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Mutual Joint Visit Workshop for Seveso Inspections on

Safety Performance  Indicators

Organised by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy (BMWFW) and the European Commission's Joint Research Centre

Workshop Program

10-12 April, 2018, Hernstein, Austria

Link to workshop programme and materials

From 10-12 April 2018 the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy (BMWFW) and the European Commission's Joint Research Centre co-organised a Mutual Joint Visit Workshop in Hernstein, Austria, for EU/EEA Seveso Inspectors on Safety Performance Indicators for controlling risks on major hazard sites.  The MJV Workshop is an annual workshop series organised by the European Commission with EU and EEA Seveso inspectors for exchange of good practice on enforement, monitoring and risk management associated with implementation of the EU Seveso Directive (2012/18/EU) for control of major chemical hazards.

Objectives of the Workshop

The workshop consists of a mix of presentations and break-out discussions on specific subtopis.  Through these exchanges, it was hoped that the workshop would:

  • Explore the various perceptions of the SPI concept in the different member states
  • Exchange views on the value of SPIs for Seveso inspections
  • Ehow examples of the SPI concepts and respective approaches
  • Prepare recommendations on the use of SPIs

Relevance of the Concept of Safety Performance Indicators

ANNEX III Seveso III - Directive on Information referred to in Article 8(5) and Article 10 on the safety management system and the organisation of the establishment with a view to the prevention of major accidents contains item vi) monitoring performance — adoption and implementation of procedures for the ongoing assessment of compliance with the objectives set by the operator’s MAPP and safety management system, and the mechanisms for investigation and taking corrective action in case of non-compliance. The procedures shall cover the operator’s system for reporting major accidents or ‘near misses’, particularly those involving failure of protective measures, and their investigation and follow-up on the basis of lessons learnt. The procedures could also include performance indicators such as safety performance indicators (SPIs) and/or other relevant indicators.

Approximately 37% of protective devices fitted to machinery are frequently deliberately bypassed, e.g. disabled by being bridged or removed[1]. To reduce this percentage two ways are possible: to add additional technical surveillance measures or to change the attitude or workers which requires the knowledge of underlying facts to be revealed by respective indicators.

There is a relatively low number of incidents with high severity consequences (“How can we show the number of accidents we had prevented and which did not occur?”). This might trigger doubts about the necessity of safety measures, especially if these are costly. SPIs can give information either on the real effect of safety measures or can provide input for further action.

Performance Management Process = collecting data and setting goals

“If you can’t measure it you can’t improve it”[2]

The concept of SPIs

“When looked from an organizational point of view the purposes of safety indicators can roughly be categorized into three groups:

  1. a) monitoring the level of safety in the organization,
  2. b) changing and developing the means of managing safety in the organization, and
  3. c) motivating the management and the personnel to take the necessary action”[1]

There are various types of SPIs, according to the purpose, and the categories are overlapping. Ideally the SPIs appear in the form of numeric metrics but in some cases they are qualitative descriptions. The most well-known typology is the differentiation between lagging and leading SPIs.

  • Lagging

  1. Indicators of high severity outcomes (serious incidents,)
  2. Indicators of lower level severity, which describe an event that had the potential to lead to a serious incident (precursors, including “near misses”) - often linked to mitigation
  • Leading

  1. Indicators that identify weaknesses (technical/organizational)
  2. Indicators that indicate future performance
  3. Indicators which describe underlying causes with an accident potential



From various events (e.g. the respective session in the MAHB seminar in June 2017) it is apparent that

  • industrial SPI concepts (mainly in process industry) are well developed,
  • there is a wide difference in the knowledge and opinion of SPIs among member state representatives (some see mainly the “hardware” side, like leakage data, some are aware of the whole range of SPIs options but have doubts about the usefulness for inspections etc., for some it is a completely new area),
  • certain elements are all but clear (what is really a “near miss”?) and
  • the interfaces between the SPIs, the Safety Management System and the Safety Culture as relevant areas of activity need to be clarified because there are significant problems in understanding.


[1] A. Hale “Why safety performance indicators”, Safety Science, 2009, p. 479.

[1] Manipulation von Schutzeinrichtungen an Maschinen, Studie Hauptverband Gewerbliche Berufsgenossenschaften Deutschland 2006

[2] Often cited quotation by Peter Drucker, but correctly in Kaplan/Norton “The Balanced Scorecard -Translating Strategy into Action”, 1996, p. 100