Health & safety in the workplace should be the number one priority for any company or individual. If you ask any managing director or CEO (Chief Executive Officer) about how they measure their company’s performance, they will mention at least one of the following: profit, return on investment or market share. A common feature of these measurements is that they are positive, reflecting on achievements rather than negatives. If the same people were asked about how they measure their health and safety in the workplace, it is that they will quote the injury statistics.
Business performance is subject to a wide range of positive measures; however, for health and safety, it often comes down to two negative measurements, injuries, and sick days for employees. This measurement, even when low over a period of years, is no guarantee that risks are being controlled and will not lead to injuries in the future. This statement is true, where companies would have an exceptionally low probability of accidents in the workplace, but major hazards could be present. This is a deceptive indicator of safety performance.
Some issues with current health and safety statistics:
- Under-reporting – a focus on injury rates as a measurement, especially when related to reward-based schemes, can lead to incidents not being reported
- Injury rates do not reflect the potential severity of an event, only the consequence
- Employees can be on sick leave for reasons which do not reflect the severity of the event
- A low injury rate can lead to complacency in the workplace
- Injury statistics report outcomes do not cause
Why measure health and safety performance?
Measurement is a part of any management process, whether you work in finance, production, or service delivery. Health and safety are just as important, and the process should be treated the same. The main objective for measuring health and safety in the workplace is to provide information on the progress and status of the activities within a company, to manage its risks of injury or ill health.
Health and safety statistics maintain the operation of the health and safety management processes that are put in place and control the risk. Four key factors are effective at controlling the risks:
- Providing information about how the system operates
- Identifying areas where remedial action is required
- Providing a basis for continued development
- Providing feedback and motivation
What to measure (KPIs)
Health and safety key performance indicators (KPIs) are measurable values used to track the progress on specific objectives within the workplace. There are plenty of companies out there that have not considered adding any KPIs to their health and safety objectives other than assessing the current injury reports. You may think that your company does not require them, or your workers are at minimal risk working in sectors such as IT (Information Technology) or marketing, but as we have mentioned before this is complete complacency and lack of understanding about the meaning of health and safety.
KPIs are not all about measuring accidents in the workplace that only relates to the safety part. The health part of the equation is just as important; the less few sick days your staff are taking, the higher the efficiency of your company.
We have highlighted our top 10 KPIs of what we consider to be the most effective within health and safety in the workplace. These should be used as guidance; every company will have unique needs and objectives. but this will be a good starting point, and hopefully, will provide some conversation starters within your company. For each of our top 10 KPIs, there is a brief description of how it will work and how to deploy it.
1. Number of reported accidents or incidents
This is the bread and butter of health and safety KPIs, every company or organisation should be measuring the number of reported incidents, and this should be used as a high-level benchmark throughout. In some countries, this KPI must be implemented by law, and its results are available upon request. Be sure to keep an eye on the number of reported incidents when new processes, new machinery or any change is introduced into the workplace.
2. Reporting near misses
Just as important as reporting accidents is the reporting of near misses, or minor incidents, which employees may not feel compelled to report such as minor bumps and scrapes. As we have mentioned previously, this can lead to complacency. Reporting minor incidents to prevent any potential disasters in the future. Tracking this sort of incident relies heavily on employees, therefore make sure that this KPI is communicated effectively, and the correct channels are available to report such incidents without fear of punitive actions.
3. Equipment breakdowns
Equipment breakdowns can sometimes be overlooked as a key indicator of health and safety incidents. If the equipment is breaking down regularly, not only is this reducing productivity, but it can be used as a strong indicator that a potential hazard could occur due to the state of the equipment.
4. Employee training
Employee training is paramount for any company, whether that’s basic health and safety in the workplace or safety training with heavy machinery. Making sure employees are fully aware of your company’s procedures and health and safety policies is essential to creating a safety culture. Every company should keep track of every employee’s training records not only for compliance reasons but to demonstrate a proactive approach to achieve your overall health and safety objectives. Keeping track of employees’ records will also emphasise the need for any re-training throughout the year that may be required, especially if policies are updated.
5. Average overtime hours per person
The average amount of overtime hours per employee is a great KPI to measure time beyond their normal working hours. The concept behind measuring this is that if a company is successful at managing its workload, keeping it low, the chance of fatigue in the workplace is lower, resulting in fewer incidents. This KPI is not always suitable for every industry workplace, so it needs to be carefully assessed to suit your needs. On average, a full-time employee In the European Union works 36.2 hours per week, but by EU labour law, cannot work more than 48 hours.
6. Satisfaction with an environment score
This is a KPI that would be measured through an overall company satisfaction survey, through the human resources department. It involves asking employees to provide feedback about how satisfied they are with their work environment, i.e., physical surroundings, desks, office noise levels, building, facilities etc. and their emotional and mental health whilst being at work. Low scores could indicate issues with an employee’s health, not just physically but more mentally. Do not be afraid to put on support channels for employees’ mental health, communicate with these channels and let them know that it is confidential.
7. Fitness assessment
This is very much a grey area as many employees are not comfortable with sharing the results of a health check, but in some circumstances or industries, health checks need to be put in place to perform certain jobs within a company. If you feel this is not an area that needs to be measured, then it can be a crucial factor in offering free health checks or access to fitness programs such as gym memberships to encourage a healthy lifestyle. By ensuring that employees have an overall good fitness level, physical risk of injury is lowered. You can measure this success through the uptake of such programs and the satisfactory level through a yearly survey.
8. Productive days
As mentioned in the introduction, health and safety KPIs are based on negative figures, measuring things like many sick days and time off work due to illness or accidents. This KPI is a positive approach to measuring the number of days of productive work that was successfully delivered based on the percentage of available working hours. This can be measured on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis and can be monitored closely when health and safety changes are put in place such as training or new equipment in the workplace, and you should be able to see an impact of those policies and make any adjustment according.
9. Management trained in health & safety
We have already touched on employee health and safety training, but there must be key leaders within a company to carry out basic training and risk assessments. Keeping track of management training can be vital, especially when there is a high staff turnover or role changes within a company.
10. Average time to resolution of risks
If you have a platform to assist you in managing risks, you will also be able to measure the time it takes to resolve the incidents from the time they are first reported. This is very much like any IT support system; once a user reports an issue, it is then tracked until completion. A quick resolution will enforce those policies that are currently in place, and a long response may prompt you to investigate and assess your current policies.
Every company will have its own health and safety objectives, and we understand that these top 10 KPIs are not for everyone, but it highlights the importance and hopefully the thought process on which KPIs should be prioritised. The health and safety of workers is a key factor in the efficiency and output of any company.
This article is intended for information purposes only when it comes to implementing health and safety measures in your workplace always seek advice from professional experts.