By: Thomas Carson
Don’t Worry about the Score – Worry about Activities that Make the Score
Analytics are a critically important output from EHS software products. This makes sense when you think about it: the only reason to put in a computer system is to manage data quickly. Data has more value when it is useful, which is to say, it needs to be the right data, and the more the better.
You got more data by including more inputs, often in the form of more employees participating directly in your data reporting activities. But how do you know what the “right” data is for managing your safety performance?
While catching up on industry reading over the holidays, I ran across a great article in the October 2021 Professional Safety Journal by Jean Ndana titled Strategic Safety Goals. Check it out for a great overview on the importance on assigning audience-appropriate performance goals to your organizations’ employees. I won’t spoil the ending, but you can think about the main idea as how you might set strategic performance goals for a football team. The head coach wants to keep his job and is going to be evaluated on how many games he wins or loses (see Fangio, Vic) – a traditional lagging indicator much like TRIR. But the coach isn’t going to approach the defensive linemen and tell them he wants them to put up 40 points per game – how would the players manage to that expectation?
The same problem arises when a company tells workers they expect a TRIR if 1% and no lost days. Instead, players are given operating goals that are specific to their positions and responsibilities. Defensive linemen need to hold runners at the line of scrimmage. Receivers must catch passes and add some number of yards post-catch. These are appropriate operating goals, and the results of these activities are leading indicators. If the running backs can rush for 6 yards/carry, if the quarterback can complete 70% of passes with an average of 8 yards per attempt and no interceptions and the defense can hold the other team to less than 200 yards of offense, the lagging indicator (the score) will take care of itself.
Safety programs are the same. Management will appropriately be concerned about the score at the end of the year, but your safety program will be far more effective it you give your supervisors and employees goals that they can actually manage to, such as training levels, JHA completion, observations submitted and other similar actions.
If you are ready to talk about how to set and measure appropriate goals for your safety program, let’s talk – and get better together!