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NORA Economics Sector Strategic Goals

927ZJPZ - Evaluating the Effectiveness of OSH Program Elements

Start Date: 10/1/2010
End Date: 9/30/2014

Principal Investigator (PI)
Phone: (513) 841-4322
Organization: NIOSH
Division: DSHEFS

Primary Goal Addressed

Secondary Goal Addressed

Attributed to Economics


Project Description


Major strategic goals in the NORA Wholesale and Retail Trade (WRT) program are to reduce injuries/illnesses [especially musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and traumatic slip/trip/fall injuries (STFs)], in part, by assessing the effectiveness and cost-benefit of occupational safety and health interventions. There is some evidence that control programs built on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) elements of management leadership, employee participation, hazard identification and control, medical management, training, and program evaluation reduce losses. However, no evidence exists on the relative effectiveness of program elements compared to each other. Additionally, there is no consensus on the most reliable and valid approach to measure each program element. The evidence gap has been clearly illustrated by a 2009 General Accounting Office review which concluded that the VPP cannot be shown to be effective in part because valid performance goals and measures for such programs have not been developed. As a result, organizations have little published evidence to guide decision-making for the allocation of limited resources among control program alternatives that range widely from prevention to disability management. This critical research need was recently demonstrated when several large corporations and public entities (including the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation, OBWC) requested assistance in the evaluation of their safety/ health control programs in order to optimize their impact.


The proposed multi-phase study will test the hypotheses that increasing incremental levels of OSH intervention are significantly associated with the decreased incidence, severity and cost of injuries/illnesses in a large number of WRT companies and that a positive return on investment for intervention can be demonstrated. The project will generate WRT sector incidence rates for workers' compensation outcomes (e.g. case incidence, lost time case incidence, cost per full time employee per year) from 1999-2007 and describe industry trends and high risk industry segments. The project will determine the effectiveness and cost-benefit of a past sponsored intervention program (e.g. funded engineering interventions) in WRT from 1999-2007. The project will examine the association between survey-assessed safety/health program elements (organizational policies, procedures, practices) and Workers' Compensation outcomes in a large stratified sample of WRT companies from 2011-2013. The project will determine the effectiveness and cost-benefit of a specific MSD intervention in a multi-site prospective study at WRT companies from 2011-2013. The project will determine the effectiveness and cost-benefit of a specific STF intervention in a multi-site prospective study at WRT companies from 2011-2013.


This project will produce a Workers Compensation injury/illness trend analysis that can be used by WRT companies as benchmarking information to assess costs of work related MSDs and STFs and anticipate potential risks. This project will then provide a comprehensive study of a variety of OSH interventions being used in the WRT sector to assess potential savings related to reducing incidence and severity of work related MSDs/STFs. Finally, this study will identify crucial OSH program elements and practices with particularly high effectiveness and return on investment and provide WRT companies with an evidence-based OSH program evaluation tool to develop and improve safety management systems.

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