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EVALUATION

Q78. What are leading indicators?

Leading indicators can be defined as: "pro-active reports or information that highlight safety issues before they result in accident or incidents". A wide range of leading indicators can be defined and measured within a safety management system (SMS). Figures from leading indicators can be used as a measure against your organisation's internal performance criteria or industry-wide safety performance standards, or to meet an industry-specific legal or contractual requirement.

Leading indicators should be:

• Clearly defined within the SMS.

• An objective and reliable metric.

• Easily understood across all departments of an organisation.

• Easy to gather and analyse.

• Communicated and accessible throughout an organisation. Examples of leading indicators include:

• Number and type of near miss reports.

• Number and category of unsafe act and unsafe condition reports.

• Number of good or safe observations made.

• Number of work procedures reviewed and updated per year.

• Number of risk assessments carried out.

• Number of safety inspections conducted.

• Improvement suggestions from staff (measured in terms of both quality and quantity).

• Number of cross audits (where one department audits another within an organisation).

• Number or percentage of remedial actions closed out on time.

It is very important that the leading indicators you choose actually impact on lagging indicators. Without the cause-and-effect relationship between leading indicator inputs and lagging indicator outputs, the data will have no added value. For example, if there is an issue with eye injuries in the workplace, it makes sense to assess the use of eye protection and then measure that against eye injuries. If eye injuries are not happening, monitoring the use of eye protection will not be of any benefit.

Q79. What are lagging indicators?

Lagging or trailing indicators can be defined as "re-active information that identifies deficiencies which did result in an accident or incident". As such, they provide a measure of how safety has been managed in the past. Figures from lagging indicators can be used as a measure against your organisation's own internal performance criteria or industry-wide safety performance standards[1] or to meet an industry-specific legal or contractual requirement.

Lagging indicators should be:

• Clearly defined within the SMS.

• An objective and reliable metric.

• Easily understood across all departments of an organisation.

• Easy to gather and analyse.

• Communicated and accessible throughout an organisation. Examples of lagging indicators include:

• Accident reports (lost time injuries, restricted work and medical treatment cases, etc.).

• Property damage reports.

• Environmental leaks or spill reports.

• Accident investigations.

• Accident and incident statistics.

• Dangerous occurrence reports.

• Defective equipment reports.

Q80. How do leading and lagging indicators work?

Leading indicators are recognised as one of the foundation stones of preventing reportable and recordable accidents and incidents in the workplace. The principle is simple: that the identification and correction of potential problems at an unsafe act, unsafe condition or near miss level before they can escalate will reduce the number of more serious accidents occurring. Think of the occurrence of a serious accident as a number of escalating events and circumstances happening one after another (similar to a row of dominos falling when the first one is knocked). If you can take corrective action on an unsafe act or condition (remove one or two early dominos), then you break the sequence of events and prevent a more serious accident occurring.

To get the full benefit of these indicators, your safety management system must have a well-defined and robust reporting, tracking and corrective action system in place.

  • [1] In the oil and gas exploration industry, the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (OGP) publishes annual industry-wide accident and incident statistics from data submitted by its members. Bear in mind that OGP member organisations' incident reporting is defined to match OGP requirements
 
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