If you don’t know where your program is failing, you can’t improve it.
Your company may have most of the elements of a great safety program in place, including commitment and support from management, regular site-specific safety meetings and ongoing access to safety training. But as with so many things in business, you can’t improve your safety program if you don’t measure its effectiveness.
In its 2019 Safety Performance Report, the Associated Builders and Contractors reported that a twice-yearly review of safety program performance that evaluates whether the program is producing expected results and identifies opportunities for improvement can lead to a 59 percent reduction in a company’s TRIR (total recordable incident rate) and a 60 percent reduction in its DART (days away, restricted or transferred) score.
Before you can review your safety program’s performance, you need to establish metrics to track, including lagging indicators such as incident rates and leading indicators such as the number of walkarounds management conducts, the length of time it takes to respond to reports, how fast corrections are made after a hazard has been identified, and the number of workers who have completed required safety training or who make suggestions for improving safety.
When it’s time for a biannual review of your safety program, executives can use the data that’s been collected to see where you’ve made progress and what areas need improvement. According to the ABC report, executives should share these results with safety staff and supervisors, and the results should impact their performance evaluations.
At the end of the review process, managers should set new goals for areas where the company is showing good results, since there’s almost always room for improvement. In areas where the company hasn’t been as successful, they can work with safety staff and supervisors to develop new strategies and action plans for doing better.
An ineffective safety program not only puts a company and its workers at risk, it’s also a waste of time and money. A thoughtfully devised program with specific tools, procedures and policies in place designed to improve outcomes such as incident rates is essential to making a serious commitment to safety. Regular assessments of the program shed light on how well it’s working and where you can get more return on your efforts.
Freelance writer Mary Lou Jay writes about business and technical developments in a variety of industries. She has been covering residential and commercial construction for more than 25 years.