There is a trend in many countries towards reorienting occupational health and safety practices to help reduce the increasing economic and social costs of work-related and non-work-related ill-health and work disability. There is increasing concern that enterprises may seek to pass on or "externalize" the costs of work-related injuries and ill health, even when the enterprise itself is responsible for causing the costs as a result of its poor health and safety performance. Internalization of such costs can help to reduce this economic burden on society. Economic appraisal in this context is the process of assessing and establishing the economic effects of effective health and safety practices in enterprises.
Economic appraisal consists of a wide range of measures, that may vary from evaluating the total cost to society of poor environmental performance in industry, to forecasting the economic returns of a better workplace in an enterprise. Economic appraisal is a useful tool to stimulate environmental performance, for a number of reasons. It can increase awareness in both society and industry by highlighting the importance of the economic effects of health and environmental management; it can support decision-making at the national and industry levels, by helping to structure discussion; and, at the national level, it can support the development of structures in social security and legislative authorities that offer incentives to enterprises to improve health and environment performance. National financial, fiscal and insurance systems may provide incentives for the implementation and demonstration of good practice in enterprises.