If a company’s plan is to trend the organization’s incidents (accidents and/or injuries) in an effort to achieve safety, the outcome of having successfully managed risk, it is important to understand that trending data will not prevent incidents. Simply knowing that the company has experienced nine motor vehicle crashes in the past six months is not going to prevent the tenth collision from occurring.
Understanding that achieving safety requires action is the first step. Having knowledge of a trend does not reverse the trend. It does, however, provide direction in choosing a corrective action. Continuing with the example above, the organization may choose to invest in training for all of its drivers.
But we’re not quite there yet. While we are now relying on the action (driver training) to remedy the identified trend (nine motor vehicle crashes), the data that is being trended is not specific enough to identify the best preventative action.
Step two - choosing specific data to trend. Imagine how much more effective the preventative action would be if the data tracked was more specific, such as rear-end collision or left turn collision. Understanding that the nine motor vehicle crashes involved five rear-end collisions and four left turn collisions would allow the training effort to become much more focused.
Similar issues occur within organizations regarding injury trending. For example, trending sprains/strains. A sprain or a strain is the result of a failure. Understanding the failure is more important than acknowledging the result. The strain/sprain could be the result of any number of things (slip, trip, fall, over-extension, over-exertion, improper lifting, etc.). Rather than trending the number of strain/sprain injuries, a better choice to trend might be improper lifting injuries.
Remember these four keys to Incident Trending:
1. Achieving safety requires action.
2. Trending can point an organization towards a preventative action.
3. Trend failures - not results.
4. The more specific the data trended – the more accurate the preventative action.
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