Too often, many organizations fail to put adequate effort and attention in establishing safety objectives and targets (OT).  The result shows in continued injuries, lack of reduction in medical cost, a threat of regulatory enforcement, disgruntled employees, audit and inspection findings. This article will focus writing effective and meaningful safety objectives and targets that will help reduce the results previously mentioned a sentence earlier.

Safety Management system


A safety objective is a short term goal that is always measurable.  Objectives can arise from historical injury data, near miss events, first aid events, audits and inspections, regulatory change or customer change.

A target is defined as the activity that is required to reach the objective.  A key point to always remember is that the safety objective and target shall reflect the organization’s safety policy and commitment.  If done correctly, there will be multiple targets to complete for one safety objective.

Setting clear OT’s is a critical foundation for any successful planning effort within the safety management system. The performance of the objective should be measurable toward the desired outcome and shall be verified for its effectiveness on the safety management system on a frequent schedule.

OT’s should be attainable within a reasonable time frame. Do not become overzealous on completion dates.  Trying to close out a targettoo soon and failing to meet the deadline will showcase the lack of seriousness on effectively planning out the activities.  Having target completion dates too far out will also show the lack of seriousness on effective planning. There must be some forward thinking on this planning activity and not just a ‘shot in the dark’ when establishing completion dates for targets. This is why it is important of gathering the right people who have assigned responsibilities and accountabilities to aid in establishing adequate completion target dates.

A review on the status of objective and targets should be established frequently to illustrate progress to management and employees.  Posting the most current OT’s in the break room is a good communication tool to accomplish this.

Also, objectives and targets should follow the “SMART” Principle (specific, measurable, agreed-upon, realistic, time-bound). One final note about objectives and targets is to focus on three objectives at a time.  Developing too many objectives and targets will hinder the resources that will be needed to meet the target completion date.

Here is an example of a completed safety objective and target.

Objective:Reduce Slip/Trip/Fall Incidents by 25% in CY 16 compared to CY15.

Target:Install stone hard/non-skid material in the hand wash area (remember you may have multiple targets to help meet the objective).

Action Needed:  Write work order for maintenance department (important to know what is needed to support the target. Each target will have an action needed section).

Responsibility:  Line #1 Day Shift Production Supervisor (try to involve all employees, not just management who have assigned responsibilities that can help complete this OT).

Date Initiated:  May 1, XXXX (having this date will show the seriousness of

Completion Date:  May 5, XXXX (date the target was completed).

15 Day Validation:  May 20, XXXX (validation time period can differ depending on the target.  A good idea is to validate annually as well).

In conclusion, OT’s can be as simple and complex as an organization desires.  Nevertheless, the process of establishing them should be documented in a procedure that includes who is responsible for the program, how they are to be completed, a schedule to frequently review their status along with when and how to validate the effectiveness of implementation.