Research and evaluation
Evidence-informed policy, programs and practice
This Action Area supports the Australian Strategy vision and outcomes by providing the evidence to inform national priorities, policy, programs and practice.
A robust evidence base forms part of the work health and safety infrastructure that underpins the 2022 Outcomes of the Australian Strategy.
Research and data informed the selection of the priority industry sectors and disorders for activities under the Australian Strategy enabling us to focus on areas with the most risk of harm and potential for improvement.
How does research and evaluation lead to better work health and safety?
The national research, evaluation and data analysis programs provide information about Australia’s work health and safety performance including:
- the numbers and rates of workplace deaths, injuries and illnesses and their trends over time
- the causes of injuries and fatalities
- workers’ exposure to workplace hazards and risks
- the management of hazards and risks including the provision, use and effectiveness of control measures
- workplace culture and work health and safety behaviours
- attitudes towards work health and safety, and
- the effectiveness of the Australian regulatory framework.
National activities will support the following outcomes:
- research and evaluation are targeted to provide the evidence to prioritise and progress areas of national interest
- Australia has an effective research and evaluation infrastructure and capacity
- evidence is translated to assist practical application, and
- the results of research and evaluation are disseminated and implemented.
Examples of national activities
Research, evaluation and data programs
Two distinct but complementary programs of work being undertaken by Safe Work Australia are informing the development of work health and safety and workers’ compensation policies and directions. The Data Program focuses on outcomes—specifically on the incidence and causes of injury, fatality and disease and the economic cost.
The Research and Evaluation Program focuses on four areas: hazard surveillance and risk management; occupational disease; attitudes to work health and safety; and evaluation of interventions.
Research, evaluation and data activities will concentrate on measuring performance using established datasets as well as developing new indicators and undertaking data collections. Activities will be set out in annual work plans approved by Safe Work Australia Members.
Translating evidence into practice
The strategic outcomes make it clear that it is not enough to conduct research and collect data. That information needs to be translated into practical advice and disseminated to workplaces. This may be done by Safe Work Australia, work health and safety regulators or other organisations such as industry associations. One way Safe Work Australia does this is by developing Codes of Practice and other guidance materials that are based on evidence.
When the evidence (from Australia or overseas) clearly shows a significant risk or a widespread work health and safety problem and there is well-established information on the hazard, risks and control measures Safe Work Australia Members will develop advice to help businesses and workers manage the problem.
Two types of data are used to measure the performance of both work health and safety and workers’ compensation policy: administrative data (in the form of workers’ compensation data); and new data collected by surveying those who participate in the work health and safety and workers’ compensation systems and through examining and making use of data produced by others.
Safe Work Australia works collaboratively with Commonwealth, state and territory governments and other organisations such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Cancer Institute New South Wales, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the Australian Cancer Council and the National Coronial Information System to produce a wide range of national reports.
Safe Work Australia also conducts or works with others on research and evaluation projects to collect new data to highlight issues of concern and to measure the performance of policies and government initiatives such as the harmonisation of work health and safety legislation.
Research evaluation and data case studies
- Helping business identify mental stressors
- Safe Work Australia – Mesothelioma Registry
- Finding answers – improving quad bike safety
- Health and safety at the nanoscale
- Sources of information