This study examines the effectiveness of government legislation in reducing the incidence of workplace accidents and other health and safety risks in New Zealand. A simple model of the relationship between firms and the Occupational Safety and Health Service, which enforces these regulations, is outlined. Administrative data for the 1993/94–1996/97 period are then used to test the relationship between interventions and health and safety outcomes at both firm and industry level.
Overall, somewhat inconclusive evidence is found regarding the effectiveness of interventions. Although a modest specific deterrence effect is detected, it is not robust to controls for endogeneity. Inconsistent evidence is also found regarding general deterrence factors.
Concerns that are raised over the quality of the health and safety data suggest the need for improvements in recording processes of workplace and other accidents.