In simple terms evaluation is “the systematic collection of information about the activities, characteristics, and outcomes of programmes to make judgements about the programme, improve programme effectiveness, and/or inform decisions about future programming” (Patton 1997).

Safe Work Australia engages in evaluating programs of work and interventions to determine “what works for whom in what circumstances and why?” (Pawson and Tilley 1997).

Current and recent evaluation work

Intervention effectiveness

Safe Work Australia has published a Literature Review on the effectiveness of regulatory intervention. Overall relatively little work has been undertaken in either Australia or overseas to determine the effectiveness of interventions used by work health and safety regulators. Safe Work Australia hopes that our literature review can add to the world wide body of knowledge on this subject.

The Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities (HWSA) undertake national compliance campaigns targeted at specific hazards within industries identified as national priority areas. Safe Work Australia has assisted in evaluating some of the HWSA campaigns including:

  • Construction - Scaffolding
  • Manual Tasks and Moving Objects in the Retail and Wholesale and Transport and Storage Industries
  • Manual Handling & Slips & Trips in Hospitals
  • Guarding of Machinery in Manufacturing.

Harmonisation of Work Health and Safety

In 2008 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) signed the Intergovernmental Agreement for Regulatory and Operational Reform in Occupational Health and Safety (IGA). In collaboration with the work health and safety jurisdictions, industry associations and unions, Safe Work Australia developed a plan to evaluate the implementation of the harmonisation of the work health and safety framework and progress made against the objectives outlined in the IGA.

The evaluation is drawing on four main data sources including:

  • documents including Acts, regulations, codes of practice, policies, procedures, guidance materials
  • administrative data generated through the normal operations of the work health and safety jurisdictions
  • existing surveys and data sets such as workers’ compensation and coroner’s data; and
  • new surveys on perceptions of compliance with duties under the new legislative framework, regulatory burden and government efficiencies.

Earlier evaluation work

2008: A Review of Key Characteristics That Determine the Efficacy of OHS Instruments

2008: The Health of Nations: The Value of a Statistical Life

2004: How SMEs access information on OHS and Workers Compensation - a Sensis Report March 2004 (Archived)

2003: Evaluating Government OHS Interventions Workshop Exercise/Guide

2003: Improving Occupational Health & Safety Policy through Intervention Research Appendix A

2002: The Intervention Research Process in Occupational Safety & Health Appendix B

2001:Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems: A review

2000: On-the spot fines and preventative OHS behaviour

1996:Health and Safety Management Systems - An Analysis of System Types and Effectiveness

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