Dashboards are an incredibly valuable tool for visualizing and making sense of your safety data.
But if you’re not a designer, creating a safety dashboard can be a little intimidating. Which data should you include? What kind of charts work best? And where do you even start?
Fortunately, building great dashboards is easier than you might think. Follow the steps in this guide to create a beautiful, effective safety dashboard in no time!
First, what is a safety dashboard?
A safety dashboard is a collection of visual reports that display important safety metrics and KPIs, usually in real-time. Safety dashboards help you quickly visualize and drill down on trends and patterns in your data in order to answer business questions. Common metrics include injury rate, days lost and restricted, incident severity, incident costs, and corrective action completion.
5 steps to build a safety dashboard
- Think about who will use the dashboard and how
- Decide which metrics to include
- Choose a dashboard reporting tool
- Pull data into the dashboards
- Customize your reports
1. Think about who will use the dashboard and how
Before you actually start building a safety dashboard, you should have a clear purpose in mind. Who will use the dashboard, and what questions do they need to answer?
For example, maybe you want to create an executive dashboard to give senior managers a high level view of safety performance company-wide. Or maybe you want to understand specific safety events to determine the root cause and figure out how to prevent them in the future.
In any case, the user and their goals will inform the types of data you include on your dashboard.
2. Decide which metrics to include
Now that you know the purpose of your dashboard, it's time to figure out exactly which data you'll include. Which metrics match the purpose of your dashboard?
Some examples of safety metrics you might include:
- Injury rate
- Number of incidents
- Incident severity
- Type of incident
- Root cause
- Direct and indirect incident costs
- Days lost and restricted
- Inspections and audits completed
- Corrective actions
- Training completion
- Near misses
One of the biggest mistakes people make when building a dashboard is including too much information.
The whole point of a dashboard is to convey the most important information at a glance. So if your dashboard is cluttered with dozens of reports, it will be hard to know what is most important.
A better option is to include only a handful of the most important metrics (5-8 reports works well). Then, give users the option to drill down if they want more information. This can be done with dashboard reporting software, which we’ll look at in a moment.
An example of a dashboard report showing the most common types of injuries
3. Choose a dashboard reporting tool
If you’re already using EHS management software, it probably comes with tools that allow you to create safety dashboards with the data that’s already in the system.
Otherwise, you’ll need to decide which tool you’ll use to build your dashboard. There are a number of different options available, depending on your needs and your budget. Some popular safety dashboard reporting tools include:
- Excel: This spreadsheet software isn’t exactly a dashboard reporting tool, but it can be used to build a collection of charts. The benefit of using Excel is that it is widely available and anyone can use it. The downside is that it takes a long time to import and organize all your data, and it can only display static data (which means your dashboard is outdated as soon as you create it).
- Perillon: Build customizable dashboards and reports that pull data directly from Perillon’s centralized database. Data can be captured across your organization from a wide range of mobile devices and automated systems integrations.
- Klipfolio: A standalone dashboard tool that pulls your data from sources including spreadsheets, files, databases, and web services applications.
- Geckoboard: Another standalone tool for creating business intelligence dashboards.
4. Pull data into the dashboard
Now, it’s time to gather the actual data that will be used in your dashboard reports.
If you’re using a dashboard reporting software like Perillon that’s integrated with your EHS database, your data will be synced to your dashboards automatically in real-time. There’s nothing you need to do to make this happen!
On the other hand, if you’re using Excel or a standalone reporting tool, you’ll need to pull in all the information you want to use in your dashboards. You might need to go through your existing spreadsheets and locate the information you want to use, or you may need to manually copy and paste all the data from its original source. This is usually the most time-consuming part of the process if you’re not using an integrated dashboard reporting software.
5. Customize your reports
With all your data ready to go, now it’s time to figure out the best way to display the information.
To make things easier, Perillon includes a number of preset dashboard templates that you can use. We’ve done the hard work of figuring out how best to display the data so you can jump right in and start using it. Of course, you also have the option to build custom dashboards for all your reporting needs.
First, select the type of chart you want to use for each individual report. Different types of charts work best for different types of information, so it’s important to think about which chart best fits your data.
Some common types of charts you might use include:
- Bar: compare data by category
- Line: show data over intervals of time
- Combo: emphasize different types of data in a single chart
- Scatter: show the relationship between two variables
- Pie: understand parts of a whole
- Funnel: show how data moves through different stages in a process
- Table: display detailed data in rows and columns
For instance, the dashboard below uses a bar chart to show days lost and restricted, and a pie chart to display the root causes of incidents:
This picture shows an example of a safety dashboard in Perillon
You can also change the time frame, style, color, numbers, and font to customize your reports even further.
Once you've built your reports, you might want to change the layout of your dashboard. A good rule of thumb is to put the most important information at the top left corner, moving to more granular detail at the bottom right. You can also resize your reports to make critical information more prominent.
Finally, you can share the dashboard with specific users or groups and set permissions so that only need-to-know users have access to sensitive safety data.
Your next steps
Now that you've seen how to build a safety dashboard, you might want to check out some examples to inspire you. In that case, here are five EHS dashboard examples. Or, request a demo to see what Perillon can do for your company specifically.