This week’s Safetip is about leading indicators and how an organization’s OSH performance level should influence their selection and use. The best practice is highlighted by a user guide on Leading Indicators for Workplace Health and Safety made available by the Ministry of Labour of the Canadian province of Alberta.
3 Workplace Environments Influence Leading Indicators
Organizations should take into account their current Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) performance level when selecting leading indicators. According to the Alberta Ministry of Labour, leading indicators are most effective when they are aligned with an organization’s specific OSH goals. A set of leading indicators that is appropriate for one organization may not be a good fit for another, even within the same industry. There are three types of workplace environments that might require different sets of leading indicators.
1) Focus on Compliance
Organizations that are in the early stages of developing their OSH program, or whose OSH performance level requires improvement, can select a few key leading indicators to confirm compliance with regulatory requirements. Examples include: confirming whether hazard assessments are being completed and ensuring workers are involved in the process. Employers can later build upon their list of leading indicators by monitoring how many job tasks, risks and control measures were identified during formal hazard assessments, whether or not workers know the results of those assessments, and addressing hazards through corrective actions.
2) Focus on Improvement
Organizations with more established OSH programs or stronger OSH performance levels (i.e. beyond basic compliance) may introduce leading indicators to grow and refine their existing programs for continued improvement. Examples include: asking what percent of the workforce has OSH training beyond what is required by regulation, how often safety and health are discussed at meetings, or how often management walks the floor.
3) Focus on Continuous Learning
Organizations with a mature OSH culture or a consistently high level of OSH performance (e.g. low incident rates) can select leading indicators to drill down for deeper knowledge, drawing out information about their safety and health culture. They might select leading indicators to track what percent of their communication budget is dedicated to OSH, or how many different avenues the organization uses to communicate OSH messaging.
The following questions help to determine the type of workplace environment that applies to your organization, and therefore the type of leading indicators that you should select:
- Are you struggling to meet essential regulatory requirements?
- Are you looking to improve your organization’s OSH performance beyond minimum requirements?
- Is your organization already demonstrating a consistently high level of OSH performance and wants to achieve ongoing improvement?
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