Enhancing Workplace Safety with Leading Indicators

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Summary:

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) emphasizes the importance of leading indicators in improving workplace safety and health. Leading indicators are proactive and preventive measures that provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of safety programs. While lagging indicators assess past events, leading indicators help identify and mitigate risks before they result in injuries or illnesses. OSHA has been actively promoting the use of leading indicators and has published guidance on their implementation. They are now focused on educating businesses of all sizes about the benefits of leading indicators and developing a resource to assist small- and medium-sized employers in integrating them into their safety programs. Stakeholders are encouraged to participate by sharing their insights and comments to contribute to the development of this resource and foster safer work environments nationwide.

Introduction:

Ensuring a safe and healthy workplace is crucial for any organization. Just as squeaking brakes indicate the need for inspection, identifying leading indicators can help assess risks and eliminate hazards. At the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), our mission is to prioritize workers’ safety and well-being. To achieve this, we recognize the power of leading indicators in improving safety and health management.

Understanding Leading Indicators:

Leading indicators are proactive and preventive measures that offer valuable insights into the effectiveness of safety and health programs. They go beyond compliance by helping employers identify and address potential risks before incidents occur. Examples include employee participation in safety meetings, their contributions to hazard identification, and timely vehicle maintenance.

The Importance of Leading Indicators:

While lagging indicators, such as injury rates, provide retrospective evaluations of safety effectiveness, leading indicators focus on prevention and allow employers to address yet-to-be-identified hazards. However, many small and medium-sized employers struggle to identify the right leading indicators for their organizations.

OSHA’s Efforts:

In 2019, OSHA organized a public meeting to gather feedback on leading indicators. Building on this, we published guidance on “Using Leading Indicators to Improve Safety and Health Outcomes” to educate employers about their significance. Now, we aim to further educate businesses of all sizes about the benefits of leading indicators and their integration into safety and health programs.

Creating a Leading Indicators Resource:

With input from stakeholders, OSHA is developing an inclusive resource specifically tailored for small- and medium-sized employers. This resource will provide knowledge and tools to effectively incorporate leading indicators into their safety and health programs. Our goal is to empower businesses of all sizes to prioritize worker safety, ensuring that every employee returns home safely at the end of the day.

Join the Conversation:

OSHA invites employers, workers, and safety professionals to contribute to the development of the leading indicators resource by submitting their comments and insights through the Federal eRulemaking Portal by July 17, 2023. Active participation from stakeholders will help shape the future of workplace safety and foster safer environments nationwide.

Source: https://blog.dol.gov/2023/06/12/tracking-leading-indicators-to-prevent-injury-and-illness