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Work Health and Safety

The Role of Accounting in Work Health and Safety (WHS) Governance (Pilot Project)

Team

Funding

CPA Australia,
SWA,
Macquarie University Enterprise Partnerships Scheme,
SIA (in-kind).

Collaboration

Karen Wolfe (SIA / ANSTO)

Goals

The research explores the role of accounting in WHS governance. This exploratory study seeks to identify: what WHS performance information is captured within different organisations and how that performance information is employed to inform operational and governance decisions.In essence, this study seeks a practical understanding of the current role of accounting and accountants in the exercise of officers' due diligence and WHS governance. The findings are expected to provide important insights to help inform the development of evidence-based strategies for improving WHS governance. It is also anticipated that the findings will identify issues for further, in-depth, research.

Method

Detailed case studies are being conducted in eight organisations to examine practices of WHS governance and the role of accounting in that process. These organisations range from very small (sole trader) to very large (multinational) organisations and span a range of industries including construction, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, entertainment, education, environmental and professional services.The findings are informing a series of four discussion papers (see Safe Work Australia website) and a final report on Accounting for WHS Governance.


Testing and Evaluating the Draft Work Health and Safety (WHS) Indicators and Guidelines

Team

Funding

Safe Work Australia (SWA) and ANSTO (in-kind).

Collaboration

Karen Wolfe ANSTO / Safety Institute of Australia (SIA), Safe Work Australia (SWA)

Goals

This research  extends the International Governance and Performance (IGAP) Research Centre's' WHS Indicators' research study. The indicators project focused on identifying key WHS indicators from the literature, describing their appropriate application and developing Guidelines to assist report preparers communicate WHS information to users both internal and external to an organisation.

The aim of this project is to test the practicality of the draft guidelines by seeking detailed feedback on the recommendations contained in the document and user perceptions of their practical implementation and usefulness.

Method

This researchis being conducted in two stages. In Stage 1, the draft WHS Guidelines are pilot tested via a series of case studies. These will permit an in-depth examination of the way users interpret and implement the document's recommendations. They will explore user perceptions as to the quality (relevance, validity, reliability) of recommended indicators and their feedback regarding practical issues, benefits and limitations arising from the implementation of the recommended reporting processes. This feedback will be instrumental in ensuring the WHS Guidelines are clear, relevant and practical.In Stage 2, feedback is sought on the revised WHS Guidelines from a much larger sample of potential users. Data is gathered through a series of workshops and / or webinars, each accompanied by a series of online survey instruments. A secondary aim of stage two is to evaluate the effectiveness of alternate methods for publicly disseminating research outcomes.


Developing a set of National Guidelines for Evaluating and Reporting Occupational Injury and Disease (aka: WHS Indicators)

Team

Funding

Safety Institute of Australia (SIA),
ICAA,
SWA

Collaboration

Karen Wolfe, (Safety Institute of Australia (SIA)), Safe Work Australia (SWA)

Goals

To explore the WHS information needs of key stakeholders; to identify practical limitations of existing metrics for providing useful information for decision-making; to consider appropriate WHS lead and lag performance measures and indictors for capturing and benchmarking WHS performance on a National and International scale; and to draft a guidance document that identifies those indicators most relevant to various key user groups.

Method

This project commenced with a detailed review of academic and practitioner literature to identify existing WHS measures and their reported applications and limitations. Additional information about stakeholder needs, contemporary reporting performance measurement practices was gathered through online stakeholder surveys.

This data helped identify key WHS metrics and develop a conceptual framework for WHS evaluation and reporting. A broad structure was then proposed for a WHS Reporting Guidelines document. Feedback on the proposal was then sought through a stakeholder engagement workshop with 50 WHS practitioners, consultants,academics and regulators.The research team then  drafted the 'WHS Reporting Guidelines' which aims to assist decision-makers in the collection and analysis of WHS performance data and to guide the inclusion of WHS information in internal and external reports.