The problem with inspection scores: Numbers aren’t everything

The overall score assigned to an inspection or audit is a subject of much debate. These processes provide a valuable role in monitoring compliance and seeking out opportunities for improvements but ultimately the end score is just a very simple Key Performance Indicator (KPI). It provides a means to track and determine progress but doesn’t provide you with the bigger picture. A single score is subjective and we find each client has slightly different expectations for scoring profiles, often based on previous experience with other providers or their own perceptions of health and safety priorities. What is “good” to one person may not been seen so favourably by another.


We are on a mission to get the industry to worry less about single scores – and any negative associations they may have – and instead to focus on the detail of the important areas such as non-compliances, critical items and repeat non-compliances.


  • Non-compliance: An unsafe act or work area which is not in line with agreed safe working practices.
  • Critical item: A non-compliance with the potential to cause fatality, or serious or imminent danger, or that represents a material breach of the law.
  • Repeat item: A non-compliance which we believe has not been sufficiently closed out from the previous report.


To really improve health and safety within your organisation it is important to identify and prioritise the KPIs which add value to decision making. A singular focus on a lagging indicator, such as an inspection score or number of incidents, doesn’t give you a real bearing on how well major hazards are being managed.


Instead, we like to focus on using a range of leading indicators. If you flip the narrative away from the overall score to the number of sites inspected or % sites inspected you get a much more useful leading indicator. This used in conjunction with other proactive KPIs will really help you to improve health and safety within the wider culture of your organisation.


Health and Safety can seem like a complex area. We offer pragmatic advice and only what is necessary to you and your individual circumstances. Contact us today to start the conversation.

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