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Performance Metrics for a Sustainable Health and Safety Program


     By The Windsor Consulting Group, Inc. Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety Consultants

PhoneCall Bernard L Fontaine, Jr., M.T., M.Sc., CIH, CSP at (732) 221-5687


The basic objective of a occupational and/or environmental health and safety management program is to meet regulatory requirements, protect organizational assets, provide safe and healthful working conditions for the workforce, public (community), and the environment. Most organizations have numerous external as well as internal stakeholders. Therefore, the health and safety management system must evaluate all stakeholders equally without bias.
Performance metrics can be used to measure: (1) management commitment, (2) transparency in the reporting structure, (3) robust health and safety program and management system, (4) tested performance standards, (5) learning culture and need for continuous improvement, (6) engagement at all levels between the workroom and the boardroom, (7) mindful culture that knows the limit of risk tolerance, appetite, and attitude, (8) mechanism to identify hazards promptly and implement timely controls, (9) fair reward and disciplinary action system, and (10) effective training and education program for personal development and learning, which can be applied and reinforced in the workplace. Sustainable excellence can be measured by a balanced scorecard of both leading and lagging indicators.

The following are examples of leading and lagging indicators of performance metrics that can be used to evaluate occupational health and safety of the workforce.

Some lagging indicators include:

(1) Reported disabling injuries and illness
(2) Reported non-disabling injuries and illnesses
(3) Reported total lost workdays cases
(4) Reported fatalities
(5) Severity rates
(6) Reported motor vehicle mishaps (on-the-job and away from work)
(7) Reported asset or property damages

Some leading indicators include:

(1) Reported supervisor safety meetings to tool box talks
(2) Number of safety committee meetings
(3) Number of tool box talks
(4) Number of supervisor training labor hours
(5) Number of employee training labor hours
(6) Number of self-audits or inspections
(7) Frequency of reporting management reward and disciplinary action

The balanced scorecard concept is a performance management tool which is useful when the goal is to measure and control business values associated with performance, safety, health, and risk of affected personnel. The concept is simple, but the main problem behind the scorecard is that people don't understand how to develop and cultivate it, where to start, and what results (outcomes) should be anticipated or expected. Once performance metrics are developed, they should be grouped into categories, which should cover all aspects of the organization's programs for at-risk personnel.

The scorecard can be considered balanced when there are 3-4 metrics offset each other within each category or sub-category. Not all performance metrics may be weighted the same. Therefore, there can be an imbalance in any one direction. Most balanced scorecards contain subcategories related to the overall performance goal or objective. Some metrics are more prescriptive in order to accurately measure the outcome whereas other are subjective whereby the outcome can be interpreted by a set of established business rules. In summary, if the performance metrics are meaningful and properly weighted, the measurement can determine the success or failure of the organizational occupational or environmental health and safety program.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bernard L Fontaine, Jr., M.T., M.Sc., CIH, CSP
Bernard L Fontaine, Jr. is the Managing Partner in the Windsor Consulting Group, Inc. Over the past 36 years, Mr. Fontaine has provided a wide array of industrial hygiene, safety, risk, and performance management services to business clients in general industry, construction, maritime, petrochemical and chemical, oil/gas, energy and renewable sources, mining and mineral processing, environmental (permits to remediation), emergency response, and regulatory compliance. Mr. Fontaine is a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) by the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH), Certified Safety Professional (CSP) by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP), and member of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), American Academy of Industrial Hygiene (AAIH), New York Academy of Science - Scientists without Borders, and Workplace Hygienists without Borders.

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While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.
For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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