Breakthrough change: understanding why and how workplaces make large improvements in OHS performance

Reasons for the study

We need to better understand the processes and critical factors involved in “breakthrough change” (i.e. large and intentional reductions in workplaces’ rates of injuries) in order to improve occupational health and safety (OHS) performance. Past research on change in the workplace has typically evaluated the effectiveness of narrowly defined interventions—and usually found small or no changes. In this study, three interrelated “breakthrough change” projects focused on rare occurrences of especially large OHS improvement over a decade-long period, and sought to understand the hows and whys behind this improvement.

Objectives of the study

  • To determine how often breakthrough change (BTC) occurs in Ontario firms
  • To identify and describe the critical success factors common across BTC firms
  • To develop and test a BTC conceptual model

Related scientific publications

Related interviews and articles

Related presentations

Project status

Completed 2016

Research team

  • Lynda Robson, Institute for Work & Health (PI)
  • Ben Amick, Institute for Work & Health
  • Siobhan Cardoso, Institute for Work & Health
  • Sheilah Hogg-Johnson, Institute for Work & Health
  • Cindy Moser, Institute for Work & Health
  • Kathy Padkapayeva, Institute for Work & Health
  • Michael Swift, Institute for Work & Health
  • Harriet South, Institute for Work & Health
  • Emile Tompa, Institute for Work & Health
  • Elizabeth Mansfield, Trillium Health Partners
  • Mark Pagell, University of Dublin
  • Harry Shannon, McMaster University

Participating organizations

Business Council on Occupational Health and Safety
Infrastructure Health and Safety Association
Ontario Ministry of Labour
Public Services Health & Safety Association
Workers Health & Safety Centre
Workplace Safety & Prevention Services

Funded by

Workplace Safety & Insurance Board of Ontario's Research Advisory Committee, Ontario Ministry of Labour