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Monitoring safety process performance with leading indicator safety audits.

Van Bibber AM
Athens, OH: Ohio University, 2015 Aug; :1-149
Safety professionals are constantly striving to improve safety in the workplace and achieve the ultimate zero incident goal. Easy fixes and implementations are the first lines of attempt to work towards that goal. Over time, greater commitments and investments into continuous improvement will be necessary to maintain a higher level of performance and expectations within a safety program. Lagging indicators have long been used in safety as a measure of success. These indicators provide cost data and information about an injury or illness after it has occurred. However, this information can only provide knowledge of the effects or evidence of an injury. Leading indicators are specific items that can potentially explain or predict the possibility of a future incident. General research and information on leading indicators has been seen in occupational safety and health research in the past decade, with case studies only starting to appear within the last five years. The object of this study was to develop safety audits around leading indicators selected from past incident reports and monitor the performance of the key indicators selected at two dining halls at a large Midwestern university. Risk awareness assessments were distributed to full-time staff to study personal perceptions of risks in the work environment. Additionally, toolbox talks were conducted at staff meetings in an attempt to connect safety processes to personal perceptions of risk. Results indicated a statistically significant difference in the safety process performance between the two dining halls. Data from the safety audits were plotted on I-MR control charts. Control charts indicated out of control points for certain indicators in areas of the dining halls, which can demonstrate the increased risk of injury. Patterns in the control charts across multiple areas in one dining hall revealed an inventory control issue. The second dining hall experienced a safety behavior issue that was confirmed with information from the risk awareness assessments, but was not able to be monitored with the safety audits. This finding suggests the need for a lasting relationship with employees also, as safety audits may not be as successful with capturing safety-related behaviors.
Safety; Safety practices; Safety measures; Workers; Work environment; Safety programs; Injuries; Exposure levels; Risk factors; Behavior
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Monitoring safety process performance with leading indicator safety audits
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Ohio University, Athens
Page last reviewed: May 11, 2023
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division