251730 Modernizing occupational safety and health enforcement: Improving OSHA's capability to prevent, detect, and control grave risks to U.S. workers

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 3:30 PM

Adam M. Finkel, ScD, CIH , Law School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Cary Coglianese, PhD, JD , Law School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Richard Berk, PhD , Department of Statistics, Unviersity of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Edward Emmett, MD, MS , Occupational Medicine Silverstein, Ground Floor, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Regulatory agencies established to protect the public all face a fundamental challenge: there are many more firms to inspect than there are government personnel to inspect them. For example, more than 50,000 Americans die each year from health and safety hazards at work, but the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can only visit about 1 percent of the nation's potentially dangerous workplaces each year. Improving OSHA's and other agencies' techniques for selecting targets for inspection could help prevent numerous unnecessary injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. A multidisciplinary team of experts in science, law, and statistics from the University of Pennsylvania will use cutting edge analytical techniques to develop and test alternative strategies for deploying regulatory inspection resources based on “profiling” firms and identifying those most likely to be exposing workers to unsafe and unhealthy conditions. The firm profiles will be based on financial, demographic, and other characteristics of individual companies, in particular their compliance and violation history with other regulatory agencies.

Learning Areas:
Biostatistics, economics
Occupational health and safety
Program planning
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss the insights that criminology can provide to the problem of regulatory enforcement targeting. 2. Explain the opportunities for OSHA and other agencies to reduce its "false positive" rate (sites chosen for inspection that are wholly in compliance) and its "false negative" rate (sites only inspected later, after fatalities or other demonstrable harms have occurred).

Keywords: Evaluation, Occupational Injury and Death

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Principal Investigator on the RWJF grant to perform this research, and because I was a senior executive at OSHA from 1995-2005.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.