EHS & Waste Management

Safety Leading Indicators – Interesting Trends

By January 9, 2019 No Comments

Safety managers know that safety leading indicators must be part of the mix of metrics, along with lagging indicators, used to measure safety performance.

Lagging indicators measure what has already happened (e.g. injuries, days away from work), while safety leading indicators track proactive initiatives that aim to improve safety and prevent incidents from happening in the first place.

While there is strong agreement among safety professionals on the need to track safety leading indicators, there is no clear consensus about which specific leading indicators to track. But EHS Today’s National Safety Survey may give us some clues about the “usual suspects” regarding leading indicators, especially since we have results about the top leading indicators in both the 2015 survey and 2016 survey. This allows us to compare the two surveys.

Here we highlight four interesting trends about leading indicators, based on the results from both surveys.

1) Tracking Near Misses Is the Top Leading Indicator

In EHS Today’s 2015 survey, near miss reporting was the third most popular leading indicator. Near misses were used by 78.8% of respondents, behind training (86.5%) and employee audits/observations (81.5%). But in the 2016 survey, near misses surpassed the other two, to become the top leading indicator. 85.7% of respondents track near misses as a leading indicator, compared to 82.9% for employee audits/observations and 80.9% for training.

2) Many Firms Track Employee Audits/Observations as a Leading Indicator

According to EHS Today’s 2015 survey, 81.5% of respondents tracked employee audits/observations as a leading indicator, putting it in second place behind training. In the 2016 survey, employee audits/observations stayed in second place, with 82.9% of respondents using them as a leading indicator, behind near misses. This shows that, while training fell from 86.5% and first spot in 2015 to 80.9% and third spot in 2016, tracking employee audits/observations as a leading indicator remains popular.

3) Participation in Safety Training Remains in the Top Three

In the 2015 survey, 86.5% of respondents mentioned participation in safety training as a safety leading indicator, making it the top leading indicator. However, in the 2016 survey, training was mentioned as a leading indicator by 80.9% of respondents. Despite the drop, participation in safety training is still among the top three safety leading indicators in the 2016 survey, behind near misses and employee audits/observations. It’s worth noting that the top three indicators are the only ones tracked by at least 80% of respondents.

4) “Inspections and Their Results” Shows up Strongly in the 2016 Survey

Comparing the EHS Today 2015 and 2016 National Safety Survey results is not exactly like comparing apples to apples. There are four entries in the 2016 survey that are not included in the 2015 survey: “inspections and their results”, “safety action plans, their execution”, “permit deviations”, and “safety perception surveys and follow-up”. Tracking inspections and their results as a leading indicator was mentioned by 79.6% of respondents in the 2016 survey, which puts it firmly in fourth place.

In conclusion, here’s a recap of the five most used leading indicators, along with the percentages of respondents who use them, and the percentages of respondents who identified them in last year’s survey:

  • Near misses: 85.7% of respondents in 2016 (78.8% in 2015).
  • Employee audits/observations: 82.9% (81.5% in 2015).
  • Participation in safety training: 80.9% (86.5% in 2015).
  • Inspections and their results: 79.6% (not mentioned in the 2015 survey results).
  • Participation in safety meetings: 69.7% (78.6% in 2015).

What about your organization? How many of the top five leading indicators do you track? Did you add any new leading indicators this year compared to last year? Hopefully the EHS Today National Safety Survey results from 2015 and 2016 will give you an idea of how your organization compares to others

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