Metrics That Matter: KPIs for Assessing the Success of Safety Strategies

In 2021, Liberty Mutual reported that employers faced a staggering cost of over $1 billion per week due to direct workers’ compensation for non-fatal workplace injuries (1).

Reducing this cost starts with tracking and measurement. Tracking the Key Performance Indicators of your Health and safety (H&S) program will inform your H&S plans, training, and response.

Unfortunately, tracking often presents more challenges than it might seem.

In this article, we will review the 5 key performance indicators (KPIs) that should be the foundation of your H&S program.

We will discuss how to measure these KPIs, why they are essential, and address any implementation challenges your organization may encounter when assessing your safety strategies.

1. Injury and Incident Rate

Injury and incident rates are measured using the Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR), quantifying work-related injuries per 100 full-time workers over a year enables you to identify patterns and potential risk areas within the organization.

It also provides a baseline for safety performance and areas needing improvement, empowering you to make informed decisions about how best to reduce risks.

Challenges in data tracking are often due to inconsistent reporting standards, variations in diagnostic criteria, and discrepancies in how data Is recorded across different regions or systems. Also, rapidly changing situations require real-time data analysis to be effective.

However, there is often a lag in data reporting and processing, which can delay responses and affect the accuracy of the incident rate calculation.

2. Lost Time Injury Frequency (LTIFR)

The Lost-Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR) reflects the number of lost-time injuries relative to the total number of worked hours. An increasing LTIFR signals potential inefficiencies in current safety protocols, requiring thorough, often time-consuming revisions to decrease the frequency of lost-time injuries.

Understanding LTIFR over time enables the identification of trends and patterns in workplace injuries, guiding the development of targeted safety strategies. A low LTIFR can lead to financial incentives such as rebates from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) and reduced premiums.

However, implementing LTIFR tracking poses challenges. The management of lost-time injuries and return-to-work (RTW) programs often falls outside the jurisdiction of operations supervisors and into the hands of case managers, who lack experience in operations and may struggle to communicate effectively or calculate the impacts of lost-time injuries.

Finally, lost time may not be designated until after the initial injury, requiring a robust system to classify injuries or illnesses accurately.

3. Safety Training and Certification Rates (STCR)

Safety Training and Certification Rates (STCR) are calculated by tracking the completion rates of safety training across the organization. By utilizing supervisor dashboards, we can easily see which employees or departments require training or certification renewal, ensuring everyone is up to date. This can help identify gaps in training and help supervisors monitor compliance with mandated retraining dates.

Ensuring employees are well-trained in safety practices positively impacts operational efficiency. This decreases the likelihood of these employees encountering accidents, reduces downtime, and promotes a safety culture. Ensuring compliance and fostering an environment where safety training is prioritized is essential for maintaining a proactive safety culture.

However, implementing STCR tracking presents challenges. Supervisors may be unaware of specific retraining timelines, necessitating a comprehensive training matrix with pre-populated dates. Additionally, employees misunderstand that safety training is transferrable from other employees due to the potential lack of specificity and awareness of the regulatory and procedural nuances that professional training provides. Safety training must only be provided by certified trainers, and employees must learn about the policies to train in-house.

4. Near-Miss Reporting and Investigation

Measuring near-miss reporting and investigation involves systematically identifying, documenting, and examining incidents that had the potential to cause harm but fortunately did not.

We preemptively address risks by taking corrective action in response to these near misses before they escalate into more severe outcomes. For example, a worker almost slips off a scaffolding due to a slippery surface caused by morning dew. Reporting this would include noting precisely what and where it happened, causes, parties involved, worst-case scenario, and recommendations.

The significance of near-miss reporting lies in its ability to uncover and mitigate hazards. Much like our approach to tracking Lost-Time Injury Frequency Rates and Safety Training and Certification Rates, this method offers insights into the root causes of safety issues.

It highlights recurring or systemic problems, enabling targeted interventions that bolster safety measures. Moreover, we can safeguard our workforce by averting accidents and preventing financial and operational repercussions of workplace incidents.

Implementing this KPI mirrors the challenges encountered with LTIFR and other safety-related metrics. These include ensuring accurate data collection, fostering a culture encouraging reporting, and addressing potential gaps in supervisor training. Overcoming these hurdles requires a concerted effort to educate all levels of the organization to recognize the importance of near-miss reporting as a tool for continuous improvement and accident prevention.

5. Corporate Legislative Compliance

Measuring Corporate Legislative Compliance includes conducting internal and, where necessary, external audits against a comprehensive list of compliance requirements at federal, provincial, and municipal levels, along with industry best practices.

The importance of legislative compliance cannot be overstated. It is mandated by governing bodies, and failure to comply can lead to significant consequences, including injuries, environmental harm, operational disruptions, legal penalties, and negative impacts on employee morale. Adherence to legislative standards protects the business and its employees and maintains operational integrity and public trust.

Implementing effective compliance strategies presents challenges like those encountered with other safety KPIs, such as Lost-Time Injury Frequency Rate and Near-Miss Reporting. One notable obstacle is supervisors’ potential underestimation of the importance of safety and compliance compared to productivity and quality.

Additionally, allocating sufficient time and resources for compliance activities and enhancing internal safety expertise are solutions to implementation challenges. This is where Workplace Medical Corp.’s consultative services can help implement these solutions to overcome the obstacles.

How can we help?

Our certified Health & Safety (H&S) consultants can audit your H&S plan, review how you capture the data required to track your Key Performance Indicators properly and determine what KPIs suit your company. The audit can also ensure compliance with H&S regulations and may uncover gaps in your program or hidden risks.

Once you have your H&S plan, we can help implement it through various training programs, including psychology, health and safety training. We can also help you respond better if a work injury occurs by providing an on-call occupational health nurse to support the injured worker and your first responders and reduce unnecessary time loss.

Connect with our expert consultants today to discuss how we can support your company’s safety strategy needs.