Leading indicators of system safety

Monitoring and driving the organizational safety potential

Teemu Reiman (Corresponding Author), Elina Pietikäinen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

An indicator can be considered any measure – quantitative or qualitative – that seeks to produce information on an issue of interest. Safety indicators can play a key role in providing information on organizational performance, motivating people to work on safety and increasing organizational potential for safety. We will describe the challenges of monitoring and driving system safety. Currently, the same lead indicators are used – explicitly or implicitly – for both purposes. The fact that the selection and use of safety performance indicators is always based on a certain understanding (a model) of the sociotechnical system and safety is often forgotten. We present a theoretical framework for utilizing safety performance indicators in safety–critical organizations that incorporates three types of safety performance indicators – outcome, monitor and drive indicators. We provide examples of each type of indicator and discuss the application of the framework in organizational safety management. We argue that outcome indicators are lag indicators since outcomes always follow something; they are the consequences arising from multiple other situational and contextual factors. Monitor and drive indicators are lead indicators. The main function of the drive indicators is to direct the sociotechnical activity in the organization by motivating certain safety-related activities. Monitor indicators provide a view on the dynamics of the organization: the practices, abilities, skills and motivation of the personnel – the organizational potential for safety. We conclude that organizations should better acknowledge the significance of monitor and drive indicators in safety management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1993-2000
Number of pages8
JournalSafety Science
Volume50
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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system of indicators
Security systems
monitoring
Safety
Monitoring
Safety Management
Organizations
performance
sociotechnical system
organization

Keywords

  • Safety performance indicators
  • system safety
  • safety culture
  • safety management

Cite this

Reiman, Teemu ; Pietikäinen, Elina. / Leading indicators of system safety : Monitoring and driving the organizational safety potential. In: Safety Science. 2011 ; Vol. 50, No. 10. pp. 1993-2000.
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Leading indicators of system safety : Monitoring and driving the organizational safety potential. / Reiman, Teemu (Corresponding Author); Pietikäinen, Elina.

In: Safety Science, Vol. 50, No. 10, 2011, p. 1993-2000.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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