Occupational Safety

Incident management: Data, facts and figures, from A to Z

Tried and tested or modern and innovative? These are KPIs you need to know!

15 minutes06/25/2021

Key performance indicators (KPIs) play an important role when measuring the success of occupational health and safety. Companies usually handle large volumes of valuable data, particularly in relation to incident management, which you can translate into meaningful KPIs. These indicators provide valuable insights into whether you should implement safety precautions, and if so, how and where. In addition, well-structured KPIs support your argumentation and reasoning when in dialog with management and executives.

The table below shows commonly collected incident management data that can be used as KPIs. The right-hand column contains example values from Controbax Ltd which we will use in sample calculations a little later on.

Incident management data

Controbax Ltd, February 2021

Total accidents


Lost-time injury (LTI)


Injury without lost time


Lost workdays due to injury


Lost working hours due to injury




Proactive observations (e.g. safe behavior according to Behavior-Based Safety)


Number of reporting persons


In many cases, this data is more meaningful and allows for greater comparability when it is placed in relation to another figure (e.g. total hours worked) and standardized where necessary. As a result, the calculations for many KPIs based on incident management data are based on this basic structure:

KPI = Incident management data ÷ Reference value x Standardization factor

We therefore also need some reference values to calculate incident management KPIs. Examples include:

Reference value

Controbax Ltd, February 2021

Normal workdays




Normal working hours


Normal working hours worked


Overtime hours worked


Total hours worked


Lost workdays


Lost working hours



Below is an alphabetical list of national and international KPIs that work well in practice. We have also included a selection of modern KPIs used in proactive occupational health and safety strategies such as Behavior-Based Safety and Safety II. Under each KPI, we have provided the formula for it, sample calculations, and examples of its strengths and drawbacks.

Lost workdays per worker

The number of lost workdays per worker shows the total number of working lost due to injury in relation to the number of workers.

  • Formula: Lost workdays per worker = Lost workdays ÷ Total workers

  • Sample calculation: Controbax Ltd employed 342 workers in February. There was a total of 54 lost workdays. Therefore, 54 ÷ 342 = 0.16 lost workdays per worker.

Hinweis zur 1000-Mann-Quote

Notes on lost workdays per worker as a KPI

This KPI can only be used as a basic measurement tool to obtain an average number of working days lost per worker. It also does not take into account actual hours worked, which means that it can give false impressions when compared with other companies or even previous years’ figures from the same company if there are significant differences in actual hours worked.

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New perspectives rise new KPIs

The frequency of accidents and near-misses has traditionally served as a concept for measuring safety. However, a growing number of experts now argue that this concept is too short-sighted. They are convinced that a reactive approach that concentrates solely on accidents and near-misses is not enough to create a safe work environment in the long run. Instead, you can create a safety culture by supplementing traditional occupational health and safety with modern approaches. Download our free whitepaper to learn more about:

  • Behavior-Based Safety

  • Safety II & Safety Differently

  • Psychological Safety


Download whitepaper!

Observation-to-incident ratio

Once you have established a safety culture and adopted a more proactive approach to occupational health and safety, you should look to expand your focus. Instead of focusing solely on incidents that result in injuries or other negative consequences, consider and learn from other reports to improve your EHS activities. The observation-to-incident ratio shows incidents that did not lead to injuries (e.g. observed near-misses, hazards, positive behavior and safety initiatives) as a proportion of all reports. It can help to assess the current situation in a company and encourage employees to engage proactively.

Observation rate: Near-misses

According to Heinrich’s accident triangle, for every 300 unsafe situations there are 29 accidents with minor injuries (e.g. cut/gash) and 1 serious accident (e.g. broken bone) or fatality. In the context of incident management, just because there have not been any injuries reported does not mean that there have not been any unsafe situations. Companies should motivate their employees to observe and report all near-misses so that as many unsafe situations as possible can be proactively investigated and suitable safeguards can be put in place. A sensible use of the observation rate is, therefore, to measure how committed your employees are to reporting unsafe situations. 

  • Formula: Observation rate = Unsafe situations ÷ (Unsafe situations + Accidents ) x 100

  • Sample calculation: At Controbax Ltd, 20 unsafe situations were reported in February. Taking into account 4 severe accidents and 3 minor accidents, we can calculate the observation rate as 20 ÷ (20+7) x 100 = 74%. We can therefore see that a relatively high number of near-misses are reported at Controbax – which the company can learn from. When it comes to determining a target observation rate, it is worth referring back to the Heinrich’s accident triangle: 300 ÷ (300+30) x 100% = 90.9%. As a result, there is certainly room for Controbax Ltd to improve its observation rate, perhaps by encouraging its employees to be even more proactive in observing and reporting incidents. Ultimately, a more proactive approach reduces the likelihood of accidents.

Observation rate: Proactive observations

Modern safety-focused workplace cultures already have a sufficient focus on reporting near-misses. It is better to focus on examples of best practice, safety initiatives and potential risks than a negative incident sometime in the past. Behavior-Based Safety (BBS) initiatives and concepts such as Safety II motivate employees to observe safe behavior and share information on ideas and processes that work well. An observation rate – such as the proportion of observations reported proactively – is an excellent way to measure the efficacy of such programs. 

  • Formula: Observation rate = Proactive observations ÷ (Unsafe situations + Accidents + Proactive observations) x 100

  • Sample calculation: Controbax Berlin GmbH launched a BBS initiative in January 2021. One team’s employees reported 73 instances of safe behavior in February. They also reported 20 unsafe situations and 7 accidents. The company’s observation rate is therefore calculated as follows: 73 ÷ (73+20+7) x 100% = 73%. This KPI shows that 73% of incident management reports were proactive observations (as opposed to reactive observations) – an encouraging result. As its safety culture grows and matures, Controbax can define long-term goals and target a 100% observation rate. As accidents become less common over time, it might become more sensible to shift towards an accident-free “vision zero” approach.

Notes on observation rates

The specific formula is not essential when it comes to observation rates, as there are other ways of displaying data. One alternative would be to use an area chart, as shown below. This chart was generated in the EHS software solution Quentic. In addition to the overall view, hovering over the area chart also displays monthly observation rates for proactive and reactive reports.

Engagement Rate

The engagement rate makes clear how many different people actively participate in incident management. You can use this to determine the percentage of workers who have reported an incident or observation within a specific time frame.

  • Formula: Engagement rate = (Reporting persons ÷ Total workers) x 100

  • Sample calculation: In February 2021, Controbax Berlin GmbH started a project to promote safe behavior in the workplace. Reporting observations of safe behavior was a key element of this. The breakdown of workers filing reports is as follows:

    • In this program, which focuses on the Behavior-Based Safety (BBS) concept, a team of 15 workers submitted a total of 73 observations of safe behavior. Persons filing reports = 15

    • In addition, there were 20 near-misses reported throughout the company, of which 7 reports were filed by people within the BBS program and 13 by other workers. Other persons filing reports = 13

    • 6 of the 7 accident reports were made by other workers not yet counted. Other persons filing reports = 6

    • 15 + 13 + 6 = 34 employees actively engaged with incident management.

The company has a total of 342 employees, so we can calculate the engagement rate for February as 34 ÷ 342 x 100% = 9.94%.

Hinweis zur Arbeitsunfallquote

Notes on engagement rate

Engagement rates are a particularly important indicator as they help us to understand developments in workers’ willingness to report incidents and observations. A consistently low engagement right might indicate that you need to work on your failure culture or make your incident-reporting processes more practicable. How easy is it for your employees to file reports? Do they understand the value of reporting failures – not only to improve safety but to support the company’s development? Falling engagement rates, on the other hand, often indicate that EHS specialists and management have failed to provide feedback after processing reports.

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Health Rate

The health rate depicts the relationship between the number of working hours lost due to accidents and normal working hours. It shows the proportion of work capacity lost due to health issues among a company’s employees within an evaluation period – or, conversely, the proportion of work capacity actually performed by healthy employees.

  • Formula: Health rate = 100 – ((Lost working hours due to accidents ÷ Normal working hours) x 100)

  • Sample calculation: Controbax Berlin GmbH had a workforce of 342 employees in February 2021. They could have worked a theoretical total of 49,248 normal working hours, but a total of 426 hours were lost due to accidents. We can therefore calculate the company’s health rate as follows: 100 – (426 ÷ 49,248) x 100% = 99.14%.

Hinweis zur Gesundheitsquote

Notes on health rate

The health rate is now used in place of the previously common illness rate. One benefit of this change is that – unlike an illness rate – an increase in this KPI is a positive development. Depending on the occupational health and safety data available to you, you might be able to use alternative formulas to calculate a health rate. For example, instead of looking at hours, you could look at the ratio of normal workdays to workdays lost to illness:

100 – (Workdays lost ÷ Normal workdays) x 100

In the software solution Quentic, the health rate is calculated as standard by multiplying lost workdays by 8, corresponding to an average 8-hour working day. (However, users can also define their own KPIs in the software.)

100 – ((Workdays lost x 8) ÷ Normal working hours) x 100

A note of caution: In some companies, the health rate is calculated using the total number of workdays or working hours lost (whether due to accidents or for other reasons). It is therefore not possible to determine whether putting additional safety measures in place would actually have an effect, or whether there might be underlying external causes (e.g. a flu outbreak). We do not recommend using such calculations for incident management purposes.

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Illness Rate

Like the health rate, the illness rate shows the relationship between total working hours lost due to accidents and normal working hours. However, unlike the health rate, the illness rate is a negative indicator – so the lower the illness rate, the better. An illness rate of 2.7% corresponds to a health rate of 97.3%.

  • Formula: Illness rate = (Lost working hours due to accidents ÷ Normal working hours) x 100

  • Sample calculation: Controbax Berlin GmbH had a workforce of 342 employees in February 2021. They could have worked a theoretical total of 49,248 normal working hours, but a total of 426 hours were lost due to accidents. We can therefore calculate the company’s illness rate as follows: (426 ÷ 49,248) x 100%) = 0.86%.

Notes on illness rate

Alternative formulas can be used to calculate the illness rate, similar to options for calculating the health rate. Once again, calculations based on total working time lost (due to injuries and other causes) should only be used as an indicator of incident management quality with certain caveats.

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Lost workday rate (LWDR)

The lost workday rate illustrates the relationship between the total number of lost workdays and the total hours worked in a company. The result is the number of lost workdays per 100 full-time employees per year. The lost workday rate can be calculated in relation to different reference values. The calculation required depends on the standardization factor by which lost workdays are multiplied. The values 1,000,000, 200,000 and 1,000 can be used as factors.

  • Formula: Lost workday rate (LWDR) = (Lost workdays ÷ Hours worked) x Standardization factor

  • Sample calculation: In February 2021, Controbax Berlin GmbH recorded 185 lost workdays and a total of 50,228 hours worked (including overtime). The calculation with a standardization factor of 1,000 would be as follows: (185 ÷ 50,228) x 1,000 = 3.69. If we apply a standardization factor of 200,000, the LWDR is 737.64; if we apply a factor of 1,000,000, the LWDR is 3683.20.


Hinweis zur Lost Work Day Rate LWDR

Notes on lost workday rate

The LWDR is often referenced in management and sustainability reports and is a highly effective means of drawing direct international comparisons. In the USA, the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) specifies a standardization factor of 200,000 to ensure that all companies use the same calculation for this KPI. If your aim is to make international comparisons, you should follow this requirement.
A note of caution: As the lost workday rate is based on the total number of lost workdays (due to injuries and other causes), it is not possible to determine what influence implementing new safety measures might have. This indicator’s impact therefore limited in the context of incident management.

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  • EHS software enables employees to use simple forms to report their observations directly as they work. It evaluates incident management data centrally and displays it on dashboards as the user’s desired KPIs. | © iStock: Halfpoint

LTIFR: Lost time injury frequency rate

The lost time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) shows the relationship between the number of injuries that result in lost working time and the total hours worked in the company. It is sometimes also referred to as the lost time injury rate (LTIR). Like the lost workday rate (LWDR), the LTIFR can be used to record the frequency of accidents on different scales. Again, this comes down to the factor by which the number of accidents is multiplied, with the values 1,000,000, 200,000 and 1,000 all in use.

  • Formula: LTIFR = Injuries ÷ Working hours x Standardization factor

  • Sample calculation: Using the figures from Controbax Berlin GmbH, 6 injuries in a total of 50,228 hours worked, we can calculate the LTIFR using a standardization factor 1,000,000 as (6 ÷ 50,228) x 1,000,000 = 119.4. If we apply a standardization factor of 200,000, the LTIFR is 23.89; with a factor of 1,000, the LTIFR is 0.12.

Tipp Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate LTIFR

Notes on lost time injury frequency rate

The LTIFR is the internationally recognized accident rate. When it comes to drawing international comparisons, measuring the number of accidents in relation to hours worked is more useful than in relation to number of employees, as the hours worked per employee differ significantly from country to country.

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Severity Rate

The severity rate illustrates the relationship between the total number of lost workdays due to injury and the number of lost-time injuries.

  • Formula: Severity rate = Workdays lost ÷ Lost-time injuries (LTIs)

  • Sample calculation: With 54 workdays lost due to injury and 6 lost-time injuries, the severity rate for Controbax Berlin GmbH is calculated as follows: 54 ÷ 6 = 9. This means that, on average, employees are off work for 9 days per accident.

Hinweis zur Unfallschwere

Notes on severity rate

The severity rate is a useful figure in addition to the number of lost-time injuries. Not only does it help to reduce the number of accidents, it also helps to mitigate their consequences. This KPI is vital when building an argument for investment in better workplace safety (e.g. better PPE, BBS programs or EHS software) as it makes the cost of workplace accidents (through lost work time) abundantly clear to decision-makers.

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Having read this article, you will now be able to draw on solid basic knowledge of the most important national, international, proactive and reactive KPIs, which will help you to define and communicate your incident management goals. Deciding on a suitable set of KPIs is not always easy, as there is no cover-all solution that works for every company. Look at your company’s current situation, the problems you face and the goals you hope to achieve as the basis for your decision. In addition to goals and problems, make sure to consider your current safety culture. Ultimately, incident management KPIs are based on employees filing reports – so you must show transparency when explaining the purpose and benefits of KPIs to ensure your employees embrace them in their daily work. You also need a simple, easy-to-understand system for submitting reports and tracking incidents. Consequently, you should only track KPIs that you are sure are based on a sufficient pool of data.