When you think of successful companies, what attributes do they have in common? No matter what list you draft, you'll likely find one thing that applies across the board: a strong safety culture.

Successful companies continuously work to improve safety standards by paying attention to the data at their disposal. Using a variety of key performance indicators (KPIs) to track specific goals, they have learned the value of regularly analyzing the data they collect to enhance their safety programs.

Key Performance Indicators

KPIs are either classified as lagging indicators or leading indicators, depending on the type of data they provide. Lagging indicators track past incidents and can help locate the source of a problem. But who wants to wait until an incident has already occurred to react? Increasingly, safety professionals are recognizing the importance of leading indicators. These indicators are predictive in nature and allow companies to address potential issues and prevent incidents from ever occurring.

With so much data available, it can be hard to figure out which metrics are worth paying attention to. With that in mind, here are five indicators that will help you achieve stellar safety outcomes.

Near Misses

Tracking near miss incidents will allow your safety team to identify potential issues before they become real problems. Collecting and analyzing data on incidents that could have happened or almost happened is one of the best steps you can take to keep them from happening in the future.

Tracking near miss incidents effectively involves participation from every employee. Creating a fast, easy, non-punitive system for reporting near misses is crucial to getting helpful safety data and ensuring the safety of your team. On top of that, encouraging your employees to observe and report these close calls will boost the safety culture in your workplace.

Health and Safety Audits and Inspections

Routinely auditing your work processes and ensuring employees conduct inspections before starting a job is critical. You should be tracking the number of audits and inspections that are completed across your job sites on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. Keeping tabs on when inspections are completed and by who will help you answer questions later on in the event safety performance declines at one of your locations.

Employee Training

Your company already has a training program in place, but are you measuring its effectiveness? Evaluating the outcomes of your training can reveal what aspects of it are most effective and where there are any shortcomings.

Comparing pre-training and post-training safety performance can reveal whether the training has achieved the outcome you hoped it would. If you don't see a lot of improvement in relevant safety outcomes after particular training sessions, you might want to re-evaluate how you approach them and consider what you can do to make them more effective.

Keeping tabs on the training outcomes can also help you fine-tune your refresher training schedule. Having refresher courses every year is a good rule of thumb, but if your data reveals that your incident rate starts to climb about eight months after a training session, consider switching to bi-annual refreshers.

Also, it’s important to keep track of your employees’ training certificates. Do your workers have valid training certificates or are they on the verge of expiring? Proactively tracking the number of valid certificates across your team helps ensure everyone is always up to date on the latest training courses.

Employee Engagement and Participation

Employee engagement is about more than job satisfaction; it's about involvement and participation in your health and safety program. This doesn't just translate to higher employee retention rates, but also improved productivity, lower costs, and greater buy-in for safety initiatives and procedures (see The Importance of Employee Engagement and Its Impact on Your Bottom Line to find out more).

It's important to build a safety culture that promotes active participation in your safety program, at all levels of your organization. Some key things to track when thinking about employee participation are number of meetings attended, number of inspections submitted, and number of training courses completed.

Corrective Action

Lastly, EHS departments should be tracking the number of corrective actions that are assigned, completed and outstanding each month. Having this level of visibility into your safety program can help you go from insight to action quickly. If you notice there are a number of outstanding items due to be completed by a particular employee or at a specific site, you can then intervene to ensure potential hazards are addressed before they become critical.

Be Proactive

Any time your workers are on the clock, your company is producing data. But it can't be used unless it's tracked. Not measuring these key performance indicators is allowing valuable data to go to waste. But by analyzing these metrics and putting the data to use, you can achieve safety outcomes you once thought were out of your reach.

To learn how to track the metrics mentioned in this article and improve safety performance, register for our upcoming webinar: How to Build a Stronger Safety Culture with Solid Reporting.