Total recordable incident rate (TRIR) is one of many safety indicators used to evaluate the effectiveness of a company’s safety efforts. Also known as Total Case Incident Rate, TRIR gives companies a snapshot of their safety performance over a one-year time period by calculating the number of recordable incidents per 100 full-time workers. The lower your TRIR, the fewer work-related injuries and illnesses experienced by your team.
Knowing your company’s TRIR—and how it compares to other companies in your industry—can help you determine if you’re doing everything possible to protect your workers. Here, we explore TRIR in more detail, sharing the TRIR formula and answering the frequently asked question, “What is a good total recordable incident rate?”.
What is TRIR?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers with more than 10 employees—with the exception of certain low-risk industries—to maintain a record of serious work-related injuries and illnesses. A work-related recordable injury or illness is considered:
- A fatality
- Any issue that causes loss of consciousness, time away from work, restricted work, or requires a transfer to a different job
- Any incident that requires medical treatment beyond first aid
- A diagnosed case of cancer, chronic irreversible disease, fracked or cracked bones or teeth, or punctured eardrums
Special recording criteria also exist for issues involving needlesticks and sharps injuries, medical removal, hearing loss, and tuberculosis.
In addition to helping your company gauge the effectiveness of its current safety measures, your TRIR calculation is monitored by OSHA. If your scores are below average, you could see an increase in the number of OSHA inspections and/or penalties.
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How to calculate TRIR
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has a detailed set of instructions to help you calculate TRIR, along with an online calculator, making this step as easy as possible.
Several methods are available to help you compute the number of nonfatal rates of injuries and illnesses. This includes the following:
- Use your Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses—OSHA’s Form 300—to count the number of OSHA recordable cases for the year.
- On your Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses—OSHA’s Form 300A—add the number of recordable cases entered in Column H (cases with job transfer or Restriction) + Column J (other recordable cases).
- Use the BLS Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses form—if your company was surveyed for the calendar year in which you need incidence rates—to add the number of nonfatal recordable cases entered. Add the items from Part 1B: Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, only including Column H + Column I (cases with job transfer or restriction) + Column J.
There are also several methods available to calculate the number of hours all employees actually worked. Even if people were paid during non-work time— i.e., vacation days, sick leave, or holidays—this should not count as hours worked. If the number of hours worked is not available for certain employees, estimate it on the basis of eight hours per workday.
As noted above, you can also get this number from several other sources, including:
- Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses
- BLS Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses form, if applicable
- Payroll or other time records
When you have all the data ready, you can use the TRIR formula to find your rate:
(Number of injuries and illnesses x 200,000*)/Employee hours worked = Incidence rate
*The 200,000 hours noted represents the equivalent of 100 employees working 40 hours per week, 50 weeks per year, and serves as the standard base for incidence rates. However, when comparing illness rates by types of illness, the BLS notes you’ll need to use 20 million hours, instead of 200,000, to get a rate per 10,000 full-time employees.
What is a good total recordable incident rate?
Now that you know your TRIR, you’re probably wondering how it compares to other companies. The average TRIR for all industries—including state and local government—is 3.0 cases per 100 full-time equivalent workers as of 2019, according to the BLS. This number drops to 2.8 cases for private industry employers of all sizes.
The BLS also offers industry-specific TRIR data. For example, oil and gas pipeline and related structures construction is 0.5 cases, power and communication line and related structures construction is 2.5 cases, and utilities is 2.2 cases for companies of all sizes.
So, what is a good total recordable incident rate? Arguably, a number near or below the average of your industry can be considered good. However, regardless of what is considered a good TRIR, companies should always strive for zero incidents.
How to use TRIR for positive change
How does your company’s TRIR compare to your industry’s average? Does your company have fewer incidents, or is your TRIR above average? If it’s the latter, consider this your opportunity to make positive change.
A renewed focus on your safety culture— i.e., a greater focus on incident prevention—a more thorough investigation process, and a detailed review and correction process can serve as a much-needed learning experience. You can’t do anything about the high number of incidents in your company’s past, but you can make meaningful changes moving forward.
Knowing “What is a good total recordable incident rate?” is a must for any safety professional. Having a benchmark to guide your company’s TRIR is essential because, without it, you won’t be able to accurately assess your safety performance.
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