When workers are injured on the job, an investigation typically follows. This is typically required in order to determine liability. That said, these investigations can also be useful as a means of collecting information to prevent future workplace accidents.
This reactive approach is common across many industries. However, it’s not ideal. Businesses should instead focus on taking a proactive approach.
Simply reacting to injuries is costly. As one work injury lawyer in Philadelphia points out, your company could be responsible for paying up to 500 weeks of compensation to an injured worker.
Ironically, a reactive approach will also stop yielding major benefits once it becomes somewhat effective. That’s because companies need to analyze key data points to understand what they can do to prevent workplace accidents. The fewer accidents occur, the fewer data points there are to assess.
That’s why the proactive approach is necessary. Through leading indicator safety data analytics, businesses can move away from the reactive model and more effectively keep their employees safe on the job. Recently, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University used this method todevelop models that can predict workplace accidents with accuracy levels of up to 97%.
To better understand why this approach is beneficial, though, it helps to learn more about why other methods fall short.
Why Lagging Indicators Don’t Help
Lagging indicators are simply the data a business learns from when it takes a reactive approach to workplace injury prevention. Relying on these alone can be costly.
For example statistics from the National Safety Council show that the average direct cost to a business when an employee sustains a back injury on the job is more than $10,000. Indirect costs can reach as much as $100,000. In other words, businesses can save a lot of money by focusing on indicators that help them prevent job related incidents in the first place.
The reactive approach may also have a negative impact on employee morale. Businesses that rely on lagging indicators essentially tell their workers that they’re not committed to keeping everyone safe from the start. Rather, they’ll learn how to prevent future injuries after an employee already suffers one.
These are smart reasons to focus on leading indicators instead. The following information outlines how you can shift to this approach.
Preventing Workplace Injuries with Leading Indicators
Using leading indicators to keep employees safe doesn’t need to be a complicated process. Even just doing regular safety inspections can go a long way towards reducing workplace injury rates. When a business regularly updates its workplace safety inspection data, it can more successfully identify which employees will be at a greater risk of injury. That means the business can implement additional safety measures to protect those parties.
Don’t rely solely on official safety inspectors to report potential issues at work sites. OSHA recommends encouraging all employees to take an active role in reporting hazards, safety violations, and related risk factors.
Obviously, some employees may be reluctant to do so if they believe a safety issue arose as a result of their direct actions. That’s why businesses should either allow for anonymous reporting, or focus on rewarding teams that report these issues honestly.
When employees and official inspectors are both involved in reporting safety hazards, businesses have even more leading indicators and data points to analyze. This boosts their ability to identify factors that contribute to workplace injuries. By proactively reporting and analyzing this data, your company will be much more likely to prevent accidents before they occur.