Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Safety, Security, and Emergency Management

First Advisor

E. Scott Dunlap

Second Advisor

Barry S. Spurlock

Third Advisor

Earl H. Blair


In under two centuries the labor union transformed the American workplace, improving wages, benefits, employee engagement, and safety. In more recent years, the government and other organizations have caught up in focusing on safety. Countless studies have been conducted and determined that unions have a significant positive impact on safety compared to work environments absent of a union. Using Bureau of Labor Statistics data for 2006-2015, an investigation into the trends of union membership and injuries and fatalities reported in the United States was conducted. It was determined that there was not significant correlation between increased union membership and improved safety in fatalities and recordable injuries reported. On the contrary, there was evidence that increased union membership correlated with an increase in fatalities and recordable injuries on a national level. On a state by state basis there were significantly more states showing a positive correlation compared to very few showing evidence in support of past studies conducted claiming that unions have significant impact in improving safety metrics.