One key to using process metrics is selecting the right ones. The performance being measured needs to be related to the desired outcomes. For safety management, this means that what is being measured needs to make a difference in reducing injuries and ill health of workers. This is the most difficult part of selecting appropriate process metrics. The other key is choosing metrics where reliable data about the process can be collected and you have confidence this data will be collected in a manner that is usable for making objective decisions.
When properly selected, process metrics can be used to assess the adequacy and effectiveness of the safety management system processes. For example, if there is a clear link between the competence of individuals in performing high-risk tasks and the occurrence of injuries, then a process metric linked to evaluating the competence of workers performing this work makes sense. An example of this would be work on energized equipment. The use of this metric would also depend on establishing clear and valid competence criteria to assess and interpret the results.
Process metrics are helpful for evaluating how well processes are meeting your goals and how they are contributing to the accomplishment of the overall strategy of safety. A regular analysis of process metrics provides valuable insight into opportunities to improve, change, or re-align safety processes.
Look for the next blog in this series covering choosing the right performance indicators – Complications and considerations.