How Do You Measure Safety In The Workplace?

How Do You Measure Safety In The Workplace? or let me put it this way – How Do You Measure Safety In Your Workplace? Every workplace has its yardstick for measuring safety; there is no one way approach as far as it satisfies the safety objectives of the workplace and also help comply with organizations best practice.

An organization’s behavior is definitely influenced by how it measures performance. However, it is difficult to predict how new safety metrics will affect individual behavior, attitudes, and the overall safety climate, making safety measurement challenging. A company’s safety performance must be measured, regardless of how difficult it is to measure. Accountability becomes meaningless without measurement. It is necessary to fully understand each measurement system’s purpose and limitations before they can be developed.

Safety performance measures can be categorized in a variety of ways. They are frequently categorized as either trailing or leading indicators, outcome-oriented or process-oriented, results-based or activity-based measures, downstream factors or upstream factors, and/or qualitative or quantitative metrics.

How Do You Measure Safety In The Workplace?

After-the-fact measures: These are outcome performance measures. After the performance activity, the result is measured. Injury/illness incident rates and workers’ compensation claims data are typical examples of outcome metrics. On the other hand, process-oriented performance measures are those that indicate the actions or activities that were carried out. Process metrics ought to be statistically validated and linked to outcome metrics, but this is rarely done. Process metrics, on the other hand, only indicate the extent to which an activity or process has been implemented rather than necessarily predicting the outcome of a program.

There isn’t a single, dependable indicator of safety and health performance in general. Instead, an effective evaluation of performance necessitates the use of a combination of measures that are process-oriented and outcome-oriented.

In addition, various metrics ought to be utilized for evaluating various levels of the organization. Only process-oriented metrics should be used at the lower managerial or unit levels, and activity measures with some outcome measures should be used primarily at the middle and upper management levels.

Pure outcome measures ought to be reserved for the executive level. The business’s overall vision, goals, and objectives should ideally be linked to the metrics.

Outcome-Oriented Metrics: Traditionally, the performance of occupational safety and health has been measured by focusing on a few specific metrics, such as the data from workers’ compensation claims and injury/illness rates. Injury and illness rates, such as the OSHA recordable incident rate, are the most common outcome metrics. The OSHA recordable incident rate is the number of employees per 100 workers who have sustained an OSHA recordable injury or illness.

The convenience and accessibility of injury/illness data make using injury/illness statistics as a safety performance metric advantageous. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes annually industry OSHA recordable rates by SIC codes, enabling businesses to compare their injury and illness rates to the industry average. Using injury and illness rates as a primary performance indicator has numerous drawbacks.

These are some:

  • Bad news is inextricably linked to injury and illness rates. Employees who do not report injuries or illnesses are typically rewarded when injury or illness rates are overemphasized, preventing proper investigation and remediation of the underlying causes of issues. If too much emphasis is placed on achieving a target injury/illness rate, especially if rewards are given for achieving such targets, this could be the most significant limitation of using injury/illness rates as a performance measure.
  • OSHA’s guidelines for record keeping can be interpreted and used in different ways. Due to this, it is doubtful that the OSHA log information can be generalized from one company to another because reporting methods vary from workplace to workplace.
  • The extent to which the injured worker received medical care determines OSHA recordability. The way a company handles medical care can have an impact on OSHA recordability rates. Injuries are treated inconsistently by the medical community.

Most safety professionals concur that using these conventional outcome metrics as the primary performance indicator has numerous drawbacks. However, numerous stakeholders, including customers and upper management, protest the elimination of such outcome metrics. Injuries that can be recorded by OSHA must also be recorded and tracked. As a result, it is highly unlikely that these conventional performance metrics will ever be discontinued.


Loss Ratio: The insured’s final premium can be made higher or lower by applying a factor known as the experience modification rate (EMR) to the manual premium. The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) or other insurance rating groups make the decision. The performer’s work type and past loss history serve as the foundation for the EMR calculation. An EMR of 1.00 represents the industry’s average. Companies with EMRs higher than 1.00 pay a workers’ compensation premium that is higher than the average for the industry, whereas businesses with EMRs lower than 1.00 pay premiums that are lower than the average for the industry.

Insurers use this formula called the loss ratio to compare income to loss expenses. The loss ratio and the EMR are closely related. The following formula can be used to determine the loss ratio: (earned premium minus incurred losses and adjustment costs) If the loss ratio is greater than one, the insurance company is spending more to cover the insured than it is getting in premiums.

The fact that the EMR is directly related to operational costs is the primary advantage of using it as a performance indicator. In addition, the rate has already been normalized for the size of the business, payroll data, and nature of operations among other things.

As a result, no additional data are required for comparison. However, using the EMR as the sole performance indicator has some drawbacks. Over a considerable time span, the rate is averaged. Therefore, an employer with a good EMR who has allowed safety to decline will have a lower EMR until losses enter the formula, whereas an employer with improved safety performance may still suffer the effects of poor performance in previous years.

In addition, when a claim is filed, the insurer may set aside a reserve equal to the maximum possible loss from the injury. Another limitation of the EMR or other measures based on insurance claims data is that claims reserving practices vary by insurance company.


Process-Oriented Measures (Safety Audits): Safety audits are a way to get information about the safety program’s current state. Wellbeing reviews can be outer or interior. Organizations initiate internal audits while personnel outside of the organization carry out external audits. There are also planned, unplanned, and continuous audits. On a timetable that is known to the company, planned audits are conducted on a regular basis within the organization. Audits that were not planned take place without informing the organization or the location in advance.

Audits effectively measure compliance with company policies and procedures as well as laws and regulations. In an effort to measure and track audit results by location, department, manager/supervisor, and audit category, numerous businesses have constructed audits using a scoring system. Self-audits can be successful if they are carried out in an objective manner and if the auditing procedure yields accurate and reliable data.

As a measurement tool, safety audits also have the following limitations:

  • Over a brief period of time, the audit process typically only represents a small portion of the corporate population.
  • The auditor’s knowledge of the audit instrument and its design limit its effectiveness.
  • The audit report’s findings and recommendations directly correlate with the auditor’s expertise and knowledge. As a result, selecting an experienced auditor is essential.
  • The audit instruments must be chosen carefully because some are significantly superior to others.
  • Because few audit instruments focus on the system, they fail to answer the questions of why there are problems and how well the system works.
  • Safety audits may be interpreted as finding faults.

If the deficiencies identified by the audit are not investigated to the root cause(s), they may also produce only a superficial list of deficiencies and/or produce no remedial (or inadequate) action.


Behavior-Based Safety: This is a safety performance process that has gained popularity over the past 20 years. Behavior-based safety is a safety performance process. Most of the time, workers make lists of important work behaviors, watch their coworkers do their jobs, tell their coworkers about their observations, and help figure out how to fix problems. This approach focuses on identifying, measuring, and correcting critical behaviors. It is based on the idea that unsafe behavior accounts for most accidents.

The interdependence of culture, attitudes, and behavior is another philosophical foundation for this strategy. Whereas behaviors are extrinsic and can be observed and more easily measured, attitudes are intrinsic and cannot be observed. A behavior-based safety process, which has a logical basis as a safety performance measure, places the primary emphasis on behaviors rather than attitudes.

Measures for Corrective Action: The only way to avoid future accidents is to design and carry out corrective actions. As a result, one important factor to consider when measuring corrective actions is their level of success. What the person in charge will do to change behavior is known as a corrective action. A line management activity that increases the chances of things happening as intended is called a corrective action.

The underlying causes of injuries, incidents, or basically any organizational issue need to be determined prior to coming up with and carrying out corrective measures. As a result, a successful program for conducting incident investigations and root cause analysis necessitates the implementation of a method for measuring corrective actions. Other useful tools for identifying organizational issues and determining their underlying causes are safety inspections and audits, which are necessary for planning, carrying out, and keeping track of corrective actions.


Safety metrics on the Balanced Scorecard: This frequently fail to show senior managers how the safety effort relates to their business goals and objectives. The Balance Scorecard approach’s premise states that the organization’s primary and supporting activities automatically link health and safety to the business strategy.

Health and safety professionals must develop a clear understanding of the organization’s vision, strategy, and value chain in order to link safety activities to core business functions. The scorecard provides health and safety professionals with the advantage of forcing managers to consider all significant operational measures in a single package. It contributes to the integration that is required for health and safety to be managed like any other part of the business process.

The scorecard method should ideally be used by organizations for both business and safety. If that is not possible, you might want to use a scorecard just for safety. This will not result in complete alignment, but it will allow for the implementation of a focused strategy, specific interventions, and progress and process metrics.


In conclusion, measuring business processes and functions is necessary for continuous improvement. However, keep in mind that safety is about preventing injuries and illnesses for people, not numbers. Hence, it’s important to avoid playing a numbers game between departments and locations. In order to provide information for performance management, effective measurement ought to be both predictive and prescriptive.

Ideally, safety performance metrics should be linked to the company’s overall vision, objectives, and goals.

Finally, select metrics that are significant to the company and steer clear of overly complicated indices and metrics – it is not necessarily a useful measurement just because it can be measured.