As humans, we love to measure things – distance, time, weight, etc. As managers of employee safety programs, we love to use metrics to measure the success of our programs. There are a plethora of metrics available and all of them can be very useful, but you should not use all of them all the time. The goal is not to encourage the use of any one metric, but to encourage you to explore your options.
What types of metrics are out there and how are they used?
A lagging indicator is output oriented and typically measures a moment when your employee safety program failed. This is a REACTIVE measurement. Some examples would be:
- Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR) or Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR)
- Days Away Restricted or Transferred Rate (DART)
- Lost Workday Incident Rate (LWIR)
- Number of Injuries
- Number of Claims
- Workers’ Compensation Claims Rates
- Workers’ Compensation Claims Costs
These measurements are usually combined with additional details by type, location, department, etc. They are also widely used and reported and therefore, make it easy to find comparative data by State or industry – think Bureau of Labor Statistics. These measurements are useful for executive and upper-level management discussions to demonstrate patterns in injury causes, locations, and severity, thus allowing you to create potential ROI’s for specific safety program enhancements.
According to the Campbell Institute at the National Safety Council, leading indicators are:
“Proactive, preventative, and predictive measures that monitor and provide current information about the effective performance, activities, and process of an EHS management system that can drive the identification and elimination or control of risks in the workplace that can cause incidents and injuries.”
A leading indicator is a predictor of safety and can be sorted into the following broad categories:
Observation-based (behaviors/environment) – An instance of a behavior or condition that can be assessed to determine the risk of injury. This would be the information you collect during your safety rounds and may include:
- Number of safety rounds conducted
- Number of unsafe conditions found
- Number of unsafe behaviors found
Operations-based – Indicators that relate to the functioning of an organization’s infrastructure that may impact employee safety and/or your employee safety program. Examples may include:
- Staffing/Productivity issues
- Preventive Maintenance
- Risk Assessments
- Training Efforts
- Closure of Open Safety Issues
Systems-based – Indicators that relate to the management of a safety system. Examples may include:
- Management Commitment Efforts
– Company-wide goal(s) related to employee safety
– Division/department level employee safety goals
– Executives attending safety committee meetings
- Safety Culture Surveys
Which metrics do I use?
In general, you will want to select some from both the leading and lagging indicators to create a balance between “this is where we failed” and “this is how we are preventing incidents”. You must have both to tell the whole story.
Look for our next blog post when we delve a little deeper into how you choose the right metrics.