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Copycat tactics could cut company injuries

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A significant drop in occupational injuries would be attained by getting firms in the same industry to emulate those with lower injury rates, claim researchers in Ontario, Canada. This approach would also offer a means of implementation, by enabling those responsible for reducing occupational injury to encourage managers in poorer performing firms to adopt currently available safety strategies of their better performing counterparts.

A potential drop of as much as 42% in lost time (occupational injury) across large and small firms could be realised if all firms aimed at a target of the 25th percentile of the distribution for their industry, the researchers calculated. This translates to 148 477 fewer occupational injuries than the 351 533 injuries actually recorded. The 25th percentile was not the lowest target but the one likely to be perceived as realistic and achievable with current safety policies and practices in use.

The study used data from the sole insurance providers for lost time injury compensation in Ontario on all insured firms in 215 rate groups—companies in the same type of business—during 1998–2001. Injury rate within each group was worked out as lost time injuries/100 full time equivalent workers/year for each firm and the 25th percentile from the distribution within the group. Comparing expected injuries against actual injuries showed the potential savings.

Occupational injury rates are still very variable across western firms in the same industry. So the researchers looked to see how much rates could be expected to drop by applying a common benchmark to them.