Safety Leadership Spotlight | How to Use Leading Indicators to Benchmark Your Safety Program

On March 31, 2017, I sat down with EHSQ Community member Faustino Martinez, a V.P of EHS, to hear his thoughts on how using leading indicators in EHSQ is transforming workplace safety in business.

In several of our recent community open discussions we have been learning from our members the Leading Indicators they are using to benchmark their safety data, such as near misses, and unsafe conditions.

During our interview conversation, Faustino shared his view that part of the key to success is identifying the right leading indicators that will strengthen your own organization’s management system. He stated to look at it like an “iceberg”. Often we only see 10% of what is happening when we look at lagging indicators. It is really the last minute view which means you have no opportunity to gain actionable proactive insights.

In his experiences, the secret to preventing incidents and accidents is to work on the basics. With leading indicators you can use these insights, and be strategic about what actions to take before events occur.

Our member shared he and his team:

  1. Focus on ensuring the daily behaviors of their workers is safe.
  2. Ensure their managers are speaking to people in the field, and are using safety act indexes, overdue acts, and creating a safety climate to encourage self-adjust by the work team, and
  3. Continually adjust their safety needs to the current workplace situation.

Faustino points out that through observing small engagements, you can fine tune to your organizational needs.

During our conversation Faustino and I discussed different ways to collect our safety data. He pointed out the best approach to gather data will depend on your type of organization; is it a global team that does not see each other face-to-face, or an intimate group who work every day together. It is important to drive your efforts based on your organizational needs. Keeping in mind you cannot use the same approaches and processes in all organizations.

Faustino shared two main approaches for our members to consider:

Small Teams: who are working together, try using simple forms, and panels. Ensure information is available and visible for everyone to access. It is important to ensure everyone can participate and get involved. Try to keep it simple and make sure your messaging encourages all workers to engage.

Larger Teams: Consider using an electronic system to record data, training, outages, processes, HAZOPs analysis and etc. It is important with a large team to make these processes interactive. In this model you can build out a variety of leading indicators and then pair it down to select the ones that will help to improve safety in their area of the organization specifically. He suggested to consider using your organization’s social media networks to help make information available to all employees. Keeping in mind the need to manage all communication, and keeping discussions respectful to build and retain trust with your workforce.

Faustino stressed the importance of transparency, engagement, ensuring communication and information is open to everyone, and is reliable.

He believes through interaction and engagement we can break down silos and create a culture that will encourage respectful discussions to drive continuous improvement. However, trust is a basic component. We need to manage our communications so we maintain our teams trust.

We moved into the topic of bench-marking of our safety program efforts. He shared we often focus on using bench-marking to look at what are we doing well, and where can improve, which is basic. He pushes his team to be open to observe for “the need for change”, and have the willingness to create the needed change. He has learned using your bench-marking in this manner can bring to your attention areas you may want to consider that would benefit various stakeholders within the company, but you have not thought of before.

His teams uses both internal and external resources for bench-marking purposes. Examples of internal resources would be audits, safety meeting minutes and other internal documents and conversations. Whereas, they have found finding reliable and rich external resources can be more challenging. Faustino believes external data for bench-marking is important because it brings you knowledge about what others are doing, pushing you to look at where you can create change, or make improves, in areas you did not think about previously. He suggests you can look at government, and industry associations for these type of bench-marking data.

In conclusion, Faustino shares it is important the information sharing is transparent, to ensure we bring all stakeholders together. It is about creating trust that we are sharing the collected knowledge to all areas and people of the business. The objective being to build value from the information collected to help improve, and encourage change that will increase safety outcomes and practices in the field. It is about ensuring we are proactively strengthening our businesses safety.

Our professional objectives should be to bring value to the business, and engage in changes that will proactively impacts our operational safety, not just create a report for the stockholders or compliance.


Please fill out our community survey below, so we can learn how many readers engage in bench-marking their safety programs.




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