One of the complications in assessing safety management systems is that many organizations are much more focused on achieving the intended outcome of compliance with laws and regulations than they are on the intended outcome of prevention of worker injury and ill health. This results in a disconnect when the process metrics being assessed—for example, fire extinguisher inspections—are not an important factor in causation of worker injury. It is important when establishing process metrics to be clear about which outcome one is hoping to affect. It can be important to have compliance metrics, but they need to be linked to the achievement of compliance outcomes.
Quality of process integrity is a critical component of a safety management system. It is as important as the "planning" and "doing" elements where organizations often focus the majority of their time and resources. If an organization wants to reduce worker injury and ill health, it needs to focus attention on developing sound process metrics. Just as the quality of healthcare cannot be assessed solely by mortality rates, the effectiveness of a safety management system cannot be determined solely by the injury and illness rates. The key to an effective management system is choosing the appropriate process metrics for measuring performance— in other words, selecting those metrics where there is a clear connection to reducing injury and illness.
Look for the next blog in this series covering how to choose the right performance indicators – Key Performance Indicators – Balanced Scorecard Metrics