Research Finds That OSHA Citations, Penalties Reduce Workplace Injuries

November 23, 2015

A new study from the Institute for Work and Health concludes that citations with penalties from inspections reduce workplace injuries.

Researchers performed a systematic review to determine the effectiveness of the enforcement of occupational safety and health regulation in creating incentives for firms to focus on safety and health issues. While mixed evidence was found on the effectiveness of the general threat of an inspection, the study found strong evidence that actual citations and penalties reduce the frequency or severity of injuries.

Employers should be ready for an increase in OSHA fines, according to Kyle Meinhert. In a recent HNI blog on the subject, he said that this is the first time in 25 years that fines will be increased. The increase is the result of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Improvements Act of 2015.

According to Meinhert, “OSHA will first enact a one-time catch-up assessment that will increase penalties to reflect the changes in inflation from 1990 – 2015, with a cap at 150 percent. Current estimates using October 1990 to September 2015 CPI data (the latest data available) allow for a nearly 80 percent increase in OSHA fines for 2016.”

Fine increases will take place every year on January 15.

This study builds on the findings from several other recent studies showing that injury rates decrease at an establishment in the years following an OSHA inspection.

“This confirms what we have been saying for a long time – that OSHA inspections and penalties are important and effective components of a comprehensive strategy to improve workplace safety and health,” said Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. “That’s why we have made strong, fair and effective enforcement one of OSHA’s primary objectives in this Administration.” To better meet this goal, OSHA recently changed the way it measures its inspections to give greater weight to those that are more impactful.

Source: OSHA/HNI

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