A key performance indicator (KPI) is a quantifiable value chosen by an organization to measure the effectiveness of its business objectives or strategy. Hence, a safety KPI measures the success of a safety program. KPIs are not always perfect instruments of analysis and periodically require a review for effectiveness.
When choosing a new safety KPI or when reviewing the one(s) you have, keep in mind the most important aspect of a strong KPI: communication. An effective KPI is relevant to the audience and incites action. Consider the following when choosing the most effective measurement for safety performance:
You likely already track the total recordable incident rate for your site or organization using the OSHA's TRIR formula.
TRIR = (# of recordable incidents x 200,000) / (Man hours worked to date)
A reduction in OSHA recordable injuries would certainly indicate positive safety performance, but not all recordable incidents carry the same weight. Consider instead choosing an incident rate KPI based on a higher degree of detail.
For example, you could measure the rate of potential and/or actual serious incidents and fatalities (SIFs) , first aid incidents , or near miss incidents . You may also choose to measure the incident rate based on data collected for body part injured or location on-site where the injury occurred.
The number of lost time days and/or restricted duty days could be a beneficial KPI measurement for your application, as well. Consider including monetary values with lost time to increase the impact of the KPI.
As safety professionals, we are in the business of reducing TRIR, but there is an abundance of data that can be broken down and analyzed in order to successfully accomplish this. Do not expect your team to 'get it' without your help.
Any one of these incident rate measurements has the potential to provide significant clarification to your team regarding where, when, and why incidents are occurring. If eyes glaze over during shift meetings when you announce that there were three recordable events in 2019, then you know it’s time to breathe some life into your incident communication strategy.
There are many KPIs that apply to departments and business units such as Quality and Production that are straightforward and quantifiable. In safety, you may be interested in measuring a behavior rather than a quantifiable figure like the number of quality complaints or pack percentage.
For example, you might desire to communicate the level of safety engagement at your site. This will require you to think outside of the generic KPI box. Here are some behavior-based KPIs that you could utilize:
Number of hazards reported
Number of safety improvements made (or hazards corrected)
Number of participants in the safety committee meeting
Number of safety walk-throughs completed
Number of training modules completed
Number of stop-work interventions
Number of safety talks, shares, or briefings held
Number of team safety shares
Behavior-based KPIs should, in theory, complement an incident rate KPI. We could fairly well presume that incidents will be reduced when workers and managers are more engaged and participating in our safety program or utilizing our management system.
If you are in the market for a new and more effective safety KPI, start by breaking down the high-level incident rate that you are already using. Make that measurement more digestible and then complement it with additional behavior metrics.
Always consult your employees and management team before you settle on a new or revised KPI. These stakeholders likely have excellent insight that will benefit your decision-making process. Review your KPIs often and do not be ashamed to change them if they are not working!
 Serious Incident and Fatality (SIF) – a life-altering (e.g., amputation or permanent loss of vision) or life-ending event
 First Aid Incident – a work-related event that is cared for with over-the-counter medication, tetanus immunization, flushing or soaking of a wound, wound coverings such as bandages and gauze, hot or cold therapy, fluids and rest, removal of foreign body with tweezers, swabs or irrigation, drilling of a finger- or toenail to relieve pressure, draining of a blister, eye patches, non-rigid means of support like elastic bandages, finger guards, massages, or temporary immobilization devices (Reference: OSHA.gov)
 Near Miss Incident – a close call that did not result in an injury (but could have)