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Safety: Understand Your Leading Indicators

safety meeting

Managers and leaders in the industrial space all want to keep their safety records clean and 5 starred, yet most companies have no system in place that measures how their current safety system is performing so that it can be improved.

Most facilities follow safety standards to the bare minimum. On paper, they’re meeting the right requirements.

But there’s a lot more facilities can do to put the safety of their employees first, and understanding leading and lagging indicators around safety is a good place to start.

These are the same indicators we use at Innovator that has led us into our 9th year with a TRIR of zero.


Leading And Lagging Indicators Of Safety

Lagging indicators are the results of leading indicators. If your lagging indicators such as safety incidents or WCB claims are high, the only way to fix them is to look at the leading indicators that come before them.

Leading indicators are the actions you can take to ensure you are getting the results you want(which are the lagging indicators), and so the solution will always lie here.

If you’re having too many safety incidents, you might need more toolbox talks. If rules are getting broken around safety practices, which can lead to injuries, more safety walks from management could be required.

When a lagging indicator is not where you want it to be, the solution is to establish new leading indicators or improve the old ones so that you can move the needle on the lagging indicator to prevent injuries and keep workers safe.

Here are some examples of leading and lagging indicators that can drive an effective safety program:


Leading IndicatorsLagging Indicators
Completed Management Safety WalksLife-Saving Rule Violations
Completed Site InspectionsTotal Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR)
Toolbox TalksSafe Workdays
Safety MeetingsWorkers’ Compensation Board (WCB) Claims
Behavioral-Based ObservationsEnvironmental Noncompliances
Near-Miss and Hazard IdentificationsLost Time Injury Frequency (LTIF)
Delivered Health, Safety, Security, and Environment (HSSE) Training




To maintain zero injuries, weekly data is taken on all leading and lagging indicators. This data helps us see if there’s a correlation between a leading indicator and its ability to reduce injuries.

If improving on a leading indicator does not improve the lagging indicator, then the leading indicator needs to change. If you’re doubling down on identifying hazards and near misses, yet no reduction in injury is being reported, then another action needs to be taken.

It doesn’t mean you stop hazard identification, but if injury frequency isn’t dropping, the leading indicator isn’t solving the problem with the lagging indicator.

You still aren’t getting the results that drive worker safety. Establish new or tweak the current leading indicators and see if these new actions are reducing injuries.

If so, you’ve got yourself a good leading indicator and it will help keep workers safe.


Making company-wide changes

At Innovator, all employees are expected to participate fully in the safety program, driving the safety vision through the company and ensuring clients know that they can expect zero injuries at their facilities.

These leading and lagging indicators have been essential in our Impact Safety system that has kept injuries at zero for the past 9 years.

It’s not just business, either. After several incidents on a project almost a decade ago, the safety system still used today at Innovator was developed.

It’s part of our number one Core Value, Family First, because workers should be able to safely return home to their families each and every night.

If your safety program is not performing the way you’d like it to – if you are still seeing more injuries and incidents – if more lives are being permanently affected than you’d like, look at your leading indicators.

What are you or your team doing to make sure that each project sees zero injuries?



Whenever you’re ready, here are a few ways we can help:


1. We believe work is family. And it should be a place where an employee can feel supported when times get tough.
Read about a value we take seriously at Innovator: Family First. Click here.

2. Safety is a game that many workers and contractors don’t know how to win. 
Learn how tracking safety data keeps employees safe. Click here.

3. BJ Fogg, one of my coaches, teaches on how to develop life improving habits that are easy to implement.
Discover a summary of the formula he invented and gain full control of your habits. Click here.

4. Get your free book and blueprint for running a turnaround with 50% less crew while achieving zero injuries.
Check out the Turnaround Optimizer Process. Click here.


Safety Is A Team Sport

Safety Is A Team Sport

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