Spotlight on article published in

Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health

IBI Spotlights call attention to important health and productivity findings from peer-reviewed work by external researchers. Unless otherwise stated, the authors are not affiliated with IBI, nor was the research executed on IBI’s behalf. IBI members are encouraged to obtain the original articles from the copyright holder.

What is the Issue?

A business case is often required in order for corporate executives to make financial investment decisions. This review investigated whether health and productivity arguments could make a good business case for occupational safety and health-related investments.

What are the findings/solutions?

Business cases could be improved by more clearly stating assumptions, factoring-in time horizons, including uncertainty and expanding benefits to include intangibles such as reputational damage.

Journal Citation

Verbeek, J., Pulliainen, M. and Kankaanpää, E. (2009) A Systematic Review of Occupational Safety and Health Business Cases. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health Vol 35 (6). pp. 403-412.


To conduct a systematic review of business cases made to increase investment in occupational safety and health interventions. Assess the arguments made and the measurement and methods used in each case.


Business cases had to include productivity among the costs and benefits analyzed in order to be included in the review. Business cases selected for review had to include an occupational safety and health intervention with results reported at the enterprise level. Of the 26 business cases reviewed, three had projected impacts whereas 23 were based on actual ex-post results.


Business cases on the value of occupational safety and health investments included one or more of the following: avoided sick leave, avoided medical costs, other avoided cost, productivity increase, quality increase.

Further benefits included the profitability of the intervention as measured per worker in the first year and over a longer duration pay-back period.


Guidelines on the best ways to make the business case for occupational safety and health (OSH) investments are needed. This guidance should be based on research that demonstrates which elements of the case making result in further investment in OSH initiatives.