The Relationship of Employee Ownership and Participation to Employee Safety

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Economic and Industrial Democracy


Sociology & Anthropology


This article investigates whether enterprises with high levels of worker control are safer places to work in than matched conventional firms in the same industry. The results, based on comparisons of self-reports from 1285 workers in four different kinds of enterprises in the wood products industry (producer coops, ESOPs, union and non-union), are disappointing for advocates of employee ownership. The coops and the ESOPs either did no better than the conventional enterprises on various safety indicators or actually had worse safety performances. Reasons for these results are discussed, particularly in the context of the precarious economic conditions these employee-owned firms find themselves in. We conclude that employee ownership of vulnerable enterprises may be hazardous for worker morale and worker safety.