- Legal requirements - Depending on the vehicles and the purposes for which they are operated, the company (or vehicle owner) may be legally required to maintain certain records related to vehicle safety. For example, the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation states requirements around vehicle maintenance records. The Motor Vehicle Act and National Safety Code explain requirements for inspection records and work schedules.
- Due diligence - You may have heard the saying, "If it's not recorded, it didn't happen." When an organization is called upon to demonstrate what it has been doing to ensure the safety of employees, being able to produce written or electronic records is one way to provide necessary evidence.
- Facilitate learning - You'll want to know if the road safety measures you implement are succeeding or failing. By keeping track of key activities and comparing results over time, you will learn what's working and what's not. Reviewing results provides solid clues about what adjustments should be made to improve performance.
- Corporate reporting and accountability - Because safety performance matters to owners, shareholders and board members, they will be looking for real data and meaningful measurements that provide a reliable picture. As well, customers and clients increasingly evaluate a company by its safety results and its safety reputation. Establishing and tracking key performance indicators is the best way to illustrate performance.
- Guide road safety investments and resources - Financial constraints mean that organizations must make thoughtful decisions when setting budgets. Records that track inputs and results demonstrate a disciplined approach that decision makers favour. Whether results show a small gain that can be improved with incremental funding, or a troubling trend that demands attention, consistent records help guide smart safety investments.
Choosing what to measure
There are plenty of variables an organization might measure and track but it's not practical to measure everything. Recording information and tracking results requires someone's time - which is both valuable and limited. A better approach is to be selective and choose efficient measurements, ones that yield the most useful information for the least amount of additional inputs.
Consider framing measurements (or metrics) in SMART terms.
Specific – Is what you plan to measure well-defined and clear? Will the people who gather the information (e.g., fill out a form or report) readily understand what's required?
Measurable – Is it something that is easy to measure? Can you quantify the metric in terms of how much or how many? Can you build goals or targets around this measure?
Assignable and Achievable - Who will be expected to gather the information? Will they? Can we do this given the resources available?
Relevant - Is the metric evidently connected to road safety objectives? Does this matter to employees who drive for work, and to the organization as a whole? When results are compiled and analyzed will they provide meaningful information?
Time-bound – How often will someone be required to expend time to gather this information (e.g. each driver every day or a supervisor monthly)? How much total time will that take? Can you compare these measurements in a practical time frame (quarterly, annually)?
Lagging indicators are the more traditional measurements used in many safety programs. In general, lagging indicators measure the results of a process, something that has already happened. Examples of lagging indicators include:
- # of motor vehicle incidents
- injury frequency and / or severity
- lost workdays
- changes in insurance costs
Lagging indicators are important for reporting on established targets and for understanding the outcomes of past actions. They are comparatively easy to capture and interpret so they are helpful for presenting historical results and trends. However, they do have significant limitations. Lagging indicators:
- rely on after the fact information. A crash must occur or someone must be injured before the event can be measured. Once the event or outcome has occurred, the organization has no ability to influence its occurrence. It can only respond.
- don't do a good job of revealing how effectively an organization is working towards a goal. We have to wait for results - be they good or bad - before we can evaluate them.
Leading indicators focus on inputs. Think of them as proactive ways to measure performance before problems arise, and in-process metrics you can use to guide actions. It takes a little more effort to arrive at meaningful, strongly-correlated leading indicators. But done properly, leading indicators measure the progress an organization is making to prevent crashes.
Because leading indicators are predictive, there is no guarantee that the actions taken and measured will always have the expected outcome. The value of a leading indicator relies heavily on understanding relationships between actions taken today and their anticipated outcomes.
There's evidence that regular vehicle inspections reduce the likelihood that a mechanical failure will contribute to or cause a crash because inspections will identify defects and enable the company to address the issue before the vehicle is used for work. It follows that implementing regular inspections will achieve, or at least contribute to, the goal of reducing work-related crashes. Tracking completed inspections is seen as a leading indicator.
Similarly, making sure employees have the training they need to operate the vehicles they use for work is one way to prevent crashes. If an organization has no system for providing employees with those competencies and they are experiencing crashes because of that, providing the right training should lead to fewer crashes in the future. As a result, measuring and tracking driver training sessions is a suitable leading indicator.
Lagging indicators important to road safety
- # of motor vehicle incidents - overall, by vehicle type, department, season, time of day, etc.
- # of injuries - usually expressed in terms of severity: minor, serious, permanent disability, fatality
- # of lost-time incidents - crashes that result in a worker being off work past the day of incident
- # of lost work days - days employees are away from work because of the crash
- # of claims related to a crash - typically injury claims made to WorkSafeBC, may include claims to ICBC or another insurer.
- claims costs - dollar value of claims costs; consider expressing in terms of average cost per claim (which is an estimate of injury severity)
- insurance premium costs - changes in WorkSafeBC assessment fees, vehicle, liability and cargo insurance premiums and extended health care benefits and premiums
- property damage costs - direct costs for repairing or replacing own or third-party property
- fines and penalties - levied by police, WorkSafeBC or other enforcement agency because of the crash
Leading Indicators Important to Road Safety
- # of driver training courses completed
- # of driver assessments - ride-alongs, spot-checks
- # of vehicle inspections
- # of vehicle maintenance records submitted / reviewed
- # of drivers’ licences and abstracts received / checked
- # of safety meetings, tailgate meetings that include road safety
- # of trip plans prepared / submitted / reviewed
- # of TripCheck results prepared / submitted / reviewed
- km of work-related driving (e.g., increasing or decreasing per year or per employee)
- # or % of safety meetings that include road safety discussion
- # or % of tailgate meetings that include road safety discussion
- company newsletter articles or posters that deal with road safety topic
- employee engagement (e.g. Road Safety Snapshot)
- The hazard identification and risk assessment process should be one of the primary drivers for setting targets. You'll want to set goals that demonstrate you are making progress on the hazards that generate the greatest risks for employees. Make SMART goals. It's rarely possible to achieve 100 per cent right away. Set goals that make practical sense and are achievable.
- Pay attention to your greatest risks.
- Don't forget about making small, quick wins. There are benefits in demonstrating success even if outcomes are modest. Picking low-hanging fruit leads the way to more substantial results.
- Get others to help. It's easier to get buy-in if others - especially people who will be expected to implement the measures necessary to achieve the target - agree that it's a worthy and realistic target.
- Check with managers and secure their commitment.
- Record and communicate targets and results. A target explained in black and white and posted on the bulletin board is something everyone in the organization can see and contribute to. Employees appreciate seeing periodic updates on the progress they are making towards achieving targets.