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In 1975 in a farmer's paddock on the outskirts of Western Victoria the ABRM program was born. Well , conceptually at least. Alan Bruce, founder of the ABRM program was attempting to sell haystack insurance to a wizened old farmer. "Before I can sell you fire insurance for your haystack, you'll need to plough a fire-break around it" Alan explained. The farmer replied "If I plough a fire-break around my haystack I won't need to insure it".

Ruing his lost sale, Alan pondered this simple truth. Managing risk was better, and cheaper, than buying insurance.

A few years later Alan Bruce applied this philosophy by suggesting that a large national transport company cease insuring its fleet of trucks and begin managing the risk instead (through careful driver selection, driver training and performance management). The results were overwhelmingly successful.

Building further on the same principle of risk management, Alan then helped the company 'self-insure' workers compensation, with an emphasis on training managers to manage the risk. Again the results were outstanding, reducing workers compensation costs by many millions of dollars per year.

And so the ABRM program was born (Alan Bruce Risk Management). Within the next decade hundreds of organisations would apply the same risk management principles to dramatically drive the cost of workers compensation down. In 2003 a new company, Ascentor, was formed with the purpose of continuing the successful program that Alan had begun. Alan Bruce continued to work closely with Ascentor, training a new team of risk consultants, until his retirement in 2007.

Today Ascentor is jointly owned by it’s four senior consultants. The development of internet technologies has enabled the new team of consultant to support over 200 companies each year with the modern IT efficiencies supporting the time proven methods of the past 30 years.


Ascentor believes that a company can achieve excellent workers compensation results when it manages risk 'in-house'. It begins when executives commit to holding line-managers accountable for day-to-day risk management.

Today, workers compensation management is often outsourced to rehabilitation 'specialists' or delegated to in-house specialist resources. The rationale appears sound. Workers compensation is complex and requires the engagement of specialists. Line Managers are better off without the distraction. Yet this approach usually fails and for the following reasons:

  • Successful rehabilitation and return to work of injured workers depends mostly on a sound relationship between manager/supervisor and injured worker. Care cannot be outsourced. An injured worker will assess whether or not the 'company' care for them on the basis of the care and concern shown to them by their direct line-manager or supervisor. Workers compensation legislation in all states and territories of Australia is empowering for injured workers. If an injured worker perceives that their employer has failed to protect them or support them then they are more likely to respond with resistance, which leads to poorer return to work outcomes and increased costs.

  • Line managers are usually in the best position to manage risk. Disciplines such as staff selection, induction/training, hazard management, housekeeping and performance management are best applied by managers at the front line. They are also best placed for the difficult task of selecting 'suitable duties' for injured workers and for ensuring that an injured worker is warmly welcomed back to work. Only line-managers can respond promptly to ensure that the best action is taken quickly, or even better, to act pro-actively when they see early warning signs.

Put simply, successful management of workers compensation depends on how effectively line-managers apply the simple yet powerful tools of risk management. Yet the role of the workers compensation 'specialist' remains vital. Workers compensation is technical and time consuming. Line managers will never become workers compensation 'experts' and so in-house resource (e.g. Return to Work Coordinator) should play an important role carrying the technical and administrative load. But ultimately they will be most effective as they guide and support line managers.

 For this reason, Ascentor seeks to strengthen the engagement of line managers with simple, yet powerful, tools of risk management. We seek to develop the understanding and commitment of executives so that they can promote line-management engagement throughout their organisation. And we seek to establish tools of financial accountability so that cost centre managers are held accountable for workers compensation performance on the basis of the one true experience reality -the cost of their claims.