International Symposium on the Challenges of Workplace Injury Prevention through Financial Incentives

Workplace injury prevention through financial incentives
Does it work? Can it work? What are the alternatives?:

In today’s competitive global economy, financial incentives are often seen by governments as an effective way to encourage workplaces to invest in occupational health and safety (OHS). But how well do these financial incentives work, and how can they be implemented to work effectively?

This symposium will provide a forum for researchers, students, policy-makers, injured worker communities, employer organizations, worker organizations and other stakeholders to discuss the social, economic and policy implications of using financial incentives as a mechanism for preventing workplace injuries. This international, multidisciplinary event will present the latest research on the ideal and actual performance of financial incentives, grouped around these key themes:

  • the behavioural incentives of experience rating;
  • workplace injury prevention; and
  • claims and cost management issues.

What do we mean by ‘financial incentives’?

Financial incentives, for the purposes of this symposium, refer to system-level fiscal measures to encourage employers to invest efforts and resources in injury, illness and work disability prevention. Specific forms of financial incentives include (but are not limited to) experience rating of premiums for workers’ compensation or state disability programs, and premium-setting modifications based on other employer characteristics such as health and safety certification or specific prevention investments.

This is in contrast to direct means of addressing OHS management, such as OHS regulation and its enforcement by state inspectors. Financial incentives are also used within regulatory enforcement, through penalties for non-compliance, for example. This symposium is not focusing on these direct incentives.

What are some specific financial incentive topics?

Financial incentives are involved in almost every aspect of OHS, from prevention strategies to return-to-work design. Almost every stakeholder deals with financial incentives: policy-makers help design them, employers integrate them into their business practices, and workers experience their impact in terms of their safety and well-being on the job.

Here are some issues that may prompt you to consider submitting an abstract:

  • If inspectors are not able to visit every workplace regularly, what indirect financial incentives ought to be considered?
  • How does experience rating of workers’ compensation premiums shape OHS management in practice?
  • What do studies of indirect financial incentives and OHS really measure, and how can research methods be improved?
  • What alternative indirect financial incentives are showing promise?
  • What are the strengths and shortcoming of different forms of workers’ compensation premium modification?
  • What are the benefits and costs of indirect financial incentives?
  • How can policy-makers balance the benefits and costs of experience rating with other indirect financial incentives?
  • What are the unintended consequences of financial incentives? How can they be analyzed and what can we learn from them?
  • What can we learn about experience-rating and other financial incentives from research beyond the economics literature?
  • Are there financial incentive programs that work well? Why do they?
  • What are the politics of financial incentives?

Keynote speakers include:

Harry Arthurs

Harry Arthurs

Chair of the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board's 2012 funding review, former dean of Osgoode Hall Law School and former president of York University.

David Walters

David Walters

Professor at Cardiff University, editor of the international journal Policy and Practice in Health and Safety and member of the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health research committee.

Alan Clayton

Alan Clayton

Lawyer, academic and independent consultant, with decades of system design experience in workers’ compensation schemes in Australia and New Zealand.

Les Boden

Les Boden

Economist and professor at Boston University, with a focus on describing the economic and human consequences of injuries and illnesses and identifying ways of minimizing those consequences.

Terence G. Ison

Terence Ison

Professor emeritus of Osgoode Hall Law School and recent recipient of the Ontario Bar Association Ron Ellis Award for outstanding contributions and achievements in workers’ compensation law.

Guest speakers include:

Marion Endicott

Legal advisor at Injured Workers Consultants community legal clinic, where she focuses on law reform initiatives, education workshops and development work with injured worker groups; recipient of the Ontario Bar Association Ron Ellis Award for leadership and contribution to workers’ compensation law.

John Macnamara

President of the Ontario Business Council on Occupational Health and Safety, and vice-president of health, safety and environment at Hydro One.

Featured speakers include: 

Hazel Armstrong

Barrister and solicitor with Hazel Armstrong Law in Wellington, New Zealand, and a member of the NZ Law Society ACC Committee, with a focus on Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), employment, health and safety, and insurance law.

Pierre Koning

Chief science officer with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment  in The Netherlands, part-time professor of labour economics at the Free University of Amsterdam, and a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); focuses on welfare-to-work services and disability insurance.

Ellen MacEachen

Scientist at the Institute for Work & Health; associate professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, mentor with the CIHR Strategic Training Program in Work Disability Prevention, and academic fellow with the Centre for Critical Qualitative Enquiry, all at the University of Toronto; associate editor with the Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation and past-president of the Canadian Association for Research on Work and Health.

Liz Mansfield

Research associate at the Institute for Work & Health in Toronto.

Kevin Purse

At the Appleton Institute at Central Queensland University in Australia, where he focuses on occupational health and safety, vocational rehabilitation, workers' compensation and political economy; served as director with the WorkCover Corporation and the South Australian Occupational Health and Safety Commission.

Seth Seabury

Economist at the RAND Corporation and associate director of the RAND Center for Health and Safety in the Workplace in Santa Monica, California; member of the National Academy of Social Insurance and associate editor for the International Review of Law and Economics; focuses on law and health-care policy.

Emile Tompa

Labour and health economist, scientist at the Institute for Work & Health, associate professor in the Department of Economics at McMaster University,  assistant professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, mentor with the CIHR Strategic Training Program in Work Disability Prevention, and member of the editorial board of the Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation.