4.3.3 Studies of economic outcomes Two of the studies of voluntary OHSMSs (Alsop and LeCouture, 1999; Yassi, 1998) reported economic outcomes. Both described events in single organizations, and reported results as time series.
Alsop and LeCouture (1999) described the introduction of an OHSMS and its integration with existing risk management systems by the municipal council of Manningham, near Melbourne Australia in the mid-1990s. The municipality employed more than 500 people, although downsizing and restructuring was occurring during the time period covered by the study.
The OHSMS, which was based on quality (ISO 9001) and environmental (ISO 14001) management standards and the WorkSafe audit which the Victoria WorkCover had developed (Alsop, 2004) emphasized common corporate processes as well as risk factors that were specific to individual business units. The corporate processes involved training, procurement and supply, hazard identification and incident reporting, risk assessment and control. SafetyMAP audits led to certification of achievement during the subsequent four years.
The time series data indicated a downward trend in workers compensation premiums over the period 1991/92 to 1999/2000; rates were reduced by 52 per cent, from 4.00 per cent of remuneration in 1995/6 to 1.90 per cent in 1998/1999. Premium rates of the individual business units were also compared to the industry rates in the year 1999-2000, with Manningham having lower premium rates (as a percentage of remuneration) in 19 of the 20 units. Although results presented in graphs suggest that these differences were substantial, no statistical analysis was included.
Alsop and LeCouture concluded that, “The use of a systematic approach to OHS management has been a success at Manningham – it has helped to achieve sustained results that have been desirable and, in some cases, essential for financial viability.” Reviewers noted that one cannot disentangle the effects of the OHSMS from those of the quality management and environmental management systems, which were being implemented at roughly the same time. There would be greater confidence that the decrease in workers compensation premium had resulted from the OHSMS if Manningham’s premium rates over a longer historical period had been presented (to eliminate the possibility that this decrease was just a continuation of a long-term downward trend), and if they had been compared to the industry rate over this extended time period.
Institute for Work & Health