Organisations that want to improve workplace health and safety should pay attention to data about OHS quality leading indicators.
OHS quality leading indicators represent data about the interventions and outcomes of health and safety programs. Observing data about leading indicators helps determine if injury prevention plans are effective. For example, is employee training making a difference and a leading indicator of decreased workplace injury and illness?
For organizations seeking to improve their health and safety programs, the Alberta government’s user’s guide discussing OHS quality leading and lagging indicators for workplace health and safety is worth reading. Lagging quality indicators measure negative OHS outcomes that have occurred such as workplace illness and injuries. Alternatively, leading quality indicators consider the performance of OHS interventions used to prevent injury or illness at work such as employee training or near miss reporting. Leading indicators “measure the presence of safety instead of the absence of injury” or lagging indicators.
The OHS quality leading indicators that an organization chooses to track depends on the state of the organization’s safety program. A business must gather data about its actual OHS program practices. Leading indicators to watch may include basic compliance to legislated safety requirements. Or, in more mature and highly developed workplace safety programs, the indicator may focus on more advanced themes such as strategies for excellence and safety innovation.
Monitoring both lagging and leading quality indicators allow an organization to evaluate the relationship between safety interventions and outcomes. By examining the data and trends over several years, it is possible to identify if the initiatives and OHS program’s quality leading indicators are truly resulting in decreased occupational injury and disease for employees.