What should I track to take advantage of marginal gains in safety?

By Tamara Parris | Published: November 21, 2017

That’s a good question, because if you aren’t going to track the changes you make, you won’t see all of the small gains or how they add up to a much bigger pay-off.

Successful continuous improvement programs are about transforming the mentality of everyone in the workplace so that they start to take whatever small steps they can to ensure everyone’s safety. But to ensure initial and continued buy-in for this approach, you need to be able to show undeniable, objective results. It’s easy for employees and management alike to skip small steps and overlook small potential changes if there are never any reminders that these are key to achieving large-scale outcomes.

Many health and safety programs, moreover, are still almost single-mindedly focused on implementing huge measures to get huge benefits, like achieving seven-figure savings or cranking down lost time injury frequency rates. For workplaces like these, transitioning to a program that takes marginal gains into account will be a significant change, and with any significant change there is always resistance. The best way to overcome that resistance is by demonstrating positive outcomes in a way that even the most reluctant employees can’t deny. In other words, you need to show them the numbers.

Since a marginal gains approach focuses on the small steps to bigger outcomes, you will want

to be able to track just about everything. For instance, if you move or add an existing water station closer to where employees work, you’ll want to know whether the decreased foot traffic resulted in fewer safety incidents.

In order to do that, you’ll need a software solution that is sophisticated enough to do that kind of granular analysis. It needs to measure and track various aspects of your company’s safety performance, including workplace incidents, vehicle incidents, injury rates, and near misses (learn more about Near Misses: What They Are and Why You Should Report Them). You want to make sure that every marginal gain registers.

But you need more than just sophisticated analytics; you need a solution that is self-service and user friendly. If management needs to have a data specialist summarize the results and connect the dots for them, they won’t get as much insight from the data and it won’t have as much of an impact. Management needs to be able to easily access the information and see for themselves how the small improvements are adding up and helping the organization reach its targeted outcomes and get closer to its long-term safety goals.

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Written by Tamara Parris

Tamara Parris

Tamara Parris is the VP of Community and Business Development at Safeopedia, and owner of EHS Professionals Group on LinkedIn. Her passion is working with other EHS Professionals to collaborate in thought leadership, networking and connecting our industry peers to resources that will increase profitability and safety practices within their workplaces. Tamara has been in the Health and Safety field for over 20 years, her industry experiences include the Construction sector, CCTV and Security, and Commercial Retail industries.

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