Reduce injuries with leading indicators

Nov 15, 2017

warehouse statsYour injury frequency, severity rates and the impact on your workplace tell you that your health and safety program needs a boost. But do you know where to focus your efforts for maximum impact? Leading indicators will help you identify gaps and get your health and safety program where you want it to be.

"Leading indicators measure the success rate of your current OHS activities and are predictive, giving you the ability to adjust your program and practices to prevent future injuries," says WSPS Warehouse Consultant and Key Account Manager Jennifer MacFarlane. "When used together, lagging and leading indicators give a fuller picture of your overall OHS performance, and show you where you should be investing your time and money."

Lagging vs. leading

Lagging indicators look at what's already happened. They include such statistics as lost time, medical aid, workers compensation claims, near misses, and injury frequency and severity rates. This type of data reflects only the consequence of an unsafe workplace and provides little insight into the root causes.

Leading indicators are forward looking. They focus on measuring steps and processes designed to prevent an injury or loss from happening in the first place. A leading indicator might measure the time taken to close open items identified in a monthly inspection. Or what percentage of workers have received training on a new piece of equipment. "There should be a link between a leading indicator and a reduction of injuries," says Jennifer.

Indicators working together

Jennifer gives examples of how lagging and leading indicators can be used in tandem:

  • If your lagging indicators show incidents occurring on your loading docks, your leading indicators could be the number of workplace inspections completed at the beginning of peak shifts? Or a verification of how often drivers follow safety rules, such as chocking the trucks, and wearing safety glasses and vest.
  • If your statistics show a high number of ankle injuries among pallet truck drivers, consider focusing on reducing improper use of the pallet jack. Your leading indicators could measure how often the supervisor delivers a safety talk on how to move awkward loads with the pallet truck.

The information you glean from leading indicators can help you determine what corrective actions to take.

Get management onside

"Some additional work and effort is necessary when you use leading indicators, but the ultimate benefits are worth it if you can reduce injuries and loss," says Jennifer. "Make a business case for using leading indicators. This especially works well if the business has high injury frequency and severity rates. Instead of being reactive, be proactive."

How we can help

  • WSPS Consultants can show you how leading indicators in your workplace can help reduce injuries and loss. Speak to a consultant today: 1-877-494-WSPS (9777).
  • Check out WSPS' extensive range of warehouse safety resources, including free downloads, online videos, training courses, and more.
  • Join WSPS' 2018 Safety Group, where you can work with other member firms to strengthen your health and safety program, achieve better results, and qualify for WSIB rebates.

Watch for information on WSPS' 2018 Warehouse Safety Conference, taking place February 21 in Mississauga.