Topic 3: Quantitative and qualitative indicators – Monitoring and Evaluation

October 15-17, 2003
Lemnos, Greece

Occupational Safety & Health Performance Indicators

The EU/US Performance Indicators group has agreed on broad principles relating to the development and use of Performance Indicators. Having agreed on these principles, there is further agreement that a continuing dialogue should be established to identify additional performance measurement systems and processes that participants can consider to further safety and health activities in their respective countries and organizations.

Objectives of the Continuing Dialogue

1. Establish methods for continuing the tripartite communication through email and the EU/US Website for participating group members.

2. Identify a Steering Committee to organize the tripartite effort and provide a mechanism for continuing dialogue.

Persons identified to facilitate the transition from the Lemnos P.I. working group to an EU/US Steering Committee:

On behalf of the European Union representatives: Laurent Vogel
On behalf of the United States representatives: James Stiles

Recommended Due Date: 1 Juillet 2004

3. Share opinions on of Performance Indicators currently established in the EU and US with participating group members.

Recommended Due Date: 1 Janvier 2005

4. On a continuing basis identify successful Performance Indicators successes with participating group members.

5. Make recommendations as appropriate to the EU/US relevant bodies for future discussions and considerations.

It is recommended that Occupational Safety & Health (OSH) Performance Indicators adequately reflect the following OSH elements:

Worker Involvement: This is a central element recognized internationally by the ILO and other relevant bodies.

Long-Term Vision: Performance Indicators should consider not only the immediate consequences that could affect the workers but also take into account the long-term developments in their health status and their ability to work.

Broad Conceptual Approach: The concept of “occupational health” should include the issues of safety, physical, and mental health as broadly defined by the World Health Organization (WHO).


1. There must be a direct and intuitive Link between objectives and indicators

First, define the objective: What “performance” are you trying to achieve?

Second, make sure the indicator is appropriate to the objective, e.g. If the objective is to reduce “exposure” to carcinogens, measuring the occurrence of cancers isn’t always the most precise indicator because it may be too broad an indicator for a particular objective.

Third, use iterative strategy for defining and refining Performance Indicators (“Define”, “Implement”, “Review,” Re-define”)

Note: There may be occasions where it will be found that more than one indicator is appropriate to measure a particular objective.

2. Multi-level Approach for Setting Performance Indicators.

Performance Indicators are formulated at three levels.

Indicators from different levels are often interrelated. When this occurs it is best if the use of the indicator from level to level is consistent, e.g. definition of “injury.”

Workplace level:

Performance indicators at this level should measure activities and outcomes that reflect progress in the workplace.

Indicators that are applicable at this level could be set both by the government, by the enterprise, or other relevant bodies, e.g. national Social Security systems, insurance companies, etc.

In some cases collections of enterprises are measured as a “sector”, such as the building or health care industries.

Authority or Government Agency level:

Performance indicators at this level can measure compliance activities and safety & health outcomes that reflect progress in the Workplace Level and/or Society Level.

Indicators that are applicable at this level are set by government bodies.

Societal level

Performance indicators at this level measure broad safety & health outcomes that reflect the impact of events in the workplace on society.

Societal safety & health indicators are utilized for making labour protection and public health policies.

3. Basic Types of Indicators

a. Lagging Indicators measure events in the past

Examples: Incident rates, e.g. fatality rate, lost work day case rate, etc

Lagging indicators should:

  • Be measurable.
  • Be measured the same by all
  • Be data-driven, where possible.
  • Be useful to “stakeholders”
  • Are useful in workplaces of all sizes

b. Leading Indicators are intended to predict the occurrence of events in the future

Leading indicators should:

  • Be measurable.
  • Be measured the same by all.
  • Predict future outcomes.
  • Focus on “successes.”
  • Encourage desirable activities.
  • Be data-driven, where possible.
  • Be useful to “stakeholders”
  • Are useful in workplaces of all sizes

Examples of Leading Indicators:

  • timeliness of corrective action item completion
  • % of management trained in Management Responsibility for Safety & Health
  • Industrial hygiene exposure monitoring (e.g.,“area/personal breathing zone sampling”)
  • % of worker involvement in safety & health-related activities
  • % of performance reviews measuring achievement of employee safety objectives

4. Incentives to Use Performance Indicators

for the Enterprise

They are proactive measures which are intended to predict outcomes.
They are positive in nature, e.g. they measure success, not failure.
Positive outcomes will typically have a favorable impact on the reputation of the enterprise.
Benchmarking is facilitated, e.g. comparisons with other enterprises using performance indicators is now possible.

for Authorities/Government Agencies

Verifies efficiency of operation (validates whether regulatory activities and Action Plans produce the desired results)
Facilitates meeting legislative mandates and Action Plans as well as other requirements of effectiveness

for Society

Provides early warning of societal dangers (“chemical hazards”)
Verifies whether public policy is achieving the intended objectives
Highlights emerging social issues.
Identifies the need for “new” policy initiatives.
Reveals issues of concern that may not be obvious at the Enterprise or Authority/Government Agency level