Measuring and improving safety metrics
What gets measured, gets improved. With respect to the safety and health of Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) employees, the primary metric used has been the OSHA recordable incident rate. This incident rate measures how often a Cabinet employee sustains an injury that demands more than basic first aid. This metric is important for understanding injury frequencies, but it does not assist with management of the safety, health, and overall well-being of KYTC personnel. Based on a review of leading safety indicators adopted by various industries, this study devised a comprehensive list of safety metrics the Cabinet will benefit from tracking. Metrics were evaluated, organized, weighted, and compiled into a three-tier scorecard that is used to assess performance at KYTC’s district, area, and executive levels. Five major dimensions of an effective safety program were identified: (1) management leadership and commitment, (2) employee engagement, (3) training and competence, (4) hazard identification and control, and (5) evaluation and improvement. Surveys of KYTC districts found that all metrics performed robustly, while stakeholders at executive levels usually assigned lower scores to the five dimensions. Employee engagement had the lowest score. The Cabinet will benefit from seeking out more opportunities to involve employees in the agency’s safety program. Equally, the study reiterates the value of gaining management buy-in, support, and leadership when working to eliminate incidents and injuries.