Safety Intervention Grant Programs Can Be Effective in Preventing Workplace InjuriesPosted on by
Workers’ compensation (WC) insurers and other organizations offer grant programs to fund employers to install equipment and other engineering changes to improve workplace safety. Research provides some evidence that these types of programs can be effective in preventing workplace injuries.
As a key example, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (OHBWC) since 1999 has offered a Safety Intervention Grant (SIG) program where thousands of employers have been provided matching funds to implement engineering controls. A study by OHBWC and the NIOSH Center for Workers’ Compensation Studies (CWCS) found that the program significantly reduced affected employee claims and costs. Among affected employees, total WC claim frequency rates (both medical-only and lost time claims) decreased 66%.
In part due to this study, OHBWC quadrupled the annual SIG budget in 2014 with a 3:1 OHBWC to employer match. To illustrate the impact, a total of 486 employers received approximately $10 million in funding from 2003-2009, and in 2014 alone the program provided $15 million to 535 employers. Since 2014, the program has provided $75 million to over 2,500 employers, making it the largest sponsored engineering control program in the United States.
Using the Ohio program as a model, other states such as Missouri and Texas have developed similar programs. A subsequent RAND study concluded that the OHBWC and CWCS research directly influenced the program’s expansion in Ohio, Missouri, and Texas, and that between 2013 and 2017, this research was associated with $4 million to $7 million per year in avoided workers’ compensation costs, $7 million to $11 million of new streams of annual productivity gains per year, and from almost $700,000 to more than $16 million of avoided uncompensated wage losses per year.
More recent OHBWC and CWCS studies found that the Ohio SIG program also reduced musculoskeletal symptoms among workers who used interventions during heavy material handling  and that many grant recipient employers experienced reduced injury risk factors in construction  and through advanced automation in small manufacturing .
Many other organizations have developed similar safety grants. A list is provided below. Eligible employers are encouraged to participate in these programs where available.
- Georgia Municipal Association Safety Grants
- Iowa Municipalities Workers’ Compensation Association Safety Study Grant
- Kentucky League of Cities Workers’ Compensation Safety Grant
- Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Workplace Improvement to Safety and Health Grant Program
- Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry Safety Grant Program
- Missouri Employer Mutual Safety Grants
- North Dakota Workforce Safety & Insurance Ergonomic Initiative Grant
- Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Safety Intervention Grant
- Pinnacol Safety Grant Program
- Texas Mutual Safety Grants
- Utah Labor Commission Workplace Safety Grant
- Utah Workers’ Compensation Fund Insurance Safety Grant
- Washington State Department of Labor and Industries Safety and Health Investment Projects Grant Program
- Workers’ Compensation Trust Safety Grants
*Pinnacol Safety Grant Program and Texas Mutual Safety Grants added on 1/20/23
We are interested in your experience with and opinions on safety grant programs and if you know of others to add to this list. Please let us know what you think below.
Steven J. Wurzelbacher, PhD; Stephen J. Bertke, PhD; P. Timothy Bushnell, PhD, MPA; Alysha R. Meyers, PhD; Marie Hayden, MS; and Libby L. Moore, PhD; are with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Michael P. Lampl, MS; David C. Robins, AAS; and Steven J. Naber, PhD; are with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.
Brian D. Lowe, PhD was formerly with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and is now an independent consultant in ergonomics and workplace safety.
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 Wurzelbacher SJ, Bertke SJ, Lampl MP, Bushnell PT, Meyers AR, Robins DC and Al‐Tarawneh IS. (2014). The effectiveness of insurer‐supported safety and health engineering controls in reducing workers’ compensation claims and costs. American Journal of Industrial Medicine. 2014;57;1398–1412. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajim.22372.
 Miller B, Metz D, Smith TD, Lastunen J, Landree E, Nelson C. Understanding the Economic Benefit Associated with Research and Services at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. 2017. Understanding the Economic Benefit Associated with Research and Services at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health: An Approach and Three Case Studies | RAND. Accessed November 1, 2022.
 Wurzelbacher SJ, Lampl MP, Bertke SJ, Tseng C. The effectiveness of ergonomic interventions in material handling operations. Applied Ergonomics. 2020;87(7). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apergo.2020.103139.
 Lowe BD, Albers J, Hayden M, Lampl MP, Naber SJ, Wurzelbacher SJ. Review of Construction Employer Case Studies of Safety and Health Equipment Interventions. Journal of Construction Engineering Management. 2020;146(4):1-11. https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)CO.1943-7862.0001782
 Lowe BD, Hayden M, Albers J, Naber SJ. Case studies of robots and automation as health/safety interventions in small manufacturing enterprises. Human Factors and Ergonomics in Manufacturing and Service Industries. 2022. https://doi.org/10.1002/hfm.20971