Effective health and safety cultures begin with the top table displaying positive safety culture and reacting appropriately to issues and concerns raised in any health and safety reports from the business. However, how can business representatives ensure that their report includes clear and critical information that the board needs to fulfil due diligence requirements?

In most cases, the audience for such reports are those defined as “officers” under the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA). Officers have a duty as defined by the HSWA to exercise care, diligence, and skill, taking into account the nature of the business. At its top-level definition, due diligence is fundamentally understanding the business, keeping up to date with health and safety knowledge, ensuring appropriate resources and processes are in place to limit risk, and finally ensuring that those resources processes are implemented. 

Generally, most business leaders will rely on the Health and Safety team to produce a report to meet these due diligence obligations. Some of the critical metrics for these reports often include:

  • Lost time injury frequency rates (LTIFR)
  • Lead indicators
  • Lag indicators
  • Total reportable injury frequency rates
  • Training compliance statistics

Including all of these indicators is optional – after all, there are no incorrect methodologies for displaying information on a report. However, are these figures the most tailored metrics to fulfil officers’ due diligence requirements? While there is a push to ensure that policies and procedures are consulted with the workforce and tailored to suit the business, health and safety reports could be falling short by not providing a tailored reporting solution.

The process of tailoring a report to ensure that leaders’ due diligence requirements are being met need not be complex. One common methodology is the identification of critical business risk and then reporting against these. As an example, perhaps a critical risk to a logistics business would be driver fatigue. Reports may be addressing this critical risk by reporting on the number of vehicle accidents that occur per month with a finding of driver fatigue, but is this the most beneficial of indicators? They may want to consider a proactive approach, such as reporting on driving hours compliance or perhaps even a survey on driver attitudes.

In the above scenario, the concept is prevention or proactive lead indicator reporting as opposed to a reactive lag report. The additional benefit is that a decline in a lead indicator could prompt the need for further resourcing, training, or audit in this area to reinforce proactive measures further.

So now that a tailored reporting solution to suit the business is in place, leaders need to ensure the data accuracy. It’s crucial that valid information is being displayed, rather than vague figures portraying a soothing sense of everything under control, where the opposite is the case.

A common barrier to effective reporting of data is the method of input. Businesses must identify the obstacles preventing workers from entering incidents, reports, and other indicators needed for accurate reports, whether they’re short on time or using outdated processes.

This is where consultation and communication with your workforce is essential. Especially in the case of safety initiatives, safety cannot be seen as an exercise in gathering statistics. It should be a fully integrated, transparent business process that workers can incorporate easily into their day-to-day responsibilities.

Are you and your board one hundred per cent confident in the data supporting your management of due diligence obligations within the business? If you’re not sure, it’s time to investigate.

Our Risk Advisory team works with businesses to achieve occupational health and safety success. Read more about our work here.

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