When managing occupational risks inherent to each and every work-related activity in your company, avoidance is the foremost preventive action desired. Management indicators are essential elements in your company’s Occupational Risk Prevention (ORP) actions – they help identify the level of risk-management efficiency and take preventive steps so that these risks do not result in accidents or occupational diseases, while swiftly detecting the effiency of the risk-management system.
ORP indicators should be clearly defined to reflect the effectiveness of your company’s preventive measures. Make sure they are:
Specific: define clear goals for specific areas that need improvement.
Measurable: quantify (using specific units) and at least suggest an indicator of achievement.
Assignable: specify who will perform the task.
Realistic: set achievable goals based on available resources (attainable objectives).
Time-related: be specific on when results can be attained and how often they will be monitored.
Typically, corporate ORP management systems keep track of accident indicators such as frequency, severity, hours worked without lost-time incidents, etc. It is crucial to keep track of these indicators, as they are a reflection of your ORP management system. Additionally, it is also vital to define preventive indicators of unsafe actions and conditions and of any detected nonconformities so as to take early steps to prevent those risks from materializing.
Based on my experience in ORP system implementation in construction and operation companies, I can say that keeping an indicators registry facilitates the identification of specific actions for each case. For example, those indicators could be broken down by age, sex, job, department, activity, etc. This can provide precise data on where the incident occurred and focus on seeking immediate as well as short-, medium-, and long-term actions.
This combination of indicators could lead, for example, to conclusions such as: “The typical accident in my company during 2017 involved a white male, 20-25 years old, at the Production Department, in the assembly line, during normal working hours. It was a minor mishap affecting his upper extremities while operating X machine.”
One key question here would be: “How do I know when ORP indicators are good or bad?” Let’s assume that your company’s or project’s ORP indicators let you compare positive or negative management trends between different periods of time. If the trend is positive, it means your system is improving, and vice versa. Another evaluation method is to compare your results with those of renowned companies in the same sector. In addition, an indicator’s definition includes a minimum threshold to be met, so if this goal has been achieved, it means your system is on a positive path.
At the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Occupational Risk Prevention is an integral part of its Environment and Safeguards Compliance Policy (OP-703). The Bank must ensure that this policy is followed in all its development projects, and to this end socio-environmental experts are involved from the initial formulation stages of each operation. At this stage we work hand in hand with clients to define ORP indicators that are aligned with this policy and that must be followed during project execution and operation. These indicators track time, answerable subjects, goals, units, and frequency, and their compliance is verified during the execution phase.
From all of us at the IDB’s Environmental and Social Safeguards Unit, we encourage you to define you company’s ORP management indicators that are aligned with its Occupational Safety and Health policies, and to also include an indicator to prevent child labor. This indicator would help reach the target set in 2018 by the International Labor Organization of ending all forms of child labor by 2025 and promoting safe and secure working environments for all workers by 2030.