A Review of Campus Occupational Health and Safety Metrics
Benjamin Franklin once said that “without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning”. In the field of occupational health and safety, progress is signified by a reduction in the relative frequency or severity of work-related injuries and illnesses. At IUPUI, from 2011 to 2013, the total incidence of work-related cases and the incidence of severe work-related cases have been reduced by an impressive 74 percent and 27 percent respectively. Despite this monumental achievement, we must continue to measure and improve the tangible factors that contribute to this progress. As a result, the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) at IUPUI measures various leading metrics in an attempt to identify correlations with lagging outcome variables such as incident rate. By identifying correlations between leading and lagging metrics, EHS can systematically and pro-actively focus attention on factors that are more closely associated with a reduction of occupational injuries and illnesses on campus.
For example, a 27 percent increase in the number of laboratories on campus with an “A+” health and safety inspection grade was strongly associated (r2=0.85) with a 78 percent reduction in incident rate over the last three years. Although we cannot infer causation from this limited data, this does serve as strong evidence that EHS should continue their emphasis on laboratory safety inspections and laboratories should strive to correct deficiencies as soon as possible when identified during this process. From a campus-wide perspective, participation in individual ergonomic-related evaluations and training activities was also strongly correlated (r2=0.87) with a reduction in incident rate over the last three years. This data suggests that employee knowledge of ergonomic stressors and best work practices is an important element of incident prevention across campus. Therefore, EHS suggests that all employees complete “E-training” modules such as “Back Safety Training” and “Slips, Trips, and Falls” to reduce their susceptibility to injury during these very common work tasks. On how to enroll and complete various EHS training modules, please click here.
And finally, it is important to remember that true success in health and safety is only achieved in the absence of incidents; furthermore, our focus must remain on the continual improvement of leading metrics to collectively achieve success and an ever-safer campus community.