Why Track Leading Indicators?


Why Track Leading Indicators?

Based on the BCMC 2016 Educational Session
"Surviving Slivers, Slashes & Strains:
Training & Maintaining Production Safety"
Mike Boswell—production manager of Plum Building Systems—and Chris Lambert—a general manager with Builders FirstSource—both understand how critical it is to cultivate a safety culture that empowers their employees. One way they accomplish this goal is by proactively measuring the success of their safety programs with the often underutilized practice of near-miss reporting.  


Safety managers have, historically, focused on lagging indicators like OSHA recordables, lost days and workers compensation claims to evaluate their programs’ overall effectiveness. Unfortunately, these traditional safety metrics are reactive, bottom-line numbers that can only provide after-the-fact information. They are past accident statistics that are not focused on prevention.

At California TrusFrame (CTF) in Perris, California, Director of Environmental Health, Safety and Security Jason Ward focuses on leading indicators like “employee training, safety assessments and audits, and a near-miss reporting program.” Performance-focused benchmarks allow Ward’s safety team to “track improvement and force proactive behavior” instead of fixating on failure-based information. A near-miss reporting program, Ward explained, helps the CTF team be “predictive and track impact versus intention.”


“When our company leadership addresses and resolves near-misses quickly,” said Ward, “it creates buy-in from the employees because they can see that we’re responding in a timely manner.” Everyone is encouraged to participate, from the engineering office staff to the yard crew; anyone in the facility can fill out a near-miss card. At the end of the month, one card is selected at random and the person who submitted the report is rewarded. In addition, when an employee catches a really important near-miss, Ward said he often offers a reward on the spot, anything from company logowear to gift cards.

Implementing a near-miss program is an easy first step toward a proactive safety culture. All you need is a form to collect the location, date, time and description of the incident. You can also consider incentives to encourage reporting and recognize employees who participate. “If near-misses are dealt with and a solution is implemented quickly, they are the easiest things to use as a guide for how your [safety] program is working,” Ward concluded. 

Learn more about SBCA’s Operation Safety program. See attachments below to take a closer look at the CTF near-miss report form, download a form you can use in your plant or review the BCMC handouts from this session.