Workers and managers are often confronted with a range of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) risks, which they are supposed to manage responsibly. To some extent, OHS performance is reflected in the findings of the risk assessment process, but risk assessments are not always complete and are performed infrequently. As a result, the risk assessment is an important but not sufficient source of data for adequate OHS management. Without OHS KPIs the question ‘How good is our OHS performance?’ is difficult to answer.
The field of Occupational Health and Safety comprises a variety of risks that need to be managed. OHS experts are often specialised in some specific risks and they should know how to assess and reduce them.
The future of KPIs
Key performance indicators (KPIs) should provide objective data on the OSH situation. Without information on OHS performance, no adequate feedback on actions and policies is available. The most frequently used KPIs reflect past performance rather than future performance. There is therefore an increasing interest in so-called ‘leading indicators’.
Instead of focusing on the negative, i.e. on measuring what went wrong, organisations tend to prefer positive feedback. The focus therefore is on what went well (what was safe and healthy) and according to planning. Examples of positive lagging indicators are:
- the percentage of productive planned work days realised (i.e. 97% productive work days as opposed to 3% sickness absence);
- the number of hours worked (by the total work force) without lost time injury;
- the number of working days since the last accident;
- employee satisfaction (survey).
To be useful as a tool to manage OHS, KPIs should provide quantitative or semi-quantitative data that reflect the safety and health issues and activities in the organisation. These should comprise condensed information on existing and emerging risks, exposures, and hazards, as well as on preventive activities to (further) reduce the remaining hazards and risks.
The KPIs should be based as far as possible on objective and validated measurements; however, some OHS aspects (e.g. safety climate or worker satisfaction) are difficult to measure entirely objectively; in such cases, making use of validated surveys or questionnaires that deliver self-reported data is the best option.
Relevance to management
KPIs are important for the effectiveness of the OHS management process. They provide valuable feedback, help to motivate managers and organisations to take action, and are valuable for communication purposes.
In principle, it is only useful to measure a performance indicator if the KPI can be used for decision-making. In other words, it is only useful when the measurement has potential consequences for adapting OHS policies, OHS plans, or existing practices.
Peace of mind
Incon Health assists companies to provide a healthy and safe working environment for their employees, as required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Our aim at Incon Health is to work hand in hand with employers, employees and occupational healthcare specialists concerning:
- the health of employees, plus work and functional capacity at different stages of working life
- preventing work-related diseases and accidents
- the health and safety of workers and the working environment
- the functioning of the work community
Call us today on 021 975 2694 or visit www.inconhealth.co.za for further information.