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Coercive pressures for the implementation of health and safety practices: are they enough?

Macarena López-Fernández (University of Cadiz, Cadiz, Spain)
Susana Pasamar (Department of Business Administration and Marketing, University of Pablo de Olavide, Sevilla, Spain)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 22 July 2019

Issue publication date: 24 July 2019




The purpose of this paper is to examine why companies are placing increasing importance on implementing occupational health and safety (OHS) practices, and to analyse their reasons for adopting these practices. Specifically, it is asked whether OHS practices are introduced as a result of coercive pressures. The different ways companies respond to these pressures is also explored.


A quantitative data analysis technique was used to analyse the relationship between the reasons for implementing OHS in a sample of 3,005 Spanish firms, using the responses to a survey from the Institute for the Prevention of Risk at Work.


The results revealed three different groups of companies in terms of their reasons for implementing OHS practices; it was also found that employer involvement in OHS is higher when the main reason for implementing OHS practices is a real concern to improve working conditions, not simply coercive pressures.

Practical implications

The results of the study demonstrate the importance of moving from reactive to proactive management. Practitioners should consider employees’ health and safety not only in terms of an institutional pressure, but as a part of their social responsibility and integral to their business practice. Public administration should work to reward positive behaviours and not only punish noncompliance.


This paper contributes to a better understanding of the reasons to implement OHS in an early stage of institutionalisation of these practices, providing an empirical analysis of the reasons behind employer involvement. This paper is highly relevant for researchers, governments and practitioners.



López-Fernández, M. and Pasamar, S. (2019), "Coercive pressures for the implementation of health and safety practices: are they enough?", Employee Relations, Vol. 41 No. 5, pp. 1065-1078.



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