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The value of safety indicators

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Author: Kampen, J. van · Beek, D. van der · Groeneweg, J.
Source:SPE Economics and Management, 3, 6, 131-140
Identifier: 513424
doi: doi:10.2118/164954-PA
Keywords: Workplace · Accidents · Leading indicators · Level of safeties · Loss of containment · Lost-time injury · Personal safety · Safety indicator · Safety science · Seveso II Directive · Societies and institutions · Work and Employment · Healthy Living · Resilient Organisations · SHB - Safe & Healthy Business · ELSS - Earth, Life and Social Sciences


Organizations are searching for ways to gain insight into the level of safety in their company so that additional measures can be taken when necessary, and so the effectiveness of interventions can be measured. That said, measuring safety, health, and the environment is not easy. A survey among members of the Netherlands Society for Safety Science (NVVK) was conducted and analyzed. Companies that fall under the European Union SEVESO II Directive were analyzed separately. This study shows which indicators are used the most in the industry. It also shows that the respondents take safety very seriously; on average, they use 15 of the 37 safety indicators stated. This study also asks what the organizations do with these indicators in practice. Much of the collected information is not used as an indicator to improve organizations, even those that are considered to be of utmost importance for safety. The number of indicators used in organizations proved to be a reasonably good measure of discriminating between companies with a good or not-so-good personal safety performance, as measured by self-reported lost-time injury frequency (LTIF). It cannot be concluded from this that the use of more indicators leads to fewer accidents. It is more likely that good organizations gather and use more information to steer safety efforts, and that this leads to fewer personal accidents. What is also evident is that more-successful organizations make more use of specific types of indicators. Notably, neither the amount nor the nature of indicators collected can be related to process safety performance as measured by self-reported "loss of containment" events. This could be because of the lack of standardization with respect to what is measured and how it is standardized. At present, there are no set indicators that can be collected from organizations that can reliably discriminate between organizations with no or few or organizations with many process-related incidents. This study legitimizes the continued pursuit of suitable "leading indicators" for process safety. Copyright © 2014 Society of Petroleum Engineers.