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Leading indicators and Lagging Indicators of Process Safety

Leading indicators and Lagging Indicators of Process Safety
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What are the Leading Indicators?

Leading indicators of process safety are proactive measures and metrics that organizations use to assess and improve their process safety performance before incidents occur. These indicators help to identify potential risks and weaknesses in safety systems, allowing companies to take actions to mitigate hazards and prevent accidents.

By tracking and analyzing leading indicators of process safety, organizations can proactively identify trends, implement corrective actions, and continuously improve their process safety performance to prevent accidents and protect personnel, environment, and assets.

Leading indicators can play a vital role in preventing worker fatalities, injuries, and illnesses, as well as strengthening safety and health outcomes in the workplace. Employers that use leading indicators as a tool for achieving these goals have a substantial advantage over their competitors. By taking deliberate and measured actions that can prevent fatalities, injuries, and illnesses, these employers demonstrate their commitment to maintaining a socially responsible workplace that values workers.

Some common examples of leading indicators are as follows;

  • Near Miss Reporting: Encouraging and tracking the reporting of near misses and incidents that did not result in harm but had the potential to do so, to identify underlying issues and implement corrective actions.
  • Process Safety Trainings: Numbers of regular training programs focused on process safety for employees at all levels of the organization, including operators, supervisors, and management.
  • Process Safety Audits and Inspections: Regular audits and inspections of facilities, equipment, and processes to identify potential hazards, non-compliance issues, and areas for improvement.
  • Management of Change (MOC) Process: Effectiveness of the MOC process in assessing and managing changes to equipment, procedures, and materials to ensure they do not compromise process safety.
  • Process Safety Leading Metrics: Metrics such as the number of safety-critical equipment inspections completed, percentage of safety-critical procedures followed, and adherence to safety operating limits.
  • Emergency Response Preparedness: Assessing the effectiveness of emergency response plans, drills, and exercises to ensure that personnel are adequately trained and equipped to respond to process safety incidents.
  • Safety Instrumented Systems (SIS) Performance: Monitoring the performance and reliability of safety instrumented systems, including alarms, interlocks, and shutdown systems, to ensure they function as intended in emergencies.
  • Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) Completion: Tracking the completion of PHAs and action items resulting from these analyses to address identified hazards and risks.

credit to: Investopedia

What are the Lagging Indicators?

A lagging indicator is a downstream measurement of the outcomes of safety and health efforts. These indicators reflect successes or failures of the system to manage hazards. Lagging indicators of process safety are the result or outcome of the process safety system and help to evaluate the effectiveness of an organization’s process safety management system by examining past incidents and their outcomes.

The lagging indicators measure the occurrence and frequency of events that occurred in the past, such as the number or rate of injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. While lagging indicators can alert you to a failure in an area of your safety and health program or to the existence of a hazard, leading indicators allow you to take preventive action to address that failure or hazard before it turns into an incident.

Unlike leading indicators, which focus on proactive measures to prevent accidents, lagging indicators provide insight into the historical performance of process safety and are often used to identify trends and areas for improvement.

While lagging indicators provide valuable insights into past performance, they should be used in conjunction with leading indicators to drive continuous improvement in process safety performance and prevent future incidents. By analyzing both leading and lagging indicators, organizations can develop a more comprehensive understanding of their process safety risks and implement effective strategies to mitigate them.

Common examples of lagging indicators are as follows;

  • Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR): TRIR is a measure of the number of work-related injuries, illnesses, and fatalities per over a specific period.
  • Lost Time Incident Rate (LTIR): LTIR measures the number of work-related incidents that result in lost workdays over a specific period.
  • Fatalities and Serious Injuries: Tracking the number of fatalities and incidents resulting in serious injuries within the organization provides a direct measure of the most severe consequences of process safety failures.
  • Process Safety Incidents: This includes incidents such as fires, explosions, chemical releases, and equipment failures that have the potential to cause harm to personnel, the environment, or assets.
  • Property Damage Incidents: Assessing the number and cost of incidents resulting in damage to property, equipment, or infrastructure provides insight into the financial impact of process safety failures.
  • Environmental Incidents: Monitoring the number and impact of incidents resulting in environmental releases or pollution can indicate the organization’s environmental stewardship and compliance with regulations.
  • Insurance Claims and Premiums: Analyzing insurance claims related to process safety incidents and changes in insurance premiums can provide an external perspective on the organization’s safety performance and risk management practices.

Also Read this content: Flixborough Disaster

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