The next version of Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s annual voluntary guidance cataloging measures for improving safety and health in the workplace may include insights from the public. For the first time ever, OSHA wants assistance from the public to identify the “leading indicators.”
At the October National Safety Council Congress, Andrew Levinson, deputy director of OSHA’s standards and guidance division, said that the goal is to compile a catalog of indicators from which to develop a final report. The preliminary report is expected in early 2017, OSHA said, and the final report will be released later in the year.
An OSHA spokeswoman said the agency, through the Campaign for Safety and Health Programs initiative, is asking business groups and safety and health professionals to help spread the word. The Campaign encourages companies to voluntarily create a safety and health program using OSHA or other program recommendations appropriate to their businesses. OSHA released Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs as part of the Campaign.
An example of a leading indicator is the percentage of new employees who receive safety training before working in the field. Safety training programs, ergonomic solutions, safety audits, and employee surveys are other examples.
Organizations such as the National Safety Council have argued for “leading indicators” (rather than “lagging indicators” or “trailing indicators”) measuring injuries and safety and health exposures that have already occurred, such as injury and illness rates.
The debate has centered around the idea that “lagging indicators” of safety performance document injuries, accidents, and deaths, but “leading indicators” provide guidance on how to prevent and control workplace injury and fatality.