CEO Inside Debt and Employee Workplace Safety

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Journal / PublicationJournal of Business Ethics
Online published5 Jan 2022
Publication statusOnline published - 5 Jan 2022


Theoretical studies suggest that, when determining the workplace safety level, CEOs face a trade-off between ex ante safety-improving expenditures and the expected losses due to ex post injury and illness occurrences. We examine whether firms with higher CEO inside debt holdings have safer workplaces. Using establishment-level employee workplace injury and illness data, we find that CEOs’ inside debt holdings are negatively associated with employee workplace injury and illness cases. This relationship is more pronounced if workers’ compensation premiums are more sensitive to injury claims and for firms with more government business and less pronounced for firms with higher levels of secured debt. We provide some evidence that our main result stems from CEOs increasing safety investments. Our empirical results are shown to be robust under a batch of robustness tests and when considering potential endogeneity problems. Our findings suggest that CEOs with higher levels of inside debt holdings are more sensitive to wealth loss due to employee injury and illness, leading to a safer workplace.

Research Area(s)

  • CEO inside debt, Firm operational risk, Workplace safety