A quick Google search will lead you to hundreds of pages with a variety of metrics, but you want metrics that MEAN something. Metrics that encourage others to join you and work with you to strive towards achieving your overall goal. Metrics that are reviewed and discussed at the executive level and lead to gaining their support in all ways. You want it all, the Holy Grail of metrics “cue celestial music”.
How do you find this metric?
Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a singular, silver-bullet metric that makes executives and supervisors clamor to be a part of and support your safety effort. Selecting the best metrics for your situation can be difficult. It likely will not be the same metric for every industry, company, or even department in the same company. To get to the Holy Grail of metrics, you should start with some internal research. What is driving discussions in your company now? Money, staffing, efficiency, innovation, best practice program implementation, compliance…, the list goes on. Discussion topics may also vary between different levels of the organization.
So how does this work?
Let’s say there is an increase in employee injury incidents, and you need support to reduce the overall number (or rate) of employee injuries. You already have a basic safety program in place which includes annual mandatory computer-based awareness training, mandatory hazard-specific training, regular rounding and observations by key safety staff to identify and fix potential hazards and unsafe acts. You are currently reporting on the lagging indicators of the number of reported incidents (first aid, minor injury, significant injury) and the number of associated lost work and restricted days along with the workers’ compensation costs. You are also collecting hazard and unsafe act related information in your investigation of each of the accidents.
First, shift how you talk about your current metrics. For example, if your supervisors and directors have a specific focus on staffing, make sure lost work and restricted days are discussed as staffing opportunities. They may feel more inclined to support you and help you when they connect those two items. If the executive level is focused on expenses, workers’ compensation costs would be a natural fit. You may look at the raw dollar amount or a rate-based amount – i.e. costs per $100/payroll. Do not stop there, though. Demonstrate what the losses mean in relation to one of your products or services. How many of “X” product or service do you have to produce and/or sell to cover the costs related to employee injuries?
Second, find some proactive metrics (leading indicators). Your current program includes rounding and observations. If it is not already formal – meaning a paper or electronic form – then make it formal and measure the numbers that are being turned in. You may also measure how many are turned in with and without hazards and unsafe acts identified. You can take that a step further and measure how long it takes identified hazards to be corrected or an unsafe act to be coached. This would be in conjunction with identifying any trends in type of hazard and/or unsafe act which could then be compared to the findings in your accident investigations.
Now you have a more robust story, and you have the beginnings of identifying additional, underlying trends that are leading to employee injury. This new robust story can be taken to executives along with more specific requests for support guided by your new group of metrics.
There are a lot of ways you can utilize metrics to measure your employee safety program. These examples are not the only metrics you can utilize (we didn’t even touch on any training related metrics), but we hope this has given you some ideas on how freshen up your approach to safety metrics that lead to additional support for your employee safety programs.