5 Takeaways: How Metrics Are Shaping the Future of the Safety Industry

This blog post has been originally published in March 2016.

We’ve all been there. We know we are right, yet there is not enough data to prove our case. This is especially frustrating for safety professionals whose needs are often neglected by the management “in seek for more profitable investments and more urgent projects”. Defining value to management is essential in attracting the needed resources for improving the safety culture of the company. That’s why you should build your key performance indicator dashboard today - not tomorrow.

1. Metrics for success don't exist in safety industry


Traditionally in the safety industry, metrics for success have been difficult define. Only when things go wrong, people pay attention to the matter and, unfortunately, that tends to be only temporary improvement. Without a clear dashboard demonstration of safety observations, audit score improvement and incidents, it is virtually impossible to understand the relation between occupational hazards and the amount of preventive work done for it. The more the industry will learn to measure these things, the more in-depth cause-effect understanding will eventually emerge.

2. You cannot manage what you cannot measure


Safety industry is no exception to this universal business rule. The only way to get things done is to start measuring your performance transparently and getting the metrics up and running. If you want to build a company culture where safety is considered important before crises indeed emerge, you will need to build metrics for following up the preventive safety work.

3. Do meaningful work


There is nothing more frustrating than doing important work and not getting recognised for it. Despite your performance measures will be far from perfect in the beginning, at least, they give you a clear, visually compelling presentation of things moving forward.

4. Data drives process improvement - not the other way around


A common human mistake is to start working on improving processes before measuring how they actually translate into results. Why not turn that thought upside down: start measuring transparently today and test process enhancements that ultimately lead to improved results?

5. You need data and metrics to convince management’s investment into occupational safety


Let’s be honest here: it’s very difficult to measure the return on investment for occupational safety. There are lots of guesstimates in the air such as:

  • How much will the invested capital improve working conditions, motivation and wellbeing?
  • How much insurance costs will we save if we invest sum X into occupational safety?
  • How efficient will the preventive action prove to be?
  • How do we measure the success of the investment due to all intangible angles related to it?

Yet, it is clear that the more you have data, the easier it will be for the management to believe the investment opportunity is worth pursuing. Ultimately, with clear key risk indicators (KRIs), you can drill down to the essence of occupational safety through metrics and pose the killer question: How much is a human life worth for you?

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Metrics Checklist Safety Management

Olli Pölönen

Interim Chief Financial Officer