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Leading and Lagging Indicators Examples Your Team Needs to Know

Posted by EHS Insight Resources on March 12, 2020 at 10:10 AM

As a safety professional, you already know that you can learn from data on previous safety incidents. What if we said you could also learn how to stop future incidents from happening?

We’re talking about leading and lagging indicators, and they’re all the difference between a safe, quiet day at the office and an incident that throws off your entire month.

The key is knowing what indicators to watch. Here are a few essential leading and lagging indicators examples your team needs to know.

Lagging Indicators

Lagging indicators are output-oriented, popular among management because they’re easy to measure. Unfortunately, they’re also harder to influence, since they consist of incidents that already occurred.

That said, lagging indicators do play a vital role in safety data and strategy. They allow you to identify a recurring pattern – and in safety, recognizing dangerous patterns means that you can stop them from continuing in the future.

Common examples of lagging indicators include:

  • Number of recordable incidents
  • Number of injuries
  • Workers' compensation costs
  • Lost workdays due to injury or illness
  • The incidence rate of injury or illness

Chances are you’re already familiar with few of them, as they’re popular safety metrics for EHS departments to track.

Leading Indicators

Leading indicators are easier to influence but harder to track. That’s because you can’t simply collect the data – you have to put processes in place in order to recognize a leading indicator when it arises.

Leading indicators measure the events leading up to a safety incident, providing advance warning so that preventive measures can be taken before anyone gets hurt. Basically, leading indicators are an investment in your future safety.

What Your Team Needs to Track

Leading indicators get a lot of attention in the safety field (and lagging indicators get a lot of bad press) but the truth is that lagging indicators are just as important as leading indicators.

The truth is that you cannot prevent every possible safety incident, despite your best efforts otherwise. Knowing this, it’s vital that you have processes in place to measure incidents and understand how they happened. That way, you can recognize where you failed and prevent a similar failure in the future.

Plus, lagging indicators help you to recognize whether your leading indicators are working, as you should have more positive lagging indicators as a result of successful leading indicators. In other words, your safety program needs a balance of both types of indicators in order to see the big picture.

Putting Leading and Lagging Indicators Examples in Action

It’s one thing to know leading and lagging indicators examples and another thing entirely to turn them into real action to protect your workers. If you want to turn your data into results, we’re here to help you get there.

Our safety software is designed for teams like yours – teams that believe technology should be a tool for your success, not another obstacle in the way of a safer work environment.

Ready to leverage your indicators? We’re ready to help. Click here to get in touch and find out how we can help strengthen your program today.

Topics: Performance Improvement, Workplace Health and Safety, Incident Management, Safety Management, Safety Culture, Safety Metrics

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