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New study shows that workplace inspections save lives, don't destroy jobs
Date:5/21/2012

li>Many previous studies attempting to evaluate the effectiveness of inspections have suffered from the biased way inspection sites are chosen (by complaints or previous accidents) and from problems with how the effects of the injuries are tracked (typically via OSHA logs, which tend to become more comprehensive after an inspection). The new study addressed both of these issues, because companies were selected at random, and because the injuries were measured by workers' compensation claims and other data gathered from sources independent of OSHA-mandated records.

  • A 1993 California mandate requiring Cal/OSHA to conduct some of its workplace inspections at random provided the opportunity for the study. The mandate was not designed to evaluate inspections, but rather to improve compliance by including random inspections in addition to those initiated by complaints or problems. The randomized inspections examined in this study were carried out from 1996-2006. For each site chosen for a randomized inspection, the team identified a similar control firm eligible for a random inspection but not chosen.

  • Processing the information took a considerable amount of time five years because the researchers had to extract the Cal/OSHA data from a magnetic tape format the researchers had never encountered, and then match the inspected companies' names and addresses to separate databases containing workers' compensation and employment information.


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  • Contact: Jim Aisner
    jaisner@hbs.edu
    617-495-6157
    Harvard Business School
    Source:Eurekalert

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