Measuring safety performance

18 April 2008

Traditionally, companies measure safety performance by using national result indicators. These are results from OSHA accident rates such as frequency, lost time, restricted duty, fatalities, first aid, and total cases. Other measures may include costs evaluated by your insurance underwriters' losses related to damaged equipment, workers compensation claims, general liability claims, auto claims, losses each year, losses the last five years, frequency, severity, experience modification rate, and many more.

It is important that senior management evaluate their national results indicators. Be sure the data is valid, statistically reliable, and is provided with ensured integrity. The problem with these criteria is that you may be measuring luck.

Is your safety program good? Or are you lucky? Unfortunately, this information is easily manipulated and is not a true diagnostic measurement. All the information is recorded after the fact and the information only measures failures and the subsequent results of these failures. It does not tell you why you are getting better or worse results. And it gives you very little indication of what is wrong or how to fix the results.

You may have all the key elements of a safety program in place, but you need to realistically look at your “safety culture.”Where are you at today? Where do you want to be? And how do you get there? A pro-active safety system obtaining safety excellence only occurs when supervisors, managers, and senior management demonstrates their values through actions, and their credibility by communicating with all employees including hourly workers to improve the system. All levels of management must be held accountable for their actions.

Employees, supervisors, middle management, and upper management should be held accountable for upstream safety activity and result measurements. Remember what gets measured is what gets done. A pro-active safety or business culture focuses on continuous improvement before losses occur. Focus on what can be achieved before the accident occurs. The best way to measure your safety performance is to use perception surveys and scored assessments or audits of employees at each level of management. Measure the presence rather then the absence of safety.

Traditional safety programs normally assign a safety manager to police the program, train the employees and provide feedback to management. A Pro-Active Safety System uses the Safety Manager to administer the program. Employees, supervisors and all levels of management participate in a safety system approach. This establishes a safety culture that is continuously improving, prevents accidents and injuries, sends your employees home to their families at the end of the day, and affects one of the largest bottom line costs your company incurs each year.

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