Operational safety economics: Foundations, current approaches and paths for future research

Chao Chen, Genserik Reniers*, Nima Khakzad, Ming Yang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the trade-off between economics and epidemic prevention (safety) has become painfully clear worldwide. This situation thus highlights the significance of balancing the economy with safety and health. Safety economics, considering the interdependencies between safety and micro-economics, is ideal for supporting this kind of decision-making. Although economic approaches such as cost-benefit analysis and cost-effectiveness analysis have been used in safety management, little attention has been paid to the fundamental issues and the primary methodologies in safety economics. Therefore, this paper presents a systematic study on safety economics to analyze the foundational issues and explore the possible approaches. Firstly, safety economics is defined as a transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary field of academic research focusing on the interdependencies and coevolution of micro-economies and safety. Then we explore the role of safety economics in safety management and production investment. Furthermore, to make decisions more profitable, economic approaches are summarized and analyzed for decision-making about prevention investments and/or safety strategies. Finally, we discuss some open issues in safety economics and possible pathways to improve this research field, such as security economics, risk perception, and multi-criteria analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105326
JournalSafety Science
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Approaches
  • Decision-making
  • Foundational issues
  • Safety economics
  • Safety management


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