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Does Your Safety Measure Up?

tape measureThere are several reasons why it is important to measure health and safety performance. The primary reason is to gather information and data relating to the effectiveness of the strategies and procedures in place.

Measuring health and safety provides information about how the system is working and forms the basis of continual improvement. If measurement is not carried out correctly, the effectiveness of your safety management system is undermined and there is no reliable information to inform managers how well risks to health and safety are being controlled.

Most organisations generally struggle to develop health and safety performance measures which are not based solely on injury and ill health statistics. While the general business performance of an organisation is subject to a range of positive measures like profit, return on investment or market share.  For health and safety it too often comes down to measures of failure such as injuries and lost time.

Measuring performance is as much an important part of a health and safety management system as it is to financial, production or service delivery management.
The primary purpose of measuring health and safety performance is to provide information on the progress and current status of the strategies, processes and activities used by an organisation to control risks to health and safety.

Health and Safety performance measurement should seek to answer such questions as:

  • Where are we now relative to our overall health and safety aims and objectives?
  • Is our management of health and safety efficient?
  • How does our performance compare to previous years? Are we getting better or worse?
  • How successful are we at controlling hazards and risks?
  • How do we compare with others?
  • Is our culture supportive of health and safety?
  • Is the safety management system deployed across all areas of the organisation?

The aim should be to provide a comprehensive picture of the organisations health and safety performance.

Different levels of management will require information appropriate to their position within the organisation. And there is an increasing need to demonstrate to external stakeholders (like regulators and shareholders) that the processes in place to control health and safety risks are operating correctly and effectively too.

The measuring process itself is an essential element of the safety management system and also needs to be monitored. This might be done using a team approach involving managers, supervisors, employees and safety representatives. Tracking performance is critical to continual improvement and success. Reviewing performance internally helps to continually improve your system of safety.

So how does your system of managing safety measure up?

Where performance is measured, performance improves. Where performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates.  Thomas S. Monson

About the Author

Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

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