The Campbell Institute did a good thing when it did research and prepared a report about leading indicators in workplace health and safety. A good leading indicator – even a mediocre one – can often be a better predictor of future incidence risk on a work site than many of the best “lagging metrics” that many companies use. However, it has been a challenge to create the right kinds of leading indicators for each company or industry, which is where the Campbell Institute got involved.

[Image courtesy of The Natural Step Canada from Flickr via a Creative Commons license]It makes sense that past behaviors can indicate future results without intervention. Therefore, with the right metrics in place, a company can find behavior-based leading indicators to help lower risk on the worksite and mitigate incidents or accidents.

In a previous post, I introduced the research project that The Campbell Institute is working on, which was to develop, define and create metrics for a matrix of leading indicators that could be used to help determine the highest risk areas for incidents or accidents so that safety officers can better utilize their relatively limited resources to maximize impact in terms of preventing incidents that affect worker safety and limit productivity.

In part two of this series, I introduced you to the methods of developing the matrix and briefly defined the three types of leading indicators that were developed through this research and discussions with 15 top health-and-safety professionals. This installment of the series will briefly discuss one of the three types of leading indicators, examples of those indicators and how they might be measured in an organization.

What is a Behavior-based Leading Indicator?

Tthe names assigned to the types of leading indicators are not mysterious; they are pretty straightforward. In this case, a behavior-based leading indicator in workplace safety is one which comes from measurements of behaviors and actions of individual workers or workgroups at a job site. This can also go for managers and even safety officers. Behavior-based leading indicators  cover several categories, and each have their series of possible measurement. No one is expected to take on all of these indicators in their companies – but using the ones that fit your company profile and doing an assessment, each cmpany can find one or two that may have the best correlation to suggest future problems at a work site.

I will now take a moment and go through a couple of these behavior-based leading indicators to show you the idea. There is more information abot these indicators in the report that the Campbell Institute put out recently. I’ll just give you a taste.

Some Indicators and Their Metrics

The Campbell Institute report briefly summarizes the types of leading indicators and puts them in their own subheadings under each type of LI. From there, the report gives examples of possible metrics that can be used to measure each LI. So I can’t go into too much detail here since the report doesn’t, but I can give you at least a quick synopsis of the types of LIs that ae considered behavior-based and examples of the LiIs of that type that were designed by the blue-ribbon panel.You can create your own LI and your own metric iif you can’t find these  fit into your organization, and you don’t have to use multiple LIs or metrics – jut fid the one or two that fit you best. You might have to test some or many of these LIs with your company to find the ones that are the best predictors for your particular organization.

  • Leadership Engagement: This leading inidcator could be measured by evaluating the number of employee suggestions have been made and the percentage that are implemented by management; the number or percentage of employees that volunteer for certain programs or initiatives; and the percentage of supervisors who take part in review sessions.
  • Employee Engagement: As employees are often the ones  exposed to more risks, this could be a very effective LI for any company. This can be measured by employees’ participation rate in the company’s safety program; the number of on-the-job employee observations; and even the percent of job turnover can be measured here.
  • At-risk and Safe Behaviors: This leading indicator can seem like cmmon sense, but it’s not so much the behaviors themselves that are measured here but the frequency of the behaviors or actions and how much observation there is. Metrics involved include the number of observations in a given period, and the ratio of positive (safe) to negative (at-risk) observations; the percentage of supervisors meeting their goals in observations; and the ratio of supervisor observations to peer observations, among others.

Other leading indicators could be regarding area walkarounds and off-the-job safety as well.

Next up on our cavalcade of leading indicators – the operations-based indicators. Stay tuned.