Safety Performance Indicators for Inspectorates (SPI²)

The problem addressed

During a safety inspection, the task of an inspector is to get a reliable impression of the safety performance or situation within a company. Ideally an inspector assesses not only formal compliance and management systems but is also able to assess the way in which these processes impact the workfloor. A rich and comprehensive interaction between inspectorates and high-risk industries is therefore key in maintaining a high level of industrial safety. The SPI² project suggests exploring the use of safety performance indicators (SPI) as means to improve this relationship by (i) fostering inspectorates understanding of the key safety dynamics at play in each plant, (ii) developing data driven inspections to focus on key issues revealed by indicators and (iii) improving the visibility of agreed safety objectives for both plant’s managers and inspectorates.

The SPI² project ambitions to give a new impetus to the interaction between high risk industries and inspectorates by helping them spot key aspects of safety by their collective effort. Indeed, SPIs, if well-chosen and calibrated, have the ability to focus attention on key weaknesses whilst at the same time reflecting positive impacts of actions taken. If the project succeeds in finding common grounds on which both inspectorates and the industry accept to exchange safety data based on SPIs, this will result in increasing trust and engaging both stakeholders in a positive and cooperative relation that will benefit safety.

Keywords: KPI inspection

Research questions

The SPI² project adopts an original standpoint by recognizing how the context of inspectorates has evolved towards a new era of data. It therefore invites to recognize this evolution and adapt consequently. Said simply, the new context in which inspectorates are evolving is shaped by the following dynamics:

  • Competition and resources scarcity have made the need for rationalizing crucial in all organizations. As a direct consequence, it is expected from decisions processes to be based on objective, and possibly quantitative data. In the public services sphere, this reality is even more salient as the global tendency towards privatization puts public organizations under the constant pressure of demonstrating an optimised use of available resources. Given these constraints, it becomes clear that novel solutions aiming at better orienting available resources and legitimizing their choices before the variety of societal stakeholders are required.

  • Transparency and accountability requirements have significantly raised in our modern societies. All stakeholders, including major industrial companies, are expected, and legally required, to disclose financial and non-financial information regarding their societal impacts. 2014/95/EU directive requires for companies with more than 500 employees to display key information reflecting the variety of their societal impacts including their efforts to maintain high levels of safety for those generating high risks.

  • High risk industries are starting to deploy large monitoring capabilities and fast communicating devices to allow bottom up information flows on the daily reality of safety. More globally, the development of information and communication technologies has generated large amount of data out of which it is expected to derive some sense by identifying safety weaknesses and monitoring improvements. These data are expected to first serve plant management but we believe they may also highly benefit industry-inspectorates’ interactions by helping them to collectively identify areas of vulnerability requiring collective efforts.

By adopting this original standpoint, SPI² targets two innovations:

  • Current SPIs methodologies focus on identifying indicators out of a given safety model for the exclusive use of safety managers within the industry. Our project intends to suggest a methodology to identify indicators with the aim of supporting interactions between inspectorates and industry.

  • A knowledge platform oriented will be suggested to help diffusing our approach in the inspectorates’ community that has been so far under exploiting the potential of safety indicators.

Scientific disciplines: chemistry/chemical engineering

Expected outputs

The project will provide inspectorates with:

  • a methodology to review SPIs suggested by industries;

  • a set of good practices allowing the combination of SPIs and inspections;

  • training material to improve inspectorates’ awareness on the relevance of SPIs

  • a proof of concept for a knowledge platform with information on common SPIs.


Moving towards practical results requires our project to be strongly anchored in reality. A practical approach is also crucial to help overcome resistances, such as a possible reluctance to share information. Each of the two partners will therefore base their work upon one or more real case applications (in France and in The Netherlands). Key methods for the project are systematic interviews; short surveys; expert workshops, literature analysis and observations during the inspector-company interaction as described in more detail within the task breakdown:

  • Task 1: Review of inspectorates needs and companies’ experiences

  • Task 2: Methodology development for selection or review of SPIs 

  • Task 3: Development of training material and knowledge platform

  • Task 4: case studies

  • Task 5: Integrating overall results, communication and reporting

Participating researchers

Chabane Mazri (Ineris, France) — project coordinator

Ludovic Moulin (Ineris, France)

Jakko van Kampen (RIVM, The Netherlands)

Eelke Kooi (RIVM, The Netherlands)

Funding organizations

RIVM (The Netherlands)

INERIS (France)

More details

Duration 2018-05 to 2019-12
Contact email
More information

Information last updated on 2019-05-13.

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