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OSHA Regulations Having Positive Impact

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Despite the costs associated with regulatory compliance, researchers for the national academic journal, Science, found that occupational safety conditions in California have been improving in recent years.

According a paper published May 17, because of the federally-mandated inspections conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), claims for injuries originating from the California industrial sector declined by 9.2 percent while contributing to a 26 percent reduction in workers' compensation penalties in the first four years since 1993. That year, the Golden State required inspectors to compile data to investigate the effectiveness of the inspections. The Science results seem to indicate that the regulations do indeed work.

"The OSHA inspection itself affords employers an opportunity to recognize where their safety policies and programs aren't fully effective and, in turn, encourages them to take action, whether that means dealing with a specific hazard noted in the workplace and eliminating or lowering it or changing the way you communicate and train employees," Matthew Johnson, a doctoral student who co-authored the study, said in a press release published by the scientific journal.

The authors also concluded that firms which underwent inspections saved $355,000 in employee claims and compensation losses during the four year period.

Michael Toffel, the principal researcher behind the study, said that he was "surprised" by the size of the impact.

"Going into the study," he said in the release, "we figured there might be a small decline, but the effects are actually quite large."

A strong occupational health policy can save a business a substantial amount of time and money, by helping owners to avoid both employee litigation and regulatory punishment. By raising awareness, issuing protective clothing equipment and ensuring that all regulations are followed, employers can focus on growing and strengthening their businesses.

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