February 7, 2022 Joseph Bolle
Leading, Lagging Indicators Support Culture of Safety
In the world of safety, leading and lagging indicators allow an organization to obtain information that can be used to improve the overall safety culture and program. Leading indicators identify areas where an incident could occur if things are not changed, improved or corrected. Examples include:
- Near-miss reporting
- Hazard identification
- Behavioral observations
- Safety audit information
- Safety meetings
Lagging indicators help an organization identify areas for improvement after an incident or injury has already occurred. Examples include:
- Injury/incident reports
- OSHA citations
- Recordable incident rate tracking
- Workers’ compensation claims
At Excellerate, our safety program is heavily based on following leading indicators, so that we can take a proactive approach to safety. In doing so, we have watched our safety performance improve dramatically.
Excellerate has completed the last 3 years without a recordable injury, while increasing our hours worked from 2020 to 2021 by more than 100%.
Here are some of the strategies we have implemented over the past three years to help us focus on leading indicators and drive our safety culture forward.
- Utilizing our Operational Risk Management (ORM) process – This is a twice daily meeting to discuss and mitigate any safety issues that could be present, or which were identified while performing work.
- Increased Audit Participation – Each leader is required to complete one safety audit per week (in additional to our regularly scheduled audit program), which resulted in nearly 2,000 safety audits performed in 2021.
- Implemented a Hazard Identification Process – This process allows all production employees to quickly and easily document a hazard that they have identified and corrected by use of QR codes on our ORM boards. This generates reports that are reviewed for trends and areas of improvement.
- Developing a Culture of Care – Ultimately, any strong safety program must be based on the care of the individuals performing the work. It’s imperative to recognize the importance of employees’ lives outside of work, creating a safe workplace that enables employees to go home safely to their loved ones and continue their hobbies. Our organizational Culture of Care program includes a daily care check in during the ORM meeting to see how everyone is doing mentally, and to offer support when necessary. We have provided awareness training for all employees to encourage active listening and caring in the workplace. We’ve also identified Culture of Care Champions who receive extensive training and are available across our organization to support individuals who may be dealing with particularly difficult challenges.
As you begin to focus on leading indicators and watch your safety performance improve, you will see your lagging indicators begin to dwindle. Leading indicators provide a mechanism to keep your progress moving forward and avoid becoming complacent due to good performance.
These changes have enabled Excellerate to transform our safety culture by being proactive, following the leading indicators and caring about every person who enters our facilities.
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