COVID-19 Workplace plans once again questions the value of LTI measurement.

The measurement and statistical record keeping of Lost Time Incidents have been a standard measurement of efficacy of management efforts to create a safe and healthy workplace.

The calculation of the LTI frequency rate is based on the assumption that a working individual spends 1 000 hours a year at work, exposed to the various dangers the industrial world presents.

If a workplace with 1 000 workers then adds up all their normal working hours, the annual person-hours is rounded to 1 million.

Multiplying the number of Lost Time Incidents with  1 million, and dividing it with the actual number of hours worked, including overtime, will give you the LTIFR.

This number can be manipulated by adding more overtime hours than actualy worked, or by not recording the real LTI figures.

The various incentive schemes developed to punt Star-Grading systems as a performance reward, have all adopted a scale from 0 – 5 to qualify for 5 to 1 starts respectively. (LTIFR of 1 or less earns you a 5-Star grading which is “excellent”. You killed someone, here’s your 5 stars!).

Jest aside, the calculation is flawed firstly, because 1 LTI represents a loss of one shift due to disablement.

A dead person and a person with a deep cut on the finger are 2 LTI’s which qualifies for 4 -Stars.

Four dead workers earns you one Star only, with the descriptive rating that serious improvement is needed.

In reality each shift lost, should count as 1 LTI albeit the same incident. A fatality should then count as 1000 LTI’s.

That was the Safety First synopsys. What the Zero Harm philsophy is, nobody really knows as one often see a lot of workers on “light duty” walking around with braces and crutches, but no shifts are lost.

Since we know that the LTIFR is a rather ineffective measuring tool, one can take it one step further.

With 40 working days under lock-down, how many LTI’s would this be?

The expected answer is 0, because the employer did not cause the lost time.

Which then tacitly admits the employer never had a way to prevent the harm. However, had the employee not come to work and got exposed by an infected person, the employee would still be healthy.

But how many employees go to work feeling like “crap” because the job must be done? And the employer expects it. “It’s just a flu! Are you a paper tiger?” <—-And right there, the employer invokes the responsibility for the subsequent illnesses among the workforce as a “reasonable person” would have foreseen the problem and acted proactively to prevent it. That illness is now for all theoretical reasons, a LTI. (Which never gets recorded or investigated).




Most businesses are not socially compliant

There seem to be a general rule in business that creditors can only be paid if debtors pay first. And while the clever accountants will call it cashflow, the real intelligent people know it is cash management.

Peter works for Paul, but contracted Joe to do the work. Joe did the work which allowed Peter to invoice Paul. But Joe is the last one to get paid. Because Peter is a man of straw. He does not have money. He has to wait for Paul to pay him, so that he can take his cut and give the rest to Joe. And Joe has bills to pay, a mortgage bond, a car installment etc.

While Joe is stressed out by the countless calls from debt-vultures calling up to 10 times a day, Peter is as happy has a pig in mud, as he already found another Joe to do the next job.

There are no written rule anywhere that you can wait for your money before you pay your creditors. It is just unethical and pathetic; a sign of poor cash management. But to put it nicely, you are socially non-compliant.

The stress and hardship that Joe is experiencing, which may even lead to his suicide will never be recorded in your Zero Harm pie chart, because he is not your employee, but you killed him non the less. You know it, we know it and Joe’s family knows it. And while you may call it payment terms, we call it abuse.

To overcome the risk of non-payment many companies demand a deposit. But in a highly competitive market where favourable price and over-supply is rife, seeking a deposit will lose more clients. Unless you are the only person who can do the job.

A specialist drilling company once shared this story. Eskom asked him to do a job. He quoted and they refused to agree to his terms. He said, thank you and walked away, knowing that doing it differently will cost them 10 times more. Eskom eventually agreed to his terms. He got paid the amount quoted and on the terms he wanted.

Now can you do the same? Probably not. and you are probably too desperate for work, given we’ve all been grounded for things we didn’t even do; like drinking and smoking.  And your desperation opens you up to abuse by the Peters of the world. You become a slave, working for free, with only a promise that “one day” you will get paid.