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

Gao ID: HRD-79-43 May 3, 1979

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.


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