Traditionally, we measure the success of our safety program with injury and illness rates - failure rates. This session reviews some of the many leading indicators of safety program performance, but will focus on how to measure some of those leading indicators, such safety inspections, management performance, and employee perceptions. This session will also discuss a variety of software programs that allows expedient completion of leading indicator tasks, numerically weighted reports, and production of a scorecard.

The Dark Ages

In the past, and many of us in the present, measure the performance of our safety and health management programs based on our failures. Let's take a look at how that is done. We use the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics Incident Rate to measure ourselves against our prior performance, against others in our industry, and against the nation-wide incident rates. As defined by the U.S. Department of Labor, the "Incidence rate (Safety and Health Statistics) represents the number of injuries and/or illnesses per 100 full-time workers, calculated as follows: (N/EH) × 200,000, where: N = number of injuries and/or illnesses, EH = total hours worked by all employees during the calendar year, and 200,000 = base for 100 full-time equivalent workers (working 40 hours per week, 50 weeks per year)."

(Number of incidents / Total Hours Worked) × 200,000 = Incident Rate

We use the same basic formula to measure severity incident rates, how badly we failed to prevent injury or illness per 100 full-time equivalent employees.

(Number of lost days / Total Hours Worked) × 200,000 = Severity Rate

Many organizations, both private and public, such as school districts and government entities, have large numbers of salaried employees whose hours are not recorded. These organizations select a constant number by which to develop their incident rates, such as the average salary per employee. Therefore, their formula might look like this:

  • (Number of incidents / Total Payroll) × $100,000 = Incident Rate

When measuring program success, some entities calculate their incident rate based on the number of OSHA recordable cases and while others calculate their incident rate based on the number of workers' compensation claims.

Another method of measuring the performance of a safety and health program is to measure the average Costs per Claim. The costs of claims include: paid medical costs; paid indemnity; paid vocational rehabilitation; paid special costs, such as California's "4850" for fire fighters and police officers, where certain types of illnesses, such as heart & lung diseases are presumed to be work-related.; paid expenses, such as legal costs and mileage; and the amounts reserved for the future costs in each of the previously stated costs.

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