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Safety Best Practices

Measuring Safety Culture Through Auditing: Key Metrics to Track

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Emily Lundh @Emily
Safety & Compliance
0 min read
October 12, 2023

Why Safety Culture Matters

Before we jump into the nitty-gritty of safety audits and metrics, let’s take a moment to understand why safety culture is a big deal in the construction industry. Imagine a construction site where everyone takes safety seriously – it’s a place where accidents are rare, morale is high, and productivity soars. That’s the power of a positive safety culture. It’s not just about rules and regulations; it’s about a shared commitment to safety.

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Conducting Safety Audits: It’s Not Just a “Checklist”

Safety audits, often conducted using tools like the COR audit (Certificate of Recognition), are the heart of measuring safety culture. But let’s debunk a myth here – they’re not just about ticking boxes! Audits are a way to assess whether your safety culture is living up to expectations. They come in different flavors, like compliance audits, process audits, or even culture audits.

Key Metrics for Measuring Safety Culture

Now, let’s get into the juicy part – the metrics. We’ve got a handful of them to help you gauge your safety culture effectively

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Leading Indicators vs. Lagging Indicators: Navigating the Safety Forecast

Imagine you’re planning a picnic, and you want to know if it’s going to rain. What do you do? You check the weather forecast, right? Well, in the world of construction safety, leading indicators are your weather forecast. They give you a heads-up about potential storms before they hit.

Leading indicators are proactive measures that help you predict and prevent accidents. They’re like the early warning signs that a safety incident might be brewing. For example, tracking the frequency of safety meetings, safety training completion rates, or near-miss reports are all leading indicators.

On the other hand, lagging indicators are like historical weather data. They tell you what already happened. In safety terms, these are the numbers that describe past incidents, such as injury rates, lost workdays, or property damage. While lagging indicators are crucial for evaluating past performance, they don’t help you prevent future incidents.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), leading indicators have been shown to have a more significant impact on preventing accidents than lagging indicators. By focusing on leading indicators, you’re essentially taking steps to change the future, just like checking the weather forecast helps you plan your picnic wisely.

Behavioural Observations: Reading Between the Safety Lines

Picture this: your workers are gearing up for a day on the construction site. Some are putting on their personal protective equipment (PPE) with a smile, while others are grumbling about it. What does this tell you about your safety culture?

Behavioral observations are like the secret agents of safety assessment. They involve keenly watching how people behave and what they say. A worker who willingly wears their PPE and follows safety protocols demonstrates a positive safety attitude. Conversely, someone who grumbles or takes shortcuts may indicate a need for improvement in your safety culture.

The Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA) emphasizes the importance of behavioral observations. They can reveal underlying issues and help you understand whether safety practices are ingrained in your team’s mindset or if they need some encouragement.

Near-Miss Reporting: Unearthing Hidden Gems

Near-miss reporting is a gold mine of safety insights. Encouraging employees to be proactive safety reporters can uncover potential accidents that didn’t happen but could have. These near misses provide valuable data for preventive measures.

OSHA encourages the reporting of near misses, stating that investigating and addressing them can prevent future incidents. It’s like fixing a pothole before it becomes a sinkhole. By identifying and addressing the root causes of near misses, you’re taking steps to ensure that more severe accidents don’t occur in the future.

Training and Competency: The Foundation of Safety

Think of your workers as the crew of a ship sailing through a sea of potential hazards. How confident are you in their ability to navigate safely? Training and competency are the lifeboats that ensure your crew knows what to do when the waters get rough.

OSHA highlights the importance of proper training and competency in the construction industry. Workers need to be trained not only in the use of equipment and tools but also in recognizing and mitigating hazards. Ensuring that your workforce is well-prepared reduces the likelihood of accidents caused by ignorance or inexperience.

Incident and Accident Rates: Uncovering Trends

Imagine being a safety detective, sifting through historical data to spot trends and clues on how to improve. That’s exactly what diving into incident and accident rates is like. By analyzing these figures, you can identify areas that need attention and develop targeted strategies to enhance safety.

IHSA recommends that companies regularly review their incident and accident rates to track progress and identify areas for improvement. For instance, if there’s a sudden increase in falls from heights, it’s a signal that additional safety measures or training may be needed in that area.

Safety Perception Surveys: Listening to Your Team

Ever wondered what your team really thinks about safety? Safety perception surveys are like asking for restaurant reviews – you can improve your service when you know what’s not up to par. These surveys provide employees with a platform to express their opinions and concerns about safety practices.

According to OSHA, involving workers in the safety process through surveys can be a game-changer. It helps create a sense of ownership and engagement in safety initiatives. The feedback obtained can then be used to fine-tune safety programs and policies, making them more effective and relevant to the workforce.

Safety Compliance: Glue That Holds Safety Culture Together

Imagine you’re assembling a puzzle. Each piece represents a safety rule or procedure. For the picture to come together beautifully, all the pieces need to fit snugly – that’s safety compliance. It’s about ensuring that safety rules are followed to the letter, every time.

OSHA emphasizes the critical role of safety compliance in maintaining a robust safety culture. Without compliance, even the best safety policies and procedures can fall apart. It’s not just about having the rules in place; it’s about making sure they’re consistently followed throughout the organization.

Safety Leadership: Setting the Example

It’s easy to say, “Safety first!” But does your leadership team walk the talk? Safety leadership is not just about the workers; leaders play a crucial role in shaping the safety culture of an organization. They set the tone and example for others to follow.

According to IHSA, effective safety leadership involves demonstrating a commitment to safety, actively participating in safety initiatives, and promoting open communication about safety concerns.

When leaders prioritize safety and show their dedication to it, it sends a powerful message to the entire organization.

How to Collect and Analyze Safety Culture Metrics: Leveraging the Power of Safety Software

Now that you’ve got your safety metrics lined up, let’s delve into the exciting world of data collection and analysis. We’re living in the digital age, and there’s a game-changer in town: construction health and safety apps and construction safety management apps. These technological marvels are not just convenient; they’re essential tools for modern safety management. Here’s why:

Efficient Data Collection:

Safety software simplifies the process of gathering safety metrics. Instead of wrangling with paperwork and manual data entry, you can use mobile apps to record observations, near-miss reports, and compliance checks in real-time. This means that data is captured immediately, reducing the risk of errors and ensuring accuracy.

Centralized Data Storage:

Say goodbye to filing cabinets and stacks of paperwork. Safety software allows you to store all your safety-related data in one secure, digital location. This centralization makes it easy to access and retrieve information when needed. Whether it’s a safety perception survey or historical incident rates, everything is at your fingertips.

Real-time Tracking:

Safety culture is not static; it evolves over time. With safety software, you can monitor leading and lagging indicators in real-time. This means you can spot trends, anomalies, or critical issues as they occur, allowing for rapid response and corrective actions.

Automated Alerts:

Imagine receiving instant notifications when a near-miss report is submitted or when a compliance check fails. Safety software often comes with automated alert systems that keep you informed and enable quick decision-making. This ensures that potential safety concerns are addressed promptly.

Customized Reporting:

Safety software typically offers robust reporting capabilities. You can create custom reports and dashboards tailored to your specific needs. Whether you want to analyze incident trends, track training completion rates, or assess the results of safety perception surveys, you can generate reports that provide valuable insights.

Integration with Other Systems:

Many safety software solutions are designed to integrate seamlessly with other business systems. Whether it’s your human resources management software or project management tools, integration ensures that safety data is connected to the broader operations of your organization.

User-friendly Interfaces:

Don’t worry if you’re not a tech whiz. Most safety software is designed with user-friendly interfaces that require minimal training. This means that your workforce can easily adopt and use these tools, contributing to a smoother data collection process.

Scalability:

Whether you’re a small construction firm or a large multinational corporation, safety software can scale to meet your needs. You can add new users, sites, and data points as your organization grows, ensuring that your safety culture tracking remains robust and adaptable.

Historical Data Analysis:

Safety software stores historical data securely. This is invaluable for trend analysis and benchmarking. You can compare safety metrics across different time periods to assess the impact of safety initiatives and measure progress in building a safer workplace.

Compliance Assurance:

Safety software often includes built-in compliance checks and reminders. This feature helps ensure that safety rules and regulations are followed consistently, reducing the risk of non-compliance issues.

Safety software isn’t just a modern convenience; it’s a powerful ally in the quest to measure and improve safety culture. These tools streamline data collection and analysis, making the process more efficient and accurate. By leveraging their features, construction companies can enhance their safety management efforts, reduce incidents, and create safer work environments for their teams.

By promoting continuous learning, you empower your construction workers to be confident and proficient users of safety software, contributing to enhanced safety on the construction site

Implementing Change: Strategies for Enhancing Safety Culture

You’ve gathered your safety audit data, and now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start making improvements. Transforming your safety culture into a shining beacon of excellence is not an overnight task, but with the right strategies and action plans, it’s entirely achievable. Let’s dive into how to tackle this crucial step:

Data Analysis:

Begin by thoroughly analyzing your audit data. Look for patterns, trends, and outliers.
Identify areas where your safety culture may be weak or where incidents and near misses tend to occur frequently.
Consider seeking external expertise, such as safety consultants, to gain fresh perspectives and insights.

Prioritization:

Not all issues are equal in terms of risk and impact. Prioritize the identified issues based on their severity and potential consequences.

Focus on addressing the most critical issues first, as they pose the highest risk to safety and are likely to yield the most significant improvements.

Engage Stakeholders:

Safety is a team effort, and involving all stakeholders is crucial. This includes frontline workers, supervisors, managers, and executives.

Hold discussions, meetings, or workshops to gather input and feedback from various levels of the organization. This helps in understanding the root causes of safety issues.

Action Planning:

Develop action plans that outline specific steps, responsibilities, timelines, and resources needed to address each prioritized issue.

Ensure that action plans are clear, realistic, and achievable. Break down complex tasks into smaller, manageable steps.

Invest In Your Safety Culture To Track Metrics With Software

In a world where construction ehs software and ehs software for construction are at your fingertips, there’s no excuse for not measuring and improving your safety culture. It’s not just about regulations; it’s about the well-being of your team, the reputation of your company, and the success of your projects.

SALUS simplifies and centralizes safety management, allowing you to track key metrics, monitor progress, and celebrate successes easily. Whether you’re in the field or at your desk, SALUS is your dedicated safety companion, streamlining workflows and tracking metrics. SALUS also has partnerships with Auditsoft which may be able to help the process of completing your audits if you are in an area that Auditsoft is used.

y. With the dashboards, I can see how many people are on our sites in real-time, review completed forms, and manage our worker certificates
Rebecca Zavaglia, Broccolini’s Health and Safety Coordinator

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