When it comes to managing safety performance through the use of safety data, garbage in equals garbage out (GIGO) and no amount of inconsistent, nonsensical or incomparable safety data can help you manage safety performance comprehensively and effectively.
That’s because a functional, responsive and continuously improving safety culture and safety management system relies on the collection and use of consistent, comparable and meaningful safety data.
Whether your company uses leading indicators (e.g. number of employees trained, behavioral observations completed, near misses reported), lagging indicators (Lost Time Hours, the number of Workers Compensation Board or Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports filed) or both, unless the safety data you collect is consistent and comparable across your business you will be challenged – at best – to prioritize, plan and implement practices that will in fact improve safety performance in the long run.
Consequently, safety performance improvement programs must be driven by two key factors. First, ensure you collect data that is consistent and a key step to consistency is the use of standard, company-wide checklists and inspections to collect data for indicators such as:
Behavioral based observations
Reportable incidents and injuries
Next, if you are able to implement the tools needed to collect data consistently, the second ingredient of success is to ensure you can meaningfully compare the data collected to ensure that your safety management program is driven by the real safety priorities in your business and at the very least be sure you have the capability to compare safety data:
by leading and/or lagging safety indicator
by location, site, department or product line
by activity, task, shift, etc., and of course …
across your entire business.
If you are able to collect and compare meaningful safety data across your business, you will most certainly avoid spending GIGO Whats of energy trying to improve and will have set the foundation for a functional, responsive and continuously improving safety culture across your entire business.
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