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DART Rates: How To Calculate Yours, and Keep OSHA Inspectors Away

Toby Graham /

The government loves acronyms and abbreviations. Not surprisingly, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) is no exception. You are probably familiar with the acronyms SDS (Safety Data Sheet), PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), and PEL (Permissible Exposure Limit). But do you know what DART means? If you think it’s a pub game played while drinking your favorite brew you should probably keep reading!

What does DART stand for?

DART stands for “days away, restricted or transferred.” DART is a safety metric mandated by OSHA. It helps employers determine how many workplace injuries and illnesses caused employees to miss work days, perform restricted work activities or transfer to another job within one calendar year.

What is a DART Rate?

The DART rate is the OSHA calculation that determines how safely your business has performed in a calendar year based on workers’ compensation injuries. As mentioned above, it is determined by how many workplace injuries and illnesses resulted in employees missing work, having restricted work activities, or resulted in them being transferred to another job. In other words, it’s the total average of cases where employees were unable to do their jobs because of a workplace incident or injury in a given year.

Comparing DART vs. TRIR

We can’t talk about DART without mentioning TRIR. Yes, yet another safety acronym!  TRIR stands for Total Recordable Incident Rate. Sometimes called Total Case Incident Rate.  TRIR is  another metric used to evaluate a company’s safety performance from the past year. When it comes to TRIR, the lower the number the better the company’s safety performance.

Why are DART Rates Important?

OSHA has certain reporting requirements, and some companies are required to submit DART rates electronically. Results are monitored and are a factor in determining whether you are selected for a visit from OSHA. The lower the DART rate, the better off your organization is and the less likely you’ll get a knock on the door from an OSHA inspector. An OSHA inspection is a major inconvenience that can disrupt your operations, but it could also expose potential violations and result in fines.

If your DART rate is much higher than the average rate for your industry, you likely need to make some improvements in your overall safety program. Companies in dangerous industries such as, mining and construction typically have higher recordable incident and DART rates than other companies.

You can compare your DART rate with the average for your Standard Industrial Classification (SIC), which is published annually by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This will tell you how you compare to other companies in the same industry.

How to Calculate Your Dart Rate

Your organization’s DART rate is calculated in the following way:

1.        Add up the number of workplace injuries that are severe enough to warrant days away from work, restricted work activities and/or job transfers encountered throughout the year.

2.        Divide that number by the total number of hours worked for all employees in that year.

3.        Multiply this number by 200,000.

For example:

Your company experienced a total of 25 recordable workplace injuries last year, and all employees — including management and temporary workers — accumulated 400,000 hours worked in that year. Given this scenario, this is how your organization’s DART rate would be calculated:

25 / 400,000 = .0.065 x 200,000 = 12.5 DART Rate

Helpful Hints When Calculating Your Dart Rate

  • Don’t include vacation, sick leave or holidays when calculating the total number of hours worked during the year.
  • Don’t overlook clerical staff, maintenance personnel, temporary workers or employees who are exempt (e.g., salaried) when determining the total hours worked.
  • Do follow the new rules for electronic submission of forms. Ensure that those responsible for recordkeeping and maintaining OSHA logs know the rules.
  • Do review your log to make sure only those cases involving medical treatment — not first aid — are recorded.
  • Do minimize the number of lost workday cases by implementing a return-to-work program. A “restricted/transfer” case is preferable to a “lost workday” case. Neither type of case on your log is good, however a “restricted/transfer” case is considered less severe.

What Does a High Dart Rate Mean?

A high DART rate can affect the bottom line of your company. Some businesses request DART rate information from their suppliers and subcontractors to ensure they have acceptable safety standards. A high DART rate could mean a poor reputation and loss of sales for your company.

Possibly one of the biggest financial consequences is the effect a high DART rate has on your workers’ compensation insurance premiums. Your DART rate is an indicator of how safe your work environment is, which impacts your Experience Modifier — a major factor in determining work comp premiums.

Maintaining a Low Dart Rate

There are numerous ways to lower your Dart Rate. A successful company with a low DART RATE will have a well communicated, company-wide safety program, periodic inspections, a strong training program, and good recordkeeping.

How Can KPA Help?

There’s a lot to consider when attempting to lower your DART rate and improve the safety of your company. We have resources that can help. KPA’s unique combination of software, consulting, and training allows organizations to automate manual processes, increase productivity, improve employee training, and reduce the overall cost of risk.

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