Many organizations almost exclusively focus on outcome metrics (lagging indicators - results) when it comes to safety. They track lost work days and injury statistics. They use these statistics in their sustainability reporting and for measuring managerial performance. Outcome metrics are also used to determine audit and inspection frequency and to target safety improvement initiatives.
Focusing exclusively on outcome metrics is popular but does not necessarily indicate whether or not a safety management system is effective. There are simply too many other factors that cause variation in injury statistics. These include variation in data collection and analysis methodologies. When different assumptions and methodologies are used for data collection, the resulting measures can have very different meanings. There is also the element of chance inherent in any complex system. An organization with an excellent management system can have several recordable injuries; an organization with no management system can have zero recordable injuries.
Using outcome metrics for evaluating safety management systems is important but, this method indicates how well safety management is working, not how to make it better.
Look for the next blog in this series covering choosing the right performance indicators – Process Metrics