Yes, I really do love this stuff, one anonymous commenter says that injury rates aren't real and are contrivances of unions, the next one says I drank the Kool-Aid for trusting my own observations. This is fun.
First, Dilligas, the examples of high dollar citations for recordkeeping were from 10 years ago, I haven't seen any in the last several years. Second, in the last 15 months (since 1/1/08) I found 6 inspections with safety and health penalties >$500,000: GS Robins, $1.2M, A-1 Excavating, $700K, Broadway Concrete, $877K, Imperial Sugar x 2, $5.06M and $3.72M, RPI Coating, $845K. There are also several in the $300-499K range. Is that not enough inspections with high penalties? Too many? That's another debate isn't it?
To the first Anonymous commenter: It sounds like you and are thinking along the same lines, but you also bring up a good point which I didn't discuss: The reason for the drop in rates is probably very complex, and to say that OSHA changing our recordkeeping standard is the cause is almost child like in its simplicity.
To the second Anonymous commenter: You're wrong.
To the third Anonymous commenter: Just because I don't automatically agree with everything that is published by an academic who may never have done actual field work, especially when my personal experience says they are wrong, doesn't mean I "drank the Kool-Aid." Why couldn't the drop have been because of September 11th? I think an argument can be made that after the attacks employers had an almost hyper-awareness of what was going on at their facilities, which may include an awareness of safety & health. I am NOT saying this is true, I have no idea if it is or isn't, my point is that a change to our recordkeeping standard is unlikely to be the lone influence on any changes in incidence rates. Just remember there are lies, damn lies, and statistics.
To the fourth Anonymous commenter: Excellent points and a good next topic, I'll try to post something tomorrow (I have several thoughts on illnesses and OSHA).