A new online assessment tool from the Institute for Work & Health (IWH) can help you gauge your current health and safety performance by benchmarking with your peers on a leading indicator of health and safety. With this information in hand, you can help your organization create a safer and more productive future.
Developed in collaboration with Ontario's health and safety associations and member firms, the assessment tool is an 8-item questionnaire called the Institute for Work & Health Organizational Performance Metric (IWH-OPM). The questionnaire is available at no cost, and completing it takes just five minutes.
"This project is about providing information to workplaces about their current and anticipated health and safety performance, which they can use to reduce injuries and illnesses," explain the project's principal investigators, IWH scientists Benjamin Amick and Lynda Robson.
Dr. Amick describes the tool as a conversation starter. "The fact that your workplace can benchmark its score against comparable organizations in your sector provides powerful information for making a case inside the organization. The next step would be to drill down, using either an audit or another self-report tool, to identify areas for improvement."
While filling out the questionnaire takes only minutes, developing the tool and benchmarking data represents years of research and analysis, with input from health and safety associations such as WSPS and hundreds of member firms. "The health and safety associations' OHS professionals were essential," says Dr. Robson. "They helped create and refine the questions for the OPM tool, collect data, and figure out how to make the tool accessible to workplaces."
A 2009 pilot of the OPM among 600 Ontario workplaces showed that it was linked to past injury and illness claim rates. That is, companies with higher OPM scores tended to have fewer claims in the past. A more recent study of 325 of the original 600 workplaces is showing that OPM scores are also linked to future claim rates. That is, companies with higher OPM scores tended to have fewer injury and illness claims going forward. "The evidence suggests that the IWH-OPM is predictive of future claims," says Dr. Amick.
To make it even easier for workplaces to benefit from the tool, IWH is now collaborating with WSPS on building a leading indicators interactive webpage with real-time updates. "We want to make it almost effortless for any workplace in Ontario to complete the OPM and get its results as well as the Ontario benchmarks," says Amick.
IWH would also like to continue growing its benchmarking database so that it can provide participants with increasingly precise benchmarks of comparable workplaces. Each completed questionnaire helps IWH to grow the database.
How you can put the tool to work for you
WSPS and IWH encourage all Ontario businesses to complete the online questionnaire. WSPS can help you translate the results into an action plan for reducing the risk of injury and illness, improving your health and safety performance, and growing your business.