Health and safety performance benchmarking

Organisations generate a wealth of routine health and safety data as part of day-to-day operations that provide a useful proxy measure of how well they manage their health and safety risks as an organisation. 

Analysing this data to determine the extent to which current improvement initiatives are suitably targeted and to provide evidence to help decide where best to target future efforts forms a key component part of an organisation’s health and safety management system. For many organisations, this is achieved by and large through interrogation of their own health and safety performance data over time via trend analysis and across their different areas of operations.  

Increasingly however, organisations are also looking to find ways to improve their health and safety performance by comparing key elements of it to that of their peers as part of a systematic approach to learning from “best in class”.  

This presents a myriad of challenges to organisations, including deciding who to compare against, deciding what specific performance elements to compare, identifying suitable measures of performance and ensuring that they’re comparable, the practicalities of bringing all relevant data together and deriving the essential learning from the exercise. 

This industry use case aims to provide organisations with the tools and supporting information they need to carry out effective health and safety performance benchmarking exercises.

Industry drivers

The industry consultation exercise undertaken by the programme team to help shape the content of the programme highlighted that current health and safety challenges are being addressed by many industries against a backdrop of steady improvement in health and safety performance over the last 20-30 years (based on organisations’ recordable accident frequency rate). Given this, fighting organisational complacency, ensuring good health and safety practices are maintained and maintaining defences against catastrophic failures are regarded as key challenges for many industries. However, many industries report that the general downward trend in recordable accident frequency rate seen over the last 20-30 years has slowed in recent years, fatality rates in particular. This is stimulating a push by many organisations to look to do things differently to ensure continuous improvements in performance can be delivered.  

A widely shared opinion by those that contributed to the industry consultation exercise undertaken was that one way this might be achieved is through better sharing of operating experience, including the sharing of statistics relating to headline health and safety performance. Performance benchmarking exercises provide one method for facilitating this. It is suggested that a suitably scoped project offering in this area has the potential to meet the needs of multiple industry stakeholder groups, including individual businesses, both large and small, as well as trade bodies and industry associations.

Aims and Objectives

Speed up downward trend in emerging economies, to create a repository of health and safety performance information, online platform and supporting set of analytic tools that enable organisations to source and generate a representative set of reference health and safety performance metrics for comparison with their own internal metrics.

Specific objectives of the project are as Follows:

  • Generate of a set of reference performance metrics for organisations to compare their own performance metrics against
  • To develop a tool enabling organisations to generate their own tailored reference performance metrics, specific to their own organisation
  • To develop an online platform enabling groups of organisations to undertake their own peer to peer performance benchmarking exercises
  • To create a learning environment enabling organisations participating in benchmarking exercises to share good practice

Key benefits

The more your health and safety performance improves, the harder it is to deliver further improvements in performance. Looking at new ways of measuring and evaluating health and safety performance, including more outward facing exercises such as comparing your performance to peers, offers a number of potential benefits

It provides a method for learning best practice from others as part of efforts to break through health and safety performance plateaus and speed up performance improvement

It provides an effective method for communicating organisational-wide health and safety performance to board members, insurance agents, the investment community and prospective clients as part of the process of winning new business, e.g. “we perform in the top quartile for our sector from a health and safety perspective”

It offers opportunities to set up bespoke communities of practice to help solve shared problems collectively