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Confirmed! 6 evidence-based leading indicators can predict H&S performance

Mar 03, 2016

evidence based indicatorsResearchers have identified six evidence-based leading indicators that can predict future health and safety performance - and help workplaces achieve maximum results. "Score well on these indicators and you should see it reflected in good performance in the future," explains Illia Tchernikov, WSPS program lead, OHS Research. "Score poorly and you should see an increase in injuries and illnesses."

"Evidence-based" means the link between these leading indicators and health and safety performance has been proven through science. In this case, the science has come from the Ontario Leading Indicators Project (OLIP), a study led by the Institute for Work & Health (IWH) in partnership with WSPS and other heath and safety associations.

Read on for more on OLIP and how to put these six leading indicators to work for you.

Finding "true" predictors

Launched in 2011, OLIP aims to identify organizational and management measures that can be used to improve health and safety performance before injuries and illnesses actually occur. IWH researchers integrated five recognized sets of questions measuring 17 specific concepts believed to influence performance, such as organizational policies and procedures, health and safety management systems, and safety climate. The aim of the researchers was to assess which of these 17 concepts assessed by these questions can predict future performance.

More than 2,000 firms in 10 different industry sectors participated, answering a total of 160 questions. Each firm subsequently received a customized report consisting of the 17 elements that the results suggested may be potential leading indicators. In addition to seeing how their company scored, each firm was able to benchmark their performance against similar participants and all other companies that were involved. "They were able to use this as a self-assessment, a gap analysis," says Tchernikov.

To confirm whether these elements could predict performance, researchers then compared the companies’ responses to their WSIB injury records. The results identified six elements that functioned as evidence-based leading indicators of health and safety performance.

One of these is the Organizational Performance Metric (OPM), a series of eight questions asking companies about the amount of time spent at firms on specific health and safety practices. With results in hand, the researchers created a scale of 1 to 5 that quantified time spent on each practice.

"We found that OPM was very predictive of future success," says Tchernikov. "It's to a point where we can accurately say if a company were to improve on the eight practices measured by OPM, it would likely see a 25% improvement in future health and safety performance. This measurement tool, which has since been adopted by several provinces, has been further validated as a robust leading indicator for injuries and illnesses."

Find out more at Partners in Prevention 2016

So what exactly did OPM measure, and what other elements appear to be predictive?

The big reveal will take place at the Partners in Prevention 2016 Health & Safety Conference & Trade Show session "Understanding Your Leading Indicators Marketplace," led by WSPS' Tchernikov and Dr. Benjamin Amick, a senior scientist for IWH.

In this practical session, you'll find out

  • what the six evidence-based leading indicators are and how they influence heath and safety
  • what you can measure inside your workplace based on the indicators
  • how you can interpret the information you captured
  • how you can use the information to improve your performance

You'll also hear about new tools being developed to help companies use leading indicators effectively, including an OPM game/app that gauges current performance and provides steps for improvement.

Leading research on display at Partners in Prevention 2016

As the OLIP study demonstrates, leading practices in health and safety often come from research. "Companies that have a pulse on research will set themselves up for success," says Tchernikov.

While at Partners in Prevention 2016, check out the Research Poster Display in the conference area, where you'll find posters on 30 leading projects that may have an impact on your workplace. Topics align with Ministry of Labour priorities, high hazard areas, and your concerns - vulnerable workers, small business, musculoskeletal disorders, occupational cancer, and more.

Researchers will be on hand during conference session breaks to answer your questions, and tell you how their research can be applied.

Find out more about Partners in Prevention 2016 Health & Safety Conference & Trade Show, taking place April 26-27 in Mississauga, ON. Super Early Bird rates expire March 29.