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Federal inspections have positive impacts on safety with few costs

There are some in Colorado who may doubt the effectiveness of federal safety inspections, unsure about whether they really protect workers from dangerous accidents. A new study has shown, however, that visits by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration reduces the risk of workplace injuries and have relatively few costs to companies.

Though the researchers who conducted the study recognize that it was limited in scope and needs to be expanded before making widespread generalizations, they believe there is some proof that safety inspections will help to prevent injuries. In many cases, employers learned about areas in which they could improve. In some situations the OSHA inspectors merely reminded companies to follow the safety protocols they had put in place.

Researchers also determined that inspections lowered the number of injury claims by 9.4 percent for four years after OSHA examined a workplace.

While there are some who criticize the study, it is clear that no one is condoning dangerous workplaces. Employers have a duty to provide a safe and low-risk work environment; failing to do so could lead to workplace injuries and an increase in workers' compensation claims. When a Denver employee is hurt on the job, he or she can seek compensation for his or her medical bills and the wages lost while recovering.

It is uncertain whether this study will be expanded to look at more states and across more industries, but for now federal researchers believe that OSHA inspections will have very little financial impact while working to create safer environments for employees.

Source: HealthDay, "OSHA's Safety Tests Protect Workers at Little Cost: Study," Steven Reinberg, May 17, 2012

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