The Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the US has recently published press releases about employers violating guidelines and putting workers at risk.  The US study finds that this scheme of naming and shaming was incredibly effective. Not only did the “shamed” firms behave, so did their neighbours. Businesses within a 5km radius had 73% fewer violations.

The study found that shaming was even more effective than raid checks or investigations. The authors also discovered that the regulator would have to conduct a further 193 extra inspections to achieve the same level of improvement as one press release.

Read the full article on The Guardian: Is naming and shaming bad bosses a carrot or a stick?


The results from the study does not mean that we should abolish inspection regimes and just publish press releases about errant firms. It is still important to conduct spot checks on firms, particularly those in the manufacturing and construction industry where health and safety standards may be more easily compromised.

Furthermore, the authors have noted that the beneficial outcomes correlated with naming and shaming is dependent on workers having bargaining power to drive change in their workplace. Thus, when they see that fellow workers in a neighbouring firm are working under suboptimal conditions, they are able to influence management to make working conditions safer for them. If the collective bargaining power is weak, then even naming and shaming practices would prove to be ineffectual.

Questions for further personal evaluation: 

  1. A lot of health and safety regulations concern the blue-collar industry, e.g., manufacturing and construction. Do you think there are health and safety concerns for those in the white-collar industry, e.g. office jobs? If so, what are they?
  2. Do you think shaming firms is an effective way of disincentivising bad behaviour and promoting better working conditions? Why or why not?

Useful vocabulary: 

  1. ‘correlate’: have a mutual relationship or connection, in which one thing affects or depends on another 
  2. ‘collective’: done by people acting as a group