Author Bio ▼

Dr Karen McDonnell is Head of Global Relations at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). She is also the immediate past president of IOSH.
December 14, 2023

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The importance of measuring OSH

Dr Karen McDonnell, RoSPA’s Occupational Health and Safety Policy Adviser and Head of RoSPA Scotland, highlights the many benefits of measuring health and safety.

Measurement creates data that can be compared and contrasted, and opportunities for improvement to be identified – a pattern that will be very familiar to OSH professionals and business owners around the world.

And when the time is right and the business looks to benchmark externally with other organisations in their sector or demonstrate their compliance against a standard, that initial data and their management plan ‘tells their story’.

A shared understanding of the benefits of measuring and reporting on performance, including organisational insights into interventions that reduce accidents and ill-health, is invaluable in improving compliance with regulatory requirements.

As an organisation that encourages mentoring, benchmarking and sharing success, we have conversations with our members and award winners about OSH as a key business performance objective and core value, irrespective of their size, sector or geography.

Why is measuring OSH so important?

  • It provides essential information to other key stakeholders/partners such as the workforce, contractors/suppliers/customers, regulators, insurers, political representatives and campaigning organisations and can complement the existing requirement to report on environmental performance. In addition, it can provide a basis for providing information to the media and wider public.
  • It can enable companies to report on progress towards the achievement of improvement targets.
  • It can help to create a greater understanding of the ‘management system’ approach to OSH.
  • It can provide a basis for ‘benchmarking’, for example, within a sector or a group of companies.
  • It can help to demonstrate openness and transparency, both internally and externally.
  • It can provide a basis for celebration of achievement, helping to demonstrate and reinforce the organisation’s health and safety values and culture.
  • It provides a useful way of collating summary information on OSH in support of other business processes such as tendering, entry to awards schemes and so on.
  • For those companies already achieving high standards, publicising a positive OSH profile can help to help secure competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Added value

Looking at the balance of costs and benefits, it might be hard to show a direct causal link between performance reporting and any subsequent reduction in levels of risk, harm and loss. However, creating a climate in which OSH reporting becomes an established norm, with an accounting requirement affecting the company at its highest level, creates a powerful incentive for companies with deficient senior OSH management to improve.

The main net benefit therefore would be in enhancing the influence of other OSH performance ‘drivers’ (particularly those associated with fear of loss of reputation, business opportunities and competitive advantage).

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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