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Research/studies | Safety culture | Performance measurement | Injury prevention

More research needed on leading indicators: report

October 30, 2013

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Toronto – Leading indicators can be used to help prevent an incident, but little research exists on which ones are actually effective, concludes a new report from the Institute for Work & Health.

In contrast to lagging indicators such as injury rates, leading indicators precede an incident. The IWH report, issued in October, states that some commonly used leading indicators – such as safety culture – are supported by inconclusive evidence. Defined as an organization’s shared values about safety, safety culture is hard to measure, the report states, and a review found “little consistent evidence” that it helps predict safety performance.

Results for safety climate – employees’ perceptions of safety – also were mixed. However, more evidence exists for the link between safety and health committees and safety performance, according to the report.

Additional issues raised in the report include whether to use a self-assessment or external audit to gather workplace data and how exactly to use indicators to prevent incidents.

To address the “knowledge gap,” IWH is working with four health and safety agencies to develop scientifically proven leading indicators and a model for benchmark data.