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Review of successful osh benchmarking initiatives


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This report documents the collective output of research activities undertaken by the Institute for Employment Studies in response to a request from EU-OSHA to undertake a review of successful OSH benchmarking initiatives. The overarching aim was to review OSH benchmarking schemes that have been set up at sector, Member State or European level in order to assess the benefits that such schemes can deliver, as well as their limitations, and to identify the key factors of and main obstacles to their success.

Published in: Leadership & Management
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Review of successful osh benchmarking initiatives

  1. 1. Safety and health at work is everyone’s concern. It’s good for you. It’s good for business.Safety and health at work is everyone’s concern. It’s good for you. It’s good for business. Review findings and factors to consider when setting up a successful OSH benchmarking network Review of Successful OSH Benchmarking Initiatives
  2. 2. 2 Format of presentation  Overview of review methods  Summary of the schemes’ features that were reviewed in depth  ‘How to’ guide 1. Set-up • deciding the goals of the scheme • targeting members 2. Ongoing management • communicating with members • communicating with the outside world 3. Sustainability and forward planning
  3. 3. 3 Research activities  Scoping search  Short email questionnaire  Multilingual online survey  Interviews with EU-OSHA partners  Interviews with benchmarking ‘actors’
  4. 4. 4 Research outputs  Directory of schemes (<60)  In-depth case studies • 11 OSH schemes • 3 non-OSH schemes  Quantitative analysis of features of 25 schemes  Summary of common features and main findings overview  ‘How to’ guide for organisations
  5. 5. 5 Basic features of schemes: Location Country of operation N (25) Worldwide 6 Europe-wide 8 Finland 1 Germany 2 Netherlands (exclusive) 1 Netherlands and France 1 Spain 1 UK 3 Australasia (exclusively) 1 Other English-speaking 1 Total 25
  6. 6. 6 Basic features of schemes: Types of organisations involved Organisation type N Large for-profit enterprise (> 250 employees) 15 SME for-profit (<250 employees) 10 Governmental/non-departmental body 8 Social enterprise or other not-for-profit organisation 7 Consultancies 3 OSH specialist 3 Trade/employers’ association 4 Consortium of private sector organisations 3 Tripartite organisation 3 Consortium of private sector organisations 3 Employees’ association 2 Universities 1
  7. 7. 7 Basic features of schemes: Sector coverage Sector N Manufacturing 17 Transportation & storage 9 Construction 8 Education 7 Wholesale & retail trade; repair of motor vehicles & motorcycles 7 Information & communication 6 Accommodation & food service activities 6 Professional, scientific & technical activities 6 Agriculture, forestry & fishing 5 Public administration & defence; compulsory social security 5 Financial & insurance activities 5 Mining & quarrying 5
  8. 8. 8 Basic features of schemes: Data sharing & organisational input (1)  Key feature of benchmarking is the nature of information being shared  Important distinction should be made between outcome measures and process measures  ‘Hard’ outcome data can include accident rates and absence statistics  ‘Softer’ data comprises ‘good practice’ and can include risk management and incident reporting processes  A mix of process and outcome measures often appear together in the same scheme
  9. 9. 9 Basic features of schemes: Data sharing & organisational input (2)  Calibration of their own performance against the market is one of the motivating factors for half of respondents to join a scheme  Most common joining motivation for participants is to create a zero-accident environment; and one of the most common benefits cited is achieving improvements in accident and incident rates  But process-orientated data-sharing appears to be more highly valued by members, possibly because of the learning opportunities it offers  Face-to-face learning and networking opportunities also very highly valued
  10. 10. 10 Benefits of schemes Benefit to member organisation N Good-practice case studies 17 Accident/incident rates (e.g. DAFWCF/RIDDOR) 16 Process/policy documents 13 OSH management policies 11 Implementation of OSH management policies 11 Auditing processes 10 Communications regarding OSH 10 Implementation of risk management and planning tools 9 Accident/incident costs 8 Organisational structures 8 Risk management and planning tools 7 Employee behaviour 6 Staff competencies regarding OSH 6 Stakeholder perceptions of OSH 6
  11. 11. 11 How benchmarking information is presented and shared Method of communication N Meetings and conferences 18 Shared e-databases and/or electronic documents 16 Web forum 9 Hard-copy documents 3
  12. 12. 12 Top 12 success factors Success factors has been attributed to N Usefulness of the information or data gained 17 Exchange of good practices 15 Implementation of good practices of other participants 14 Ability to use data to facilitate change 13 Quality of data analysis 12 Easy and quick for participants to do 12 Ability to implement repeatedly over time 12 Synergy with other organisational schemes or activities 10 Level of industry support 9 Range of stakeholders involved in delivery of scheme 9 Level of industry support 8 Level of intra-organisational support 8
  13. 13. 13 Top 12 barriers to overcome Barriers that have been (or need to be) overcome N Onerous time or resource demands for participants 7 Level of industry support 7 Quality of data analysis 5 Inability to implement repeatedly over time 5 Lack of utility of the scheme’s data or information 5 Obstructive or over-complex/demanding legislation or obligations 5 Scheme's overlap with existing schemes, groups or activities 5 Usefulness of data 5 Range of measurements used for analyses 4 Inability to use data to facilitate change 4 Level of intra-organisational support 4 Level of political support 4
  14. 14. 14 Learning points for others setting up schemes 1. Set-up • deciding the goals of the scheme • targeting members 2. Ongoing management • communicating with members • communicating with the outside world 3. Sustainability and forward planning
  15. 15. 15 1.1 Set-up  Decide on topic area (tried and tested or new?)  Gauge interest through existing networks at low cost and relatively informally  Form a core steering group to develop and promote the project  Invite members to a kick-off meeting to plan the development of the project  Decide on a central point of contact for the scheme ideally this should be a trusted ‘neutral broker’ (lacking a commercial self-interest)  Note that lead and/or sponsoring organisations can include: • tripartite national bodies specialising in OSH • statutory (part-privatised) corporations
  16. 16. 16 1.2 Explore feasibility of free membership  Free initiatives are clearly more appealing to potential members and this should be a prime consideration  Where insurance companies are involved the scope for offering financial incentives can be explored • e.g. discounts can be offered to companies which implement an appropriate number of OSH prevention measures • should be done on a fair basis, so that smaller companies are not disadvantaged • it can be difficult to engage non-motivated companies with financial incentives, such as reduced insurance premiums, as they may never achieve the necessary standard
  17. 17. 17 1.3 Have a ‘vision of success’  Scheme organisers need to have an idea of what success would look like to convey to potential members. If this is clear it will help engage companies. For example: • those based around a ‘zero’ accident slogan, for example, provide a clear statement of intent • a radical message has the potential to raise the profile of the campaign, propel the dissemination strategy and sway management  Ensure that goals are realistic: getting this wrong could alienate potential members  Framing the potentially ambitious targets (such as zero OSH incidents) as a process or ‘journey’  Where appropriate, emphasise learning as a goal
  18. 18. 18 1.4.1 Decide on nature of membership: unit & company size  There is no good reason to exclude organisations on the basis of size or OSH performance  However, smaller organisations can lack the time/resource needed to contribute information or attend events. They can also be disproportionately affected by staff turnover  Schemes with broad (e.g. Finnish Zero Accident Forum) and narrow (e.g. PABIAC) sectoral bases can both work well  Unit of membership is an important consideration; it could be: • individual plants/sites/administrative units • whole companies
  19. 19. 19 1.4.2 Decide on nature of membership: identify members  When targeting OSH professionals, their authority/seniority is a key consideration — ideally they need to be able to implement change within their organisations or influence those who can bring about change  Prior identification of members by name is desirable, and a ‘black book’ of existing contacts can be a good place to start  Be realistic: most schemes can aim to recruit only companies strongly committed to OSH prevention  Aim for a large membership. Reviewed evidence suggests a ‘critical mass’ of membership is needed for activities to be seen as valuable by potential participants
  20. 20. 20 1.4.3 Decide on nature of membership: criteria for membership  Consider where ‘positive selection’ process is desirable, i.e. deliberate targeting of good OSH performers who may: • show more inclination to provide data • be more likely to provide useful data for benchmarking, i.e. data set a high standard in practice for others to follow  Recruitment of ‘aspirational underperformers’ is seen as important if the scheme is to make a real difference  A mix of performers at different levels maximises peer learning and support opportunities
  21. 21. 21 1.5 Attract a membership audience  Sell all the benefits to would-be participants, i.e.: • potential improvements to safety management processes • potential reductions in accident rates  Other advantages include: • improved company safety culture • improved OSH leadership culture • better internal communications and more learning opportunities • opportunities to network and strengthen relationships • potential empowerment of OSH professionals to lever improvements
  22. 22. 22 1.6 Decide on nature of information members are required to share (1)  Focus on features likely to be of most value to members: in general they prefer processes  Practical examples of best practice are highly valued by members (avoid data requirements that require complex measurement or analytical processes)  ‘Good practice’ is preferable to ‘best practice’: the latter can be seen as too prescriptive, especially if a scheme has a very varied membership  Decide on method of comparison: quantitative data may need to be weighted if small and larger employers are to be compared fairly
  23. 23. 23 1.6 Decide on nature of information members are required to share (2)  Reporting accidents can be a sensitive issue: anonymous reporting could provide a means of addressing this  Collecting data at company level can obscure important differences across sites and locations for large employers it is advisable to collect data at business unit/plant level  Ensure that data collection is not too resource intensive
  24. 24. 24 2.1 Create opportunities for networking & discussion (1)  Face-to-face personal contact within real-world environments can be key to a scheme’s success  Seminars and meetings provide valuable face-to-face contact for members and allow attendance of a large number of individuals in a neutral setting  Interactive and small group sessions can also work well, but ‘lecture-style’ sessions are advised against. For schemes with a large membership, annual events attended by several hundred members can be effective
  25. 25. 25 2.1 Create opportunities for networking & discussion (2)  Events organised thematically can work well to raise the profile of important and emergent OSH issues for members  Getting the venue right can be key to success. Hosting events in non-competitive ‘safe’ environments allows individuals to discuss contentious and sensitive issues  On-site demonstrations of good practice are viewed as particularly helpful benchmarking activities  Events organised by members can encourage a sense of ownership and help reduce a sense of dependence on the founding organisation(s) to move the scheme forward
  26. 26. 26 2.2 Be aware of members’ time/resource limitations  If there are too many bureaucratic hurdles, individuals can be put off participating in benchmarking, e.g. questionnaires and other paperwork and requests to compute complex analytics  Cost–benefit calculations are particularly complex. It should not be assumed that companies posess the necessary data or the analytics resources to make these calculations  Member organisations need to see a return on investment from the resource requirements of participation or they will disengage
  27. 27. 27 2.3 Be clear about how data will be used  When companies share health and safety data or descriptions of OSH systems, this can involve disclosure of information that is potentially sensitive for legal and/or commercial reasons. Bear in mind: • poor OSH performers may feel exposed to the scrutiny of, for example, insurers or enforcement bodies • better performers may not wish to share information about processes that may give them a competitive edge, but normally in the field of OSH companies are ready to share good practice information because this is not felt as an area of competition. • clarity is needed regarding use of data, if they will be anonymised and if they will be shared with other members or made public, so testing member views may help guide decisions about this
  28. 28. 28 2.4 Multiple dissemination methods  Benchmarking data only have the power to influence if they are seen, so dissemination to members and potentially outside the membership is critical  Newsletters and other online resources can provide efficient means of sharing and updating information  Production of tailored feedback reports can provide an incentive for participation. Could be undertaken at company/national level  Topic-specific resource packages can be produced, which may appeal to particular sub- groups of members  Online discussion forums, if well used, can stimulate change, as discussions about benchmarking data can be as important as the data themselves  Other potential online products include website repositories, which enable sharing good-practice guidance documents electronically
  29. 29. 29 2.5 Maintain momentum  A core committee should regularly convene to discuss the development and performance of the scheme and any emerging issues that require a change in strategy  Procedures should be agreed for refreshing the core team with new members on a rolling basis to address potential fatigue and disengagement from long- time members and help ensure the sustainability of the scheme  Participant events should be planned well in advance; circulating invitations early through multiple channels helps ensure good attendance. Scheduling activities at regular intervals sets a purposeful ‘rhythm’, which helps maintain momentum
  30. 30. 30 2.6 Secure commitment from the top  Company directors and CEOs should be proactively engaged in the scheme where possible  Encouraging organisations to make ‘pledges’ can be effective in securing commitment from organisational leaders, especially if this requires CEO sign-up. The pledge needs to sum up the scheme ‘vision’ and benefits clearly, and describe the actions that are required as a condition of membership  Bear in mind that pledges are not guarantees of subsequent action
  31. 31. 31 2.7 Publicise achievements  Award schemes can incentivise members to continue their membership and reward and promote good practice. They create a (photo) opportunity for promoting the schemes across the business world  Because of the need to link awarding to OSH processes and outcomes, it is important to ensure that fair data collection and comparison processes are applied  Achievements (such as reductions in accident rates among members) — where determinable — should be publicised. A headline presents an opportunity for member organisations (or an entire sector) to be explicitly associated with a good news story  Where ‘hard’ quantitative data are available, league tables can be published; this has the potential to capture the attendance of CEOs and consolidate engagement from the top of organisations
  32. 32. 32 3.1 Look to the future & be adaptable (1)  Maintain a flexible approach; it is important to be reactive to changing circumstances  OSH issues of concern to members should be monitored so that schemes can be re-orientated on new priorities as they emerge  There may be advantages to narrowing or widening a scheme’s scope. A change in focus can be useful when a scheme has been successful in a particular area (i.e. goals have been reached)
  33. 33. 33 3.1 Look to the future and be adaptable (2)  A change to the wording of the organisational pledge may be necessary if in practice it demands too much (or too little) of those who sign up  Arrangements for running the scheme need not be permanent, e.g. there may be agreement that a particular body and/or the funding it provides be withdrawn after a certain period  Be mindful that original organisers of a scheme can find it hard to delegate and hand over their leading role; employers can also be reluctant to commit their own resources
  34. 34. 34 3.2 Consider the potential for the initiative to become self-financing  Where schemes have been government led, a move to self-financing status can help ensure a sustainable forum resilient to political change  It may be possible for members to contribute a small fee, graded by company size. Discounted fees could be applied, such as where multiple units of the same company are members  Bear in mind organisations that contribute significant work ‘in kind’ may disengage if they are asked for an additional financial contribution
  35. 35. 35 3.3 Be aware of the potential for spin-off & wider networking opportunities  There may be potential to link the scheme to larger campaigns or international networks  Scheme leaders should be open to the possibility of sharing experiences and lessons learned, with peers striving to achieve similar aims in different sectors and geographical locations  Some factors can limit transferability, such as the wider national and political environment: • traditional worker–manager relationships and the influence of trade unions may vary from one national context to another and affect the effectiveness of various approaches to benchmarking • there is a possibility that OSH information may be seen as too sensitive to share in some industrial contexts and cultures