OSHA Testing Can Reduce Employer Liability, Saves Companies Money

This guest post was contributed by Joseph A. Ginarte. He is a specialist New York accident lawyer and the proprietor of the Ginarte Law firm. He enjoys writing and sharing his insights on various legal blogs. Every day, more than twelve workers die on the job, which adds up to a total of 4,500 worker fatalities each year. Another 4.1 million workers suffer serious injury or illness related to their jobs, according to a white paper published by Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the United States Department of Labor (OSHA).While it’s not possible to prevent every accident, the need to promote safety in the workplace is obvious. Programs designed to prevent workplace injury and illness are well established in countries like Canada, Australia, Norway, Japan, Korea and all the 27 member states of he European Union.  In addition 15 states in the United States, including California, require such programs. Yet many business owners resist mandatory workplace inspections and tighter safety regulations imposed by OSHA. Conventional wisdom claims that safety testing and workplace regulations, such as those imposed represent a job-killing financial drain on businesses. However, the results of a study conducted in May 2012 by researchers at the Harvard Business School, the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley and Boston University soundly refute those assertions. In fact, the study shows that OSHA testing can actually result in significant savings for companies along with reducing company liability. Reduced Employer Liability According to the study, workplaces in high hazard industries that had been subject to random OSHA inspections reported a reduction of 9.4 percent in injury claims. This reduction in claims translated to savings of 26 percent in workers’ compensation costs in the four years following the inspections.  These figures were compiled in comparison with a similar number of uninspected companies in the same high hazard industries. Significant Savings The average savings to companies that had undergone OSHA inspections was $355,000 US, according to the study. Further, savings were realized in workers’ compensation claims as small as $2,000 US as well as much larger.  The study also found absolutely no evidence that workplace inspections had a negative impact on company profits. In their original report, the researchers estimated that if the conditions of the study were duplicated across the entire country, the potential savings could total as much as $6 billion US to employers and employees, when compensation for pain and suffering are excluded. However, as a result of more recent research, the study’s researchers revised their estimate of savings upward in June 2012, from $6 billion US to $20 billion US. Objective Measurements The study was able to overcome design and bias flaws present in earlier studies by taking advantage of a 1993 California mandate that requires the California division of OSHA to conduct random workplace inspections. The study looked ad companies that were randomly inspected between 1996 and 2006, along with a similar number of companies that were not inspected. The number of injuries recorded from both groups of companies was drawn from worker compensation claims and other independent sources. By contrast, previous studies of this type had not used random data. Instead, all of the workplaces studied had been the site of a workplace accident or complaint. The information was drawn from OSHA logs, which often become more detailed as time passes.   For Further Reading
  • Harvard Business School: New Study Shows That Workplace Inspections Save Lives, Don’t Destroy Jobs hbs.edu/news/releases/toffelscience051712.html
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration: Injury and Illness Prevention Programs – White Paper osha.gov/dsg/topics/safetyhealth/OSHAwhite-paper-january2012sm.pdf

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