Workplace Inspections Reduce Job Injuries and Related Costs

No evidence that OSHA workplace inspections harm employment, sales, or credit ratings

FRIDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- Government mandated workplace inspections, such as those carried out by California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) reduce on-the-job injuries and their associated costs without harming the companies' performance or profits, according to a study published in the May 18 issue of Science.

To examine how workplace safety inspections affect injury rates and other outcomes, David I. Levine, Ph.D., from the University of California in Berkeley, and colleagues compared 409 randomly inspected establishments in California with 409 establishments which were eligible for inspection but were not inspected. Injury data were obtained from the workers' compensation system. Unintended harms from inspections were determined from analyzing employment, company survival, and compensation.

The researchers found that randomly inspected employers experienced a 9.4 percent decrease in injury rates and a 26 percent decrease in injury cost, compared to controls. There was no evidence that employment, sales, credit ratings, or firm survival were harmed.

"In sum, workplaces that Cal/OSHA randomly inspected (or attempted to randomly inspect) subsequently experienced substantially lower injury rates and workers' compensation costs compared with a matched set of workplaces that were eligible for, but did not receive, a random inspection," the authors write.

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