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Are OSHA Health Inspections Effective? A Longitudinal Study in the Manufacturing Sector


  • Gray, Wayne B
  • Jones, Carol Adaire


The authors examine the impact of OSHA health inspections on compliance with agency regulations in the manufacturing sector, with a unique plant-level dataset of inspection and compliance behavior during 1972-1983, the first twelve years of OSHA enforcement operations. Two major findings are robust across the range of linear and count-distribution models estimated in the paper: (1) the number of citations and the number of violations of worker exposure restrictions decrease with additional health inspections in manufacturing plants; and (2) the first health inspection has the strongest impact. The results suggest that prior research focusing on the limited impact of OSHA safety regulations may underestimate OSHA's total contribution to reducing workplace risks. Copyright 1991 by MIT Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Gray, Wayne B & Jones, Carol Adaire, 1991. "Are OSHA Health Inspections Effective? A Longitudinal Study in the Manufacturing Sector," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(3), pages 504-508, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:73:y:1991:i:3:p:504-08

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Peter S. Barth & H. Allan Hunt, 1980. "Workers' Compensation and Work-Related Illnesses and Diseases," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number psbhah1980, November.
    2. Wayne B. Gray & Carol Adaire Jones, 1989. "Longitudinal Patterns of Compliance with OSHA Health and Safety Regulations in the Manufacturing Sector," NBER Working Papers 3213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Ann Fisher & Lauraine G. Chestnut & Daniel M. Violette, 1989. "The value of reducing risks of death: A note on new evidence," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(1), pages 88-100.
    4. 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.
    5. Hausman, Jerry & Hall, Bronwyn H & Griliches, Zvi, 1984. "Econometric Models for Count Data with an Application to the Patents-R&D Relationship," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(4), pages 909-938, July.
    6. 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.
    7. Wayne Gray & John T. Scholz, 1989. "A Behavioral Approach to Compliance: OSHA Enforcement's Impact on Workplace Accidents," NBER Working Papers 2813, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2004. "Changes in the Value of Life, 1940--1980," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 29(2), pages 159-180, September.
    2. Earnhart, Dietrich, 2004. "Regulatory factors shaping environmental performance at publicly-owned treatment plants," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 655-681, July.
    3. Kjetil Telle, 2012. "Monitoring and enforcement of environmental regulations. Lessons from a natural field experiment in Norway," Discussion Papers 680, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    4. Wayne B. Gray & Jay P. Shimshack, 2011. "The Effectiveness of Environmental Monitoring and Enforcement: A Review of the Empirical Evidence," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 5(1), pages 3-24, Winter.
    5. Telle, Kjetil, 2013. "Monitoring and enforcement of environmental regulations," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 24-34.
    6. Nadeau, Louis W., 1997. "EPA Effectiveness at Reducing the Duration of Plant-Level Noncompliance," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 54-78, September.
    7. Stephen Finger & Shanti Gamper-Rabindran, 2013. "Testing the effects of self-regulation on industrial accidents," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 43(2), pages 115-146, April.
    8. Earnhart, Dietrich & Segerson, Kathleen, 2012. "The influence of financial status on the effectiveness of environmental enforcement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 670-684.
    9. Peter Matthews, 2002. "Unemployment Insurance," "Workers' Compensation" and "The OSH Act," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0224, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
    10. Bauer, Thomas K. & Million, Andreas & Rotte, Ralph & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 1998. "Immigration Labor and Workplace Safety," IZA Discussion Papers 16, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Gonzalez, Fidel & Leipnik, Mark & Mazumder, Diya, 2013. "How much are urban residents in Mexico willing to pay for cleaner air?," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 18(03), pages 354-379, June.
    12. Juergen Jung & Michael D. Makowsky, 2012. "Regulatory Enforcement, Politics, and Institutional Distance: OSHA Inspections 1990-2010," Working Papers 2012-02, Towson University, Department of Economics, revised Apr 2013.
    13. Juergen Jung & Michael Makowsky, 2014. "The determinants of federal and state enforcement of workplace safety regulations: OSHA inspections 1990–2010," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 1-33, February.
    14. Michael W. Toffel & Jodi L. Short, 2011. "Coming Clean and Cleaning Up: Does Voluntary Self-Reporting Indicate Effective Self-Policing?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(3), pages 609-649.
    15. Wayne B. Gray & John Mendeloff, 2002. "The Declining Effects of OSHA Inspections on Manufacturing Injuries: 1979 to 1998," NBER Working Papers 9119, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Markus Kitzmueller & Jay Shimshack, 2012. "Economic Perspectives on Corporate Social Responsibility," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(1), pages 51-84, March.

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