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