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A review of case studies evaluating economic incentives to promote occupational safety and health

Author: Elsler, D. · Treutlein, D. · Rydlewska, I. · Frusteri, L. · Krüger, H. · Veerman, T. · Eeckelaert, L. · Roskams, N. · Broek, K. van den · Taylor, T.N.
Institution: TNO Kwaliteit van Leven
Source:Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, 4, 36, 289-298
Identifier: 364426
Keywords: Workplace · Veilig en Gezond Werken · Cost-benefit analysis · Economics · External economic incentive · Occupational health and safety · OSH


Objectives: In many European countries, external economic incentives are discussed as a policy instrument to promote occupational safety and health (OSH) in enterprises. This narrative case study review aims to support policy-makers in organizations providing such incentives by supplying information about different incentive schemes and their main characteristics such as effectiveness, efficiency, and feasibility. Methods: The focal point and topic centre network of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work were used to collect case studies about incentive schemes aimed at supporting the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases in enterprises. Such incentives are rarely described in the scientific literature. To be considered for this review, studies had to focus on external financial benefits that could be provided as part of an insurancerelated incentive or a governmental subsidy scheme. Results: In total, 14 cases were included in the review: 6 insurance premium- and 8 subsidy-based schemes. Of these, 13 contained an evaluation of the incentive scheme, of which 7 use quantitative criteria. Three cases provided sufficient data to conduct a cost-benefit analysis. Most qualitative evaluations related to the successful management of the program and the effectiveness of the promoted measures in the workplace. Regarding the latter, quantitative criteria covered accident rates, sick leave, and general improvement in working conditions. The cost-benefit analyses all resulted in a positive payout ratio, ranging from €1.01-4.81 return for every €1 invested. Conclusions: Generally, we found economic incentive schemes to be feasible and reasonably effective. However, analysis regarding the efficiency of such schemes is scarce and our evaluation of the cost-benefit analysis had to rely on few cases that, nevertheless, delivered positive results for large samples. Besides this finding, our study also revealed deficits in the quality of evaluations. In order to enable policy-makers to make well-informed decisions about public investments in OSH, better standards for reporting and evaluating incentive schemes are needed. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.