Successful businesses continually strive to be better. An essential part of that process is gathering data and using it to improve performance. This process is usually associated with production, profit and growth, but it can also drive up standards in health and safety performance.
Key Performance Indicators
One way to measure performance in business is to monitor the steps that are key to success. For example, a sales team might track the number of sales and new revenue generated, customer support might measure how long people are kept on hold, and the percentage of issues that are resolved. Such Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are central to the process of improving performance.
When measuring health and safety performance in a business, you want to measure the overall safety performance and how active the company is at preventing incidents. To do this the business will have to use two types of KPIs.
Lagging indicators track events that have already occurred and can be useful in identifying the causes of problems. They are the type of metrics used to evaluate the overall effectiveness of safety in a business, indicate progress toward compliance with safety rules, and also tell you if there have been incidents in the past, how many people were hurt and how badly.
The main problem with only using lagging indicators is that they tell you about what has happened, but not how good a company is at preventing incidents and accidents.
Leading indicators monitor part of a process and can be used to predict outcomes, ideally preventing incidents from occurring. They monitor steps in a process that will result in a good health and safety record rather than overall results. Leading indicators tend to monitor proactive strategies, for example, whether safety audits are occurring as they should.
One potential problem with selecting leading indicators is monitoring certain metrics when more relevant ones would be better. Ideally, the indicator should be monitoring impact. For example, instead of tracking the frequency of safety training and how many attend the sessions it would be better to measure the impact of the training by having a short test at the end of the session and recording the scores, or by monitoring whether attendees subsequently act in accordance with the learning objectives of the training.
Performance is monitored best if you use a range of both types KPI, each one tracking specific objectives while building a comprehensive overall picture when used together. For example, if a KPI shows no reported accidents, it may seem that the business is doing everything right, but if you also know that some near misses have been reported, and solutions have not been implemented, you will see a very different picture.
Possible Health and Safety KPIs
The Health and Safety KPIs that a business uses will depend on their goals and how they work. However, there are some KPIs that should be considered by every business as they can help build a picture of how well a company’s health and safety culture is managed. Here is a list of some health and safety metrics a business should consider tracking.
Number of Accidents Reported
A metric that is required by law for work-related accidents that result in a ‘reportable injury’. The business can decide whether to track other types of injury, but all data in this category can be useful. However, as has already been pointed out, it should never be seen as the most important metric nor one that should be viewed without considering other KPIs.
Number of Reported Near Misses
This is a critical metric because often many near misses will occur before an accident happens. Tracking near misses can be an essential preventative measure.
The accuracy of this KPI depends on reporting systems being in place and employees knowing how to use those systems and being willing to do so. It means having a culture where reporting incidents is encouraged and can occur without fear of reprisals.
This KPI should be used together with a means of monitoring any strategies that are put in place to prevent further near misses occurring.
Implementing Preventive Solutions
When managing health and safety, it is not enough to identify problems and plan how to implement solutions. The process of implementing solutions also has to be tracked. This tracking helps ensure solutions are put in place and could lead to a better method for implementing solutions.
Tracking incidents can also identify any patterns of similar incidents which could lead to more efficient and effective solutions.
All staff should receive the health and safety training that is relevant to their position within a business. It ensures employees are aware of the policies and procedures relevant to their job and it also helps build a culture where health and safety are taken seriously.
As well as making health and safety an important part of a business’s culture, maintaining employee training records can help a business comply with regulations and ensure individuals have continuous certification to carry out specific tasks.
Safety Audits and Inspections
Audits and inspections often happen in monthly, quarterly, or annual intervals and are an essential part of ensuring a business is working to the correct standards. Tracking when these occur, who performed the inspection or audit, and the main findings can build up a picture over time that shows whether a business is maintaining the required standards required by health and safety.
Health and safety measures have spending implications for a business. Like any other department in a company, there will be pressure to spend wisely. Tracking where the money goes and being able to justify expenditure or identify where money could be spent more effectively will help ensure the business has the resources needed to keep employees safe.
Other KPIs that may be relevant to a business’s health and safety include lost workdays, equipment breakdowns, average overtime hours per person, fitness assessments, average time to resolve issues, and employee perception of management commitment to health and safety.
The right combination of lagging and leading KPIs will help a business reach and manage a good standard of safety while helping to drive improvements and nurture a positive safety culture.
New Broom Training
New Broom Training provides Health and Safety consultancy services. Find out how we can help you measure your health and safety performance. We can visit your site and review how well your company is complying with UK health and safety law. Once our survey is complete we will provide you with a comprehensive report highlighting any issues that need to be addressed.