Health and safety is a high-stakes issue, so it’s worth it for safety professionals and the industry at large to regularly reexamine best practices, trying to find even small improvements that could save a limb or even a life.
Trying new approaches is the way the industry will evolve, and leading indicators are one aspect that continues to generate well-deserved interest. In his Safety Decisions Magazine article—“Safety’s Moneyball Moment”—Ray Prest discusses this topic at length, noting that:
The search for leading indicators is like Moneyball for safety. The goal is to discover the underlying forces driving success or failure. We want to sift through the luck, circumstance, and other statistical noise in order to better evaluate the true safety performance of our people and systems.
It’s often hard to pinpoint leading indicators, which can sometimes lead to confusion about what they are and how they differ from lagging indicators. But there are ways to find out the difference at every workplace. As Prest says:
Personally, I think there’s a lot to be gained from measuring learning and knowledge retention. If we can track how well safety training works and how much employees remember, we can make changes to the education process that will lead to real improvements downstream on the shop floor where injuries happen or, hopefully, don’t.
Taking this thought even further, Prest provides an interesting look at the off-the-job area to pinpoint whether or not their organization’s safety training is working and if employees are dedicated to safety wherever they are:
You could also look to how employees behave outside of work. People trading in their flipflops for steel-toe boots while cutting their lawn, using a proper step stool instead of a kitchen chair to change a lightbulb, or putting the cell phone out of reach while driving—these are the ultimate indicators that your training and corporate safety mind-set have truly sunk in.
The article is full of insightful information and it’s well worth the read here.