Thursday, December 04, 2008

Guidance on Developing Safety Performance Indicators

Guidance published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) specifically related to chemical accident prevention, preparedness and response. Second edition published 2008 and available free from the OECD website

It is a very long document, and so will take some studying. But it lays out why you want Safety Performance Indicators (SPI) and how to develop them. Also, there seem to be lots of examples of indicators to use.

The introduction reads "Safety Performance Indicators (“SPIs”) provide important tools for any enterprise that handles significant quantities of hazardous substances (whether using, producing, storing, transporting, disposing of, or otherwise handling chemicals) including enterprises that use chemicals in manufacturing other products. Specifically, SPIs help enterprises understand whether risks of chemical accidents are being appropriately managed. The goal of SPI Programmes is to help enterprises find and fix potential problems before an accident occurs.

By taking a pro-active approach to risk management, enterprises not only avoid system failures and the potential for costly incidents, they also benefit in terms of business effi ciency. For example, the same indicators that reveal whether risks are being controlled can often show whether operating conditions are being optimised."

The Guidance divides SPI into two types: "outcome indicators" and "activities indicators."

* Outcome indicators are designed to help assess whether safety-related actions (policies, procedures and practices) are achieving their desired results and whether such actions are leading to less likelihood of an accident occurring and/or less adverse impact on human health, the environment and/or property from an accident. They are reactive, intended to measure the impact of actions that were taken to manage safety and are similar to what are called “lagging indicators” in other documents. Outcome indicators often measure change in safety performance over time, or failure of performance. Thus, outcome indicators tell you whether you have achieved a desired result (or when a desired safety result has failed). But, unlike activities indicators, they do not tell you why the result was achieved or why it was not.

* Activities indicators are designed to help identify whether enterprises/organisations are taking actions believed necessary to lower risks (e.g., the types of policies, procedures and practices described in the Guiding Principles). Activities indicators are pro-active measures, and are similar to what are called “leading indicators” in other documents. They often measure safety performance against a tolerance level that shows deviations from safety expectations at a specific point in time. When used in this way, activities indicators highlight the need for action when a tolerance level is exceeded.

Thus, activities indicators provide enterprises with a means of checking, on a regular and systematic basis, whether they are implementing their priority actions in the way they were intended. Activities indicators can help explain why a result (e.g., measured by an outcome indicator) has been achieved or not.

Andy Brazier

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