Washington: Study points to fewer claims for companies inspected by state OSHA
Researchers at the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries looked at claims data of businesses between 1999 and 2008 to gauge the effectiveness of programs aimed at correcting hazards and preventing injuries.
The results provide strong evidence that Division of Occupational Safety & Health enforcement and consultation activity is followed by a decrease in compensable claims rates, the researchers said. The results indicate the DOSH activity, especially when accompanied by the threat of penalty, is followed by a reduction in claims and their associated costs.
State officials presented the findings during a recent meeting of an organization encompassing the 27 states and territories with their own agency enforcing workplace safety rules.
To examine the data by industry type, the researchers separated the businesses into non-fixed-site industries, such as construction and transportation, and fixed-site industries. They further excluded musculoskeletal disorders since these injuries arise from hazards for which there is no specific DOSH regulation.
They found the following when comparing DOSH enforcement visits that result in citations with those that did not result in citations:
- Non-fixed-site industries: Enforcement inspections without a citation were followed by a 3.1 percent decrease in non-MSD compensable claims rates, relative to employers with no DOSH visits. Inspections with at least one citation had a 19.1 percent greater decrease in compensable claims rate relative to employers with no DOSH activity.
- Fixed-site industries: Enforcement inspections with no citations had a 5 percent greater decrease in non-MSD compensable claims rates relative to employers with no DOSH activity while those with one or more citations had a 20.3 percent greater decrease in non-MSD compensable claims rates relative to employers with no DOSH activity.
- Effect of consultation visits: These were also associated with a greater decrease in compensable claims, especially in non-fixed-site workplaces such as the construction industry.
"These results suggest that inspections that focus on violations of specific DOSH regulations, and which may result in penalties, have the greatest impact on workplace hazards and have the greatest potential to achieve injury prevention," the research said.
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November 14, 2011
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