Constructs of leading indicators: A synthesis of safety literature

Bayramova, Aya and Edwards, D.J. and Roberts, Chris and Rillie, Iain (2023) Constructs of leading indicators: A synthesis of safety literature. Journal of Safety Research, 85. pp. 469-484. ISSN 0022-4375

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Introduction: Leading indicators represent an invaluable tool that offer organizations the capability to: track health and safety performance, not just failures and accidents; measure effectiveness of safety efforts adopted; and focus on undesired precursors, rather than undesired occurred events. Despite these palpable advantages associated with their adoption, leading indicator’s definition, application, and function are mostly ambiguous and inconsistent within literature. Therefore, this study systematically reviews pertinent literature to identify the constructs of leading indicators and generates guidance for leading indicator implementation (as a conceptual model). Method: The overarching epistemological design adopted interpretivism and critical realism philosophical stances together with inductive reasoning to analyze 80 articles retrieved from the Scopus database, plus 13 more publications supplemented by the snowballing technique. Analysis of the safety discourse within literature (as secondary data) was undertaken in two stages, namely: (1) a cross-componential analysis identified the main features of leading indicators in comparison to lagging indicators; and (2) content analysis revealed prominent constructs of leading indicators. Results and conclusion: Analysis results identify that the definition, types, and development methods represent the main constructs for understanding the concept of leading indicators. The study identifies that ambiguity around the definition and function of leading indicators is due to the lack of differentiation of its types, namely passive leading indicators and active leading indicators. Practical application: As a practical contribution, the conceptual model, which introduces continuous learning through a perpetual loop of development and application of leading indicators, will help adopters create a knowledge repository of leading indicators and to continuously learn and improve their safety and safety performance. Specifically, the work clarifies their difference in terms of the timeframe passive leading indicators and active leading indicators take to measure different safety aspects, the functions they serve, the target they measure and their stage of development.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number:
27 April 2023Accepted
16 June 2023Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: Leading indicators, Lagging indicators, Safety management, Safety-I, Safety-II
Subjects: CAH13 - architecture, building and planning > CAH13-01 - architecture, building and planning > CAH13-01-02 - building
Divisions: Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment > School of Engineering and the Built Environment > Dept. of Built Environment
Depositing User: Gemma Tonks
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2023 13:09
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2023 13:09

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