What is the effect on companies of OSHA enforcement as far as future safety performance? One state has looked at ten years’ worth of records to find out.
Washington state’s Division of Safety & Health (DOSH) looked at the year leading up to a safety inspection and compared that to the year following the checkup. Its findings:
- Fixed-site employers inspected by DOSH had a 4.3% larger decrease in compensable injury claims compared to employers that weren’t inspected.
- Non-fixed-site employers inspected by DOSH had a 3.1% larger decrease in compensable injury claims compared to companies that weren’t inspected.
- When you eliminate musculoskeletal (ergonomic) injuries from the picture, fixed-site companies had a 7.4% larger decrease in compensable injury claims, and non-fixed-site companies had an 11% larger decrease.
Even when DOSH didn’t find any violations, the companies had lower compensable injury rates the year after they were inspected.
DOSH’s conclusion: Enforcement makes a significant contribution to reducing claims rates and costs in the period following a visit. (You can download a PDF of the study here.)
Of course, only a small percentage of businesses get inspected each year, and it’s often because of injuries, deaths or complaints.
But states offer free and confidential safety consultation programs to small and medium-sized businesses across the country, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. In FY 2010, OSHA’s On-site Consultation Program conducted over 30,000 visits to small business worksites covering over 1.5 million workers across the nation. On-site Consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations.
So here’s the question: Do you or would you use the consultation program to lower your company’s compensable injury rate? Let us know in the comments below.