All organisations should maintain a quality health and safety procedure to ensure the well-being of all staff and contractors. This is especially applicable for high-risk industries, such as construction and manufacturing.
Safety should come as a result of careful planning, not when an incident has already occurred. To achieve this, organisations can implement leading indicators and measure performance through lagging indicators.
Leading indicators are essential for organisations to identify hazards and take measures to prevent accidents or injury from occurring.
Professionals describe leading indicators as measurements of safety events of behaviours that precede incidents and are predictive in nature. For example, if you have a company policy to check tyre pressure before using any vehicle and find that one tyre's pressure is too low, this could prevent any accident form occurring.
Leading indicators are different for every organisation and managers should delegate a team to identify the safety needs of the organisation and research best indicators to meet those needs.
Below are some examples of leading indicators that may help your organisation.
Ensuring all staff and contractors are trained prior to commencing work is one of the best leading indicators for organisational safety. Safety training ensures that all staff and contractors are performing the tasks in a safe and efficient manner. This will cut down on risk and help build a safe organisational culture.
Utilising your LMS system to offer critical training will help prevent common injuries and accidents throughout the workplace.
In addition to complete training, managers can add assessments and surveys to assess the effectiveness of learning.
Assessment to gauge safety knowledge can range from online assessments in your LMS, performance management software or even a safety professional who gathers data throughout your worksite.
Safety audits are useful in identifying risks that can be hidden or unnoticed. For example, an audit may uncover a slip, trip and fall hazard that may have led to serious injury. Before commencing these audits, assign a team to review relevant safety procedures and implement a system where audits are conducted periodically to address any new risks that may have gone unnoticed or are new.
Many organisations already do this; however, it is still an important indicator to help identify weak points and hazards at a workplace.
Encouraging a reporting culture and setting up systems that makes reporting hazards easy is one of the best ways to avoid injury.
Employing a safety professional will definitely help identify possible hazards; however, allowing staff to report hazards may show risks that would not be visible unless the professional was completing a work-specific task.
To develop a reporting culture, managers may implement a reward system for those who come forward with a legitimate hazard. Once hazards have been reported, make sure to track the progress on resolving the issue.
Digital and in-person communication, such as internal mailings and meetings, can be useful as a leading indicator.
Organisations that have safety meetings with good attendance and participation, have been shown to create safer work environments.
Though evaluating the effectiveness of safety communication can be difficult, companies find that it is worth the investment. Maintaining quality communication through memos and meetings improves the culture of the workplace and the safety of every individual involved.
Investing in enough resources for safety can serve as a leading indicator for many organisations. This includes how much time, funding and staff is reserved for safety measures. Transparency with these resources can also improve company morale since it shows management’s dedication to ensuring a safe workplace.
Tracking resources can help identify areas that management may need to focus on and can help show an overall picture of what the worksite currently has available.
A safer workplace
Leading indicators can serve many purposes for organisations. The first step in developing a safe work environment is to discuss the needs of the organisation and which indicators may be the most beneficial for your company.
Perception surveys can help managers gain feedback from employees and showcase the strengths and weaknesses present in an employee’s workplace. Surveys and data gathering are the foundation to developing a safer workplace.
Once leading indicators are set in place, managers may turn to lagging indicators to measure the performance of safety procedures. Lagging indicators can be a great addition to the safe workplace and will be discussed further in our next blog post in our safety series.
Middlesworth, M. (2016). A Short Guide to Leading and Lagging Indicators of Safety Performance. Ergonomics Plus. Retrieved from http://ergo-plus.com/leading-lagging-indicators-safety-performance/
Morrison, K. (2014). Select Leading Indicators to Help Measure Safety. Safety+Health. Retrieved from http://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/9846?page=1