Safety Vault Information Service

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Measuring the success of safety efforts is an integral part of the overall safety and health program. If it doesn't get measured it usually doesn't get done or at least not very well. Keeping good records will help identify safety and health trends; recognize problematic areas and opportunities; and provide the information necessary to start developing solutions. It can also be used to show positive results from a good return on investment; an excellent way to keep senior management committed to safety.

When was the last time anyone experienced a production or quality process that wasn't being measured? Safety can be just as profitable to an organization as production, quality or good inventory control. In order to be effective, safety must be managed like any other major business function.

The first step is to determine what to measure, how to measure it and how often. The normal starting point is to measure the accident frequency rate and the injury frequency rate. This will show how many accidents are occurring and how many of them involve employee injuries (and most likely workers' compensation claims). In addition, these rates can be used to compare results with averages in the same industry. To calculate these rates use the formulas below.

Accident Frequency Rate  =  Number of accidents x 200,000 / Employee-hours worked

Injury Frequency Rate  =  Number of accidents resulting in injury x 200,000 / Employee-hours worked

Similar rates may be calculated for the occurrence of illnesses.

Illness Frequency Rate  =  Number of illnesses x 200,000 / Employee-hours worked

These rates demonstrate the degree of risk an organization has, i.e. how often undesirable things occur.

The next step is to find the other component of the organization's risk, which is when undesirable things occur, how bad are they. This is demonstrated using injury and illness severity rates. They can be calculated as shown below.

Injury Severity Rate  =  Lost workdays due to injury x 200,000 / Employee-hours worked

Illness Severity Rate  =  Lost workdays due to illness x 200,000 / Employee-hours worked

Another way to view this is to look at the organization's total severity, which is calculated by the formula below.

Lost workdays due to Injuries and illnesses (LWDII)  =  Lost workdays due to injury and illness x 200,000 / Employee-hours worked

Establishing a performance baseline is an important measure of where you are now. From here, set goals on where you'd like to be—in 6 months, one year, and five years. Then you are able to identify the barriers to better performance and set strategies on how to achieve your goals.

After establishing a safety performance benchmark, the final step it to find exactly what the organization's problems, systems faults and employees' unsafe behaviors are. For this, a very thorough safety and health program assessment needs to be conducted. During an assessment, several key parameters are analyzed.

How do you perform an assessment? First, establish the parameters to be measured. Next, determine importance of each parameter to the overall safety efforts. Then, the key parameters can be objectively measured by conducting surveys, interviews, observations, etc. As a result, similarities and divergence between the data help draw many useful conclusions and allow effective corrections to be implemented.

-- CompManagement Inc. Risk Services, a Sedgwick Co.