General deterrence — that is, the potential to be inspected, cited and fined — is less effective in reducing injuries than the specific deterrence effect of an actual inspection, according to a study by the Institute for Worker Health and Safety
Citations and penalties do have an impact. Regulators need to "be in the field" undertaking investigations and actively seeking out cases of non-compliance for regulation to be effective, according to the study.
What did the researchers find?
For actual citations:
- There is strong evidence that actual citations and penalties reduce the frequency or severity of injuries. (This evidence is based on consistent findings from at least three high-quality studies.)
- There is limited to mixed evidence that the threat of inspections, citations and penalties deter the frequency or severity of injuries.
For OHS regulations:
- There is mixed evidence that introducing OHS regulations is associated with a decline in the frequency of injuries.
For experience rating:
- There is moderate evidence that the degree of experience rating reduces the frequency or severity of injuries.
- There is moderate evidence that introducing experience rating reduces the frequency of injuries. (This evidence is based on consistent findings from at least three studies of medium- or high-quality.)