It has been said, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure,” and this is true with successful safety programs. Some companies don’t measure or track basic metrics used to evaluate the success of their safety efforts.
Many employers measure the success of their safety program using traditional metrics, including the workers’ compensation experience modification rating and OSHA incident rates. Traditional metrics like these are referred to as lagging indicators. Because of how the workers’ compensation experience modification rating is calculated, data used to calculate the mod is one to three years old. OSHA incident rates use data from the previous calendar year to measure safety performance. Historical data used to measure performance is referred to as “lagging indicators.” Lagging indicators are useful because knowing where you’ve been can help inform where you might be heading, but there are more effective ways to predict what could happen in the future.
What can you do?
“Leading indicators” measure activities and behaviors likely to result in an incident or injury. The most basic leading indicator businesses measure is the near-miss or close call. The information learned from an incident that almost resulted in an injury is used to prevent incidents of a similar nature in the future.
Safety audits that focus on identifying and correcting unsafe behaviors and conditions can be used to measure leading indicators. Measuring increases in the number of unsafe behaviors and conditions noted is another example of a leading indicator program.
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