CHSW researchers conduct a wide range of research projects on issues related to workplace injury prevention, occupational safety and health, worker's compensation, and more. Below are selected projects, both ongoing and completed.
Studies that examine the impact of various safety programs may use either injury rates or fatality rates, but the metric chosen can greatly affect the view of relative occupational risks among U.S. states.
To determine what makes a good inspector or inspection practice, RAND interviewed Cal-OSHA inspectors and examined their practices. The one clear finding was that more experienced inspectors helped reduce injury rates at the workplaces they inspected.
California workplaces have been required to have an Injury and Illness Prevention Program since 1991, but it has been unclear whether the IIPP requirement has helped improve workplace safety. CHSW research found that having inspectors conduct more in-depth assessments and linking violations and injuries to the IIPP would have more impact.
By measuring the quality of care for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) in a large workers' compensation provider organization in California and assessing value to workers and employers, RAND laid the groundwork for ongoing quality assessment and improvement programs in workers' compensation settings within California and elsewhere.
To enhance the deterrent impact of OSHA and the Wage and Hours Division of the Department of Labor, RAND designed evaluations to assess potential strategies; recommendations included increasing local publicity and improving OSHA and WHD coordination.
Permanently disabled workers in California’s workers’ compensation system have historically displayed poor rates of return to work and high levels of lost earnings attributed to their disability. This study analyzed the effects of several large changes to the workers’ compensation system on return-to-work rates.
Because significant changes have been made to the California workers' compensation system since 2004, RAND examined the impact that these changes have had on the medical care provided to injured workers, using findings from interviews and available information regarding implementation of the changes, and then identified areas in which additional changes might increase the quality and efficiency of care.
OSHA citations of the general personal protective standard are followed by reductions in injuries, especially eye injuries and injuries where body parts are caught in equipment. Overall, however, inspections with penalties appear to have an impact on most injury types, including those, like those caused by overexertion, that have little direct relation to OSHA standards.
The Department of Defense (DoD) is considering moving toward a more integrated employee health system that includes occupational safety and health for active-duty service members. RAND compiled extensive information about the current system and requisite elements for such integration.
Like all federal agencies, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health must undertake regular evaluations of program performance. NIOSH asked the National Academies to assess 15 of its research programs, and asked RAND to provide analytical and operational support to help it prepare for the review.
In 1998, OSHA sought to require all workplaces to have a safety and health program but abandoned the effort. RAND explored what the existing evidence suggests about the effectiveness of a health safety program requirement and what new research would help to fill the gaps in knowledge and facilitate a more informed decision.
Public safety officers have much higher incidence and cost of injuries that result in disability retirement than other public employees. RAND research helped the Commission on Health and Safety Workers' Compensation and the California legislature in their efforts to provide adequate workers' compensation and disability benefits.
Some workers' compensation insurers offer discounts to firms that have safety plans. While an evaluation of the voluntary Pennsylvania Certified Safety Committee (CSC) program found that compliance did reduce injuries, most participants did not comply with CSC requirements.
California requires that the workers' compensation system use empirical data to assess the long-term loss of income experienced by workers with injuries to different parts of the body. This project summarized the average disability ratings and earnings losses for 23 categories of disability.