How to Measure Safety & Success

Observation of employee behavior is a key part of a good safety program.
Observation of employee behavior is a key part of a good safety program. (Image: safety, hard hat image by Greg Pickens from

Workplace injuries and incidents are painful, expensive and detrimental to employee morale and productivity. Many companies have safety programs that measure injury rates and perhaps incident frequency. Tracking last year's injuries will not reduce the probability of future injuries. Injury records are "lagging" indicators that are tracking what has already occurred in your company. World-class safety programs not only use all of the fundamental safety principles, they also measure their safety performance. The key to measuring safety success is incorporating leading indicators into your measurements or metrics.

Things You'll Need

  • Safety audit records
  • Injury reports
  • Incident reports
  • Observation/feedback reports

Record Keeping

Collect and record data for injuries, near-injuries and incidents in your business. Record keeping is critical for monitoring ongoing safety performance. Keep safety audit records and injury and incident reports.

Communicate safety records to your employees. Keep them informed. Provide access to all data; do not filter it or assume what employees want to hear.

Define your safety objectives for injuries and incidents clearly and in writing. Communicate your objectives to all employees. Keep the objectives current and update them regularly.

Observation and Feedback

Develop an observation and feedback program. Communicate the program clearly to all employees. Show management is committed to using ongoing observation and feedback as a leading indicator to track employee safety behavior. Train supervisors and employees to observe other employees in their work areas. Develop a method to track and compile observation/feedback reports.

Train your employees on providing observation feedback. Feedback should be clear and nonthreatening. Do not use discipline as a feedback tool except for flagrant safety violations. Include feedback discussions in your observation records.

Communicate observation and feedback data to all employees as a training tool. Remove employee names or other identifiers to provide anonymity.

Correlate observation and feedback data to reductions in incidents or injuries.

Recognition and Reward

Recognize positive and negative safety trends. Communicate success regularly.

Reward good safety performance in employee performance reviews. Use individual rewards over group rewards. Group rewards can reduce safety performance by providing rewards to those who do not provide safety improvement.

Monitor safety programs, records and rewards and change them regularly. Maintain flexibility and transparency in your safety program. Make observation and positive feedback a part of your safety culture and continue to measure success.

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