Leading Indicators & Trends to Predict Health Injuries and Environmental Incidents

Dr.Vince Marchesani

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A wise person once said, “If you cannot measure it don’t do it.” The justification for this statement … If you cannot measure it you will not know if you are making progress, nor will you know when you have completed the work effort.

Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) measurement vary in type and accuracy. The OSHA Total Recordable Rate (TRR) tends to be used globally and permits CEO’s a quick looks at company safety performance. The TRR while providing information does not provide a complete look at safety performance. As an example: my CEO once said to me, “Our TRR is excellent and I am very pleased; however, please explain to me why we had 2 fatalities in plants this year.” The measurement for health is typically OSHA work related illnesses and for the environment typically spills, upsets and releases are measured. 

What is not typically measure are near misses, unsafe acts and unsafe conditions (leading Indicators); and if they are measured they are not used except for providing numbers on a paper. A great opportunity is being missed for using these leading indicators to predict injuries and incidents. I strongly recommend this webinar to hear about and learn to use a, “Ground breaking idea” that will permit to predict injuries and incidents before they occur. 

Why Should You Attend: 

Chances are that if you direct, manage or do hands on work in the EHS field you are familiar with what has been identified in the background text above.  To be more specific I am certain you are knowledgeable with what I call the, “Safety Cycle.” The cycle plays out as follows:

  • Safety performance is good to excellent. You are meeting your TRR goals and expect to achieve your year end not to exceed targets for EHS.
  • You observe a small change in EHS performance such as  more spills than expected, an unexpected increase in the number of injuries and reported worker on the job illnesses.
  • You respond by trying to modify sections of your EHS efforts to improve performance.
  • You make some changes e.g. targeted training in areas where the injuries have occurred.
  • After a period of time your realize your efforts are not working and you look to replace the program with something, “Fresh” to bring back enthusiasm among the employees, and you purchase a new safety program, train the people and wait to see improvement. 
  • If things improve all is well. However, people are getting injured while you wait for the results of the new program. 
  • Once you are back on track EHS performance is good to excellent, all is well, and the cycle continues

If you have had this experience and want to stop this cycle, and I am sure you do, then this webinar is for you. 

Description of Topic: 

The use of leading indicators in safety management and the predicting of safety performance continues to gain traction. While this is true, issues have arisen around topics such as:

  • What exactly is a leading indicator?
  • How does one collect such data?
  • Who collects to such data?
  • Where is such data collected?
  • When should such data be collected?

In addressing the above questions one must keep in mind that the quality of the data collected will determine the accuracy and the acceptability of the results forthcoming from the data.

This paper will not address the use of leading indicators in the managing of safety and the predicting a safety performance. These are subjects for another paper, which is attached. This paper will focus on the importance and how to collect quality leading indicator data.

What exactly is a leading indicator?

This question has been debated for number of years. Leading indicators are collected information from which direction is given for possible future action. Examples of some common leading indicators include the following:

  • Barometric pressure is a leading indicator that permits the weather man or woman to give guidance concerning the action of taking an umbrella to work the next morning
  • Hi blood pressure and body temperature are leading indicators of health issues.

When considering safety some common leading indicators include:

  • Near Misses
  • Unsafe conditions
  • Unsafe acts
  • Job safety operations and analysis
  • Attendance at safety meetings
  • Many others

How does one collect such data?

Many companies have experience difficulties and collecting leading indicator safety data. There is often reluctance on the part of workers to share information. Employees will state, ” This is not part of my job, and I’m not being paid to provide this information.”  While management can mandate the reporting of leading indicators, all too often this results in low quality data.

There is also fear associated with a plant employee collecting and reporting leading indicator data. The fear is real and is associated with identifying actions of the reporting employee or other associates that can be identified as unsafe. The fear is that they; or their fellow employee, will be disciplined or perhaps fired for an unsafe act once reported. For a leading indicator program to be effective those collecting and reporting leading indicator information must be assured of a no blame culture; therefore, no discipline for those reporting leading indicators and, for those who experienced the leading indicator incident.

A no blame culture can and will be effective; but it will take time to implement, and for a level of trust to be developed between management and those reporting leading indicators.

Many companies have introduced incentive programs where those who report leading indicators are rewarded. Some companies have introduced team competitions where the team that reports the larger number of leading indicators is provided a reward such as a dinner. Again this often results in poor quality information as a result of the reporting of leading indicators that did not happen so as to raise the number of leading indicator reports provided.  In addition incentive programs tend to be short-lived and have minimal long-term effectiveness.

For the program to be effective the collecting and reporting of leading indicator safety information must be simple to gather and easy to report. Most important the data must be reported anonymously. This is the first step in a no blame culture. Some companies have used paper forms others 800 calling numbers and others more sophisticated computer based reporting and spreadsheets.

The collecting and reporting of leading indicator data is important to changing the thinking that someone must be hurt before corrective measures may be taken. The leading indicator information provides the same information that lagging indicator information provides with one major difference. With the collecting of leading indicator data no one was hurt.

A way to ensure program effectiveness is to have it owned and managed by the employees. This can work and improve the trust level between management and the workers. No one wants to fail at anything and this includes the workers. The employees working together will provide plant-leading indicators anonymously to company EHS personnel.  Keep in mind that the leading indicator program is design to improve safety performance and as a result reduce injuries. The hourly employees are looking for just that outcome. They will work to make the program successful. 

Areas Covered in the Session:

The Heinrich Safety Pyramid

  •  Lagging Indicators
  •  Leading Indicators
  • The use of a Matrix to identify the probability, severity and type of injury or events
  • The compiling of data to determine the risk of injury or of an environmental or health related event
  • The predicting of injuries of health and environmental events
  • Possible solutions to prevent injuries/events and no one was injured
  •  He prevention of injuries and events and cost savings

Who will Benefit:

  • Plant personal working in the Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) field.
  • EHS and other Managers, e.g. plant managers
  • Directors and VPs of EHS 

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Speaker: Dr.Vince Marchesani, President and CEO of Environmental, Health and Safety I

Dr. Vince Marchesani is the President and CEO of Environmental, Health and Safety International LLC. Vince Marchesani has held the position of VP, Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) at Basell (retired). He has 30+ years of profound experience in chemical industry and has worked for 11 years in government writing environmental regulations. His educational qualifications include BS and MS degrees from Drexel University and PhD degree from Rutgers University. 

Dr. Marchesani holds 5 copyrights in the area of EHS management. Dr. Marchesani apart from developing EHS performance improvement and crisis management systems has also published numerous papers on EHS topics and co-authored book on air pollution management. Of late he has published a book titled, "The Fundamentals of Crisis Management." 

Being a multi-talented professional Vince Marchesani has chaired numerous committees at the American Chemistry Council, and the Society for Plastic Industries in Washington DC and has been instrumental in the design and implementation of EHS governance, management and leadership systems. 

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