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Random OSHA Inspections Help Safety?

December 14, 2012

A study conducted earlier this year compared 409 companies that had randomly been inspected by Cal-OSHA to 409 companies that had not been inspected.  Safety data from all 818 companies from 4 years before to 4 years after the random inspections occurred were compared.  Interestingly, the companies with the random inspections saw a decline in injuries of 9.4% for the four years after as well as a 26% decrease in cost of injuries.  This number worked out to be about $350,000 per company.  More good news included the fact that the random inspections had no effect on employment, sales or total earnings.

This study was a success because the inspections were random and not scheduled.  It goes without saying that any company that has had a bad year with injuries would generally improve the next year, even without an inspection.  So when OSHA has to inspect a facility after an injury, there is no way of telling if that actual visit helped decrease future injuries or not.  Michael Toffel, an environmental management expert at Harvard Business School said in an article that they would now like to get more data to see exactly how inspections reduced injuries and what kinds of companies get the most of least amount of benefit from safety regulation.

I think this study is interesting because when a planned OSHA inspection occurs, or one that follows an injury, the company is on high alert and is making sure to do things correctly.  A random inspection shows how a company is really operating, and I think is a great insight for the company itself.  Preventing injury should of course be an everyday, built in process within a company, but seeing how it actually works from an outside perspective would be helpful.  Safety products like high traction flooring can help reduce injuries on a daily basis without having to be part of a safety procedure.  Implementing sustainable safety flooring helps keep workers on their feet without having them give a second thought to slipping and falling.  Worker confidence is important in the work place.

Hosier, Fred. “Study: Random Inspections Improve Workplace Safety.”  www.safetynewsalert.com. May 24, 2012. December 10, 2012.

Norton, Elizabeth. “It’s Official, Random Inspections Improve Workplace Safety.” www.news.sciencemag.org  May 17, 2012, December 10, 2012

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