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Managing safety training, enforcing safety rules, and monitoring employee performance is a big responsibility. You’re the one who can do the most to successfully promote safety in the workplace.

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September 16, 2011
Measuring Safety: Leading and Lagging Indicators

Measuring safety performance accurately and reliably is a key to winning management support for your safety program. Business managers want information that will help them predict future performance so that they can make decisions about how to meet performance goals. You need to know what information to give them. Here’s a quick look at leading and lagging indicators of safety performance that you can track.

For a Limited Time receive a FREE Safety Special Report on the "50 Tips For More-Effective Safety Training."  Receive 75 pages of useful safety information broken down into three training sections. Download Now

Leading measures are measurable factors that indicate future value or direction of performance. Examples of leading measures include:

  • Employee turnover rate
  • Number of third-party certifications achieved
  • Percentage of employee training completed vs. expected
  • Frequency of completed inspections vs. scheduled inspections
  • Number of new or enhanced safety controls implemented
  • Results of observations and accident investigation results
  • Risk or hazard assessments and job hazard analysis
  • Employee perception surveys

Lagging measures indicate facts about past events. Examples of lagging measures include things like:

  • Injury frequency and severity
  • Near misses (frequency, trend)
  • Fatality or other accidents
  • Lost workday rate
  • Chemical releases
  • OSHA citations (number of citations and type)
  • Workers' compensation claims (trends and amounts)
  • Experience modification rate (both the rate and any changes)

Leading safety measures are focused on future safety performance. Trailing safety indicators often indicate progress toward compliance with safety rules. Both are essential for workplace safety. A safety program striving for excellent performance will use a mix of leading and trailing indicators. The effectiveness of employee training, for example, can be measured with leading measures and with trailing measures. Measuring change in on-the-job safety performance is a leading indicator of training effectiveness. Training measured against compliance with regulations is a trailing indicator of performance.

The above information comes from BLR’s presentation "Making the Business Case for Environmental, Health and Safety." For more information on all the training courses BLR has to offer, go to our Safety Training Materials & Resources page.

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