Choose Leading Indicators by Looking at What You’re Already Tracking
Just Start Somewhere
As part of a safety program, your organization should track both lagging and leading indicators. Lagging indicators are useful to know the evolution of incident rates and other metrics over specific periods of time in the past.
But leading indicators are better at helping you determine if you’re on the right track and whether your occupational safety program is effective. Leading indicators track activities that aim to proactively improve safety performance and prevent incidents. Example include near miss reporting, audits and inspections, observations, participation in training, etc.
The challenge is that there are no “standard” leading indicators. They vary by industry and company. But you should not let this deter you from having a program to track leading indicators. Even if you start with only one or two and add more over the years, the key is to start somewhere!
Leverage What Is Already Being Measured
There are many suggestions about what leading indicators to start with.
A white paper by the Campbell Institute studied what some leading organizations are doing. One of the key takeaways from the paper is to look at what is already being measured in your organization, and determine if it can be used as a leading indicator.
Here’s an example: if you’re already tracking the percentage of workers attending refresher safety training courses, you could check if the number correlates with incident rates. If so, set a goal to have almost 100% of workers complete refresher safety training.
Take an inventory of all the existing metrics that you’re already tracking. If there are any correlations of the metrics with incident rates or other lagging indicators, then they could be good candidates to be used as leading indicators.
Don’t underestimate the possibility that you may already be in a good shape to start tracking some leading indicators.
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