Why leading indicators are better than lagging indicators

How to make safety systems that focus on prevention

Why leading indicators are better than lagging indicators

This article was produced in partnership with Cority.

The difference between a safety system focused on lagging indicators versus one centred around leading indicators can be the difference between life and death.  A perfect example of this is the tragedy of the Deepwater Horizon explosion that claimed the lives of 11 workers can caused the largest marine oil spill in history.

The offshore oil rig believed the injury rate was an accurate indicator of operational risk management.  But the whitepaper titled ‘Measuring Performance: A Guide to Health & Safety Leading Indicators’ explains how a lagging indicator only measures what has happened, and doesn’t account for what could happen, making it an unreliable tool for prevention.

“That’s why organizations need to think differently about safety success, and where it comes from. Safety success can (and should) no longer be defined as simply the absence of failure. It instead should be defined as the presence of capacity to detect and manage risk that can lead to failure. And that means we need new measures to evaluate that capacity,” states the whitepaper.

It explains in great detail the types of leading indicators that organizations can look at and measure, but they fall into three broad categories: Operations-based indicators, systems-based indicators, and behaviour-based indicators.

It’s one thing to know which indicators to look at, but the next step is where the magic happens. The whitepaper provides advice and useful information about how to measure those indicators in a meaningful way.

“While it’s important to ensure that metrics being developed are SMART [specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and time-based], leading indicators must also be meaningful and easy to understand by people across all levels of your organization. Understanding why the metrics matter is the first step to gathering support for their use, and more importantly, the collection of data to sustain them.”

The whitepaper goes on to say the leading indicators must be actionable while enabling workers to identify warning signs and take steps to mitigate the problems.

Learn more about leading indicators, measuring techniques and implementation strategies by downloading the whitepaper here.

“By selecting and implementing the right leading health & safety indicators, your organization can empower itself with data-driven insights that will lead to more sustainable performance and world-class safety cultures.”