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ISO 45001 Blog

How to establish and evaluate key performance indicators for ISO 45001

A key performance indicator (KPI) is a measurement of a certain type of activity that a company or organization partakes in. When that measurement is a direct reflection on your workforce’s health and well-being within your ISO 45001:2018 system, then the KPIs themselves are even more important than normal. When a business establishes KPIs, this is usually done relatively quickly and agreeably; targets for gross profits, sales, and so forth can usually be agreed on fairly easily. In the context of employee health and safety, this can be a slightly more complex issue to agree on. Measuring the number of accidents in a workplace utilizes negative language, but needs to be done. But, surely, the number of accidents doesn’t tell the whole story about a company’s health and safety performance – and, critically for the future, its culture. And, when a company does decide on these critical KPIs, how are they then measured and actions taken to control and improve them?

Establishing KPIs

As with most management systems, it is good practice to measure where your results are now, and project where you want to be in the future. Any OH&S system will have “number of accidents and incidents at work” as a critical KPI, as that measurement alone signifies instances of concern where normally immediate corrective action must be taken, which you can read about in Seven Steps for corrective and preventive action within the OH&S management system. But, one single measurement does not represent every facet of a company’s health and safety performance, so what else can we use if we are to formulate a meaningful set of KPIs?


  • Establishing an OH&S forum or focus group is a good idea to promote awareness, encourage suggestions, and provide a link between employees and management. Why not conduct a poll on a monthly basis at this forum and measure in percentage terms how successful your employees consider your OH&S system to be in terms of accident prevention?
  • Health and well-being: another idea is measuring the number of days on average per annum your employees take off due to sickness. One can easily find the national average from the department of employment or equivalent, and comparing your data against this will allow you to ascertain whether you are above or below the national average. This can be quite a significant statistic in terms of measuring the general well-being of your staff.
  • Employee health and safety suggestions: many organizations now undertake these tasks by email or survey, but some may have old-fashioned anonymous suggestion boxes. Why not measure the number of suggestions, the number of actions taken against them, and the outcomes? This will provide your workforce with a direct measurement of how seriously their suggestions are taken, and how your OHS&S representative or team is perceived.
  • Percentage of internal audits / corrective actions / risk assessments carried out versus plan: a conscientious organization will see the importance of keeping this as close as possible to 100%.

Of course, many organizations will view their OHS&S responsibilities differently depending on what sector they operate in, and may well measure other aspects such as time lost due to accidents and incidents. Construction companies or those operating in a sector where heavy machinery use is common, for example, may choose to develop KPIs that are closely tied to constant assessment of risk, where outcomes of incidents and accidents would be more severe. Some businesses even measure their own response time to changes in legislation. The secret is to ensure that you and your stakeholders consider all external and internal factors, and choose the KPIs that are best suited to your business.

Evaluation of KPIs

It is vital that an organization evaluates and reviews its KPIs regularly. In a world where legislation, technology, competition, and expectations change so quickly, constant review of your KPIs, as well as their results, will ensure that you remain ahead of the game, which is critical in the prevention of accidents in the workplace. KPIs should be agreed on and set at the Management Review, which you can read more about in the article: How to perform the Management Review in ISO 45001, but stakeholder opinion should also be sought. Your OH&S forum or action team can then review the suitability of KPIs on a regular basis, and make recommendations for improvement to the management team for consideration. As with all health and safety issues, suggestions for improvement from the process owners and swift action to mitigate risk are the keys to continual improvement, as well as accident and incident avoidance. Ensuring your KPIs are correctly framed and constantly evaluated will allow your OHSMS system to perform to its maximum potential.

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Advisera John Nolan
Author
John Nolan
John Nolan is a Fellow of the Institute of Leaders and Managers in the United Kingdom, and Prince 2 accredited with a background in Engineering and Electronics and Data Storage and Transfer. Having studied and qualified as both a Mechanical and Electronic Engineer, he has spent the last 15 years designing and delivering Quality Systems and projects across many sectors in the UK, including both national and local government.