Driving to Zero with Safety Leading Indicators (Best Practice)

RT-284 Topic Summary
RT 284


Many firms with world-class safety records have been frustrated by the inability to make step-change improvements in safety. Traditional monitoring of lagging indicators of safety performance has not achieved the desired step-change of improvement of construction safety. Many safety professionals believe that the careful selection and implementation of safety leading indicators will yield significant improvements in safety practices and performance. CII established Research Team 284 to investigate the potential of these critical project metrics.

The research concluded that leading indicators can be divided into two types:

  • Passive – safety strategies implemented before construction begins, to set the project up for success)
  • Active – safety-related practices or observations that can be measured during the construction phase, and which can trigger positive responses)

RT-284’s results confirmed a strong correlation between implementation of 10 key passive safety leading indicators and reduction in project TRIR. The research further identified 14 promising active safety metrics, and offers a process for successful implementation of an active safety indicator program in IR284-2, Implementing Active Leading Indicators.

Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : Passive Leading Indicators

Ten potential passive safety leading indicators were demonstrated to have a strong statistical impact on TRIR. Furthermore, the research showed that the greater the percentage of these ten indicators that was implemented, the lower the projects TRIR—with nearly a 7-fold reduction in TRIR between those projects implementing 4 or fewer versus those implementing at least 9.
Reference: (RS284-1)

2 : Active Leading Indicators

Based on Research Team member experience and as corroborated by RT-284 case study and “award winning” project description information, RT-284 documented 14 most promising and best validated active leading indicators from all of those identified. Two examples of such active leading indicators are “Owner Performs Safety Walkthroughs” and “Near Miss Reporting.” (RR284-11 Appendix C, p. 58).

Each active leading indicator presented includes the following information:

  • Description of the indicator
  • Measurement, method, and frequency
  • Threshold value below which action or intervention is warranted
  • Resources required to implement the active indicator
  • Action plan to implement the indicator
Reference: (RR284-11)

3 : 9-Step Process

RT-284 developed a 9-step process for successful implementation of an active safety leading indicator program. It shares many similarities to the process described in Research Team 216 for the implementation of target safety programs. (IR284-2, p. 3)
Reference: (IR284-2)

4 : Observations

Additional observations from the RT-284 team from this research include (RT-284 Annual Conference Presentation, Implementation Session, Slide 45):

  • Very few leading indicators are fully implemented by general industry (case study average TRIR was approx. 2.0).
  • Projects where leading indicators were measured and fully implemented had an average TRIR of 0.19.
  • Every firm can benefit from active safety leading indicators.
  • A strong foundation of safety is a prerequisite to a successful leading indicator program.
  • A champion must be identified and committed to success.
  • The next step in research into active safety indicators is to carefully select a few of them, implement them on a project, and measure the results.
Reference: (IR284-2)

Key Performance Indicators

Improved safety

Research Publications

Going Beyond Zero Using Safety Leading Indicators - RR284-11

Publication Date: 02/2013 Type: Research Report Pages: 72 Status: Reference

Implementing Active Leading Indicators, Version 1.1 - IR284-2

Publication Date: 11/2012 Type: Implementation Resource Pages: 22 Status: Tool

Measuring Safety Performance with Active Safety Leading Indicators, Version 1.1 - RS284-1

Publication Date: 10/2012 Type: Research Summary Pages: 47 Status: Supporting Product

Supporting Resources

Education Materials

Improving Safety Performance with Upstream Indicators - WS11-01

Publication Date: 06/2007 Type: Video Pages: 0 Status: Supporting Product

Presentations from CII Events

Plenary Session - BeyondZero®: Changing How We Feel About Safety

Publication Date: 06/2012 Presenter: Number of Slides: 13 Event Code: AC12

Implementation Session - BeyondZero®: Changing How We Feel About Safety

Publication Date: 06/2012 Presenter: Number of Slides: 45 Event Code: AC12

Session - Changing How We Feel About Safety

Publication Date: 07/2010 Presenter: Number of Slides: 17 Event Code: AC10

Session - Safety Leading Indicators

Publication Date: Presenter: Number of Slides: 52 Event Code: PIW315