Kevin Ian Schmidt

Measuring Workplace Health and Safety Performance

The monitoring and measuring of health and safety performance is a key component of a company’s health and safety management process, as it allows management to see the effectiveness of any new policies and procedures that have been implemented recently. Without proper measurements to see the results of any changes, it is impossible to know whether those changes are having the required effect. If they are, they should be kept. If they are not, then further changes are needed, or a completely new approach adopted.

There are two ways of monitoring health and safety performance; active/proactive and reactive monitoring.

Active/proactive monitoring: This involves inspections and checks in order to ensure that policies and procedures are being implemented correctly (if they are being implemented at all that is!), to prevent accidents and incidents from occurring. With regards to health and safety, prevention is much more preferable to cure, and avoiding accidents will benefit workers as well as management.

Reactive monitoring: As the name suggests, this method of monitoring involves looking at what has gone wrong (i.e. an accident or incident taking place) and then deciding what can be done to prevent it from happening again. Whilst the new procedures and controls may benefit those in the future, it is little comfort to the worker that was injured (or worse) in this instance.

Check Out: Tips for Improving the Reporting of Accidents

In order to be useful, measurements must be reliable and accurate, otherwise the whole system is undermined, and much-needed changes to prevent future accidents or illness may not be introduced. Examples include reporting all accidents, even minor ones where the person was treated from items in the first aid box and did not need any time off work. Whilst it is tempting for a person not to bother reporting such a minor accident, it may be the case that the same equipment of process is causing this minor injury quite often, and a simple health and safety measure could be introduced to prevent it occurring, and possibly preventing a more serious injury in the future.

Many companies struggle with developing health and safety performance measures, often focusing on a single statistic such as accident numbers. To be truly effective, a range of measurements is needed covering a variety of health and safety issues, which means if one statistic is not accurate (e.g. minor accidents are not being reported), other measurements will help to contribute to the overall picture.

Setting Safety Goals and Measurements

Development of specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-sensitive (SMART) goals is important to the success of any safety and health program. Unfortunately, many people make the mistake of focusing solely on the desired outcomes in the development of their goals. They fail to develop activity-based goals that will help them to get to those outcomes. To increase the chances of success, develop both activity-based and outcome-based goals.

To learn more about setting SMART Goals, check out this post

Examples of outcome-based and activity-based goals are below.


Outcome based goals Activity based goals
% Reduction in OSHA recordable injuries Investigations completed on time
%Reduction in workers’ compensation claims Investigation identifies causes
% Reduction in workers’ compensation costs Investigation identifies action plan
Reduction in vehicle accidents per mile driven Action plan implemented
Safety meetings held as scheduled
Improvement in corporate audit results Agenda promoted in advance
Reduction in observed hazards Safety records updated and posted
Reduction in average cost per claim Inspections conducted as scheduled
Frequency of all injuries/illnesses Inspection findings brought to closure
Severity of all injuries/illnesses Management safety communications
Lost-time accidents Management safety participation
Near miss/near hit reports
Discipline/violations reports
Absenteeism rates
Productivity per employee rates
Production error rates
Incidence of workplace violence
Incidence of accidental releases Rate of employee


Resolution of suggestions/complaints
Self-audits for regulatory compliance Safety committee initiatives
Contractor recordable injuries/illnesses
Total manufacturing process incidents Job safety analyses
Total transportation incidents Employee participation rates
Employee housekeeping
Percent safety goals achieved Employee safety awareness
Training conducted as scheduled Employee at-risk behavior
Safety training test scores Supervisor/manager participation
Statistical tracking for programs Supervisor/manager communication
Statistical process control Supervisor/manager enforcement
System safety analyses Supervisor/manager safety emphasis
Contractor safety activities Supervisor/manager safety awareness
Positive reinforcement activities Injury/illness cases reported on time
OSHA audit – no citations Statistical reports issued on time
OSHA audit – citations, no fines Ratio of safety and health staff to workforce
Willful violations Safety and health spending per employee
Serious or repeat violations Titles in safety and health library
Other-than-serious violations Technical assistance bulletins issued
Total dollar amount of penalties Policies and procedures updated on time
Average time to abate reported hazard Wellness program participation rates
 Average time to respond to complaint Fire protection audit



Leave a Comment