Report: Safety inspections save lives with no downside

Some businesses seek to avoid safety inspections and moan about how burdensome they are when they do occur. However, a recent study of the impact of random safety inspections of factory facilities showed that the businesses actually suffered no discernible negative effects, while employees clearly benefited and the risk of workplace accidents went down.

According to the study, random safety inspections caused a 9.4 percent drop in the number of workplace injuries when compared to the average number of accidents at companies that were not inspected.

The study also found that the companies subjected to inspections did not suffer a loss of business or end up cutting positions any more than uninspected companies, showing that business concerns about the burden imposed by safety inspections is largely unfounded.

In fact, workplaces that were inspected had a 26 percent lower cost of combined lost wages and medical care expenses for reported worker injuries than uninspected workplaces. This shows that safety inspections, by pinpointing potential workplace hazards before they cause harm, may actually save businesses money in the long run by keeping their workers healthy and on the job.

The statistics were arrived at by comparing accident costs at 409 industrial workplaces that were randomly inspected for violation of safety rules with comparable costs at 409 similar businesses that were not inspected. The businesses involved included many in the metalworking and woodworking industries, where injury rates are relatively high.

The benefits of routine inspections to employees and their families, of course, are beyond dispute. Lowering workplace accident rates means avoiding excruciating pain and life changing disabilities in many instances as well as the tragic loss of a loved family member in the case of fatal workplace accidents.

Source: Reuters, “Safety inspections don’t hurt businesses-study,” Scott Malone, May 17, 2012