OSEA Safety Blog

Focus on What's Working by Tracking Leading Safety Indicators

Monday, February 11, 2019 Brenda Griffin

Too often safety prevention activities go unrecognized and/or miscommunicated by organizations because they limit what is tracked, measured, and conveyed to what are called “lagging” safety indicators – meaning events that have already taken place. What are examples of these lagging safety indicators?

  • Injury frequency and severity
  • Lost work days
  • Reportable incidents
  • Workers compensation costs
  • Chemical releases

Unfortunately, these types of indicators don’t reflect how well an organization is performing when it comes to preventing accidents and incidents!

While we’re not going to stop tracing lagging indicators any time soon, it may be wise to also include “leading” indicators as part of the organizational safety metrics. That way, all the work that has been completed toward safety prevention can be quantified, documented, and celebrated!

Here are some leading indicators that can be tracked and reported to both management and staff:

  • Safety Committee Activity – number of meetings, completed action items, and the scope of upcoming initiatives.
  • Inspections – outcomes, list of future actions items, list of completed actions.
  • Audits and Evaluations – review of the overall program compliance and effectiveness.
  • Training – number of classes taught, list of topics, number of employees trained.
  • Near Miss evaluations – number and nature of incidents, and outcomes requiring any changes to procedures or policies.
  • Management of Change – review any change to an organization through the lens of potential safety challenges and subsequent controls; such as use of new chemicals, changing facility layouts and design, or changing procedures.

Using leading indicators is a great way to demonstrate organizational continuous improvement with their safety program. And, they show just how proactive the organization is when it comes to addressing safety issues – the things that often go unrecognized.

What’s also important is having a solid communication mechanism in place to provide the information to the entire organization. Examples include a monthly safety newsletter, group safety talks, or informational safety notices scrolled on internal TV’s in employee break areas.

A healthy and safe workplace is essential for the wellbeing of employees. And the best way to convey all that is to support safety initiatives, it is to tell them the whole safety story!

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