For a safety department to be its most effective, it requires the evaluation of the group along similar metrics as others. I have been fortunate to have had some really good mentors in my career that have helped me to craft the way I look at running a safety department and measuring success.
In most major industries there are four key metrics that they are responsible for. I have seen this same method/metrics in automotive, food, and chemical. It is a positive process as it shows the balance that must to struck to have a successful business. These metrics are Safety, Quality, Delivery, and Cost or simplified as SQDC. A business can run without these metrics in harmony, but they are rarely highly successful.
So, what does it mean to measure to SQDC in a safety department? Here are some of the ways I have found make it the most meaningful for the team and larger organization.
This is what we do, so it should be simple, right? Yes and no. I have always thought about what is the safety metric for a safety team. First and foremost, a safety team should not get hurt. They should be cautious and aware.
Beyond injuries, this metric for me has always been more about the message that I am carrying with me every day. What is the thirty second elevator talk that I would give that day to communicate safety to anyone. One lesson that I have always found to be true in safety is that you cannot overcommunicate a message. People need to hear a safety message as much as we can get in front of them.
Examples could include:
“Did you hear about the near miss yesterday? Here is how to stay safe”
“I read in the news of an injury happening. We have that hazard. Here is how to stay safe”
“Did you know we have not had ‘insert event here’ in a long time? Here is what we have been doing right.”
“Some bad weather is moving in today, remember our evacuation plans for bad weather.”
It is important that communication is a big part of how we define success in safety every day.
Quality for a safety professional is based on our policies and procedures. Are they up-to-date? Are they relevant? Do they help those who they are meant to service? Have they been reviewed on some basis?
Where we help to maintain the high standard of quality is through assuring our processes and procedures are in good condition and help set the basis for accuracy, precision, and consistency.
Delivery is the service we provide to our customer. These can be in the form of audits that help find ways of improvement. It is the time that it takes to answer questions about the policies. It is also the metrics that we report out as part of the standard work. Each day the safety professional is called upon to deliver any number of these styles of items to the organization.
There are a few ways to look at cost in the safety department. The first is helping to create and maintain a working budget. Be accountable to predicting big projects and special needs. Communicate early and often when there will be misses. Help the organization see where you need funding to help sustain and create strong processes to make the site safer.
Some organization also measure workers’ compensation costs. These can vary from state to state and are very reactive. They still, though, can heavily affect a company’s bottom line. It is important to measure and manage this process.
Overall, running a safety department with key metrics that match and mirror other departments helps to build transparency and trust into the system. These processes are valuable as they can help the internal team and the organization to see that there are processes that can be measured, implemented, and improved.