Development and validation of a KPI-based method and a user-friendly software tool for resilience-focused measurement of OSH management system performance — KPI-OSH-Tool

The problem addressed

Many studies on OSH management system (MS) performance have revealed that although these systems have been implemented worldwide since the mid-1980s, and despite optimistic expectations for their positive impact on improving the working conditions, no conclusive evidence has been found that these systems are effective in terms of reducing the number of occupational accidents and diseases. Furthermore, objections have been raised recently to the performance of OSH MSs being implemented in order to obtain a certificate of conformity. For example according to the recent report of ETUI OSH MS certificate does not guarantee good OSH results, and in practice it is unlikely that certified enterprises provide better working conditions as compared to other ones. Some scholars call straight out for the re-conceptualization of the role of OSH MS audits, and even for these audits to be deprived of the function of OSH MS evaluation, since the main focus should be on the improvement of working conditions, and not on auditing the system. Therefore, this state of affairs calls for a revision of current approaches to OSH MS evaluation, as new resilience-based concepts and methods are needed, with a particular focus on the measurement and genuine improvement of system operational performance.

Keywords: OSH management system

Research questions

The literature on tools for the measurement of OSH MS performance shows that these tools are usually characterized by relatively large numbers of leading indicators (PPIs), from more than 180 to almost 500. Recent studies carried out by CIOP-PIB allowed to define ca. 150 indicators assigned in subsets to individual OSH MS components. With regard to OSH training the following 5 exemplary PPIs were identified:

  1. % of workers subject of initial OSH instructing or training;
  2. % of workers participating in OSH courses;
  3. % of managers participating in OSH courses,
  4. % of training hours performed on OSH courses,
  5. no. of hours for OSH training per person.
And with regard to the Risk control measures component it was possible to propose 7 PPIs: 1) % of workers informed on risks and risk control measures; 2) no. of risk control actions implemented; 3) no. of workers with risk reduced by means of collective protective equipment; 4) no. of workers with risk reduced by means of PPE; 5) % of reduction of PPE applications in relation to other types of risk controls; 6) mean time from hazard identification to introduction of risk control measures; and 7) no. of PPE items inspected for their appropriate selection for identified risks. For other OSH MS components the number of respective PPIs varied from 4 to 9.

Practical application of such complex performance measurement systems in enterprises is difficult since it involves large investment of time, the need for training and preparing personnel to perform measurements, a large volume of information to be collected and processed, and an extensive documentation associated with carrying out the measurement process. Furthermore, with a large number of PPIs, many of them may be interdependent, since they may possibly be based on the same data, or be linked in cause and effect relationships. Applying a large number of PPIs may also be a significant factor preventing dissemination of OSH MSs based on performance measurement, especially among SMEs. Therefore, it is highly justified to search for such arrangements for OSH MS performance measurement which comprise a minimum number of higher-level key performance indicators (KPIs); moreover, the number of those KPIs would need to be sufficient for proper evaluation of OSH MS status in a given enterprise or a part thereof. In the case of the proposed project the objective would be to reach the target of ca. 20-30 KPIs.

The model of OSH MS adopted for the project will be elaborated on the basis of combined specifications of OHSAS 18001 and ILO-OSH 2001 Guidelines. The model will also consider the contents of OSH MS to be included in future ISO 45001 standard (currently being developed by the ISO/PC 283).

Where a large number of possible PPIs is available, a decision problem appears which concerns the selection of KPIs from a given set of PPIs. The problem in question implies the need for defining the criteria for evaluation and selection of KPIs, and employing a relevant method in the domain of multi-criteria decision making (MCDM) analysis. For the criteria for evaluation and selection of KPIs, a set being frequently recommended in the literature, is the set of criteria denoted by the acronym of SMART, which stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

There are numerous MCDM methods that may be applied for the selection of KPIs from a given set of PPIs. Those most frequently applied and described in the literature include inter alia: AHP (Analytic Hierarchy Process), ANP (Analytic Network Process), TOPSIS (Technique for Order Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution), or ELECTRE (Elimination Et ChoixTradusant La Réalite). An analysis of the literature indicates that one of the most popular and most widely applied in practice is the AHP. This method involves determination of various levels of importance for defined criteria, and subsequently an expert comparison and ranking of decision variants in relation to those criteria. The AHP analyses can be performed easily with the support of many available on-line tools, e.g. the Expert Choice, MakeItRational or TransparentChoice. Given the relatively low level of complexity, the availability of relevant supporting tools, and the possibility for applying it for solving decision problems in numerous economy sectors and areas of science, the AHP method has been widely employed in hundreds of documented cases.

Keywords: leading indicators multi-criteria decision-making

Scientific disciplines: chemistry/chemical engineering, computing/information science

Expected outputs

The project will contribute to the genuine improvement of operational performance of OSH MSs in enterprises in various countries and various sectors of economic activity. The main categories of stakeholders include: senior managers, safety managers, workers in enterprises, safety consultants and auditors, authorities dealing with OSH, including labour inspectors, as well as customers. The use of KPIs will allow company’s managers to respond quickly and effectively to early indications of irregularities in the operation of OSH MS. This should result, in a longer perspective, in the decreased number of occupational accident rates and the reduction of other adverse effects on employees’ safety and health. At the same time project results will contribute to the decrease of losses associated with poor working conditions, and thus would positively influence productivity and competitiveness of the enterprises.

Project results will be disseminated and transferred to stakeholders by means of brochures, scientific publication, training courses provided by partners as well as by and papers presented on conferences. The results will also be disseminated by international or sectoral guidelines for OSH MS, which would include the recommended set of KPIs for the measurement of OSH MS performance.

Keywords: KPI performance management system


The project will be divided into 5 main workpackages:

WP1: Specification for the KPI-based method and a tool for measuring OSH MS performance;

WP2: Defining initial sets of KPIs for measuring performance of OSH MS components;

WP3: Development of the tool for KPI-based measurement of OSH MS performance;

WP4: Pilot implementation and validation of the tool for OSH MS performance measurement;

WP5: Dissemination and promotion of the project results.

Associated deliverables

KPI-OSH tool: presentation at the 3rd SAF€RA symposium
Presentation CC BY published on 2016-08-26
Presentation made at the third SAF€RA symposium organized in Paris in February 2015.

Download deliverable

KPI-OSH tool: project leaflet
Dissemination leaflet CC BY published on 2016-08-26
A short leaflet outlining the project.

Download deliverable

The objective of this paper is to demonstrate the application of the AHP method for the selection of leading KPIs for measuring OSH MS operational performance. The proposed set of KPIs should be tailored to specific conditions of an enterprise, such as the size, industry sector, types of occurring hazards, or the maturity of OSH management processes.

Download deliverable

Participating researchers

Daniel Podgórski (Central Institute for Labour Protection – National Research Institute (CIOP-PIB), Poland) — project coordinator

Funding organizations

FIOH (Finland)

CIOP-PIB (Poland)

OSALAN (Spain)

More details

Duration 2014-06 to 2016-01
Contact email
More information

Information last updated on 2016-08-26.

Return to the list of projects.