Safety Groups - Everyone can profit when the best help the worst

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Construction Safety Association of Ontario

Summary Statement

The Construction Safety Association of Ontario has established safety groups of contractors and provided incentives for them to work together. Describes the process and benefits of having groups.

Safety Groups offer Ontario contractors an opportunity to improve safety performance and increase revenue at the same time. The program has been introduced on a trial basis by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) in construction and other sectors.

Safety in numbers

Companies participating in Safety Groups find safety in numbers. They pool resources, share best practices, help one another improve accident prevention performance, and, for insurance purposes, gain the advantages of being treated as one large firm.

The motivation to participate comes in part through revenue incentives. Companies in a Safety Group have the opportunity to receive WSIB rebates based on both individual and group performance.

Who's eligible?

Safety Groups must have a minimum combined premium level of $250,000 and include at least 40 companies. The companies must

  • be in good standing with the WSIB
  • participate for at least one full year
  • belong to only one group at a time
  • include at least 25% poor safety performers.
The WSIB provides information on establishing and operating Safety Groups. But it's up to participating companies to set and meet group objectives.


Typical objectives for a Safety Group might include

  • specified reductions in injury frequency
  • ensuring that good performers mentor poor performers
  • following an evaluation plan to gauge how well participants meet goals
  • taking advantage of CSAO products and services
  • developing hazard control and return-to-work programs
  • participating in health and safety training.

The important thing to remember is that Safety Groups are not launched and then left to sink or swim. The WSIB provides assistance through cost and injury data, evaluation guidelines, a tool kit for group administrators, compliance audits, and other services.

To support Safety Groups, the Construction Safety Association of Ontario (CSAO)

  • provides information that can be used to help define goals and performance measures
  • delivers training where requested
  • teaches firms to conduct safety profiles
  • explains hazard assessment and control
  • identifies injury trends
  • helps companies develop or improve health and safety policies and programs.

Participating firms continue to be individually experience-rated and eligible for WSIB rebates. But they are also evaluated collectively as one big company and can benefit from further adjustments. Awards are directly proportionate to what each firm pays in premiums. Individual firms may still be surcharged but the group as a whole is not penalized by surcharges..

Participating companies work together, sharing their know-how and experience. Benefits can include

  • reduced WSIB claims and costs
  • increased financial stability
  • improved experience rating
  • competitive edge in bidding
  • better employee morale and productivity
  • enhanced company image and reputation.

It's worth a serious look

The WSIB approved the establishment of ten Safety Groups among all industries. But contractors showed so much interest in the pilot program that five groups were initially allocated for construction alone.

Four associations have since proceeded to establish Safety Groups:

  • Hamilton Construction Association
  • Masonry Industry Employers Council of Ontario
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of Ontario
  • Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA).
Other construction organizations are taking a serious look at Safety Groups. There are five good reasons for doing so.

1. Expand Membership

Participating associations not only help existing members improve health and safety performance but can also expand their membership by attracting new companies to the Safety Groups they sponsor.

2. Earn Immediate Returns

All contractors taking part in Safety Groups have an opportunity to earn an immediate return on investment through lower WSIB premiums. Contractors outside Safety Groups can lower premiums by improving health and safety performance. But the process takes several years. As members of a Safety Group, however, they can reap benefits now.

3. Keep It Confidential

Safety Groups decide how sensitive information on injury frequency, payroll, and assessments will be handled and distributed. The administrator chosen by the group may be the only person who sees this information, which is used on behalf of the group generally but need not be handed out to everyone.

4. Train Where and When You Need It

Health and safety training is one way of making a difference in accident prevention. But that doesn't mean hours in the classroom. CSAO can help safety groups by delivering short courses designed to meet specific needs. Information for home study will be increasingly available via CD, Internet, and training kits.

5. Benefit from a Win/Win Situation

Contractors stand to gain a double advantage from the two-tier system adopted by the WSIB. Basically this means that participating firms can earn rebates based on both the overall performance of the Safety Group and their own individual records.