How do you Measure Safety?

Assess the Effectiveness of your Safety Performance Measures

Measurement is a key step in any management process and forms the basis of continual improvement. If measurement is not carried out correctly, the effectiveness of the health and safety management system is undermined and there is no reliable information to inform managers how well the health and safety risks are controlled.

Measuring safety is a particularly complex problem. There are two categories of measures for safety:

Historically, many organisations have measured only one element of their safety culture – Systems and Processes. This measurement has been undertaken via the use of audit tools and/or statistics that assess reactive measures, such as Lost Time Incident (LTI) frequency and severity ratings.

It is widely recognised that measuring health and safety performance by the number of incidents alone has little statistical validity and reliability. In order to supplement the deficits, auditing was introduced.

Audits were perceived to be an effective measure, until correlational studies between audit scores and accident statistics were conducted. It was found that there were often zero correlations and even negative correlations between the two.

A 10-year study by the Association of American Railroads, begun in the 1970s, conducted an audit with 85% of railroad staff and also administered perception surveys. The results of the audit and perception surveys were correlated with the accident statistics. Unexpectedly, the audit bore almost no correlation to the level of accidents and the severity of harm – except in 2 areas – monetary resources and hazard control. In fact equipment and facilities, resources and reviews, audits and inspections had counter-intuitive correlations. This has also been confirmed by two studies conducted by the National Safety Council (USA) in 1967 and 1992 where the results suggested that many of the “required” elements in audits were suspect.

Organisations need to recognise that there is no single reliable measure of health and safety performance. What is required is a ‘basket’ of measures or a ‘balanced scorecard’, providing information on a range of health and safety activities.

Effective performance measurement provides information on both the level of performance and why the performance level is as it is.

So, How do you Measure Safety Performance?

Assessing health and safety performance requires:

Systems and Processes

This is measured via audits and accident statistics.

Skills and Knowledge Measures

The skills and knowledge of employees in the organisation can be obtained through assessing competencies against requirements and measuring the percentage of skill achievement.


The behaviour of employees can be measured through peer based safety behaviour assessments. One of the key issues facing organisations today is how to create the attitudes and behaviours that ensure that every person takes individual and collective responsibility for safety.

Attitudes, Perception and Leadership

Climate surveys measure the internal and external perceptions of the organisation’s safety systems and are designed to:

Get in Touch with Jump

If you need help, or you answered no or unsure to any of the questions in the assessment tool, then Jump Business Solutions can help you. Phone us on +64 6 754 8987 or +64 27 450 5271 or email and Jump will come to you, discover your needs, and develop a solution that will create real, long-term and positive change for you and your business.