A new report suggests that at best, companies are only getting half the job done when it comes to measuring their employees’ safety.
Companies tally their injury rates because OSHA and their workers’ comp insurance carriers require them to.
But an article in the Journal of Safety, Health and Environmental Research says those measures are lagging indicators — those that occur after an injury occurs.
The researchers behind “Externally Reported Occupational Health & Safety Data Among U.S. Manufacturing Firms” suggest companies also pay close attention to leading indicators — measures that are activity-based and proactive.
Examples include measuring:
- amount of employee safety training
- resources devoted to risk control programs
- percentage of total workforce represented in joint management-worker safety committees, and
- health and safety topics covered in formal agreements with unions.
The researchers looked at annual reports from the top 50 manufacturing companies in IndustryWeek’s Top 500 firm list to determine whether they measured 13 occupational health and safety (OHS) metrics.
None of the companies reported measuring employee contributions to OHS, their contributions to OHS in their industry or how OSH is integrated into their businesses.
In their reports, many of the companies described their activity-based safety initiatives, such as safety training. However, none of them quantified these leading indicators.
And if none — or hardly any — are measuring these leading safety indicators, how can any company benchmark its performance?
Note: The authors aren’t picking solely on manufacturing companies. They say this problem exists elsewhere, too.
The report’s ultimate recommendation is that companies quantify leading OHS indicators. Many companies quantify their environmentalism by measuring such things as recycling. Why not do something similar regarding workers’ safety and health?
But the paper also notes that development of appropriate, meaningful and valid leading OHS indicators is needed, first.
How would you measure your company’s leading safety indicators? Let us know in the comments below.