Are OSHA Health Inspections Effective? A Longitudinal Study in the Manufacturing Sector
Wayne B. Gray, Carol Adaire Jones
NBER Working Paper No. 3233
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.
Published: Review of Economics and Statistics, Volume LXXIII, Number 3, pp. 504-508, August 1991.