Ontario firm uses OLIP to track health and safety in suppliers

Real estate services company shares story of how it puts leading indicators to use

Published: August 10, 2014

The Ontario Leading Indicators Project (OLIP) is aimed at helping workplaces identify factors affecting their risk of injury, benchmark against their peers, and take preventive steps to reduce this risk. One Ontario organization participating in this Institute for Work & Health (IWH) project has also found OLIP to be a valuable tool for assessing subcontractors’ health and safety performance.

Brookfield Johnson Controls is a real estate services company managing 10,000 facilities and properties across Canada. With a staff of 1,900, this firm headquartered in Markham, Ont., also relies on 3,500 subcontracting companies across Canada to perform services.

Traditionally, the company has used lagging indicators to assess OHS performance of subcontractors. The challenge with these is a single critical incident can drastically affect the subcontractor’s ability to win new business from larger clients, said Rich Coleman, national director for business continuity and quality, health, safety, security and environment. So what often happens is these companies will fold and start under a new name. Or they try to hide the metric.

As a result, the company in recent years has started to use leading indicators, including parts of OLIP, to assess subcontractors. Supply firms that don’t do well are put under review, during which time Brookfield will work with them to help improve their programs, said Coleman, who was speaking at a seminar on the OLIP project at the Partners in Prevention conference put on by Workplace Safety & Prevention Services in April 2014.

The company has moved toward increasing use of leading indicators internally as well. Until recently, it has had to rely on its own data to benchmark different parts of the firm on health and safety. We’ve always gone internal because we don’t have the ability to get industry benchmarks. It’s tough to partner up with your competition to get good data, said Coleman.

Participating in OLIP has enabled Brookfield to do just that. It’s really nice to be able to benchmark yourself against what’s happening out there in the industry, he added.

I really urge anyone with the opportunity to participate in this project. It has provided us with a rare opportunity to benchmark outside our company walls. We hope for ongoing collaboration to find leading indicators. And, really, it's going to take community involvement to do that.