Safetip #43: Near Miss Reporting as a Leading Indicator

August 24, 2016

This week’s Safetip is about near miss reporting and leading indicators.

Lagging Indicators and Leading Indicators

Lagging indicators and leading indicators are used to measure safety performance. Whereas the first type of measure is reactive in nature, the second is proactive. Lagging indicators measure facts after they have occurred, such as the number of injuries, lost time from work, etc. As Peter Bussey from LNS Research said in a recent article, “Relying on lagging indicators is a lot like trying to drive somewhere while looking in the rear-view mirror”. In contrast, leading indicators track initiatives that aim to nurture a safety culture that prevents incidents in the first place.

Ultimately, using a balance of lagging and leading indicators is the right approach, especially if you can run . But relying solely on lagging indicators will not give a good indication whether safety is improving in your organization through the prevention of future incidents.

Near Miss Reporting Is Used Frequently as a Leading Indicator

Too many organizations still rely solely on lagging indicators because they are easy to measure, while there is no consensus on an established set of “standard” leading indicators to track. After all, it is easy to simply wait for something tangible to happen and just count, such as the number of days that workers miss due to an illness or injury.

But near miss reporting has three characteristics that, combined together, contribute to make it a great leading indicator:

1) If workers are properly (i.e. what is a near miss, how to report one), and , a near miss reporting program can be launched within a reasonable amount of time and effort.
2) Near misses can help identify workplace hazards that can create risks for accidents. Hence near miss reporting is an effective way of identifying safety weaknesses and issues before they lead to consequences. This provides organizations an opportunity to control workplace hazards in a pro-active way.
3) Near miss reporting is used as a leading indicator by a large number of organizations, which is a testimony to its usefulness and popularity. In EHS Today’s 2016 National Safety Survey, near miss reporting was the top leading indicator tracked, mentioned by 85.7% of respondents, ahead of employee audits/observations (82.9%) and participation in safety training (80.9%).

Additional Safetips

Here are links to additional Safetips on near miss reporting:

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