TRIR, DART and EMR: What These Safety Metrics Mean and Why They're Important

Measuring past safety performance can help you chart a course to better future performance.

Do you know how effective your company’s safety program is, or what safety metrics to look at to find out? These three trailing indicators can provide some good insights:

  • TRIR (Total Recordable Incident Rate)
  • DART (Days Away, Restricted or Transferred)
  • EMR (Experience Modification Rate)

Like a report card, trailing indicators, also known as lagging indicators, measure your safety performance based on past incidents or conditions. They enable you to compare your past performance by year in certain key areas, which can help you identify where you’ve done well — and where you need to improve.

What is TRIR?

TRIR is one of the most important safety metrics to track. What is TRIR and how is a TRIR calculation made?

The Total Recordable Incident Rate is a measure of your company’s past safety performance based on your incident rate. It’s sometimes referred to as Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR) or the OSHA incident rate.

A TRIR calculation is made by taking the number of OSHA recordable incidents your company had in a year, multiplying it by 200,000 (the number of hours that 100 employees, working a 40-hour week, would log in 50 weeks), then dividing that number by the total number of hours worked by your employees in that year. Check out the incidence rate calculator from the BLS for help.

You can compare your company’s TRIR to the industry average TRIR by going to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) Incident Rate page and scrolling down to the section on industry-specific data. The average incident rate for construction companies varies by the type of construction and the size of the company. The average TRIR for all types of construction and all size companies is 3.1.

The lower your TRIR, the better. If your number is higher than average, you may have more frequent OSHA inspections, and your insurance premiums could be higher. Potential employees may be less likely to apply to companies with high TRIRs, and owners and contractors may be less likely to hire you for work.

According to the 2021 Safety Performance Report from Associated Builders and Contractors, member firms that deployed ABC’s STEP (Safety Training Evaluation Process) system in 2020 saw a TRIR reduction of up to 85% compared to the industry average. STEP includes measures such as in-depth safety orientations, substance abuse programs and toolbox talks.

What is DART?

DART is another important safety metric. Your company’s DART score reflects the number of incidents in a year that resulted in an employee being absent from work, restricted in terms of the type of work they could perform or permanently transferred to another job because of a workplace-related illness or injury. As with a high TRIR, a high DART score can trigger OSHA inspections and higher insurance premiums.

To calculate your DART score, take the number of incidents in which employees were absent, restricted or transferred in a given year, multiply by 200,000, then divide by the total number of hours worked by all of your employees in that year.

Like your TRIR, your DART score can help you measure the effectiveness of any changes and improvements you’ve made to your safety programs.

What is EMR?

The Experience Modification Rate is used by the insurance industry to determine the pricing of your insurance premiums for workers’ compensation. Your EMR is based on your workers’ comp claims for the previous three years.

The EMR can be calculated in several ways, but in general it takes into account the frequency of your workers’ comp claims and the severity of the injuries. The lower your EMR, the less you’ll have to pay compared with others who are in the same business with a higher EMR. Your insurance company can provide your EMR rate.

Improving construction safety performance

If you find that your TRIR, DART and EMR numbers have been going down over the past year or so, congratulations — your safety program is headed in the right direction.

Rising numbers, on the other hand, should serve as a wake-up call to top management. The direct and active participation of a company’s owners and executives is a critical driver of success. In fact, according to the ABC report, involvement in the safety program at the highest level of management produces a 59% reduction in TRIR and DART.

Safety training is a core element of any safety program. Find the training classes you need at United Academy.

Freelance writer Mary Lou Jay writes about business and technical developments in a variety of industries. She has been covering residential and commercial construction for more than 25 years.

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