A new estimate of the impact of OSHA inspections on manufacturing injury rates, 1998-2005

Am J Ind Med. 2012 Nov;55(11):964-75. doi: 10.1002/ajim.22062. Epub 2012 May 7.


Background: A prior study indicated that the effect of OSHA inspections on lost workday injuries had declined from 1979 through 1998. This study provides an updated estimate for 1998-2005.

Methods: Injury data from the Pennsylvania workers' compensation program were linked with employment data from unemployment compensation records to calculate lost-time rates for single-establishment manufacturing firms with more than 10 employees. These rates were linked to OSHA inspection findings. The RAND Human Subjects Protection Committee determined that this study was exempt from review.

Results: Inspections with penalties reduced injuries by an average of 19-24% annually in the 2 years following the inspection. These effects were not found for workplaces with fewer than 20 or more than 250 employees or for inspections without penalties.

Conclusions: These findings should be generalizable to the 29 states where federal OSHA directly enforces standards. They suggest that the impact of inspections has increased from the 1990s.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Industry / statistics & numerical data*
  • Occupational Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pennsylvania / epidemiology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Unemployment / statistics & numerical data
  • United States / epidemiology
  • United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • Workers' Compensation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*