Using Leading Indicators in a Safety Program
Leading rather than reacting in your organizational safety program
Every safety professional strives to avoid incidents before they happen. Such efforts takes many forms – additional PPE, revised procedures, new management tools, etc. Safety Leading Indicators are an effective management tool in helping to prevent such accidents before the occur. So why doesn’t every safety organization focus on leading indicators? Well, it’s often overwhelming to figure out where to begin.
- What do I track?
- How do I manage the data?
Starting is often to most difficult part.
While every company and situation are different, here’s a couple of thoughts for creating your first leading indicators:
- Start Small. You don’t have to track 50 leading indicators. In fact, most successful programs are able to track a couple of indicators that are highly correlated to incidents. So figure out a couple that make sense for your organization and start your program. It’s not about being perfect…it’s about continuous improvement and getting better.
- Validate your indicators. It’s important to pick indicators that correlate to safety risk. Review your past safety incidents and find some commonality. Was safety training out-of-date? Were daily inspections missed? Most safety managers have a gut-feel for these initial indicators and where to start.
- Leverage Technology. Managing and analyzing data are critical parts in a leading indicator program. You can attempt these steps with paper inspection reports and excel spreadsheets, but the data management can quickly become unmanageable. Thankfully, safety managers can leverage the benefits of safety management software programs like Sospes. These safety management platforms collect, organize, and report the data without the manual process. Leverage the tools that are available.
Deciding what to track can be overwhelming, so here’s a couple of suggestions to consider. You may decide on other indicators, but use these to get the conversation started.
- Employee Engagement. Are employees active or passive participants in the safety culture? Do some departments lag in the number of suggestion or in training participation? If so, this could be a department with a higher likelihood of a safety incident. Here’s some more information on the relationship between engagement and safety: https://www.ehstoday.com/safety/how-engaged-workers-are-safe-employees
- Equipment Maintenance. Are PM or requested work orders late or incomplete in certain areas? If so, this could indicate an area with a higher likelihood of an equipment based injury. Here’s some more information on the relationship between maintenance and safety: https://www.manufacturing.net/article/2016/12/predictive-maintenance-marrying-safety-productivity
- Cleanliness and Upkeep. Is the work area clean and well-kept? If not, this could indicate a lax attention to process and the work environment. This area could have a higher likelihood of a future accident. https://www.cleanlink.com/cleanlinkminute/details.aspx?id=56657
- Employee Training & Knowledge. Are employees knowledgeable on safety procedures, incident response, and first-responder assistance? If managers don’t place an importance on safety knowledge, then it’s likely that safety is not part of the culture. This area or department could have a higher likelihood of a safety incident and lacking response.
- PPE Compliance. Are employees religious about wearing the required PPE? If managers and their staff don’t put PPE use as a priority, then safety probably isn’t part of the daily routine.
The list above provides a small set of possible leading indicators. Spend some time thinking about your own situation. Some data will probably be available already. The collection of new data may require a cadence of spot-check inspections, surveys, and data pulls by the safety staff or employees. Either way, the time spent preventing incidents through leading indicators will be well worth it.
Sospes can help make leading indicator management more effective and efficient. Contact a Sospes Safety Expert at the link below for a free, no obligation, consultation.
Digital Transformation for Safety Management Operations
Many safety managers are hesitant to make the move from paper-based management to a digital software solution because they’re concerned with the cost, migration workload, and organizational acceptance of a software solution.
All valid concerns honestly.
While you may have many questions about whether digital transformation of your safety management is right for you, let’s start by addressing the most common concerns cited above:
Cost: Most often we can provide a comprehensive safety management platform for a few dollars a month per employee. For the price of a sandwich from the cafeteria vending machine, you can provide your organization and workers with the benefits of a digital management system. This is also likely to include overall cost savings once you consider the total cost of a paper-based or manual system. Many times, paper-based safety managers don’t consider such things as:
- Data Re-entry Costs
- Re-entry Errors Cost
- Data Organization Efforts
- Report Creation Workload
- Updating Requirements
By avoiding these costs, a digital safety management system provides even more direct value.
Migration Workload: Sospes has worked with both customers migrating to their first digital management platform and customers migrating from another safety software system. No matter the situation, we are well prepared to help with data transfer and process integration. The Sospes customer service team will provide the tools, expertise and collaborative team-effort to get you through the migration process in weeks. Our process is a lot different from other systems that require months upon months for implementation.
Organizational Acceptance: Sospes designs solutions with one goal in mind: It must be easy to use. Why focus on that one goal above all others? Well, if the product isn’t easy to use and intuitive for the beginner, then the product will not provide the maximum value. We’ve seen organizational participation increase over 500% as employees find real value in the Sospes Safety Management Solution.
What could this mean for you and your organization? Contact us below for a free, no obligation consultation to find out. Also, feel free to download our whitepaper (see below) on the benefits of changing from paper-based management to a digital solution.