How Incident Rates are calculated

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by Rudi Nieuwoudt

Any person in the construction industry has heard about Recordable Case Rates (RCR), but how many actually know what these rates represent? Why are they so important that you see them on just about every weekly, monthly or annual safety report?

The RCR shows you how many employees per 100 employees have been injured or suffered an illness that had to be recorded within a specified time period. RCR gives you direct insight into your company’s safety performance.

The formula for calculating your company’s RCR is

Download our free RCR calculator here.

So where does the 200 000 come from?

A standardized way to measure incident rates was required, so that companies of different sizes could be compared fairly. 200 000 was chosen, because it represents the number of hours that 100 employees working 40 hours a week for 50 weeks would accumulate.

So, if you have 170 employees on your project who work 40 hours a week, that’s 6 800 labour hours per week. If we assume that each gets two weeks of vacation per year, we get total annual labour hours of 340 000 (6 800 x 50 weeks). Suppose you had 2 recordable incidents during the year. If you multiply 2 with 200,000, you get 400 000. Divide that by 340 000 (the hours worked for the year), and you’ll get a recordable case rate of 1.18. That means for every 100 employees at your company, 1.18 will have had a recordable injury or illness.

The RCR falls under the “Lagging Indicator” category because it is output orientated. Meaning it measures past events. To influence the future, a different type of measurement is required, one that is predictive rather than a result. If we wanted to decrease accidents on the factory floor we could increase the number of planned task observations conducted and also increase the number of safety audits/site walks.  Measuring these activities provides us with a set of lead indicators. They are “in-process” measures and are predictive.