12.06.2012

OSHA Doesn't Kill Jobs. It Stops Jobs from Killing Workers

A landmark new study by business school economists at the University of
California and Harvard University confirms that OSHA's inspections not only
prevent workers from getting hurt on the job, they also save billions of
dollars for employers through reduced workers' compensation costs.

The study, entitled "Randomized Government Safety Inspections Reduce Worker
Injuries with No Detectable Job Loss," appeared in the top scientific journal
Science and reports that workplace injury claims dropped 9.4% at businesses in
the four years following a randomized OSHA inspection, compared with employers
who were not inspected. Those same employers also saved an average of 26% on
workers' compensation costs, compared to similar companies who were not
inspected. This means that the average employer saved $355,000 (in 2011
dollars) as a result of an OSHA inspection. Benefits were observed among both
small and large employers. Nationwide, these savings to employers amount to an
estimated six billion dollars.

As researchers David Levine, Michael Toffel, and Matthew Johnson explain, "The
benefits of a randomized safety inspection appear to be substantial. These
results do not support the hypothesis that OSHA regulations and inspections on
average have little value in improving health and safety." Furthermore, the
researchers found "no evidence that these improvements came at the expense of
employment, sales, credit ratings, or firm survival."

Following an interview with study co-author and assistant professor Michael
Toffel, Michael Blanding of the Harvard Business School newsletter described
the enormity of the findings:

[T]hose who charge that OSHA regulations cost business money have it completely
wrong. In fact, the regulations save money. The magnitude of the results
surprised even Toffel and Levine, who expected perhaps a small savings if any.
But the strength of the findings, they say, should persuade even skeptical
antiregulatory critics.

And Assistant Secretary for OSHA David Michaels responded to the new findings
in an entry on the Department of Labor blog, writing:

The fact is OSHA inspections save lives and jobs at the same time. This is not
a surprise to me. I regularly hear from employers, both large and small, that
they value OSHA inspections and treat the inspector as an additional, expert
set of eyes. The findings should finally put an end to the criticisms that OSHA
inspections make running a business more expensive without adding value. The
results are in: OSHA saves lives and jobs!

More info


AplusA-online.de - Source: U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration