An environmental management expert at Harvard Business School teamed up with two other researchers to study the effects of workplace inspections. It concluded that the inspections resulted in a 9.4 percent decline in injury rates and a 26 percent reduction in injury cost but did not affect employment, total earnings, sales, or the survival of the company.
The researchers identified more than 400 workplaces that had been inspected between 1996 and 2006 for which they could find similar companies that were eligible for inspection but had not yet been selected. They used workers' comp claims over the period ranging from four years before through four years after the inspections to determine illness and injury rates. They also looked at injuries during the same time span for the companies that were not inspected.
"Our study suggests that randomized inspections work as they're meant to, improving safety while not undermining the company's ability to do business," said Michael Toffel of Harvard Business School. "Now we'd like to get more data to see exactly how inspections reduce injuries, and to investigate what kinds of companies would get the most or least benefit from safety regulation."
One observer suggested the study be used as a model for testing whether proposed future regulations are likely to be effective. "Safety regulations are often put in place without scientifically credible evidence of their likely effects," said Jon Baron, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy. Ideally, he said, all new government regulations should be subjected to similar randomized studies before being widely implemented.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
July 9, 2012
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