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Are You a Leader or a Lagger?

You want your business to be able to live up to the standards of What Good Looks Like, and one of the most important standards is your safety performance. There are a number of indicators that you should be monitoring in order to improve your organization’s safety standards. You need to not only recognize the importance of measuring safety indicators, but, more importantly, you need to be sure you’re measuring the right things.

It can be difficult to find the perfect measure for safety, but it’s not impossible. You need to be measuring a combination of lagging and leading indicators. What exactly does that mean? Here I’ll give you a brief overview of the two kinds of indicators and how they can help you improve your safety standards.


By definition, lagging indicators measure past performance, because they are indicators that lag behind the incidents or accidents that have already occurred. Examples include lost workdays and recordable injuries. Whilst these indicators are important, because they can provide information about the overall effectiveness of your safety protocol, measuring them alone will not tell you how well your company is preventing incidents and accidents.


These indicators measure the potential for an incident or accident that will happen in the future. Hazard and risk assessment audits, as well as near-miss reporting, are examples of leading indicators. These measures are proactive in nature and report what people are doing to prevent injuries, as opposed to lagging indicators, which are largely reactionary.

There is a definite shift by companies who are looking at safety excellence toward measuring leading indicators instead of lagging indicators. Remember, lagging indicators measure failure where leading indicators measure performance, which is what you want if you want to improve performance.

If you want to know where you stand, and find out more about leading indicators in your own organization, you can contact me  I can perform a safety health check on your business.