Accueil » 49-1 ( 1994) » Aspects économiques de la santé et sécurité au travail

Aspects économiques de la santé et sécurité au travail

Paul Lanoie


Cette étude fournit une synthèse des travaux effectués par des économistes sur le thème de la santé et de la sécurité du travail. Ces derniers ont surtout essayé d'évaluer les effets des différentes politiques adoptées par les gouvernements en tant au 'assureur et promoteur de la santé et sécurité au travail. Le texte tente également défaire le point sur la question de la substitution entre l'assurance-accident et l'assurance-chômage. À la lumière d'une comparaison internationale de la générosité de ces deux régimes d'assurance, des solutions de rechange sont proposées permettant de réduire l'incitation à la substitution.


This paper provides a summary of the research performed by North American Economists on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH). Most of this work is concerned with the evaluation of the different policies adopted by govemments in this area. North American govemments play two fundamental roles with respect to OSH. First, they act as insurers through the existence of public workers' compensation board (WCB) that insure accident victims and second, they promote safety in the workplace through the experience rating of the insurance premium paid by employers to WCBs and through safety regulation.

So far, the empirical evidence shows that experience rating has had a minor impact on the incidence of workplace accidents, while regulation has had an effect on certain types of accidents and on firms directly affected by the regulation (for instance, firms that have been inspected). Furthermore, most studies on the subject show that an increase in the generosity of WCBs is associated with an increase in the duration and reporting of accidents.

In addition, this paper attempts to shed light on the issue of substitution between workers' compensation (WC) and unemployment insurance (UI). Indeed, given that, in Canada, WC is more generous than UI, laid-off workers may be tempted, among other things, to report a false accident to benefit from WC instead of UI. This issue has been largely ignored in the literature and opens the way for a more thorough discussion on the adequacy of the actual insurance regimes.

With this respect, the paper fïrst summarizes the study of Fortin and Lanoie (1992) on this subject. This study has shown that a reduction in the generosity of UI is associated with an increase in the average duration of workplace accidents in Quebec.

Then, an international comparison of the generosity of the WC and the UI Systems in different industrialized countries is presented and discussed. This comparison shows that Canada has one of the largest gap between the generosity of the two insurance regimes. The next section describes four different scenarios in order to reduce the substitution between WC and UI. These scenarios are: 1) the harmonization and the merging of the two compensation Systems into a unique insurance regime; 2) an increase in the generosity of UI; 3) a reduction of the generosity of WC and 4) a better control of the access to the WC regime. Finally, the paper recommends that the generosity of the WC regimes be reduced in Canada.