A benchmark is a reference point which is commonly used in surveying practice. More recently the term has been used to imply some form of standard against which an organisation can measure performance and, as such, is an important business improvement tool in areas such as quality management. Health and safety benchmarking follows the same principles whereby an organization’s health and safety performance can be compared with a similar organization or ‘benchmarking partner’.
The HSE publication Health and Safety Benchmarking – Improving Together (IND G301/1999) defines health and safety benchmarking as a planned process by which an organization compares its health and safety processes and performance with others to learn how to:
- Reduce accidents and ill-health;
- Improve compliance with health and safety law; and/or
- Cut compliance costs.
Pointers to success
To succeed in health and safety benchmarking, there should be:
Senior management resources and commitment;
A commitment to an open and participative approach to health and safety, including a willingness to share information with others within and outside the organization;
Comparison with data on a meaningful ‘apples with apples’ basis; and
Adequate research, planning and preparation.