It's a fact -- random workplace inspections help to improve workplace safety.
According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), many companies were arguing that these random inspections were doing nothing more than driving up costs. But according to scientists, this study should be used to further create regulation and inspection plans to make workplaces across the country safer for everyone.
Our Asheville workers' compensation attorneys understand that most workplace inspections are completed by officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Some of them are done by state-approved OSHA agencies. Unfortunately, these inspections are mostly conducted on companies or industries that have high accident rates, instead of being done at random. When an accident happens, OSHA officials step in to investigate. After these inspections however, accident rates typically drop back down to where they were before. But are the rates dropping because of the inspection or because of the alertness caused by the recently-reported accident?
To help get to the bottom of this, economists with the University of California and Boston University looked for various workplaces that had undergone inspection from 1996 to 2009. An equal amount had been inspected and not inspected. All of these companies produced "fabricated metal" materials. Of the 409 companies selected, researchers found that the random inspections did in fact weigh heavily on the safety of workers and the reduction of accident reports.
Within the companies that were randomly selected, the number of workplace injuries dropped by about 9 percent in the following 4 years. The companies that were not inspected saw virtually no reducing in the number of workplace accidents and injuries.
With this drop in accidents, the companies saw a drop in the costs resulting from missed work and various medical treatments -- by more than 25 percent. This concluded that random inspections will actually help companies to save more money in the long run.
But just to make sure, researchers looked to see if these inspections have any effect on sales, total earnings, employment or the survival of the company. And reports indicate that there was no effect at all.
It's all there in black and white: Random workplace inspections can help to keep workers safe, help to reduce the number of on-the-job accidents and can help companies to save money along the way. This is a win-win situation for everyone.
Each and every day, there are roughly 13 on-the-job fatalities in the U.S. In 2011, there were more than 4,600 people killed in the job. Although this is the third lowest annual total since the fatal injury census was first conducted in 1992, we're still far from where we need to be.
According to OSHA, there are roughly 2,200 inspectors responsible for the health and safety of 130 million workers, employed at more than 8 million worksites around the nation--which translates to about one compliance officer for every 59,000 workers.