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Mastering OSHA DART Rate: A Pro's Guide to Workplace Safety

DART rate, an acronym for Days Away, Restricted, or Transferred, is a key safety metric within industries. It specifically tracks any worker who has suffered a medical condition at work that caused them to cease working in their normal capacity. In the context of workplace safety, DART rates are not just a couple of figures. They’re an illustration of an organization’s safety culture. 

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average DART rate for private industry in 2017 was 1.5 cases per 100 full-time equivalent workers. 

A high DART (Days Away, Restricted, or Transferred) rate is a sign that your work environment might be unsafe. It also indicates that regulatory bodies like OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) may take an interest in your workplace. As a result, your business insurance premiums and working relationship with your insurer are likely to be affected. 

Therefore, the ability to calculate your DART safety rate and manage it carefully is a critical regulatory requirement and, of course, an important element of job security for the employees who work for you.

This guide will help you calculate your DART rate so you can keep your workplace running at an OSHA-compliant level of efficiency. We’ll begin with a look at the importance of DART rates and the best way to adopt this strategy in workplace standard operations.

Dart Safety Meaning: What Does DART Stand For In Safety

DART stands for Days Away, Restricted, or Transferred and is one of the most important metrics for evaluating workplace safety. It helps companies track injuries and illnesses that result in days off work, restricted duty, or job transfers.

High DART rates indicate safety issues that an organization needs to address. It means that employees are injured or sick from hazards in their workplace or unsafe practices. It results in lost wages and productivity for workers and high workers' compensation costs for employers.

Should you care about DART rates? 

OSHA cares about it. Their mission is protecting America's workers. Under OSHA's recordkeeping rule, employers must prepare and maintain records of serious occupational injuries and illnesses using the OSHA 300 Log. When inspecting facilities, OSHA reviews these logs to ensure completeness and accuracy. Your DART rate indicates the relative level of injuries and illnesses. A high DART rate compared to industry peers is a red flag for OSHA and makes it more likely they will conduct a more thorough inspection.

There are several reasons why understanding and keeping the DART Rate low is important:

Gives a snapshot of safety performance

A high DART Rate will likely bring an OSHA high-hazard inspection, while a low rate reflects the company is putting employee safety first and providing a safe work environment for employees.

Impact on the company’s bottom line

A high DART Rate means increased workers’ compensation costs, loss of productivity, the potential for safety fines and violations, etc. A low DART Rate equates to cost savings and operational efficiency.

Key factor in getting certain contracts. 

There are industries where safety is above all other concerns. For example, in industries such as manufacturing or mining, arguably the most important factor in awarding contracts is safety. Companies with low DART Rates are seen as quality, reliable companies and are more likely to get contracts.

Learn how to lower DART rates and gain a Safety ROI you can't ignore by checking out our recent whitepaper:

Stakeholders who use DART Rate:

The Days Away, Restricted, or Transferred (DART) Rate is a crucial safety metric for a number of different stakeholders. 

  1. Employers:

For employers, it can help them to understand their safety performance and to pinpoint areas for improvement. 

  1. Employees:

Employees may use the DART rate as part of the due diligence they perform when weighing a potential employer’s safety culture. 

  1. Regulatory bodies 

Regulatory bodies like OSHA can use the DART rate to quickly identify workplaces that are in the greatest need of inspection. 

  1. Insurance companies

Insurance companies may incorporate DART rates into their mandatory calculations. That’s because some work contracts require the company to maintain a DART rate below a certain limit to be eligible for the work. This is very common in construction. 

DART rates are also on the list of factors that can lead to a workplace being subjected to targeted inspections and/or higher fines.

For any organization that is truly committed to ensuring the safety of its workforce, understanding and effectively managing your DART rate is more than just good business – it is compulsory for maintaining a secure work environment.

How to Read Days Away, Restricted, or Transferred (DART) Rate?

You need to know how to read the DART rate to understand it. To help you read it better, here are some of its terms quickly explained:

'Days Away'

The term ‘Days Away’ refers to the total number of days an employee was unable to work because of a work-related injury or illness. It also includes days when the employee was working but was restricted from doing his/her normal work at the normal work time, and days when the employee was scheduled to work but could not because of the injury or illness. 

This is a critical measurement as the productivity of an organization is impacted by these days away and is a leading indicator for costs associated with compensation for the employee and replacement work.

'Restricted Incidents'

'Restricted' refers to the total number of cases where an employee is, due to a work-related injury or illness, unable to accomplish all or any part of his/her normal assignment during regular working hours. In this situation, there is a partial loss of time, or the employee is unable to work the full workday due to a work-related injury. This indicator is important as it shows the impact on productivity and areas where operations can be made safer.

'Transferred Incidents'

You should also be aware of what cases are counted as 'Transferred,' as this is the total number of cases in which an employee is transferred to another job on a temporary basis because of a work-related injury or illness. Transferred cases also disrupt operations that require additional measures or training.

Calculation of DART Rate

The DART rate isn’t something that an employee just figures out on their own. This rate requires a specific formula and a step-by-step process to get an accurate number.

How to Figure Out the DART Rate, Step by Step

  1. Find out how many DART incidents there have been: 

The first part of the DART rate formula is to find out how many events led to days off work, restrictions on the job, or job transfers. Usually, this number is worked out over a year.

  1. Figure out how many hours were worked: 

The second part needs to know how many hours all of the workers worked during the same time period. In this group are normal hours, overtime hours, and training hours.

  1. Use the formula for the DART rate: 

The DART rate method can be used once these two numbers are known.

Here is the formula for the DART rate:

DART Rate = (Number of DART Incidents × 200,000 / Worked Hours)

What each part means is listed below:

  • Number of DART Incidents: This is the total number of incidents that got people fired, put limits on their jobs, or had them transferred.
  • Total Hours Worked: This shows how many hours all workers worked during the same month.
  • The number 200,000 is a standard way to figure out DART rates. That's the same as having 100 workers who put in 40 hours a week for 50 weeks a year.

The result is your DART rate, which tells you the number of DART incidents per 100 full-time workers per year. With a lower DART rate, OSHA indicates a safer work environment, while a higher rate may suggest areas for improvement in your organization’s safety protocols.

Real-World Example of the DART Rate

Understanding DART Rate Components

Accurate DART rates require an effective system for determining which workplace injuries and illnesses are recordable for rate calculation. While the basic math behind DART rates is simple, deciding which cases to count can be more complicated.

An injury or illness is DART-recordable if it meets the DART OSHA criteria set for inclusion on an organization's OSHA 300 log. Thus, not every minor workplace injury may be tallied toward your DART rate.

For an injury or illness to be recorded on the OSHA 300 log, it:

  • Must result from a work-related incident or exposure
  • Must involve medical treatment beyond basic first aid
  • Must involve loss of consciousness
  • Must involve restriction of work or motion
  • Must involve days away from work

In addition, any diagnosed case of an illness or disease caused by workplace exposure – such as carpal tunnel or hearing loss – must be recorded if it meets the general recording criteria.

Understanding concepts such as medical treatment, restricted work and days away is critical to tracking DART recordables accurately. Clear guidelines and training for your recordkeepers can guard against errors caused by misinterpretations of DART OSHA definitions. Tracking leading indicators and conducting regular audits can ensure high-quality 300 log data flows into your DART rate OSHA calculations.

Best Practices For Reducing DART Rates

To bring down OSHA DART rates, a comprehensive, proactive approach is required. Some best practices for achieving this include:

Conduct thorough safety training 

Provide comprehensive training for all employees on proper safety procedures, equipment use, ergonomics, hazard identification, and reporting injuries/incidents. Training should be ongoing with refreshers.

Prioritize ergonomics 

Conduct an ergonomic assessment of workstations and equipment to identify and mitigate ergonomic risks that could lead to sprains and strains. Provide ergonomic tools and training.

Promote a strong reporting culture

Communicate to employees to promptly report all injuries, even minor ones. Make reporting easy and ensure no retaliation for submitting a report. Take all reports seriously - investigate!

Involve employees in the solutions

Ask employees and their managers where they believe their "pain points" and risks are and where they think the best opportunities for safety improvement exist. Then, use the employees to help develop the solutions.

Standardize procedures 

Standard operating procedures for equipment, high-risk tasks, etc., make it easier to ensure training and procedures are understood and followed by all employees.

DART Rate Vs. TRIR Rate

DART Rate and Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) are both key safety metrics. However, the two measurements serve different purposes in evaluating workplace safety. 

The DART rate, as mentioned, accounts for incidents that result in days away from work, job restrictions, or job transfers. In contrast, TRIR accounts for all recordable incidents, including those requiring medical treatment beyond first aid but not necessarily involving days away from work or job restrictions. 

So, while TRIR offers a broader perspective on workplace safety incidents, the OSHA DART rate gives a more targeted insight into incidents that have the greatest impact on an employee’s work life. Comparing the two rates can help an organization identify trends, gauge the severity of its incidents, and craft strategies to improve its workplace safety.

FAQs

What is the business impact of incidents?

Workplace incidents can have a significant impact on a business. Medical expenses, legal fees, fines, equipment damage, lost productivity, and decreased morale can quickly add up and affect the bottom line. Even a single serious incident can be extremely costly in multiple ways.

How many incidents result in workers' compensation claims?

The percentage of incidents that lead to workers' comp claims can vary greatly by industry and company. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median days away from work after an incident is 10 days. The more serious the injury, the more likely a worker will file a claim. Claims may also increase if employees do not feel the company handled the incident properly.

How many incidents lead to lost time or productivity?

While not every incident results in missed days of work, most do negatively impact productivity. Whether through distraction, low morale, process issues, or additional workload, experts estimate productivity losses from safety incidents can be 3-4 times higher than the direct workers’ comp costs. Even minor incidents with no injuries lead to time in investigating the causes and correcting behaviors or processes.

How do incidents affect output and profitability?

Studies show that companies with above-average injury rates have a higher cost of goods sold and lower profit margins. Each incident removes resources from productive work, reduces output, and increases costs. With profit margins already thin in most industries, safety incidents can quickly turn profits into losses.

How can a high DART rate affect a company's reputation and contracts?

A poor safety record reflected in a high DART rate can damage a company's reputation with customers, partners, and the public. It can also impact the ability to secure future work, especially on jobs requiring competitive bidding or background checks. Some companies will not partner with contractors who cannot prove a commitment to safety through metrics like DART rates.

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