Key Performance Measures for Safety

Updated: Nov 14, 2020

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:

Incident rates

You likely already track the total recordable incident rate for your site or organization using the formula:

TRIR = (# of recordable incidents x 200,000) / (Man hours worked to date)

OSHA TRIR Calculator

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)1, first aid incidents2, or near miss incidents3. You may also choose to measure the incident rate based on data collected for body part injured or location on site where 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. 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 3 recordable events in 2019, then you know it’s time to breathe some life into your incident communication strategy. Simply put, as safety professionals we are all in the business of reducing TRIR, but there’s a lot of data differentiation to be done to get on the right track and successfully accomplish this. Don’t expect your team to get it without your help.

Behavior metrics

There are many KPIs that apply to departments and business units such as Quality and Production that are straight-forward and quantifiable. In safety, you may be interested in measuring a behavior rather than a quantifiable figure like 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, but it’s certainly doable! Utilize behavior based KPIs such as:

  1. Number of hazards reported

  2. Number of safety improvements made (or hazards corrected)

  3. Number of participants in the safety committee meeting

  4. Number of safety walk-throughs completed

  5. Number of training modules completed

  6. Number of stop-work interventions

  7. Number of safety talks, shares, or briefings held

  8. Number of team safety shares

Behavior-based KPIs should, in theory, compliment an incident rate KPI. We could fairly well presume that incidents will be reduced when employees and managers are more engaged and participating in our safety program or 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’re already using. Make that measurement more digestible and then compliment it with additional behavior metrics. Consult your employees, operators, 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 don’t be ashamed to change them if they aren’t working! 


1Serious Incident and Fatality (SIF) – a life-altering (e.g., amputation or permanent loss of vision) or life-ending event

2First 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:

3Near Miss Incident – a close call that did not result in an injury (but could have)

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