How to Make Your WHS Reporting Relevant to Different Audiences

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One of the key deliverables for safety professionals is providing accurate and useful reporting on monthly safety performance to employees, managers, boards and outside of your organisation. But what should you include in these reports?

Safe Work Australia has a detailed publication that provides some example templates and advice that we thought we might drill down to the key points and share with you in this article.

Reporting to Employees

When we communicate work health and safety (WHS) information to employees, we generally aim to deliver a message of encouragement to reduce workplace injuries often accompanied by a message of ‘towards zero’. So the focus is on the information on hazards and risks that have emerged as the key areas of concern or focus for the month.

Controlling these hazards is key information and is often in the form of alerts and reminders of expectations from employees to change or improve their behaviour. Often this information is delivered frequently and immediately after a concern has been raised or a risk has been identified through toolbox sessions or via one-on-one discussions between staff and their supervisors.

From time to time, specific training for the staff is delivered to increase knowledge e.g. Hazard awareness training. Other means of reporting to employees are through email notifications, posters, noticeboards and the publication of annual reports.

It is most important here that workplace safety expectations are clearly articulated and safety messages displayed, to promote safe behaviour. Employees should not be left guessing and there should be regular updates to help to promote the safety message. Simply relying on one-off safety training, for example, the safety induction, is not enough.

Reporting to Management

Reporting to management requires the safety professional to consider what data is useful to this group in order to make informed decisions towards improvement. Measurement is key, but it is important to consider the statistical validity and the costs associated with collecting data to measure performance.

Monthly reports generally contain information about the number of injuries that have occurred in that month and their severity. Displaying this graphically against categories of Plant/Equipment Damage, Near Miss, Injury/Disease, Exposure, Environmental Damage and No Injury is typical. Useful graphs include those that show the:

  • Event Severity Rating,
  • Number and type of events,
  • Percentage of opportunity for improvements,
  • Number of events per 1000 staff,
  • Breakdown per agency,
  • Injury severity rating, and
  • Mechanisms of injury.

From here, we can look at examples of positive and lead indicators of improvements such as training, toolbox sessions, the number of identified hazards, etc. What you need are accurate training records to show you where the gaps are and provide an ongoing audit trail. The Tap into Safety online and mobile-friendly Training Platform offers in-depth reporting. You can try a free 7-day trial to get a taste of some of our courses.

See our article, Encouraging Reporting of Psychological Injuries.

Reporting to the Board of Directors

1. Risk Profile

Directors must be apprised of specific and significant changes in work health and safety regulations, technologies, practices and organisational hazards and risks. The likely impact on WHS due to significant structural change, financial constraints, growth or downsizing, should be discussed. Inspections, audits, incident analysis, legal, WHS and news sources should be scanned and used to inform these discussions.

2. WHS Position

The WHS Position of the organisation is the status of risks, controls and residual risk regarding the implementation and effectiveness of WHS policy and strategy, including those relating to the allocation of financial and human resources.  It is here that you summarise the organisation’s success in meeting its obligations to ensure workers’ health and safety. Critical here is KPIs relating to both lead and lag indicators of critical risk-control activities that seek to eliminate or minimise the WHS risk or reflect event reports that remain unresolved at the end of the month.

3. WHS Performance

The actual number of injury cases by severity should be reported. Information about the actions taken to identify and eliminate hazards/minimise risk should be included. Activity and outcome details for internal or external performance audits and inspections help to identify ‘opportunities for improvement’. Finally, fines and penalties and updates on legal fees, workers’ compensation and medical costs relating to Class 1 injury or illness should be reported.

See our article, Near-Miss Reporting Improves Workplace Safety.

4. WHS Assurance

Discuss lead and lag indicators of selected critical risk-control activities, focusing primarily on significant changes and new risks. Include activity and outcome details for internal or external compliance audits and safety inspection conformance.

Reporting Outside the Organisation

Annual and Sustainability Reports

Annual reports should include the number of fatalities and the number of non-fatal Class 1 (LTIs), Class 2 (MTIs) and Class 3 (First Aid) injuries. The circumstances and consequences of each Class 1 injury or illness should be supported with a statement about the action taken to prevent a recurrence.

The number of incident investigations should be reported with a discussion around the hazards/risks associated with the most potentially damaging injuries or illnesses and those associated with the most frequently occurring injuries.

The number of actions using hazard elimination controls versus the number of risk-minimising controls versus the number of risk-reducing/administrative controls should be reported as a HOC rating or score. Comment on the programs and/or processes used to manage the risks identified and include evidence of their effectiveness.

The report should provide independent internal audit results, external investigations by the regulator, fines, costs, the number of compensated injuries, and the total lost time. These reports may also include WHS lead and lag KPIs relating to critical WHS risk controls and 5-year average or industry average comparative data.

Finally, a brief overview of WHS governance arrangements can be included, outlining structures and mechanisms by which assurance in relation to the implementation and effectiveness of WHS policies and controls is obtained.

See our article, Reporting to Comply With Industrial Manslaughter.

In Summary

To identify the right information to include in each report, we need to understand the needs and priorities of its intended audience. Understanding how the information will be used not only helps in designing WHS reports but also helps identify and prioritise what should be measured and tracked.

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