Workplace Safety Inspections Reduce Injuries, Company Costs

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Workers’ Compensation on Monday, May 21, 2012

One common complaint that business executives and lobby groups in Missouri hurl at government regulators like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is that their employee protections are “job killers” that cost companies money that would otherwise go to hiring new people. But a new, long-term study flies in the face of the notion that workers must tolerate a heightened risk of injury as the price of earning a paycheck.

The study found that not only do random inspections of work sites by OSHA agents lead to a 9.4 percent reduction in reports of on-the-job injuries, but that businesses subject to the inspections saw a 26 percent reduction in workers’ compensation costs on average.

“It really is the complete opposite of the regular rhetoric that we hear … about regulations being harmful to the economy and bad for business,” said a professor of public health and health services who was not involved in the study, which looked at businesses in California from 1996 to 2006.

Researchers found that businesses in that state who received random OSHA inspections saved an average of $355,000 in workers’ compensation payments in the four years following an inspection. Extrapolating to the U.S. as a whole, that works out to about $6 billion in savings.

Besides looking for safety violations, OSHA inspectors work with employers to solve the problems, according to one of the study’s co-authors. That drives home the point that investment in preventing injury is a win-win for employers and employees, who are less likely to suffer serious harm.

Source: Daily Reporter, “Study finds government job-safety inspections reduce injuries without hurting profits,” Sam Hananel, May 17, 2012

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