Jim describes the concept of leading indicators and explains Hienrich's triangle, or the safety triangle, to show the importance of tracking near misses instead of just tracking lagging indicators and reacting after things go wrong.
- Okay, we're balancing safety, quality, and productivity now, we're preplanning our tasks and taking steps to properly implement that plan, and we've created a culture of learning to show everyone in the company that this is all important and to emphasize that we realize that people are a critical component in construction work and we want them to be healthy and to grow. Now, how do we stay on track? Well the key here is to develop a system to track leading indicators.
Let me explain what I mean. In the past we typically investigated incidents that resulted in property damage or bodily injury, and if we did everything right, we did it really well, we should have done an investigation and determined the root cause of the incident and then we wrote all this up in a lengthy report. Eventually that lengthy report got read and someone developed some steps to prevent the same type of incident from occurring on the next job. That's all good and it all still needs to be done, but the problem is that this is all stuff that's already happened.
These reports are what we call lagging indicators. Again, when something happens that root cause investigation needs to be done to prevent similar bad incidents in the future, but what I would really like is some indication that something bad may be about to happen so that I can prevent it rather than just reading about it after it occurs. The way we begin to do this is by tracking leading indicators. And this is really one area where I feel like technology can help us and make this possible now, where it would've been very difficult to do in the past.
I'm going to say that leading indicators are mistakes, near misses, even rework and delays. Any of these little incidents that would not warrant a full root cause investigation is still an indicator of something that's not going as planned. And when enough of these things occur and they're all related to the same function or location on the job, or the same individual, they can be signs telling us that something bigger is about to occur.
Now why do I say that? Well, simple, for one thing as far back as 1931 an author named Heinrich published a book called Industrial Accident Prevention. And this book presented a relationship between near misses, minor injuries, and serious injuries. In fact, in the safety world, we often illustrate this relationship as a triangle or pyramid and we refer to it a lot these days, many people call this Heinrich's Triangle and it shows us that there is this relationship between these events.
In his book, he said that for every 300 near misses we're going to have one minor injury, and then for every 29 minor injuries we'll have one major injury. Yes, in the industry we all like to argue just what those specific numbers are, but we do all agree that a relationship exists. So knowing this it makes sense that if I can track those near misses and do things to prevent them from continuing to occur, I can begin to avoid those injuries.
And when I talk about these types of near misses I am talking about the little things, the things that by themselves probably need no follow up because they're self corrected or they're immediately corrected by someone else. Things like walking by and seeing an individual leaning over too far to the side when they're working on a ladder. In this case you'd probably walk by, you remind them, they correct the behavior, and you move on. But ideally, anyone that observes this would just take a few seconds to take out a smartphone, open an app and record the incident.
Again, by itself this incident probably needs no follow up. But if multiple people report similar sightings of that same individual doing the same thing, that tells you as a construction manager that you have a problem brewing. You need to intervene and correct this behavior before they fall off the ladder and get injured. Now this ability exists now, it's simple. There are several ways to do it with a smartphone and a number of different apps that are out there, and it's time to develop systems to begin tracking this data and then delivering it in a meaningful way to the project management team to give them those leading indications of things that might be about to go wrong on the project.
Then we can start to act to prevent the injury instead of always working to react once an incident occurs. Like I said, I do think that the thing that makes it possible for us to start working on systems of tracking leading indicators is the smartphone. Let's continue and see what else the smartphone can do for us and talk about some additional technologies that can help us to improve safety, quality, and productivity.
Throughout this course, Jim highlights some of the most notable safety and health hazards in the industry—including fall hazards, traffic accidents, and respiratory hazards—and shares strategies for integrating safety, quality, and productivity. He also explains how to leverage technological advancements such as digital drawings to help your team work safer and smarter.
- Recognizing health hazards in the industry
- Integrating safety, quality, and productivity
- Creating a culture of learning
- Recognizing leading indicators
- Using digital solutions to improve safety
- Using BIM to identify hazards early