Understanding Safety / SMS Basic


Safety Performance Indicators

As part of safety assurance, safety performance indicators, is an attempt to monitor our performance by quantifying some of the data. Proper SPI is not always straight forward and issues or confusion can arise. Selection of the proper indicators might be the most daunting task of the process. SPIs are something wholly owned by the organisation and must be carefully and individually selected. Measuring accident rates is not enough, as it very reactive safety management style and the absence of accidents does not imply safe operations. Safety is more about controlling the risk and it is a subjective measurement. As such we need to be careful not to overly simplify safety down to numbers. In an attempt to establish the SPIs an organisation needs to consider all aspects of operations. Brainstorming, past reports, industry ides and standards are all possible sources of SPIs. However, for each SPI the organisation must consider the applicability and relevance within its own operations.

Performance indicators which can also be performance targets, should meet the SMART criteria.
Specific – Measurable – Achievable – Realistic – Timeframe defined

Furthermore, they should be characterised by being:

  • Quantifiable and permitting statistical analysis
  • Valid and representative
  • Provide minimum variability when measuring the same conditions
  • Sensitive to change of conditions
  • Comprehendible

Data gathered must be subjected to quality control keeping the total set of indicators manageable (i.e. small groups, small number of observations). SPI are usually presentable in statistical methods like graphs, histograms, barcharts etc.

The goal of SPI monitoring is to early identify trends. AS such SPIs need to be periodically reviewed and create a series of reports. The targets and the alert levels for each SPI should be decided and be documented from the initial stage of SPI definition. SPI can always be categorised in groups (e.g. high/medium/low level).