United States. While the construction industry constitutes only 6 percent of the private sector workforce, it accounts for 23 percent of fatal, and 9.7 percent of nonfatal occupational injuries (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2001a). This paper investigates the relationship between the presence of the prevailing wage laws and workers' safety in terms of non-fatal injury rates in the construction industry. Prevailing wage laws have mainly been enacted to keep the government, as a large purchaser of construction services with a considerable market power, from adversely affecting local labor markets. The regulatory environment of the prevailing wage laws, affect construction injury rates in several possible ways. The relationship between prevailing wage regulations and collective bargaining is a main factor that explains this connection, though indirectly. Earlier work by Philips et al (1995) finds that experience is a major determinant of safety and productivity.