To Punish or Persuade
Enforcement of Coal Mine Safety
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In To Punish or Persuade, John Braithwaite declares that coal mine disasters are usually the result of corporate crime. He surveys 39 coal mine disasters from around the world, including 19 in the United States since 1960, and concludes that mine fatalities are usually not caused by human error or the unstoppable forces of nature. He shows that a combination of punitive and educative measures taken against offenders can have substantial effects in reducing injuries to miners.
Braithwaite not only develops a model for determining the optimal mix of punishment and persuasion to maximize mine safety, but provides regulatory agencies in general with a model for mixing the two strategies to ensure compliance with the law.
To Punish or Persuade looks at coal mine safety in the United States, Great Britain, Australia, France, Belgium, and Japan. It examines closely the five American coal mining companies with the best safety performance in the industry: U. S. Steel, Bethlehem Steel, Consolidation Coal Company, Island Creek Coal Company, and Old Ben Coal Company. It also takes a look at the safety record of unionized versus non-unionized mines and how safety regulation enforcement impacts productivity.
John Braithwaite is Senior Research Fellow, Department of Sociology, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University.