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Reduction of Frequency or Reduction of Severity – What is Your Organization’s Goal? - Part 1

As a Safety professional, I have been on both sides of this question and different arguments are presented by different stakeholders. 

  • Should your organization have a risk function that operates autonomously from the EH&S Function, the debate may be more focused on reduction of severity. 
  • Should EH&S align with an operational component, the benchmark may be slanted towards reduction of frequency. 

Both types of reductions are intended to reduce the risk faced by the workforce, however; the two approaches may vary widely.  In this 2-part blog series, I will address these 2-oposing ideologies that ultimately have the same goal – keeping the workforce safe and well.    

Reduction of frequency is a common measurement aimed at establishing a benchmark of Safety well-being.  The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) is typically the go-to source to gather industry baseline Total Recordable Incident Rates (TRIR) based on industry information.  This industry baseline is categorized by the North American Industry Classification System, NAIC.  A workplace’s TRIR is calculated by capturing total number of recordable injuries over a year, multiplied x200,000 (typical number of hours worked in a 52-week year, given 2-weeks’ vacation); divided by total hours worked by that group or company. 


Now, armed with your TRIR, you may research your NAIC code and look at your peer-business group’s average TRIR.  Should your TRIR fall under the national average, you are optimistic about your workplace safety programs and initiatives.  Should your TRIR surpass your peer-business group’s average, it is obvious that your workplace is incurring more injuries than the same business-peer group – and this problem needs to be tackled here-and-now!

Given a higher TRIR than your peer-business groups, an organization’s efforts may be targeted towards deploying an EHS learning management strategy to train, or retrain the workforce on equipment or material handling, personal protective equipment (PPE) utilization or requirements, or to re-emphasize the reporting of Near-Miss occurrences.  As an intervention strategy, Behavior Based Safety software (BBS) may be applied to forge a technological safety-partnership throughout different departments, or management.  This will be a targeted effort to continually focus on the workforce’s actions and daily safety behavior.  Lastly, an EHS Audit Software utilization will determine and measure these effort’s adoption and adherence.  This is a great approach that many professionals have undertaken and gained great successes.  However; while the above is a normal strategy for frequency reduction, a focus on severity reduction looks very different. 

While frequency reduction efforts are proactive and sure to be effective at reducing injuries, illnesses, and fatalities - is this your organization’s goal?  If it is, our EHS Software has encouraged many organizations to refocus and rededicate their current-state EHS training management system, as well as move towards a highly configurable behavior-based safety software.  Finally adding a powerful EHS Audit Software solution will further improve compliance, identify training opportunities, and add valuable insight in keeping your workplace healthy and safe.  Is Reduction of Severity your goal? 

Stay tuned and look for Part-2 of this blog series!

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