4 Signs Your Safety Program is Using “Good” Metrics

In our white paper, Predictive Analytics in Workplace Safety: Four Safety Truths that Reduce Workplace Injuries, we explain a series of leading indicators that allow for the prediction and prevention of injuries. These leading indicators can be derived from two primary metrics:

  • Inspections –a collection of one or more observations.
  • Observations – a single instance of a behavior or condition (e.g. a worker wearing a hard hat). Observations can be determined to be safe or at-risk.

These two primary metrics are the basic building blocks of a more comprehensive safety observation program and concurrently aid in the development of key leading indicators for an organization’s measurement of safety.PSC-kathy-ireland-stills-kathy-touching-laptop-26FEB2019 In conjunction with the use of appropriate safety checklists for hazards and processes within an organization, these metrics, along with their derivative components, can help an organization determine what is safe or what good looks like.

  • As inspections increase, incidents go down.

This is the easiest metric to measure and it is important to promote inspection activity. However, doing more inspections alone will solve for nothing. The act of collecting more and more safety inspections, by itself, does very little. That would be like trying to lose weight by standing on the scale more often. It helps to provide information, and is necessary to gain insights, but it is simply the first step.

  • The probability of having an incident decreases as the number and diversity of the people performing inspection increases.

Sending the safety team out to conduct more inspections isn’t the answer. In order for safety to improve, ownership by the team is essential. This means that everyone in the organization, from leaders to front-line supervisors to workers, has a part to play in identifying hazards, reporting them, and helping to mitigate the risk they pose – both short- and long-term.

  • Too many 100% safe inspections are predictive of higher injury rates.

Typically, a high number of inspections with no at-risk findings are seen on worksites with a relatively higher rate of injury. One would think that as safety efforts improve, fewer at-risk findings would be found. However, as long as humans are involved in the process, error will be present. In addition, as one systemic issue is discovered and addressed, another is likely to surface that was virtually unseen before. Another potential issue with reporting at-risk observations is the negative connotation it can pose to those within an organization. The opportunity to improve should be seen as a gift instead of an accusation or a curse. Finding and addressing at-risk items allows an organization to learn and grow positively, while driving continuous improvement overall.

  • Too many at-risk observations are predictive of higher injury rates.

While this metric may seem counter to the previous 100% safe metric, this is a relative measurement. Finding at-risks is not the problem. Finding the same systemic issue repeatedly can be a problem. As an example, an observation finds someone standing on the top of a ladder during a worksite inspection. As a conscientious person, the observer stops the work and makes it safe. The issue is discussed with the worker and a safe resolution is sought. The problem is averted and the observer moves on. But how many times has this happened? What if the data indicated it happened across the organization many times in the last month? Finding and fixing the issue is a start, but only by addressing the causal factors (why it is happening over and over), will it result in a sustained improvement


In the upcoming few weeks, our blog series will continue and share insights to help you:

  • Demonstrate the value in the right metrics
  • Ease the transition to a leading indicator focus by helping you understand which indicators to use
  • Utilize metrics for continuous improvement
  • Benchmark to see how your current metrics stack up 
Don't want to wait? Download our free whitepaper "Seven Leading Indicators to Drive Safety Improvement in Your Organization" today! 

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Cary Usrey

Written by Cary Usrey

Cary Usrey has been at Predictive Solutions since March 2007. As a Process Improvement Leader, Cary is responsible for implementing best practices for customers seeking to prevent worker injuries. He coaches customers through an assessment, goal-setting, and goal measurement process that is designed to maximize safety improvement and widespread organizational engagement, from the field to leadership. Cary started his career in the U.S. Navy's Nuclear Power Program. After leaving the Navy, he served as the Environmental, Health and Safety Compliance Director at Adirondack Resource Recovery Associates, a waste-to-energy power plant in upstate New York, where he was employed for over twelve years. Following this, Cary took a position with Turner Construction, where he served as the Business Unit Safety Director for the upstate New York office for approximately three years. Cary has graduated with his Associate's Degree in Occupational Safety and Health from Trinidad State Junior College in Colorado, is a member of the Central FL chapter of the ASSE, and has served on the Board of Directors for the VPPPA (Region II).

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