Leading indicators, a guide to success

Learn how to make better decisions for your safety program

Leading indicators, a guide to success
Download free white paper from eCompliance to optimize safety program.

What exactly are key performance indicators (KPIs)? And how can they help you and your management team to set realistic goals and enhance performance? These are questions that many organizations are facing in 2020.

These indicators are necessary in any industry – including occupational health and safety. It can be confusing for organizations to navigate, as there are different types of indicators, for example leading and lagging indicators…

So what exactly are leading indicators vs. lagging indicators? Lagging indicators can measure an organization’s current performance and current or long-term trends.

“Most safety professionals are used to the traditional lagging indicators (rear view mirror perspective) like injury rates, claims, etc. However, as important as these are, they don’t give us the fullest picture of what is in front of us (front windshield) and what to do about it.” Says Adrian Bartha, CEO of eCompliance.

“This paper introduces examples of leading indicators organizations can use to measure risk reduction.  It also includes a sample safety maturity program assessment using leading indicators. While no leading indicator is perfect, a small set of leading indicators that fit for your workforce, type of work and culture can not only better communicate the true level of risk, but help rally your workforce around behaviours you want to reinforce and focus on.” Says Bartha.

Leading indicators however focus on an organization’s future health and safety performance, and aim to push for continuous improvement. Leading indicators are proactive, whilst lagging indicators are simply reactive.

“One simple leading indicator may be the number of corrective or preventative actions (CAPA) opened vs. the number closed over a period of time relatively to previous period. In general, the level or growth of CAPA would show that risks are being flagged and that they are being closed.” Says Bartha. 

“The ratio between open/closed would show the velocity at which risk reduction is taking place. However, other aspects may be important to evaluate as well,” he says. “For example, how many supervisors created or completed a CAPA in the last month, to evaluate whether a broader section of the workforce is involved – vs. one person.”

Before coming up with a plan, organizations also need to understand their current level of maturity. This is where eCompliance’s leading indicators guide to success steps in. eCompliance has established three levels and has put together over 50 leading indicator ideas to match your organization’s level of safety program maturity.

Organizations also need to review their maturity levels, and review leading indicators, so as to keep them relevant to the company.

“2020 has thrown many of our businesses off and forcing us to recalibrate what success means and how to get there. In a year where health and safety has risen to the forefront and top priority topic for executives and owners it’s an opportunity to redefine how we measure progress in safety and risk reduction overall in our organizations.” Says Bartha. “Revisiting what indicators of performance we measure, evaluate and communicate is critical to a strong start in 2021. By setting the right expectations, right measure, and goal posts, we can be more effective as safety leaders and ensure this is understood up, down and across the organization.”

Find out more about key performance indicators, proactive safety measures to identify potential hazards and more by downloading this free white paper from leading cloud-based safety software solution provider, eCompliance.