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

Measuring how well you did can show you what you need to do next.

Do you know how effective your company’s safety program is, or what 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 also 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.

TRIR

The Total Recordable Incident Rate is sometimes referred to as the Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR) or the OSHA incident rate. It’s calculated by taking the number of OSHA recordable incidents your company has 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 the course of a year.

You can compare your company’s performance to that of other companies the same size 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 done 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 2019 Safety Performance Report from the Associated Builders and Contractors, member firms that deployed ABC’s STEP (Safety Training Evaluation Process) safety management system in 2018 saw an average TRIR reduction of 85 percent vs. the industry average.

DART

Your company’s DART score includes the number of incidents in the course of 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.

A DART rate is derived from a calculation similar to that used for TRIR. With DART, it’s the number of incidents in which employees were absent, restricted or transferred, multiplied by 200,000, then divided by the total number of hours worked by all of your employees.

Like your TRIR, your DART number can help you measure the effectiveness of any changes and improvements you’ve made to your safety programs. Like a high TRIR, a high DART score can trigger OSHA inspections and higher insurance premiums.

To find out your DART and TRIR numbers, check out the incidence rate calculator from the BLS.

Want to reduce your DART? According to the ABC report, significant employer involvement at the highest level of management produces a 64 percent reduction in DART and a 63 percent reduction in TRIR.

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.

Taking action

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.

Keeping a close eye on these numbers is smart. So is training employees to understand their meaning and relevance. According to the ABC report, doing so leads to a 57 percent reduction in TRIR and a 62 percent reduction in DART rates.

The report notes, “Trailing indicators are valuable tools to measure safety performance over time and provide insight into the frequency, severity and cost of injuries. These tools allow us to see how we have improved over the years and to set attainable goals as we work to create a workplace free from injury-producing events.”


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.