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The declining effects of OSHA inspections on manufacturing injuries, 1979 to 1998

  • Wayne B. Gray
  • John M. Mendeloff

This study examines the impact of OSHA inspections on injuries in manufacturing plants. The authors use the same model and some of the same plant-level data employed by several earlier studies that found large effects of OSHA inspections on injuries for 1979-85. These new estimates indicate that an OSHA inspection imposing a penalty reduced lost-workday injuries by about 19% in 1979-85, but that this effect fell to 11% in 1987-91, and to a statistically insignificant 1% in 1992-98. The authors cannot fully explain this overall decline, which they find for nearly all subgroups they examine-by inspection type, establishment size, and industry, for example. Among other findings are that, across the years studied, inspections with penalties were more effective than those without, and the effects on injury rates were greater in smaller plants and nonunion plants than in large plants and union plants. (Free full-text download available at

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Article provided by ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School in its journal ILR Review.

Volume (Year): 58 (2005)
Issue (Month): 4 (July)
Pages: 571-587

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Handle: RePEc:ilr:articl:v:58:y:2005:i:4:p:571-587
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  1. David P. McCaffrey, 1983. "An Assessment of Osha's Recent Effects on Injury Rates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 18(1), pages 131-146.
  2. Chamberlain, Gary, 1982. "Multivariate regression models for panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 5-46, January.
  3. Wayne B. Gray & Carol Adaire Jones, 1990. "Are OSHA Health Inspections Effective? A Longitudinal Study in the Manufacturing Sector," NBER Working Papers 3233, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. W. Kip Viscusi, 1979. "The Impact of Occupational Safety and Health Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 117-140, Spring.
  5. Scholz, John T & Gray, Wayne B, 1990. " OSHA Enforcement and Workplace Injuries: A Behavioral Approach to Risk Assessment," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 283-305, September.
  6. David Weil, 2001. "Assessing OSHA Performance: New Evidence from the Construction Industry," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(4), pages 651-674.
  7. Robert Stewart Smith, 1979. "The Impact of OSHA Inspections on Manufacturing Injury Rates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 14(2), pages 145-170.
  8. Bartel, Ann P & Thomas, Lacy Glenn, 1985. "Direct and Indirect Effects of Regulation: A New Look at OSHA's Impact," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(1), pages 1-25, April.
  9. Ruser, John W & Smith, Robert S, 1988. " The Effect of OSHA Records-Check Inspections on Reported Occupational Injuries in Manufacturing Establishments," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(4), pages 415-35, December.
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