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How to measure health & safety effectiveness to become compliant with ISO 45001

If your workplace has an OHSMS (Operational Health and Safety Management System) certified against the ISO 45001:2018 standard, you may have wondered exactly how the effectiveness of such a system is measured. Most of us are well aware of how easy it can be to measure more linear elements of business, such as sales or expenditures, but for health and safety matters it is not so straightforward. Firstly, the implications of non-performance of an OHSMS can jeopardize your workforce’s safety at work, and secondly, ISO 45001 states that systemic continual improvement is a must – and both ensure that accurate and meaningful measurement of your OHSMS must be undertaken. So, how is this best done?

OHSMS measurement – What to consider

In the previous article To what extent should management be involved in your OHSMS? we considered the practical responsibilities and involvement of the top team in the process of setting objectives and delegating responsibilities within the system. Likewise, it is advisable that the top team is consulted when OHSMS measurement is discussed and defined. So, what options exist and should be considered for OHSMS measurement?

  • Measuring accidents and incidents: This is an obvious place to start in most cases. Measuring the number of “events” not only gives you the chance to see if you are improving year over year, but will also give you an indication of the impact that other elements of the standard – such as training, consultation, and leadership – are having on your OHSMS.
  • Measure “cost to company of sickness”: This can be done by analyzing all sick time taken by staff and assigning a cost to it accordingly. Your sickness rate can then be measured against the average in your country/area and compared, or a cost to the organization calculated, which usually provides an excellent incentive for improvement to the top management team. Another positive aspect of this method is that when investigating reasons for absence, you are also into a first-level root cause analysis via accident investigation, and on the way towards forming ideas over corrective actions.
  • “Near Misses”: Another vital factor in most OHSMS setups. Educating your staff to report a “near miss” can allow the system’s decision makers to ensure that process modifications, risk assessment, and corrective actions can be undertaken to ensure that the situation that causes a “near miss” can then be redefined to ensure that the inherent risk is removed, whether through process, training, or equipment modification.
  • Audit non-conformances: We looked at vital elements of the internal audit in the article How to perform internal audits in ISO 45001, and measurement of non-conformances is a very useful method of assessing year-over-year performance. Again, if your number of internal audits remains consistent and this measure, amongst others, improves year over year – your system can be seen to be continually improving.
  • Measure training events: Again, this type of measurement can be hugely influential in establishing a culture of health and safety. Whether first-time training, or “refresher” training for existing staff, this type of performance indicator can go some way towards illustrating your organization’s commitment to the well-being of your employees. Given that training should involve elements of leadership and consultation, this type of measurement can be very useful in measuring and demonstrating to stakeholders just how seriously you value employee safety.

So, we can see from above that there are both formal and less formal methods of tailoring OHSMS measurement to your own organization’s needs, but is there anything we need to bear in mind when doing this?

Measurement – Matching your needs

It is vital to ensure that you define your key performance indicators to match your own organizational needs with a mix of formal and less formal measurements. If you feel that you have a particular weakness in an area – whether training, or perhaps a culture where “near misses” are accepted – then you can incorporate a measurement to address these concerns when you define your measurements. Likewise, this will provide impetus for programs and projects to address these concerns and ensure that increased safety and improved results occur. Whatever measurements you choose to include, ensure that the well-being and safety of your workforce is at the center of your thoughts, and you are well on your way towards ensuring your OHSMS measurement is effective.

Why not use our free  Gap Analysis Tool to check your ISO 45001 conformance and detect possible health & safety efficiency issues?

Advisera John Nolan
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.