The Dirtier You Breathe, the Less Safe You are. The Effect of Air Pollution on Work Accidents

46 Pages Posted: 15 May 2024

See all articles by Alessandro Palma

Alessandro Palma

Gran Sasso Science Institute; University of Rome Tor Vergata - Centre for International Studies on Economic Growth (CEIS)

Domenico Depalo

Bank of Italy; Bank of Italy

Gabriele Curci

University of L’Aquila

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Abstract

We estimate the impact of air pollution on work-related accidents and disabilities in Italy, a context characterized by stringent air pollution and work safety regulations. Using daily administrative data between 2014 and 2018, we leverage winter heating regulations and atmospheric dynamics to address the endogeneity of air pollution generation and exposure. A one-unit increase in PM10 causes 0.0065 additional accidents, corresponding to an elasticity of 0.11, with no effect on disabilities. Using age groups as a proxy for work experience, we find larger impacts for less experienced individuals. We delve into the theoretical implications stemming from our findings to empirically confirm that a large portion of non-severe accidents, whose compensation costs are borne by firms, is caused by air pollution. Therefore, firms have an incentive to deploy defensive investments to mitigate potential accident costs even though they are not directly responsible for overall air quality. We calculate that each additional unit increase in PM10 concentration would increase the cost of an accident by approximately 1%.

Keywords: air pollution, workplace safety, workers' health, winter heating, planetary boundary layer

Suggested Citation

Palma, Alessandro and Depalo, Domenico and Depalo, Domenico and Curci, Gabriele, The Dirtier You Breathe, the Less Safe You are. The Effect of Air Pollution on Work Accidents. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4828818 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4828818

Alessandro Palma (Contact Author)

Gran Sasso Science Institute ( email )

viale Francesco Crispi, 7
L'Aquila, 67100
Italy

University of Rome Tor Vergata - Centre for International Studies on Economic Growth (CEIS) ( email )

Via Columbia, 2
Rome, I-00133
Italy

Domenico Depalo

Bank of Italy ( email )

Via Nazionale 91
00184 Roma
Italy

Bank of Italy ( email )

Via Nazionale 91
Rome, 00184
Italy

Gabriele Curci

University of L’Aquila ( email )

L’Aquila
Italy

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