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It’s one thing to say your company has a good track record when it comes to workplace safety but how can you prove it? Using OSHA safety metrics is one of the standard ways that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration evaluates companies on their safety record.
While some are intended as suggestions for employers to use for in-house evaluation, others are required as part of regular OSHA reporting. OSHA safety metrics can be lagging or leading indicators of success as well as areas of need. Many companies may use either or both depending on their needs. Understanding OSHA metrics and related best practices can help improve workplace safety.
Lagging and leading indicators show past and predictive trends. Lagging indicators provide a snapshot of what’s already happened while leading indicators are more likely to show trends that can help forecast what might happen in the near future.
Lagging indicators as a metric may include a tally of the number of on-the-job injuries or employee fatalities during a given time period. Leading indicators as a metric may include participation rates for safety education and training programs or the number of completed safety inspections.
When you know more about your organization’s performance when it comes to workplace safety and accident prevention, it’s easier to tell whether the training and education you’re conducting for employees are working. Examining these metrics also helps determine where time and money should be spent on employee safety training and education.
For example, if you look at lagging indicators, like an on-the-job injury rate and that’s up from last year and the year before, it suggests failures are happening within the organization; evaluating those metrics can show where additional efforts are needed. Looking at leading indicators like emergency response time can demonstrate that workplace health and safety training is paying off, and this may lead to improvement among lagging indicators, too.
Two OSHA safety metrics are especially valuable when evaluating workplace safety practices and performance. They are TRIR or the total recordable incident rate, and DART or days away from work, restrictions, and transfers. OSHA requires annual collection and reporting of these numbers by many companies with a minimum number of employees, with some exemptions. When they’re too high, it can be a sign that there are workplace health and safety issues, and make it more likely that the agency will take action, such as through an inspection.
Because OSHA uses metrics like these to measure the safety of a particular workplace, it’s vital that companies have effective and efficient policies and procedures in place for prompt and accurate recording of data. This includes employee awareness of accident and incident reporting, as well as prioritizing any needed investigation, hazard assessment, and mitigation.
Accurate OSHA recordkeeping allows organizations to more easily gather the OSHA-required data and submit it promptly. Consider adopting electronic recordkeeping, including software solutions. Standardized data collection and reporting makes OSHA report submissions easier, and also provides companies with actionable data that can be used to make workplace health and safety improvements.
EHS software solutions for workplace health and safety data collection can also make collection tools more accessible and easier to use, which helps encourage and support employee use. This prevents incidents and information from slipping through the cracks or getting the rush treatment which can lead to inaccuracies and errors.
OSHA safety metrics are intended not as a punishment but as a tool. They help companies increase safety awareness of workplace health and safety incidents while also highlighting areas that demand more attention to protect employees.
Whether they’re lagging indicators that show where a company may have failed or leading indicators that predict fewer incidents because of improved prevention and education measures, OSHA safety metrics like TRIR and DART are just one of many strategies companies can use to make their worksite safer for everyone.
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