Study recommends use of leading indicators

The Campbell Institute, an arm of the National Safety Council--whose aim to help organizations achieve and sustain excellence in environmental health and safety while proactively identifying successful practices--recently published a white paper on how EHS professionals can judge their efforts. The paper questions industry's continuing reliance on lagging metrics, such as absenteeism rates and injury rates, and advocates the use of leading indicators.

The study defines leading indicators as proactive, preventative, and predictive measures that monitor and provide current information about the effective performance, activities, and processes of an EHS management system that drive the identification and elimination or control of risks in the workplace that can cause incidents and injuries.

Examples include behavior-based observations (e.g., safe or unsafe behaviors); near-miss incidents; audits; and training for workers, managers, and executives.

Study participants reported the advantages of using leading indicators, which included the company being more proactive in its safety efforts, encouraging a culture of safety among managers and workers, identifying areas of improvement, and realizing improvements in the lagging indicators.

Although the use of leading indicators has the potential to significantly impact a company's safety efforts, companies complained that lack of leadership commitment and lack of benchmarks have hampered their efforts to increase the use of these types of metrics

Read the full study.