Striking a Balance: Pros and Cons of Days Since Last Incident
Imagine you work on a construction site. You drive into the parking area each morning with time to spare. Then you pull your gear from your vehicle, throw it over your shoulder, and sneak in a few sips of much-needed coffee from your thermos. You close the vehicle door, turn to approach the site’s entrance, and come across a familiar – and sometimes looming – sign attached to the gate. It reads:
X Days Since Last Incident
The “X” changes daily, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. You always hope to see a number higher than the day before, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Now and again, it resets to “0”.
Do you feel safer seeing the number of days since last incident? Does it encourage you to help push the number higher? Does it motivate you to rectify problems when it falls back to zero?
Or does it have the opposite effect, adding unnecessary pressure to be perfect and discouraging you from reporting issues on the site?
Either way, the number of days since last incident is a critical metric to track – there’s no disputing that fact – but is it necessary to display it for all workers?
We explored how this well-known sign affects workers and safety culture and found that people have different views. Some managers think it reminds and motivates workers, while others worry it might result in skewed incident data.
Consider the benefits and drawbacks of this sign at your workplace. Determine if it is the right approach for your company and employees.
The Argument For and Against Days Since Last Incident
Motivation for Safety: Displaying the number of days since last incident can motivate workers to adhere to safety regulations. This can foster a culture of caution and mindfulness. A daily reminder that everyone is working towards the same goal.
Clear Communication: Days since last incident provides an easy way to communicate safety performance, keeping it simple for both employees and management to understand.
Benchmarking Success: A high count of days since the last incident serves as a tangible benchmark for safety success. If you’re a contractor, this instills confidence in hiring clients.
Continuous Improvement: Updating the counter daily encourages a continuous improvement mindset, pushing organizations and workers to enhance safety measures.
Positive Public Image: For many companies, a long streak without incidents can enhance their public image, demonstrating a commitment to employee well-being and operational excellence.
Complacency Risks: The focus on days since the last incident might lead to complacency. Some safety professionals believe the absence of incidents could result in reduced vigilance and attention to safety protocols.
Underreporting Issues: Organizations may face underreporting issues if the emphasis on days since the last incident creates a culture where employees fear reporting incidents that could reset the counter. Furthermore, the worker responsible for reporting the incident could face contempt from other employees.
Incomplete Safety Picture: Relying solely on days since the last incident doesn’t represent the full picture of safety performance. It doesn’t include training, inspection results, equipment reliability etc.
Variability in Severity: Days since the last incident doesn’t account for the severity of incidents; thus, it may not adequately reflect the true impact of safety measures. Did the incident require a band-aid? Or did it require a hospital stay, resulting in hours lost?
Pressure on Reporting Accuracy: The pressure to maintain a high count of days since the last incident may lead to inaccuracies in incident reporting, undermining the credibility of safety data.
Opinions anonymously gathered from a U.K. safety professionals’ forum on this subject:
“I personally dislike these signs and view them as ‘vanity signs’, plus, setting it back to zero is such a demotivator. The actual length of time is not indicative of how the safety management regime is performing.”
“You will not find a health and safety person who likes these signs. They drive incident reporting underground.”
“It depends on the maturity of your safety culture. ‘Days since’ signs are fine and do give some indication of performance but don’t paint the full picture. If your culture is mature enough, the number of unreported accidents and incidents will be very low.”
Is Measuring Days Since Last Incident Right for Your Business?
Now that you are aware of some positive and negative impacts of a visible ‘days since last incident’ sign, do you think it serves as a valuable tool in promoting a safety-conscious workplace? Striking the right balance between motivational aspects with a comprehensive understanding of safety performance ensures a more robust and effective safety management strategy.
“Days Since Last Incident” might be something you track as part of your overall safety metrics. But keep in mind this is a lagging indicator. Let Veriforce assist you in creating a plan that emphasizes early warning signs, ensuring worker safety and enhancing your safety culture.
Contact us today to learn more.