Occupational (OSHA) and Environmental Hazards/Frequency Rate

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What is the standard for calculating Frequency Rate?  I have seen three different numbers used for multiplying the man hours / total recordables.  100K, 200K and 1MM.  Is this set by a particular regulation, or is it simply a standard that can be adpoted by each organization as they choose?  Does EU have a different standard rate than the US?  Thanks for your help.

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Subject: Frequency Rate

Question: What is the standard for calculating Frequency Rate?  I have seen three different numbers used for multiplying the man hours / total recordable.  100K, 200K and 1MM.  Is this set by a particular regulation, or is it simply a standard that can be adopted by each organization as they choose?  Does EU have a different standard rate than the US?  Thanks for your help.

Answer: Lenny, my response to your question is based on what I saw happen to record keeping from the early 1970s to the current time. You will have to accept that my personal opinion weights heavy in my answer. (I am as you may detect not a high fan of OSHA or other instances of government intervention in business).  In the early 1970s the US Government passed the OSHA laws and moved into the safety movement to unify, simplify and improve the state of occupational safety and health. Today there are many (myself included) that question if any of those goals were in fact reached or ever will be. The number of occupational deaths has decreased - yes the numbers are down. But were those due to "new and improved" safety regulations or to economics and other factors. One of the first areas OSHA became interested in was that of recordkeeping and statistics. Prior to OSHA most safety records were kept and based on the formulas provided by the National Safety Council. These were primarily Frequency Rates and Severity Rates. Since the National Safety Council was established and maintained by larger companies (it was a fee-based organization)the formulas used the figure of 1,000,000 in the calculations. OSHA made the decision that the use of 1,000,000 favored the "large organizations" the calculations should be revised. They then implemented the "incident rate" and to make smaller companies feel more included the formulas were changed to use the number 200,000 (100 employers working 40 hours per week for 50 weeks per year. If the criteria used in determining the accidents (OSHA calls them recordable incidents) had stayed the same it would have been possible to compare numbers over the years. OSHA however in infinite wisdom (all governmental agencies are enacted with "infinite wisdom") revamped the criteria for determining what is counted, thus the number determined today as the "incident rate" cannot be compared with yesterday's "frequency rate". Then just to keep the records mess  that way, OSHA every so often changes the definitions for "recordable" so that the "recordable incident rate" for a company in 1982 may not be compared with the "recordable incident rate" for the same firm in 2012. Score one for simplified and improved recordkeeping. The situation gets even more confusing for companies operating in several countries as not everyone feels the OSHA way is the "right" way and use different methods. Thus a company with operations in the U.S. the middle east and Australia may find that different methods are used and comparisons are difficult.
    In response to this, some large companies and trade groups have chosen to keep two sets of books - one for OSHA using whatever set of criteria they have in effect today and a second set of books using the old National Safety Council rules so the results of safety efforts can be compared over the years and with other organizations. The result - in my opinion mass confusion. Can you compare a copper mine in Utah in the year 2009 with a copper mine in one of the Africa countries in 1996? In my opinion - NO! And that is a shame. Thus the number used in calculating the results of the safety program (or lack of a safety program) may be 100,000 or 200,000 or even 1,000,000. I will have to admit that I am not familiar with a system that uses the figure of 100,000. Some calculations in Europe use the figure of 1,000 in their calculations but again not everyone seems to be counting the same thing in the same way.
    See the following:
  http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---   stat/documents/meetingdocument/wcms_088373.pdf
    Everyone seems to have their own system and of course THAT one is the best. So what is the standard - there is no one standard. Use the one that best suits your company depending on location(s), membership(s) and other factors. Keep the calculations consistent and clearly defined and keep the human value in the result. Example: under OSHA the Incident Rate is not 6.34 - the Incident Rate is 6.34 recordable injuries per 100 employees.
    If you do some research on the internet using European Accident Statistics you will be taken to several European Safety Organizations where you will note that many accident statistics use a completely different approach. Having never worked under any of these systems I cannot answer as to "are they better". I would make an educated guess that it would be hard to find them worse than our methods and are thus worth at least some exploration.
    I hope these ramblings will assist you in understanding that there is not a simple, easy answer to your question - in fact it is similar to "how high is up". If I can be of and additional assistance, please feel free to ask.

Michael Brown, CSP Retired

Occupational (OSHA) and Environmental Hazards

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Mike Brown CSP Retired

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I specialize in the professional management of occupational safety and health as well as workers` compensation to reduce losses and improve production and address related issues through a comprehensive approach by senior management using proven principals.I worked for over twenty (20) years in the management of occupational safety, health and workers` compensation and safety training (Retired from employment in 1996 due to a stroke, which prevented the extensive travel required).

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