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 focus on rare occurrences of especially large OHS improvement over a decade-long period, and seek to understand the hows and whys behind this improvement.

Objectives of the study

  • Determine how often breakthrough change (BTC) occurs in Ontario firms
  • Identify and describe the critical success factors common across BTC firms
  • Develop and test a BTC conceptual model

Anticipated results/impact

Understanding the critical success factors in BTC can assist employers, health and safety associations, joint health and safety committees, the Ontario Ministry of Labour and other prevention authorities in designing strategies and programs to improve health and safety in the workplace.

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Project status

Completed 2016

Research team

Participating organizaitons

  • 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