Study shows L&I inspections improve safety and save money

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TUMWATER – A recent study of a decade's worth of inspection data suggests that a visit from the Department of Labor & Industries can be good not just for a company's workplace safety, but also its bottom line.

Researchers with the Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) program, L&I's research unit, examined L&I inspection data and workers' compensation claims from 1998 through 2008. The study found significant reductions in claims and claim costs following a safety inspection or safety consultation.

But the greatest impact came when an inspection resulted in at least one citation. In those cases, the research found a reduction in worker injury claims of as much as 20 percent over similar worksites that were not inspected.

This week, SHARP Director Barbara Silverstein and Michael Foley, Senior Economics Research Manager for SHARP, presented their findings at a quarterly meeting of OSHSPA, the Occupational Safety and Health State Plan Association, an organization of 27 states and territories that have their own agencies enforcing workplace safety rules, like L&I.

The paper is also being submitted this month for peer review.

SHARP's study bears out what other researchers around the country have found and what SHARP researchers have seen in previous annual reviews of the data.

"Safety is not always at the forefront of an employer's mind. But when a significant event takes place, like a serious injury or an L&I inspection, it can really get their attention," Silverstein said. "This can lead to a greater recognition of what can be done in the workplace to reduce hazards, itself leading to safer workplaces and fewer injuries."

An executive summary of "The Impact of DOSH Enforcement and Consultation Visits on Workers' Compensation Claims Rates and Costs, 1999 and 2008" is on L&I's website and copies of the full report are available by contacting SHARP at 888-667-4277.

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For media information: Hector Castro, Hector.Castro@Lni.wa.gov, 360-902-6043.

Broadcast version:

A workplace inspection from the state Department of Labor & Industries really does improve safety. L&I researchers examined 10 years worth of data on both safety inspections and workers’ compensation claims and found that when an inspection resulted in at least one citation, injured worker claims dropped by as much as 20 percent over similar worksites that were not inspected. A report on these findings was shared this week at a conference of leaders of workplace safety agencies from other states and will be submitted for peer review this month. Visit www.Lni.wa.gov/safety/research for more information.


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