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OSHA press releases can help curb unsafe practices: Study


A single press release naming a company that has violated workplace health and safety regulations can result in a 73% improvement in compliance by other facilities, a Duke University researcher revealed in a study published in the June issue of American Economic Review.

The study zeroed in on the effects of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s decade-long practice of issuing press releases following an inspection of a workplace that results in a fine of more than $40,000. Research showed that after one of these press releases was sent to the local newspaper, compliance by other nearby facilities improved more than if OSHA had inspected each of those facilities directly, according to a statement announcing the study.

“OSHA would have to conduct an additional 210 inspections to elicit the same improvement in compliance as sparked by a single press release about severe violations,” researcher Matthew S. Johnson, assistant professor at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy, said in the statement.

OSHA press release policy, put in place in 2009, was intended to publicize OSHA’s enforcement activity and reveal to the public those companies with high violations, according to the statement.

To study the effects, Mr. Johnson linked the archive of OSHA’s press releases to data on OSHA inspections to analyze the extent to which press releases about one facility affected the subsequent compliance and safety behavior of nearby facilities in the same industry, according to the statement.





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