An article in the current CCOHS Health and Safety Report promotes the use of leading and lagging indicators to measure safety performance as an effective way to prevent workplace incidents.
"This process involves measuring both your bottom line safety results and how well your workplace is doing at accident and incident prevention. By controlling leading indicators, such as the amount of safety training you provide, you will control your lagging indicators, such as your injury rate," says CCOHS.
Lagging indicators, such as injury frequency and severity and lost workdays, are the traditional method of measuring health and safety performance. They give a picture of the past effectiveness of your workplace health and safety program, but they don't show how well your company is preventing incidents and accidents. And many workplaces have too few injuries to be able to distinguish real trends from random occurrences.
Leading indicators are predictive measures that can help identify and eliminate risks and hazards that could cause incidents and injuries. Examples include: percentage of managers and workers with occupational health and safety training, the frequency of health and safety meetings, ergonomic assessments and safety audits. Leading indicators focus on future safety performance, continuous improvement and injury prevention. They can help identify factors affecting the risk of injury.
Use both together to gain a "big picture" view of what is and isn't working in your safety program.