Tips for setting workplace health and safety KPIs


Within large organisations it is hard to monitor what each person is doing at all times.

Therefore, it is easier to set a series of goals relating to the work. If the goals are met the process is proceeding according to plan. Examples include:

  • Project milestones
  • Tasks completed
  • Sales figures
  • KPIs or Key Performance Indicators, are measurements that can indicate whether goals are met.

To make sure a WHS Management System delivers the right outcomes it has to be constantly monitored for its performance.

There are four key steps to effective risk management

Results are generally assessed by:

  • How well the organisation understands the risks associated with their work and how their actions impact safety – Or WHS Knowledge
  • How well the organisation manages their safety processes – Or WHS performance
  • Safety performance, such as risk identification and minimisation
  • Injury performance, such as injury prevention or return to work programs
  • How well the organisation’s system is followed by staff – or WHS Implementation 

All these constitute the framework for an organisation’s assessment – its KPIs. There are two core types of KPIs that can be used – lagging or leading KPIs.

Lag KPIs are output-oriented and usually straightforward and easy to measure.

The most commonly used are:

  • Lost time injury rates
  • Workers Compensation claims
  • Fatalities…

Lag KPIs tell how the organisation has handled past situations. They are reactionary.

On the other hand, Lead KPIs relate to input that leads towards a goal. It can sometimes be quite hard to identify appropriate lead indicators relevant to a goal, and they are often difficult to measure:

  • Number of inspections performed
  • Number of hazard reports
  • Near miss reports

Lead KPIs suggest how well the organisation will handle future situations. They are predictive. As lag indicators are the easiest to identify and measure, they are often exclusively used in reporting. However, as you’ve seen they don’t provide the full picture.

For example, if managers see a low injury rate, they may believe that their workplace is safe and that they do not need to focus on safety, while in reality there may be several unidentified hazards that could lead to future incidents.

So what is special about Site Risk Assessments

So, it’s not enough to simply track one KPI after the fact. The story is never that simple. Incidents are typically the end result of many factors. However, leading indicators are not perfect. They cannot tell you if the system is effective, only that it is being followed. Together, leading and lagging KPIs provide a more complete picture of your WHS Management System, allowing you to continually improve. So, to be successful Safety Management systems need to be setup to effectively establish and monitor a range of KPI’s of both lead and lag types.

An organization’s health and safety is defined by its system, but measured by its actions.

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