Research Projects on Workplace Health and Safety

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.

Current Research

  • Examining the Safety Impacts of Experience Rating in Workers' Compensation

    The original purpose of experience modification rating in workers' compensation was to address insurer underwriting concerns; researchers are now exploring whether the rating also operates as an effective safety incentive for businesses.

  • Targeting California's OSHA Inspections

    California's Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducts a higher percentage of accident investigations than the federal agency does. Should Cal-OSHA allocate inspection resources differently among different types of inspections and among different types of workplaces?

  • Identifying Top Emerging Issues in Occupational Safety and Health

    Three emerging topics in occupational safety and health include promoting these practices in developing countries, exploring the implications of a changing workforce and changing work, and identifying ways to predict and prevent catastrophic events in the workplace.

  • Evaluating Disability Ratings and Workers' Compensation Medical Treatment in California

    Evaluating California's disability ratings and worker outcomes can help to assess the accuracy and consistency of these ratings, identify potential practices and policies that would improve both the quality and the efficiency of the medical care provided under the California workers' compensation system, and increase the efficiency of the medical benefit administration.

  • Does the European Union's Requirement for 'Risk Assessment' Reduce Workplace Dangers?

    Since the mid-1990s, after the European Union required all member states to implement several occupational safety and health requirements, workplace fatality rates in the EU-15 have declined more steeply than they have in the United States. Whether this is due to the EU's required risk assessments is not yet certain.

  • Is Being New a Risk Factor for Firms?

    This study examines the injury rate profile of new firms and seeks to answer the following questions: How do their rates change over time? Are the rates related to how long they remain in business? What policy initiatives might address the risk there?

Completed Research

  • States with Low Non-Fatal Injury Rates Have High Fatality Rates

    Apr 2, 2012

    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.

  • Are Certain Occupational Safety and Health Inspectors and Practices Better than Others?

    Mar 5, 2012

    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.

  • Evaluation of California's Injury and Illness Prevention Standard

    Feb 6, 2012

    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.

  • Assessing Quality of Care for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

    Dec 2, 2011

    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.

  • Designing Deterrence Strategies for the U.S. Department of Labor

    Nov 11, 2011

    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.

  • Do Employer Return-to-Work Programs Improve Long-Term Employment of Injured Workers?

    Sep 30, 2011

    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.

  • Examining Medical Care Provided Under California's Workers' Compensation Program

    Aug 22, 2011

    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.

  • Which Safety Standards Are Most Effective in Preventing Injuries?

    Nov 24, 2009

    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.

  • Integrating DoD's Occupational and Non-Occupational Health Services

    Nov 16, 2009

    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.

  • Preparing NIOSH Programs for External Review

    Sep 17, 2009

    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.

  • Effectiveness of Safety Mandates in Preventing Injuries and Illnesses

    Dec 19, 2008

    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.

  • Exploring Injury and Disability Among California Public Safety Employees

    Nov 19, 2008

    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.

  • Do Insurance Discounts Help Firms Encourage Workplace Safety?

    Oct 21, 2008

    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.

  • Adjusting Disability Ratings in Compliance with California SB 899

    Nov 18, 2004

    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.