Safety performance measurement is an important aspect of ensuring the organization’s safety goals are being met. There are multiple facets to a performance plan but they all focus on one view; how well are the safety goals being met. There are multiple indicators that will be looked at, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. However, through effective use of them all a solid picture of the organization’s safety performance can be seen.
The first step to measuring the safety performance of the organization is to gather information on the current condition of the safety culture. This is done through a few steps designed to utilize predictive indicators on how employees act and feel about the current safety situation (Safety Measurement, 2014). There are multiple steps to doing this correctly and they must be done proactively and without reactivity.
One of the first indicators is employee competencies and understanding of the organizations safety goals. This indicator provides a direct relation to the safety outcomes of the business. If the employees have an underdeveloped view of the safety goals and procedures then the outcomes will be poorly executed. This also provides an influence factor on the rest of the employees. Some of the other current view indicators are employee satisfaction with safety goals, their perception of the climate, and how many safety processes are actually taking place.
The latter indicator is an important factor that must be answered honestly. Simply assigning a safety task does not necessarily mean it is being accomplished. The employees may not feel they play a large role in the safety program; this can create an environment where they don’t participate. These indicators are used to determine where the safety culture is at the moment; after the current state is determined the organization can move on to a performance measurement plan.
Lagging indicators utilize a few different statistics to view the past performance of the organization. Some data that needs to be provided are how many fatalities have occurred and historical worker compensation rates. These indicators are dangerous to use as indicators of future prevention, since they are lagging indicators. They do show trending in the safety culture and when supplemented with other indicators, can be a powerful tool. Lagging indicators are also a very objective method of viewing a reactive safety culture versus a proactive one (Safety Measurement, 2014).
There are also methods of determining the present safety culture, these are known as condition indicators. These indicators look at the perception of the workplace safety climate through the eyes of the employees. They can give a lot of insight into the quality of safety interventions. An example of this is a safety briefing on heat related injuries given by the safety manager; all the manager spoke on was look at the color of your urine, stay hydrated, and stay fit. When the employees are asked what they thought of the toolbox talk, the average answer was they learned nothing and had to look up the info themselves. The toolbox talk was an excellent opportunity to discuss Wet-Globe Bulb temperatures, relative heat stress, signs and symptoms of heat stroke, how to hydrate properly, rest breaks to stay cool, etc…(USDOL, 2015). By looking at the safety culture and interventions through the employees eyes, many needed changes can be discovered.
Leading performance indicators are used to develop new measures and take the safety culture to where the organization wants it to be. For example if the organization wants to decrease their workers compensation rates (as discovered in the lagging indicators), and they have identified poor quality in their training and daily toolbox talks, then they will want to introduce a measure to increase the proactive culture. This may come in the form of training supervisors on how to perform better safety talks, and how to identify when an issue is about to happen.
Lagging indicators, safety condition indicators, and leading performance indicators cannot be used independently. They must be used in conjunction with each other in order to create an effective plan for measuring safety program performance. Of course there is also one final step that is critical towards any change or improvement; this step is evaluation. Every organization must constantly evaluate their actions and change as needed.
The plan to evaluate safety performance within the identified organization will work regardless of which country it is used in, either the United States or Great Britain. Lagging indicator data must be collected; this includes workers compensation rates and trends, mishaps, near-miss data, and what was done to correct the issues. This will give us an excellent set of information to move forward into the next step, condition indicators.
Condition indicator data sets need to be compiled, specifically from the viewpoint of the employees. This can be difficult due to the biases of the employee/employer relationship. It is strongly recommended that a third party be brought in to conduct those interviews. This data can be used to view where the organization is currently in respect to their safety program. This will allow the safety manager to decide which interventions to implement within the program.
Finally, evaluation of the safety program must be a consistent aspect. When an indicator starts to show negative issues, the manager must re-evaluate and adjust. When this step is not part of the performance measurement plan then organization is still in the reactive management phase and has not become proactive.
The art of measuring safety performance. (2014). Retrieved July 16, 2016, from http://green-jakobsen.com/the-art-of-measuring-safety-performance/
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR. (2015). Retrieved July 17, 2016, from https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatstress/