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.