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Target Zero: A Realistic Safety Metric?

If you’re like most health and safety professionals, you get up every morning determined to make a difference. You’re on a mission to create a better workplace and ensure your employees make it home safely at the end of each shift.

The journey to a safer work environment looks different across industries and organizations, but an increasing number of companies are adopting Target Zero as a key component of their corporate mission statement.

In this blog, we’re going to take a closer look at Target Zero as a concept and argue why it’s more effective as a mindset than a measurement.

Target Zero: What Is It?


To put it simply, the goal of a Target Zero initiative is to create an incident and injury free work environment. Arguably, all safety programs strive to achieve this in one way or another, but when Target Zero is taken too literally, it can become problematic.

3 Challenges with Target Zero


If Target Zero is embraced as a metric that your EHS team must achieve, you can run into the following issues which can be counterproductive to improving safety at your company:

Creates a Culture of Fear – One of the most effective ways to improve safety is by building a positive safety culture, so the last thing you want to do is create a culture that breeds fear and makes your workforce uncomfortable. Target zero can inadvertently send the message to employees that mistakes aren’t tolerated which isn’t good for morale or for continuous improvement.

Fuels Underreporting – Reaching a zero injury target can be stressful. When too much pressure is put on employees to hit zero, underreporting of incidents and near misses tends to rise. Consequently, your employees may be painting a false picture of safety performance and workplace risk.

Promotes Complacency  Achieving zero is totally attainable – until the next incident happens. No workplace can ever be truly risk free, and when zero recordable injuries is achieved, employees can fall into the trap of resting on their laurels and can be less motivated to continuously improve processes and safety outcomes.

Moving Target Zero from a Metric to a Mindset


To continuously improve safety performance at your organization, it’s time to re-think Target Zero as part of your safety mission. It’s imperative we strive to make our workplaces safer and lower risk every day, but we need to be mindful of how we are positioning risk mitigation in our organizations. As EHS professionals, we should focus on setting and achieving more accurate and realistic goals – like eliminating hazards, risk and incidents, rather than reaching a zero injury target. We’ve taken this advice ourselves at eCompliance by setting a new safety mission: to eliminate 1 million workplace incidents.

What’s your take?


What are your thoughts on Target Zero? Is it a good safety KPI or is it more effective as a cultural value? Join the conversation on Twitter @eCompliance  or by visiting our LinkedIn page.

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