Newly published workplace safety models help business safety professionals tell 'safety pays' story

August 19, 2005

Itasca, IL (August 19, 2005) - Tools for assisting organizations in their efforts to more accurately calculate, analyze, interpret and communicate the costs and benefits of workplace safety and health programs are featured as part of published proceedings released on July 29th in the National Safety Council's Journal of Safety Research (JSR).

The models, which range from individualized approaches for small businesses in the Netherlands, to a structured method for use at garment factories in Central America, to a highly sophisticated computerized system used in corporate settings in the United States, were presented at the "Economic Evaluation of Health and Safety Interventions at the Company Level Conference" held in Nov. 2004.

"These new economic tools will be essential in helping both small and large businesses see the true impact of their health and safety initiatives and motivate the business leadership to continue to improve their safety performance." said Marilyn Fingerhut, Ph.D., National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. "It is our hope that the experience of these companies will provide us with information that can further our own understanding of how these tools can be applied world wide."

Sponsored by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the World Health Organization (WHO), the conference attracted more than 60 attendees from government agencies, public and private research organizations, academic institutions, private industry and worker groups from different parts of the world. The group reviewed existing tools for conducting economic evaluations of efforts and initiatives designed to improve working conditions in businesses of all sizes and throughout the world.

"We believe these featured safety assessments will be a tremendous help to companies because they provide both guidelines for helping them establish benchmarks for support and improvement of worker safety and health initiatives, as well as clearly demonstrate that safer workplaces truly benefits everyone," said Dr. Gerry Eijkemans, Ph.D., Occupational and Environmental Health Program, World Health Organization.

National Safety Council/Journal of Safety Research The Productivity Assessment Tool, developed by Maurice Oxenburgh, BSc, PhD, FESA, Australia, is a computer-based cost benefit analysis model for interpreting the financial impact of workplace safety and health initiatives.

The CERSSO Tool Kit, was developed by Rafael Amador Rodezno, MD, MPH., MSc, Nicaragua, for use in Central American garment factories. The model integrates risk assessments, cause-effect relationships, decision making, direct and indirect costs and savings, and calculating cost-benefit ratios to measure the financial rewards of investing in occupational safety and health.

Participation for Understanding: An Interactive Method, developed by Ernst Koningsveld, The Netherlands, promotes a more user-friendly model for measuring safety and health effectiveness that includes engaging workers, managers and health and safety experts in discussions about costs, efforts, benefits and effectiveness of prevention efforts to ensure that outcomes are understood by all involved.

The Potential Method: An economic evaluation tool, developed for use in Finland and Sweden by Dr. Monica Bergstrom, Finland, offers a valid economic calculation for measuring the effect of safety and health on production that reflects changes in the work environment. The model allows for more than 300 variables but requires only about 12 to obtain an economic analysis of a change in working conditions.

Net-Cost Model for Workplace Interventions, developed for WHO by Supriya Lahiri, PhD, United States, is an approach for the economic evaluation of efforts to reduce work-related low back pain. The study provides a simple framework for estimating the net economic costs of investments in ergonomic interventions at the company level.

Return on Health, Safety and Environmental Assessments (ROHSEI), developed by ORC and presented by Joanne B. Linhard, ORC Worldwide, Washington D.C., is a process and supporting tool set developed for use by occupational health, safety and environmental professionals and others to provide a comprehensive look at investment decisions as well as answer such key questions as, "What SH&E investments should we make?" "When should we make them?" "Which investments create the greatest value to the organization?" And so on. More than 200 companies, government agencies and educational institutions have been trained in the ROHSEI process since the mid 90s.
-end-
To access these articles, visit Elsevier's Science Direct at www.sciencedirect.com and enter the keywords: Journal of Safety Research, Volume 36, Number 3.

National Safety Council

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