Leading indicators

We’re working with the University of Manchester and the construction industry to provide the evidence base for using ‘leading indicators’ in preventing harm at work.

Leading indicators are the positive steps – like training and communications – that can help prevent harm from happening. The health and safety community has long believed that leading indicators are just as important as monitoring and learning from ‘lagging indicators’ like accident frequency rates. It’s more difficult to prove this, however. When someone doesn’t fall from a height or trip over a cable, there’s nothing to measure.

Our project is combining the construction industry’s experience with sophisticated software tools to show that positive interventions really do save lives.

Safety has come a long way through industry being open about what goes wrong and learning lessons from accidents and incidents. Yet every year on building sites in the UK:

  • 40 people die
  • 61,000 injuries happen
  • 2.1 million working days – and £1.2billion - are lost.

We need to prevent things going wrong in the first place.

If we could reduce these metrics by just 5% through the use of proactive risk management, it would:

  • Save two lives every year
  • Prevent over 3,000 serious injuries and over 100,000 lost workdays
  • Save the UK economy around £50 million.

Click here to read more on this project

Watch our ‘Leading Indicators’ Technical Showcase video on YouTube for more information.

How to get involved

If you’d like to be part of this drive for more proactive safety, contact discoveringsafety@hse.gov.uk.

Collaborate with us to gain unique insights, build new relationships, take the opportunity to contribute ideas and shape the industry, join a like-minded community, hear about new data analytic techniques and learn how they can positively impact your business and improve health and safety.

Data-sharing: we aim to develop a rich and diverse data pool with varied sources.  We have developed tools to enable safe, secure and anonymised data-sharing. You can contribute your data to the programme.

Industry endorsement: we want to solve real problems, which is why industry involvement and endorsement is key. The first phase of the programme involved extensive industry consultation to shape the projects. It is critical that industry remains involved and continues to influence and shape our work.

New ideas: innovation is essential to Discovering Safety and we welcome new ideas for projects, topics or tools.

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Key benefits

This project will deliver tangible health and safety benefits by showing contractors the evidence for more proactive safety management and monitoring. This will give them:

  • Real-time measures of health and safety performance
  • Measures directly linked to agreed actions – for example, targeted inspections of identified risk hotspots
  • Further progress on preventing incidents and accident – by intervening before risky behaviours ever occur.