How to Measure Workplace Safety

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There is always the need to measure workplace safety. This, obviously helps reduce downtimes due to injuries and illnesses and enforce productivity. This topic is pretty broad, but we will be as brief as permissible, and as simplistic as possible.

How do you effectively measure safety in your workplace?

There are several tested methods that can be used to reduce employee incidents and illnesses. One of the major methods for measuring safety is LEADING AND LAGGING indicators. Leading indicators are pre-incident measurements, which we can note before the incident happens. Lagging indicators, however, are measurements collected after an incident occurs. For instance, if an accident happens and a worker is pierced by a sharp object, a leading indicator could be the report of unsafe environment and non-use of safety shoes, while lagging indicators would be the reports on and effects of inccident that has happened. So, leading indicators measure safety events or behaviors that precede incidents and have a predictive quality. While lagging indicators tell us the effects and consequences.

According to OHSLeaders, by measuring leading indicators including conditions, events, and sequences that precede and lead up to accidents, you would find KPIs with values in predicting the arrival of an event and can provide the opportunity to introduce control measures to stop the event from happening.


How to Select and Use the Right KPIs for Your Organization

While using Leading and Lagging indicators to measure, you would need to set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). KPIs might defer from environment to environment, due to various factors. You might want to rely on a couple of templates to set up your KPIs. However you go about it, your leading indicators must contemplate every useful fact that surrounds and influences the occurrence of an incident before it happens. Your lagging indicators also need to cover all necessary post-incident details, especially the information that would help prevent further incidents.


Lagging Indicators

To specify lagging indicators, you might want to rely on OSHA recordable injuries, OSHA citations, and OSHA recordable-case rates. Others include:

  1. DART-case rate
  2. Fatality rate
  3. Worker compensation claims
  4. Experience modification rate

Leading Indicators

  1. Near misses
  2. Behavioral observations
  3. Training records
  4. Department safety meetings
  5. Employee-perception surveys
  6. Trainee scores on post-training quizzes
  7. Preventive-maintenance programs

It is very important to understand that both leading and lagging indicators are essential. You need to see leading indicators are like a car windshield, and see lagging indicators as the rearview mirror. You’ll certainly spend more time looking out the windshield to see what’s coming–with leading indicators–than looking in your rearview mirror to see where you’ve been–with lagging indicators.

According to OHSLeaders, within the leading and lagging indicator types, there are eight important characteristics that KPIs should have. These have to be considered while choosing the KPIs for your organization.

  1.  Actionable–metrics that have measurable steps
  2. Achievable–setting goals that are obtainable
  3. Meaningful–obtaining information for continued tracking
  4. Transparent–metrics that are clearly understandable
  5. Easy–to communicate effectively
  6. Valid–relevant to the organization’s objectives
  7. Useful–metrics that are beneficial to the organization’s safety goals
  8. Timely–distributing information that is still relevant to the organization

Some might argue that workplace safety is vague. But the model summarized above offers a reliable protocol to measuring workplace safety and help you take preventive decisions.

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