Unraveling safety performance: incident rate benchmarking
Workplace injuries and illnesses play a significant role in an organization's overall health. Incidents affect a company's reputation and ability to secure future work and bring a heavy emotional toll that can negatively impact employee morale and well-being.
With so much riding on an organization's environment, health, and safety (EHS) performance, it makes sense why some companies obsess about lowering their injury and incident rates. However, how can a company know how they stack up against their peers, whether they're performing well or if their program needs some work? This article will explore how companies can better understand their organization by measuring their safety performance against their industry peers and how to do it.
Understanding incident rates
Incident rates serve as key indicators of an organization’s safety performance. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) offer valuable data that can help calculate these rates. These calculations provide insights into the frequency of workplace injuries and illnesses relative to the total hours worked. By understanding these numbers, organizations can identify areas of concern and take appropriate action. To learn more about incident reporting, check out our e-book: Everything you need to know about EHS incident reporting.
Benchmarking: an essential tool
Benchmarking involves comparing an organization’s incident rates with those of its industry peers. It provides a clearer picture of how the organization is performing in terms of safety. However, it is crucial to ensure that comparisons are made with industry-specific data. Comparing against dissimilar industries could lead to misleading conclusions due to differences in operational environments and associated risks.
Before you can compare your company’s performance against its peers, you need to start by calculating incident rates. Each year, most companies in the United States submit work-related injury and illness data to OSHA. Therefore, the best place to find this information without doing the math yourself is to reference your organization’s OSHA 300 log.
If you can’t find that information, calculating incident rates on your own is always an option. The best place to find in-depth information on calculating injury rates is from OSHA or BLS. However, the basic formula works like this: (Number of cases X 200,000) / Number of hours worked.
Compare injury rates against your peers
Now that you have your organization’s injury data, the next step is to benchmark that information against your industry. The best place to do that is the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) annual survey of occupational injuries and illnesses (SOII).
The SOII organizes injury data through the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). The NAICS is a system used by the United States government to classify businesses and collect, analyze and publish statistical data to understand industry trends and inform policy decisions.
An example is an animal food manufacturing company (NAICS code 3111). After collecting or calculating incident rates, the company now knows they have an injury rate of 3.4. However, when they look at the SOII, they’re shocked to see that the average total recordable cases across all industries, including private, state and local government, were 2.9.
This data may be alarming initially, and they may believe they have a terrible safety performance. However, because different industries experience diverse levels of risk, comparing your company against the average doesn’t provide the most precise picture of safety performance. Therefore, when comparing, you need to be as industry specific as possible; otherwise, you might get misleading information.
If this animal food manufacturing company scrolled down to their specific industry, manufacturing, they would see the average injury rate there is 3.3, still below their rate of 3.4. However, if they continued to focus down, they would see that the average rate of animal food manufacturing is 3.6, above their own. Therefore, when comparing themselves to their peers, they perform better than average.
Enhancing safety measures: the path forward
Now that you know where your organization stands, you need to continuously monitor that standing and do something with the information. If the results are good and your company's performing better than your peers, that's great news, but you must maintain that. On the other hand, if the results are not so good, a new approach to workplace safety is needed.
While most organizations already have the basics in place to improve workplace safety, many are not taking full advantage of their data and its powerful effect on workplace safety. With data analytics, companies can analyze injury and illness data to identify trends and patterns that help the company identify common hazards and implement measures to prevent future injuries and illnesses. One of the best tools for this is EHS management software.
Harnessing technology for safety
Understanding how your organization's safety performance compares against its peers is essential and a great motivator to get your safety program into shape. Companies serious about reducing their injury rates should consider implementing EHS management software that is able to process large volumes of data and identify patterns that might be difficult to spot otherwise. For instance, Ideagen’s EHS solutions incorporate robust analytics that assist organizations in reducing injury rates, ultimately leading to a safer work environment. Read more about leveraging technology to reduce incident rates in Ideagen’s e-book, zero incidents: no longer out of reach.
Ideagen can help
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