What data should we be collecting with regards to worker safety?
First and foremost, employers must comply with their country's regulatory agencies, such as OSHA in the United States. The data you collect regarding safety is used to direct safety efforts and monitor the effectiveness of your safety program.
Here is some of the basic safety data that employers must record:
- All accidents: Includes a detailed investigation of the incident.
- All injury types and severity: Create a database and log all injuries by type (laceration, muscle strain, eye injury, back injury, and so on). You need to be able to see trends and show that you're addressing them. What is your most common injury and how are you addressing it?
- What part of the body is injured: Along with the type of injury, you need to record what part of the body has been injured (eyes, hands, head, back, and so forth). This allows trends to be identified and addressed.
- Time, date, and location of incidents.
- Near misses: You must record these the same as you would an accident. Failing to address them can reflect negligence with respect to safety (see this FAQ on Near Misses to learn more).
- Safety infractions: Employers need to verify that they are enforcing safety rules. This means recording instances in which they are broken.
- Safety projects that address unsafe conditions and behaviors: This demonstrates a proactive approach to safety, such as performing hazard assessments.
I always recommend considering safety management certifications, as with OSAS 18001, for two main reasons:
- They provide a framework, making sure your safety management system is effective.
- They guide you in making sure all requirements are met so that you are compliant with all governing safety agencies.
In 2010, I was certified as a lead auditor for OSAS 18001. The company I worked for at the time was pursuing OSAS 18001 certification to enhance and improve its safety management system. It provided the structure we needed. I would suggest checking with local safety professionals about certifications programs.
Check with your governing safety agencies to validate your gathering and recording of safety-related data as required. The safety data you record should be used to guide your safety efforts and verify effectiveness. We must always take a structured approach to the activities that matter to our business, including workplace safety.
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