Building an effective safety program is critical for all organizations – regardless of industry. Safety incidents cost employers more than 200 billion per year and often result in irreparable loss of life and public trust. Unfortunately, measuring and reporting on safety metrics can be difficult and, as a result, many organizations incorrectly view safety as a cost center with no connection to the bottom line. Scarcity of organizational resources often leaves the safety team scrimping to build effective programs and many organizations get stuck merely reacting. Attributing the measurable impacts of your organization’s safety programs is critical to improving lone worker safety, getting management buy-in and acquiring future resources.
The most common method used to measure the effectiveness of a safety programs is to count the number of injuries, fatalities or number of lost workdays due to injury or illness. This approach is relatively easy for most organizations, but counting suffers from a number of critical problems.
First, counting is a lagging metric seen only after the event has already happened; meaning it only reflects outcomes not causes. Many safety incidents are never reported and counting does not record the ‘near misses’ or consider the severity of incidents. Organizations who simply count incidents may be under-reporting both the quantity and severity of incidents. Whether a particular event results in an injury is often a matter of chance, so it will not necessarily reflect whether or not a hazard is under control. An organization can have a low injury rate because of luck or fewer people exposed, rather than a result of good safety management. All of these shortcomings could lead to complacency and lack of investment in safety programs.
A better approach over simply counting incidents is to use leading indicators. Leading indicators are proactive, preventive, and predictive measures that provide information about the effective performance of your safety and health activities. They measure events leading up to injuries, illnesses, and other incidents and reveal potential problems in your safety programs.
Examples of leading indicators include safety training attendance and completions, self-reported incident feedback reports and incident response time. Leading metrics are more valuable because they indicate how you’re doing TODAY, not just after events have happened. These metrics provide near real-time quantifiable data that can be used to proactively focus on prevention and continuously improve your safety program.
Nobody has a better understanding of the state of your organization’s safety than your employees. Consider periodically surveying and interviewing your employees to discover potential safety issues or suggestions to improve your current safety practices. Ask them what aspects of your company’s health and safety policies make them feel either safe or uncomfortable at work. Are there any potential hazards that could be addressed where employees may be more aware of than management?
Another useful metric is to analyze how many times your occupational health and safety standards were not met by counting inspection findings and citations. For example, your company could track how many times there were inspection findings and citations related to occupational health or safety standards over time. This information will help you better understand high priority gaps in your safety program which need improvement.
One of the major problems with many safety programs is they often use manual processes which make safety data gathering and reporting more difficult. For example, many organizations use phone or SMS for check-in/out or emergency response. Not only is this approach time consuming and error-prone, it is very difficult to measure. Technology, like SolusGuard’s lone worker safety solution, can help organizations by providing a real-time view of missed-check ins and active emergencies. Detailed logs help businesses keep a digital paper trail which can be used to prove duty of care, maintain compliance and make the case for future safety resources.
SolusGuard delivers a suite of workforce safety and lone worker protection solutions to help keep your employees safe and your business compliant. We work with you to create customized security plans that minimize risk for your workers and your business. Our suite of solutions includes a custom-designed wearable panic button; employee check in/out software; customizable alert monitoring; and a satellite extender. SolusGuard is an excellent solution for any business with lone workers, or for which worker safety is a concern, such as—home care, mental health and addictions, property management, inspection and compliance, security and transportation.