Originally published in 1998. While there is a growing academic literature on corporate crime, much of this focuses upon variants of economic or financial crimes; there is a relative absence of studies of safety, health and/or environmental crimes. This is curious given that recent years have witnessed a resurgence in popular, academic and indeed state attention to questions related to environmental degradation and human safety. Certainly in the latter context there is some recognition that environmental degradation must be understood partly in terms of environmental crimes by corporations. Moreover, recent experience in both the US and the UK attests to the fact that there is no ineluctable trend towards safer and healthier workplaces, as deregulatory movements have resulted in increased risks for most workers and, this text argues, an increased opportunity for, and incidence of, safety crimes. At the centre of environmental, safety and health isses lie the chemicals industries. These industries are of strategic importance to national economies, while also having almost unique hazard and risk potential and it is for these reasons that these are the focus of this text.
Any understanding of the nature of these types of corporate crimes, and thus any recognition of the potential for their more effective regulation, requires an analysis that is grounded in more general sociological concerns and in political economy. For this reason, this text emphasises the need for understandings of the nature of contemporary and emergent forms of corporate organisation, of their place in contemporary economies, and of the relationships between these forms and state formations.