Great performance means success, and we know how to measure it!

The following information was drafted in order to make an argument for the affirmative for this recent ComCare Debate.

Peter Druker – ‘you can’t manage what you can’t measure’ Definition according to AS 4804 1997 Safety performance: the measurable results of the OHS management system related to the organisations control of health and safety risks, based on its OHS policy, objectives and targets. Performance measurement includes measurement of OHS management, activities and results.

Some positive results to report: In Tasmania since the mid 1990s workplace injuries have fallen 50%, over the last decade workers’ comp premiums have dropped by 45 % ComCare has reported general reductions in claims over the past decade Interim report on the National OHS Strategy 2002-2012 – Released by Safe Work Australia. Australia achieved a 16% improvement in the incidence of injury and musculoskeletal claims between the base period and 2006 to 2007.

Issues with OHS Measuring

MEASURING in OHS is inherently tricky, particularly because we are often aiming for an absence of events rather than a presence: For example, if we measure the number of reported incidents, what is the optimum result? Do we want more or less reported incidents? We don’t want incidents to happen, but if they are happening, we don’t what them left unreported? If we can’t work out what the optimum result is, what is the point of measuring?


Balanced scorecard looks at 4 perspectives:

  • management,
  • operational,
  • customer and
  • learning

Preventative Measures (1-3)

1. A MIX OF AUDITING Internal (provide good training) External (find a good auditor!!)

2. PPIs based on

  • OHS planning objectives and targets
  • Maturity of the system
  • Previously identified gaps
  • Risk exposure
  • Not covering areas already covered in audits (double up)
  • Not covering areas of little concern
  • Aim to measure both OHS processes (qualitative and quantitative)
  • Safety performance / behaviours (qualitative)

PPIs that are not:

  • Difficult or time consuming to measure and collate
  • Difficult to compare
  • Subject to random variation
  • Encourage under or over reporting
  • Have an arbitrary relationship with LTIs
  • Only measure a number of events and not the effectiveness
  • Irrelevant / unnecessary / obsolete

3. Culture or Climate measures

4. Incident Data/Outcome Indicators /Lag indicators

Lag indicators such as LTIs etc (only indicators required by OHS law in Australia) are critizised for measuring failure, and absence of that failure does not mean that suitable risk measures are in place. Useful, but not in isolation.

  • LTIs
  • LTIFRs
  • Number of claims / claim costs
  • Incidents/near misses/hazards by type, number, various classifications


Any OHS professional with a google bar, should be able to customise there own measurement based on readily available information and guidance.

1. Audits – SafetyMAP or AS4801, these will include development of internal auditing. Seen as one of the methods of measuring performance, I believe that based on currently available measurement and benchmarking tools, auditing is a hugh part of what we should be focusing on. An external audit against AS4801 or SafeyMAP, assuming the auditor is good, should provide a performance report which will uncover any gaps in systems and systems implementation. Any system which is at this maturity level will also have internal auditing happening on a regular basis as well.

Some evidence from David Valentine SHE Reporting Analyst (Consultant) Email  – “From an over-all Australian perspective looking at the first two ABS Workplace injury Surveys they clearly prove that an implemented and used OHS management system works. High risk occupations detailed below were a focus for enforced OHS risk management systems and the considered safe sedentary occupations were not.” IF you compare the % improvement of the High Risk Occupations v the Sedentary, you will see that improvements have occured in the High Risk Opccupations, where systems were implimented. There were increases in incidents in the sedentary group!

% of all workplace injuries

% Change in Incidents recorded



Total workforce




Number of Persons Injured/ill




Labourers and related workers




Tradespersons and related workers




Intermediate production and transport workers




Non-Sedentary Jobs












Associate professionals




Elementary clerical, sales and service workers




Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers




Advanced clerical and service workers




prone to being sedentary jobs




ABS Work Related Injuries, Australia • 6324 . 0 • 2005 – 0 6, Table 4 Page 15

ABS Work Related Injuries, Australia • 632 4 . 0 • 2000, Table 4 Page 12

 Therefore Auditing is a valid measure of safety

2. Generic PPI measures have been formulated for construction and minerals industries for example. The minerals industry document is particularly good, with numerous measures to choose from. Comcare also has a factsheet and guidance on PPIs which include sample PPIs

3. Safety Climate – The Minerals Council of Australia completed an extensive Safety Climate survey in 1999. This survey was planned to be repeated in 5 years time, but it was decided that it was better to be done at the individual company level. The questions on this survey are available and a great starting point to develop your own survey. SafeMap conducted this study, and have used continuing data to compare against the original benchmark. Interestingly, the results from 1999 – 2003 show a decline in safety climate, a number of recommendations have been provided to the industry for future planning – the real purpose of measuring fulfilled. Outcome: 2004 – Guidance on positive performance measurement produced. In 2009 Comcare have provided (via website) an “Organisational health assessment tool” self assessment. This questionnaire takes a broader approach including items like reputation, job satisfaction etc to provide an overall picture. Their research has proved that there is a direct connection between corporate health and business performance. Backed up by Dr Ian Woods, a senior research analyst for AMP Capital investors, OH&S performance is considered by investor as a good measure of management quality in many high-risk industries.

4. Injury related records – Available on the safework australia website – AS 1885.1-1990 Workplace injury and disease recording standard. Comcare Customer Information System – allows automated reports relating to Compensation Claims.


I can provide 3 examples, MCC, Arts Centre and MRC have a list of monthly and annual OHS performance measures that are reported against. The scorecards have a balance of all the factors mentioned.


Extensive benchmarking opportunities – we need to look outside our organisation too. I believe that more can be done at the Industry level. Wouldn’t it be great if you could plug your results into a website and get a report back as to where you stand against other organizations within your industry? These results could include

  • OHS system certification status.
  • some basic injury reporting data
  • a generic OHS culture survey
  •  OHS proactive program (systems)
  • OHS prevention budget / staff member

If you keep in mind the following objectives when formulating your performance measures, you can’t go wrong:

What is the aim of measuring

  • To reward staff for good safety behaviours
  • To find gaps and therefore be able to seal them
  • To help your business case for the right OHS budget in the future
  • To ultimately improve OHS and therefore the health and profit of your business in general If you do not measure then how do you know how you are traveling?

The challenge than is to pick the ‘right’ KPIs to measure. Most are good at collecting data. The more critical and important step of evaluation the data is often left undone. It’s via the evaluation process that one identifies trends, anomalies and emerging issues. Otherwise, collecting data is a waste of time!

Try our new free OHS performance reports, OHS KPIs and benchmarking

4 thoughts on “Great performance means success, and we know how to measure it!

  1. Thank you so much for informing people about how important it is to have a safety management system in the companies we work for. Lots of accidents can happen within the working area and this can result to hospitalization of a person or even death. Not a lot of people understand that, but if they read your blog, it is sure to open the minds of people. Thanks for sharing this.

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