Safety performance – leading the way

Have you put metrics in place to monitor safety performance and detect developments in exposure, quality and efficiency, with a focus on both leading and lagging indicators?

If someone asked you to paint a picture of the exposures relating to safety, quality and also efficiencies in your organization and how you manage and measure them, are you confident you have the data to do it? Attention to what we are measuring (and why), how we are measuring things and the way leaders respond to data, has never been more important than in today’s highly regulated and complex operating environment. Whilst most organizations have made significant improvements in workplace safety (occupational and process safety), improving quality and driving efficiencies, old ways of thinking are not enough to sustain safe and profitable production.

What do we mean by old thinking? Examples include:

  • Over-reliance on lagging data
    - “we haven’t had a safety incident for over 18 months, our statistics are good”
  • A focus on the wrong data
    - getting the balance wrong when looking at Lost Time Injuries (such as a broken ankle sustained in a car park), versus serious near misses, or events that could have led to a serious injury or fatality (such as a leak, or heavy dropped object)
  • Ignoring total ownership costs
    - not calculating contractor waiting time, total time spent and inefficiencies in key processes such as Permit to Work and LOTOTO
  • Not embracing technology
    - Paper based processes inevitably lead to inaccuracies, increases in time and cost , repeat work and a less consistent application of a standard

It is important to celebrate achievements and ensure that colleagues receive updates and reinforcement feedback (about desired behaviors) when targets are reached and milestones achieved. Nevertheless, it is also essential to drive out complacency and keep colleagues enthused about finding better ways of working, which can lead to better safety, quality and efficiency outcomes. One way to keep ahead and ensure colleagues do not become complacent about recent success, is to create reason for ‘chronic unease’. This is the state of never being satisfied with our performance.

In terms of safety, exposure is always there, so how can we be sure that we are looking in the right places? Many organizations tackle this by monitoring both lagging and leading indicators to inform decision making on safety. Most lagging indicators are common and understood, such as first aid cases, restricted work cases and medical treatment, to the more serious Lost Time Injuries, leaks or explosions. When it comes to leading indicators, there is less consistency in the way organizations identify, monitor or even report things. Examples can range from setting expectations on certain behaviors that are known to improve safe work (visibility in the field for supervisors, participation in safety moments or talks by operators, feedback loops on maintenance jobs between permit issuers and permit holders), to measuring corrective actions and follow-ups from audits or safety walk-arounds.

When it comes to quality and efficiency, many organizations can still spend much of their time not seeing the whole picture, leaving them unable to exploit improvement opportunities presented by some key leading and lagging indicators.

At iB&X we introduce a series of valid metrics in each project, helping people in plants to remove barriers to safe work. At the beginning of any project we benchmark performance and set targets. Relevant metrics are measured periodically to monitor and detect developments and to be able to compare performance with other plants. The results are increased safety, lower costs and better quality, ranging from improved systems to increased access to valuable data on permitting, LoToTo, shift handovers, MoC or incident management. We help industrial organizations to optimize their key HSE processes, to enable continuous improvements in ‘safe production’.