By Bayside Group
Oct 16, 2020
Using Positive Performance Indicators to improve workplace HSE
Most organisations will collect Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) data in some capacity. These can include the number of incidents, the type of incidents that occur and at what frequency, number of injuries and ill-health. And while this is certainly important, employers can often forget to measure activity that aims to prevent these incidents from occurring in the first instance.
While gathering data about workplace incidents is indeed incredibly important as it can help to implement effective change to reduce future risks, it is a very reactionary approach. This means that action is being taken after the incident or accident has already occurred and can’t be undone, which can have very serious outcomes for both employees and employers. What businesses can do to reduce workplace accidents from occurring from the outset, is to become more proactive in their approach to HSE by collecting data on Positive Performance Indicators. This data actively sees employers aiming to mitigate incidents from occurring before they happen.
During National Safe Work Month, we explore the ways in which Positive Performance Indicators can result in a more proactive approach and what to do once with data to create sustainable change.
Aim for prevention
As the saying goes, prevention is the best cure, and this definitely rings true when it comes to work health and safety, which can have a huge impact on an organisation’s bottom line, reputation, productivity, and employee morale. According to the report ‘The Cost of Work-related Injury and Illness for Australian Employers, Workers and the Community’, work-related injury and disease cost the Australian economy $61.8 billion. Furthermore, these incidents resulted in 107,335 worker compensation claims, 5.8 weeks of lost labour and saw a median compensation of $11,300 per claim.
These statistics demonstrate that, above all, it is prevention in the first instance that employers should be striving for if they wish to mitigate the consequences of workplace health and safety incidents. According to Bayside Group’s Health Safety and Environment Manager, Cameron Cranstoun, this is what makes collecting data around Positive Performance Indicators (PPIs) so important.
“PPIs are some of the most important data you can collect as a company,” he says. “If employers make a point to focus on improving these, then immediately they are becoming proactive rather than reactive. And in the case of safety, this is a much better way to be, because if you’re starting point is fixing the issue after an incident, the damage has already been done. And in some cases it’s irreversible.”
What are positive performance indicators?
Positive Performance Indicators are statistics or other units of information based on the processes that provide good Work Health and Safety outcomes. These will, in turn, evaluate how successfully an organisation is performing in its management of Work Health and Safety. A few examples of PPIs could be performing regular workplace assessments, holding toolbox talks, conducting safety audits or the number of employees that are trained in OHS.
PPIs usually involve consultation with employees and other stakeholders and can be developed on an organisation or industry basis, or on a site, departmental or workgroup basis. They can either be ‘quantitative’, meaning they can be counted or measured and are described numerically, or can be ‘qualitative’, that is, assessing a quality or a behaviour. An example of a quantitative PPI would be employer ratings of management’s commitment to achieving ‘best practice’ in Work Health and Safety.
Utilising PPI data
In a study, it was found that the correct gathering of PPI data resulted in substantial improvements of those OHS management processes. Furthermore, the PPIs served to direct management’s attention towards key HSE goals and saw many prioritise their efforts toward those elements that were directly measured.
However, while measuring PPIs and associated goals will likely increase improvement in itself, it is how employers and HSE managers respond to these findings that will result in the best possible outcomes for employees and the company as a whole.
“Though collecting the data around PPIs is important, it is only the first step in creating a safer workplace,” Cameron says. “Once companies have access to this information, it is the next steps that are most important to creating a safer work environment; identifying the areas where procedures could be improved and enhanced, collaborating with relevant employees and then implementing sustainable changes.”
If you require assistance implementing effective workplace health and safety systems, or would like a safety audit, contact Bayside Group today.