Control Losses by Identifying Top Factors Leading to Injury

Control Losses by Identifying Top Factors Leading to Injury

The latest trend in workplace safety best practices is tracking “leading indicators” – or building on the lessons learned from past events – to reduce the chances of future injuries. Safety professionals are increasingly keeping track of near misses, hours spent on training and facility housekeeping and measuring the impact on the organization’s overall safety record. And they are finding that this approach is having a significant impact in preventing injuries. The trend is a new one. For years, workplace safety managers and industrial safety engineers used lagging indicators to track and manage workplace injuries and illness. They would evaluate:

  • Injury rates
  • Injury counts, and
  • Days injury-free

In the last few years, safety-minded companies have been shifting their focus to using leading indicators to drive continuous improvement. Lagging indicators measure failure, but leading indicators measure performance. As you can see, a leading indicator is a measure preceding or indicating a future event that you can use to drive activities or the use of safety devices to prevent and control injuries. These measures are proactive in nature and report what employees are doing on a regular basis to prevent injuries.

Creating a leading indicator plan

To reduce strain injuries, for example, you can start by identifying the factors that lead to these injuries, like pace of work, loads, repetitions and workstation design. Track the data to see which areas are likely to cause future injuries. Once you do, you have a model for how injuries occur. Then, you can consider what interventions you may want to implement to prevent future strain injuries.

Top Leading Indicators

  • Near misses
  • Employee audits/observations
  • Participation in safety training
  • Inspections and their results
  • Participation in safety meetings
  • Facility housekeeping
  • Participation in safety committees
  • Overall employee engagement in safety
  • Safety action plans execution
  • Equipment/machinery maintenance
  • Source: EHS Today survey of 1,000 health and safety pros.

Leading Indicator Benefits

  • Show small performance improvements
  • Measure the positive: what people are doing versus failing to do
  • Enable frequent feedback to all staff
  • Are credible to performers
  • Are predictive
  • Increase constructive problem-solving around safety
  • Make it clear what needs to be done to get better
  • Track impact versus intention



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