Your total recordable incident rate, or TRIR, can have a huge impact on your business, and the small details of you safety operations have an outsized effect on this important metric. What is Total Recordable Incident Rate? We answered in detail in our previous post: “OSHA Recordable Incident Rate: Everything You Need to Know.”
How Does Your TRIR Calculation Affect Your Company?
The External Impact
Your calculated TRIR can have wide-ranging effects on the welfare of your business. Insurance companies may look to it when adjusting your premiums. It can be used by the media to sway public opinion, potentially causing PR nightmares.Vendors may choose not to work with your company if your total recordable incident rate, by industry standards, is high. And you are not likely to attract top notch workers with a high number. You may even lose valuable members of your team to safer work environments.
A high recordable incident rate impacts the value or perceived health of your company within the business community. Savvy business people know that safety is a key indicator of a company’s overall well-being. Poor safety is regularly linked with the following:
- Lower quality goods and poor quality control
- Worker dissatisfaction
- Inefficient production
- Costly lawsuits
- Greater worker absences
- More diligent OSHA oversight
- Lower worker morale
That is just a partial list of unwanted circumstances investors or potential owners don’t want to inherit or to be associated with.
The Connecticut Business and Industry Association states the situation plainly: “A company’s Total Recordable Incident Rate . . . can significantly impact its ability to operate.”
The Internal Impact
If your OSHA recordable incident rate is high, that should be a red flag for your company. Poor safety has a huge impact on your profitability. Each of the issues listed in the previous section will negatively affect your bottom line.
Also consider the cost of worker’s compensation, hospital bills, follow-up care, having to hire temp workers as replacements, and so on. Poor safety is always a losing situation. This is in addition to the obvious: you have workers getting hurt, and it is your responsibility to keep them safe.
This short video discusses three reasons to establish a safe workplace, or low-to-zero rate of reported incidents: moral, legal, and, as noted, economic:
Every Recordable Incident Matters
When you look at how to calculate total recordable incident rate, you’ll see that every recordable incident is given equal measure, regardless of its severity. That is, a fatality counts as much as a laceration that requires treatment beyond first aid.
So it makes sense not just to avoid major catastrophes, but to focus equally on less serious mishaps. In the eyes of OSHA, and anyone else who’s interested in your TRIR, they’re all of equal importance.
Some argue that this makes the OSHA recordable incident rate a poor or possibly misleading metric. Five deaths rate the same as five trips to the emergency room for stitches or a broken bone? That sounds ridiculous.
However, reason tells us that an environment where reportable events (OSHA’s total recordable incident rate definition clarifies what incidents qualify as reportable) occur regularly is more likely to be an environment where a fatality will occur eventually.
Said another way, if your workplace attends to small safety details, small recordable injuries and fatalities will occur less often. In fact, it’s often when the smallest routine details are overlooked that tragedy results.
This is documented in the Hidden Brain podcast episode “Check Yourself,” which discusses why implementing detailed safety checklists can be the difference between smooth sailing and disaster. And of course, a strong safety culture reduces all types of safety incidents.
The Most Common Injuries Are Preventable
The most common workplace injuries include trips and falls, lacerations, being hit by a falling object, muscle strain, and strain from repetitive movements. This information is easy to come by, which means that you’ve easily already won half the battle: you know what you need to prevent.
The next step is to put protocols in place that ensure your workforce won’t experience these injuries. To avoid trips and falls, keep the workspace clean and clear of clutter.
A huge percentage of lacerations are the result of workers not wearing gloves: don’t allow that and get your workers gloves that fit and move well.
Make sure objects stored overhead are secure at all times. Teach your workers how to lift objects properly. If the same tasks must be done repetitively, make sure your workers take frequent breaks or switch tasks throughout the day.
Such small and easy precautions will go a long way in keep your reportables down.
Attention to Safety Details Pays Off
The steps to keeping workers safe aren’t complicated, but they do require implementation, compliance, and consistency. It’s because of the very fact that these precautions are so obvious, so routine, that they get overlooked: complacency is a major contributor to accidents. So, the actual challenge becomes keeping workers inspired to follow every safety protocol detail, day after day.
When you prevent the causes of lesser safety incidents, you also help prevent major accidents. This adds up to fewer reportable incidents and a very valuable low TRIR.