FindTheBest seriously misjudges on its data services for workplace deaths and injuries 2


Many organisations are beginning to assess their performance in occupational health and safety (OHS), mostly through spreadsheet graphics and lead and lag indicators.  These “databases” provide comparisons of activity with the hope of showing positive progress on safety.  FindTheBest.com has been building comparison websites for some time and has applied their mystical Web2.0 algorithms to workplace safety data from the United States in its FindTheData website.  It has several sites that may be of interest to OHS professionals – Work Injuries and Death and Dangerous Jobs.

Dangerous Jobs allows you to select the occupational categories you are interested in and then compare their statistical data.  For instance, comparing Farmers and Ranchers to Structural Steel Workers shows an annual fatality rate of 39.7 to 30.3 based on hours, respectively.  These comparisons are based on data from the United States Department of Labor statistics.  But the question on the comparison is so what?  What benefit can be gained by comparing these two sets of data?  None, as far as I can see.

The glossary for Dangerous Jobs lists the top couple of popular comparisons as

  • Top 7 Most Dangerous Jobs in US
  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers vs. Electricians

The first has curiosity value but the second is reminiscent of the adolescent (or drunk) speculation on who would win in a fight between Darth Vader and Gigantor?  Pointless speculation that sounds like it could result in some interesting information.  Just maybe.  Perhaps.

The comparison concept seems a better fit for other areas that FindTheBest.com have explored such as high schools, consumer products, car insurances, and others but Dangerous Jobs? No.

FindTheBest.com may have better luck with their comparison of Work Injuries and Death.  This statistical data originates from the Occupational Safety and Health Authority but seems to have only two incident categories – Fatality and Catastrophe.  If the comparison is Work Injuries and Death, where are the injuries?

Applying FindTheBest.com’s searchability to OSHA records is interesting but of limited application.  Fatality statistics can provide an indication of the most dangerous occupations, States, companies… but this is already reported on by OSHA.  Searchability in this context adds little value.

Also, OHS professionals and others look to statistics and prosecution records in  order to draw lessons on how to avoid a recurrence through better management or control.  Work Injuries and Death provides insufficient information from which to learn.  For instance, the only incident data available on a January 2010 fatality at Crete Carriers is

“Worker was crushed between his trailer and another trailer that was backing up.”

The same information is available from the US Department of Labor website.  No more, no less.  FindTheBest.com adds no value in the situation of occupational health and safety.  More detail on the circumstances of the fatalities or, more importantly, serious injuries would allow OHS professionals to use these incidents as learning opportunities for their companies or clients, but the level of detail is just not there.

Some may find it crass and insulting that each fatality listing also asks you to write your own “user review”!!  Review of what?  The death of a person at work.  Asking for a review is like having one of Facebook’s Like buttons on an obituary.

Jonny Kintzele of FindTheBest.com has been politely emailing me to look at the site for the last week or so.  It is not his fault that FindTheBest.com has seriously misapplied its comparison applications to the maiming and deaths of American workers, to no obvious benefit to the user.

Kevin Jones

2 comments

  1. Hey Kevin,
    I like your comments and a topic that appears to be getting a little air-play lately in LinkedIn (almost always does I guess) about lead and lag indicators!! I too have used statistics when showing people in a training or meeting room the cost of particular injuries etc and the real question that comes up is…ok, we spend a hell of a lot of money on fixing people up so how do we prevent it?? The stats don’t tell you anything and is my frustration when focusing (too much) on LTI, LTFIR and any other lag acronym!! Historical evidence is good as we do learn from our lessons… its the content of the historical information that we learn from not the numbers…

    Thanks for sharing and raising this point again…

    Gabrielle

  2. Another point I would add to this, is that a comparison of injury data from our states ,does not measure like for like industries, would manual handling in mine sites across the country with all the different manual handling regulations have similar outcomes in injuries, have any of the manual handling regulations proven to be more effective than other states ? When comparing transport injuries deaths on NOSI no account is taken of road conditions Victoria being a small state has beem able to have more of the state covered with good roads than much larger states this could have a better bearing on road safety than state laws in comparison
    I would also raise the point that there are many claims about the benefits of harmonisation in effieciency but none in reducing injuries I can find ,which should of been the first thing that was aimed to achieve
    Perhaps if more attention was put into a development of statistical analysis with the WHS, management would have a useful tool to refer to this is not new, Benjamin Disraeli said lies,damn lies and statistics .

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