How Can Workplace Injuries Be Prevented? The Answers May Be in OSHA Files

HRD-79-43: Published: May 3, 1979. Publicly Released: May 3, 1979.

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and state compliance officers investigate over 5,000 serious, work-related accidents annually. OSHA has information in its files on the causes of these accidents which could be used to develop accident prevention measures and to determine to what extent fatal accidents could have been avoided had safety and health regulations been enforced, what standards need to be developed or revised, and what violations cause death or serious accidents.

Coded information in the OSHA data system did not provide the detail needed to identify accident causes and trends accurately. Some relevant information was not collected or reported, and data items were categorized in ways that limited comparability. There was no coordination of data collection and analysis to ensure that the system met management's needs. Investigation, education, and training programs were not focused on the industries and occupations most frequently having serious accidents. Information from accident investigations was not being used to direct program efforts; as a result, some workplace hazards causing fatalities were not covered by standards.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should direct OSHA to: (1) define and designate data collection and analysis responsibility so that program offices' needs are recognized in data systems designs; (2) revise reporting procedures to classify and describe hazards and countermeasures more accurately; (3) list hazards warranting special emphasis in standards development, enforcement, education and training; (4) provide data to industries and labor groups; (5) collect and incorporate information on state accident investigations; and (6) require each major program office to report annually on its activities and achievements.

    Agency Affected:


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