Research note: Safety, statistics and business cycles: a response to Nichols

  • Tombs S
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Abstract

This article considers three criticisms made by Nichols of my article on ‘industrial injuries in British manufacturing’. First, I argue that, notwithstanding recognised problems with data which include ‘minor’ accidents, this should not be rejected. I then question the reliability of the alternative data used by Nichols, namely that related to fatalities in British manufacturing. Second, I show that Nichols' claim that accident rates were increasing rather than decreasing in the years 1975–1979 can only be sustained if one shifts the years within which the trend is considered, and ignores other evidence to the effect that the latter part of the seventies witnessed a continuation of a long-term decline in accident rates in British manufacturing industries. Finally, in response to the charge that I misled readers in my original article, I note how Nichols' argument was indeed one that prioritised ‘business cycles; further, I indicate that Nichols has himself engaged in a highly focused reading of my earlier article.

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Authors

  • Steve Tombs

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