Why Measuring Safety Performance is Important and Terms to Know
With an increase of knowledge on how workplace safety can positively affect business profitability along with expanding regulations regarding workplace safety items such as worksite conditions, safety training, hazard management and personal protective equipment, the priority placed on improving workplace safety conditions continues to grow. However, not everyone has been able to determine a clear cut method in order to continuously improve upon safety. Shortcomings in improvements upon safety can occur for innumerous reasons, but in many instances, a failure to improve workplace safety conditions can simply be attributed to insufficiencies in the way that workplace safety performance is measured.
Why are workplace safety measurements so essential to overall safety performance? When correctly and effectively implemented, measurements can affect your safety performance in the following ways:
- Setting the groundwork for the desired goals to achieve by deciding what to measure
- Tracking progress towards these goals over extended periods of time
- Allowing for benchmark comparisons
- Bringing attention to weaknesses that need to improve
- Displaying proof and data to management that incentivizes their support of safety programs
Essentially, effective safety measurement plans empower you with quantifiable evidence of what is or isn’t working. Furthermore, if you use effective data and indicators, safety measurement can even enable you to determine WHY something isn’t working. If you’re not measuring the right performance indicators or not placing the appropriate priority on your measurements, you are missing out on what can act a set of performance guidelines.
Important Workplace Safety Measurement Terms
Now that we’ve made our case for why measurements make a difference, here are the terms you need to know.
When developing a workplace safety measurement plan, you will want to start very high-level in order to make sure that you are measuring the right things. The following list of terms will start high level and get more granular as you proceed through the list.
PRINCIPLES are the values upon which your company/department acts. Look for these ideals in company missions, core values or cause statements.
ISSUES are items that need to be improved upon. In your case, these are the areas of your workplace safety performance that you hope to change.
GOALS are the desired end results and usually provide means to an end that achieves a principle or resolves an issue. TARGETS are quantitative values assigned to those goals.
STRATEGIES are the actions to be carried that will assist in achieving goals.
Finally, we will look at indicators and metrics, which are often confused:
An INDICATOR is what you measure. It’s a particular aspect within your company that can be measured that will allow the condition of your company’s safety programs.
A METRIC is how you assess performance based on indicators. It is the quantitative measurement of two or more performance measurements. It is what assigns meaning to your indicator data.
More of a visual person? Need examples? This table created by Jack Fearing, CPEA, Managing Partner at Fearing International Group sums it up:
We’re sure several of these terms may have been a review for you, but the importance of listing them all was to show how they work together for efficiency. It shows that when you choose WHAT to measure (an indicator), you must consider WHY you are measuring to start off with- to achieve a goal that resolves an issue or promotes a principle. Therefore, typically, useful indicators will provide descriptive elements of both strategies and end goals.
By utilizing these terms and this information when assessing important items to include within your safety measurement program, you are much more likely to select measurements that provide meaning and use. For examples of what to measure and best practices on developing your safety measurement plan, see our free guide: Using Lagging and Leading Indicators to Improve Workplace Safety. For more information on how SoloProtect can improve your workplace safety, visit www.soloprotect.com/us.