What are leading safety indicators and what part do they plan in organisational behaviour and safety culture?

What are leading safety indicators and what part do they plan in organisational behaviour and safety culture?

Organisational behaviour gives insight on how employees behave and perform in the workplace. It helps organisations develop an understanding of the aspects that can motivate employees, increase their performance, and help organisations establish a strong and trusting relationship with their employees.  Developing a strong safety culture in an organisation is an important organisational behaviour factor.

Organisations are very familiar with the term Key Performance Indicators such as lost time accidents, % absenteeism, lead times, environmental non-compliance level etc.  All of the aforementioned are commonly referred to as lagging indicators which are a measurable or observable variable that moves or changes direction after a change has occurred in a target variable of interest.

In recent years there has been a move away from reactive practices of safety policing and lagging safety indicators to a more proactive positive approach to safety. Consequently, we see a shift towards leading indicators such as % near misses, % presenteeism, % environmental near misses etc. These are proactive measures that measure prevention efforts and can be observed and recorded prior to an issue occurring.

In addition to these leading indicators, lots of organisation are now including key behavioural indices (KBI’S) to improve and progress their safety and organisational behaviour. KBI’S are a method of identifying and monitoring critical behaviour.

To explain the concept of KBI’S in a safety system setting here is a very simple example.  More often than not we see organisations recording root cause of work-related accidents as human error. So how do we define a KBI for this?

Here are two very simple examples for ease of understanding:

  1. Behaviour: Focus on the process
    Metric: No. of accidents where human error is recorded as root cause
    Goal: Reduce the human error root cause from 60% to 5%
  2. Behaviour: People recognition
    Metric: Number of thank emails per month
    Goal:  5 emails per month    

An organisation with an effective safety management system is one that manages leading indicators as a priority, while also managing lagging indicators as the reality is accidents do happen. Robust risk assessment processes and enterprise excellence programmes that focus on employee behaviours to drive ideal results are also now becoming an integral part of organisational culture and strategy.

Clause 9.1 ISO 45001 requires organisations to have a systematic approach for measuring and monitoring’s its OH&S management system performance. Antaris Consulting can help organisations develop and implement programmes that focus specifically on leading indicators and ideal behaviours as part of their overall safety management systems and which will compliment enterprise excellence and lean programmes.  Contact more information contact info@antarisconsulting.com.