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Safety Performance Measurement

Going Beyond Lost time Injuries

 “You can’t manage what you can’t measure” – Drucker

 "If we are in the business of promoting OHS, why do we use failures as the measure of our success?"  - Rose

Today, many industries and indeed regulatory agencies still focus completely on common safety performance measures such as lost time injury frequency rate and number of lost days in an effort to measure safety performance. Unfortunately, such indicators just measure failure to control and give no indication of risk management effort, which may take time to come to fruition. Such outcome measures, when used to judge safety performance, are known as lagging indicators.

Use of Lagging Indicators - Lost time injury frequency rate, severity rate, lost days etc.

 

Advantages

Disadvantages

  • Motivate management

  • An accepted standard

  • Long history of use

  • Used by government agencies, industry associations

  • Easy to calculate

  • Indicate trends in performance

  • Good for self comparison

 

  • Reactive

  • Easily manipulated

  • May be biased (management attitude to restricted work, Doctor influence/worker attitude to light duties/compensation system/safety awards& competitions)

  • Figures measured are typically low making it difficult to establish trends

  • Incident occurs managers/safety specialists put it down to a ‘once off/freak’ event

Table 1: Advantages & Disadvantages of Lagging Indicators

Significantly however, what we are all seeking is continuous improvement towards an incident free workplace, yet when measuring lagging indicators – we are only monitoring our performance at the last stage (how many fatalities, injuries, illnesses and what rate do we experience these in our operation?) 

Rather, we need to examine the processes that lead to these failures and monitor how effective our control mechanisms are in preventing these negative outcomes. Consequently getting a better picture of the proactive measures in place to reduce these outcomes and risks, thus the use of leading or positive performance measures (PPMs) has to be recommended.

A positive performance measure (PPM) is a measure of a proactive leading activity necessary to control loss and damage. It is an upstream process measure rather than a downstream outcome measure. Examples of PPMs, which can be applied in the workplace, are presented in Table 2 below:

 

Examples of the Application of Positive Performance Measures for Safety

 

Objective

Indicator

Measure/monitor

Results

Improve

All activities to be subject to hazard analysis and risk assessment

Risk Assessment

% Risk assessment complete

% Control measures implemented

Track reported % on a monthly basis by area/department

Review progress at monthly senior management meetings, target areas for improvement

Written Work Procedures in place for critical activities

Work procedures

% Written procedures complete

Track reported % on a monthly basis by area/department

Review progress at monthly senior management meetings, target areas for improvement

Provision of safe place of work

Work place inspection target for each frontline supervisor across whole site on a monthly basis each with specific area

 

Workplace visibility tour by middle and senior managers in their work area once per month

% Scheduled inspections complete by name and work area/dept.

 % Actions arising complete by name and work area/dept

 

 

% Visibility/Inspection Tours complete

Track reported % on a monthly basis by area/department

Review progress at monthly senior management meetings, target areas for improvement

Employees working safely

Behaviour based observations

% Employees working safely

% PPE compliance

Track reported % on a monthly basis by area/department

Review progress at monthly senior management meetings, target areas for improvement

Incident reporting and implementation remedial measures

Timeliness of reporting

Incident investigation effectiveness Log of corrective actions

% Incidents reported within 24 hours

% Near miss incidents

% Incident investigation complete on time

% Corrective actions implemented

All by area/dept.

Track reported % on a monthly basis by area/department

Review progress at monthly senior management meetings, target areas for improvement

Safe and competent employees

Performance assessment including training needs identification Training records

% Performance assessments complete

% Scheduled training complete

All by area/dept.

Track reported % on a monthly basis by area/department

Review progress at monthly senior management meetings, target areas for improvement

Improve safety awareness

Toolbox talks on targeted topics monthly by all Supervisors

% Tool Box Talks complete by Dept.

% Employees attending

% Actions arising complete

All by Area/Dept.

% Safety Representatives Trained

Track reported % on a monthly basis by area/department

Review progress at monthly senior management meetings, target areas for improvement

Improve safety culture

Annual climate survey

Overall findings based on selected criteria

All by Area/Dept.

Track trends on annual basis and by area/dept

Review progress at annual senior management meetings, target areas for improvement

Table 2: Examples of PPM’s for Safety

Essentially PPMs are tracking the drivers of effective safety and risk management. Organisations need to recognize that there is no single reliable measure of health  & safety performance, what is required is a ‘basket of measures or a ‘balanced scorecard’ providing information on a range of health & safety activities. Measurement of PPM’s provides information on how the system operates in practice, identifies area where remedial action is required, provides a basis for continuous improvement and provides a mechanism for feedback and consequential motivation.

Should you consider applying PPM’s for safety in your workplace, it is vitally important that for any PPM chosen everyone understands exactly what’s being measured and what signifigance the use of the measurement will have on producing the desired result in your organisation. It should also be administratively practicable, quantifiable & reproducible, as objective and error free as possible and readily relate to aspect trying to control and/or goals set.

It is also important to distinguish between two the types of process indicator: those, which focus on the behaviour of employees and those, which measure management activity. Examples of indicators of employee behaviour include; % of employees wearing PPE (safety glasses, harness etc.), % hoses rolled-up, % pre-start checks complete. One of the best features of such indicators is that merely publicising the data within the workplace focuses attention on the problem and is likely to lead to safety improvements without the need for more direct or punitive management intervention usually within weeks not months, they are positive and focus on how good rather than how poor safety performance is involving all workers in improving safety, creating a safety culture and achieve "ownership".

There is however a significant drawback to such indicators. They are focused on and aimed at changing the behavior of employees, not managers. Yet it is managers who are ultimately responsible for health and safety and who are in the best position to lead by example and take action where necessary. Hence the importance of indicators, which measure the safety related activity of management. Examples here include; % of workforce who has received specific safety training, % managers participating in safety talks, % of safety audits, % risk assessments. Such management indicators can usually be assigned once management has specified its safety objectives and targets whereupon appropriate measures, which measure actual performance, can be assigned.

When considering PPMs for safety, define the key activities in your safety management systems that need to be promoted, reinforced and visibly drive the culture. Select the activity measures from these. For each of these PPMs you will need to list the measure to be used, how it will be collected, calculated and reported including the frequency of reporting. Some measures will need to be collected daily, others weekly or monthly. Most will need to be reported monthly or quarterly to be of value in monitoring performance (refer to examples in Table 2 for a typical site). Those chosen will vary depending on the maturity of the site and management style of the operation, significantly the measure need to be owned by the site personnel.

Because PPMs can be more focused on risk areas or specific targets/objectives they may not need to continue as a constant or fixed PPM for years. If a particular area of concern or issue is brought under control there may be other priority areas to focus on and new PPMs can be adopted for these, so it is an ongoing improvement process using a minimum number of PPMs relevant to an operation at the time. For example, it is not of much value reporting 100% employees have received inductions, month after month and in any case periodic audits will check systems such as this remain effective in the long term.

For more information visit:

OECD on Safety Performance Indicators

UK HSE on Safety Management and Measuring Safety Performance

Australian guidance on Positive Performance and Measurement

Links to Various Sources of Information on Safety Management

 

 

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