An incident rate provides information about recordable injuries and illnesses. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration and individual employers use the information to plan for upcoming inspections, gauge the effectiveness of health and safety programs within a single firm, and make industry-wide comparisons.

Background Information

The incident rate formula uses a benchmark number of 200,000 hours, which represents the numbers of hours that 100 full-time employees work in a 50-week work year. This benchmark number standardizes the formula to make it useful for making industry-wide comparisons against businesses of all sizes.

The formula also uses the OSHA recordable injury standard, which defines a recordable injury or illness as one that usually requires professional medical attention beyond simple first aid. According to OSHA record-keeping requirements, this includes, but isn’t limited to, cuts, fractures, sprains and the loss of a limb. Examples of recordable illnesses include work-related skin diseases, respiratory disorders or poisoning. Additionally, anything in the work environment that significantly aggravates a preexisting injury or illness is also recordable. Most businesses use OSHA Form 300 as the basis for collecting injury and illness data.

Step 1.

Count the number of OSHA recordable illness and injury cases for the entire calendar year.

Step 2.

Add the total number of actual employee work hours for the year. This number does not include vacation, holidays, personal time or sick leave.

Step 3.

Complete the incident rate calculation using the formula:

(Number of recordable injuries and illnesses X 200,000) / total hours worked

For example, if you had six recordable injuries and illnesses during the previous year and 300,000 actual work hours, the incident rate for your company is 4.0 percent -- (6*200,000)/300,000.