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Safety Inspections Lower Workplace Injury And Do Not Hurt Bottom Line

Many in the business community believe that government regulation of workplace safety inhibits the success of business and the creation of jobs. A recent study conducted by a professor from the Harvard Business School looked at whether workplace safety inspections conducted by the government reduce workplace injury and whether the inspections impact the profitability of businesses that are inspected. The study found that workplace safety inspections reduce workplace injury and associated costs without hurting profit. That’s good news for workers in Pennsylvania.

Researchers who conducted the study compared worker safety and financial information of companies in high-hazard industries in California. The objective of the study was to determine whether inspections by the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration destroyed jobs. Researchers failed to find any evidence that suggested safety inspections significantly impacted sales or the financial health of an inspected company. In short, the study found that workplace inspections function how they are designed by improving safety without significant cost to regulated companies.

Researchers also found that in comparison to sites that were not inspected, inspections in high-hazard industries reduce injury claims by 9.4 percent and reduce the cost of workers’ compensation by 26 percent over a period of four years after inspection. Companies that were inspected saved an estimated $355,000 in injury claims and compensation for lost work.

The authors of the study cautioned that the study’s results may not apply to all industries regulated by OSHA because the study was limited to high-hazard companies with 10 or more employees located in California. Despite the cautionary warning, it seems OSHA is effective in promoting safe workplaces.

Source: health.usnews.com, “OSHA’s Safety Tests Protect Workers at Little Cost: Study,” Steven Reinberg, May 17, 2012