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7 Key Metrics Every Health and Safety Department Should Track

7 Health and Safety Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) Every Department Should Track

25 August 2017

At the heart of a successful business lies a strong safety culture. Just like other areas of operations, a successful company makes use of the data available to continuously improve their standards in health and safety.

A strong safety culture is achieved by following a definitive checklist of indicators to measure performance. This blog will underline several key performance indicators (KPIs) to track specific objectives, to help monitor health and safety culture and performance.

Key performance indicators 

KPI's are a valuable way of monitoring lagging or leading performance. Tracking them is an integral part of any Safety Manager role.

While lagging indicators can be used to track incidents that have occurred (past data) and assist in sourcing the root of the problem, leading indicators are more predictive by nature. They help companies address and prevent potential issues and incidents from occurring in the first place.

Characteristics of a good health and safety performance KPI

A good performance indicator is part of the ‘SMART’ Goal KPI tool:

  • Specific – it should be clear what is being measured
  • Measurable – it should be measurable against set standards
  • Achievable – target a realistic/achievable goal
  • Relevant – it should offer insight into overall safety performance
  • Timely – KPI’s should follow a set timeframe.

Like other business units, Health and Safety departments are no exception to tracking key metrics that show performance.

While you may not report any accidents, this doesn’t necessarily mean you can become complacent and assume that your safety operations are effective. Developing reliable health and safety metrics will largely depend on your goals and what you want to accomplish. Effectively measuring health and safety KPI’s will help you on your way to achieving a robust safety culture. 
 
We’ve put together a list of 7 essential metrics you should be tracking in your business.

1. Reported Accidents/Incidents

This first point should be taken as a given – a lagging indicator in its most obvious form. However, it really does provide the health and safety department with a high-level benchmark. It is required by law for work-related accidents resulting in a 'reportable' injury, for most UK workplaces under RIDDOR* rules.

*We will look into RIDDOR later on in this blog. 

2. Reporting Near Misses

As already mentioned, a hugely misrepresented area for many organisations is the reporting ‘near-miss incidents. Effectively reporting near misses and reviewing the mitigating strategies that ensue means that organisations can go a long way to preventing potential disasters. But how will anyone know of the success in this area if it’s not being tracked?
 
Tracking near misses involves employee participation. Ensure the proper reporting channels are in place to give near-miss incidents the same level of priority as actual incidents. Remember to encourage employees to feedback without fear of punitive action actively.
 

3. Safety Audits and Inspections

Are you keeping track of the number of audits and inspections undertaken across the business on a monthly/quarterly/annual basis? 
 
Routine auditing of work processes is an essential part of due diligence ahead of starting a job. Keep count of completed audits and inspections and note who meets them to help you keep track of changes in standards.

The main differences between Inspections and Audits can be found here.

4. Corrective Actions

While fixing issues is advisable, it’s not enough to fix them and not report them. 
 
Identifying, fixing and tracking problems will help you to identify patterns arising within the workplace from similar incidents. It will also assist in resolving similar issues more efficiently and help hold employees accountable for the part their actions played in a given situation.

5. Employee Training

Get it right! The relevant health and safety training for all staff, at all levels, within any organisation, is paramount to establishing a good practice. 
 
Ensuring that employees are aware of all your company’s procedures and policies is essential for creating a safety culture and raising engagement levels.
 
Keeping track of employee training records is vital to keeping you compliant and demonstrates a proactive approach to company-wide health and safety efforts. Training certificates must not expire for many businesses, so this key metric cannot be overlooked!

Discover more on the importance of involving both employees and employers in managing and improving organisational safety here.

6. Let’s not forget the ‘H’

More and more, we see the re-introduction of the ‘Health’ element of health and safety programmes, which have historically overlooked this critical area. 

 While seemingly a new buzzword, employee well-being is a hugely important area of any corporate health and safety strategy. But which metrics should you track here?
 
Consider absence rates and any changes therein. Calculate days lost due to ill-health and determine the amount paid in sick leave and temporary staffing. Presenteeism (the lost productivity from an employee working when ill and performing below standard) should also be measured.
 
The Sainsbury Centre concluded that the cost of presenteeism to a UK business is likely to be 1.8 times as important as absenteeism. Employers should expect 1 in 6 of their workforce to be adversely affected by depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions. 

7. Spend

No different to any other department, you will need to track your spending in health and safety on the various initiatives outlined above to report back to superiors and ultimately improve the ‘bottom line’.

The feedback arising from key OHS metrics will help in motivating leaders and are crucial to maintaining sound management systems.
 
The importance of health and safety in the workplace, its effects on your employees' health and a guide of the various types of reportable incidents can be found below.

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