NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

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

Wayne B. Gray, Carol Adaire Jones

NBER Working Paper No. 3233
Issued in January 1990
NBER Program(s):   LS

We 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 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 under-estimate OSHA's total contribution to reducing workplace risks.

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Published: Review of Economics and Statistics, Volume LXXIII, Number 3, pp. 504-508, August 1991.

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