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Overview of Leading Indicators for Occupational Health and Safety in Mining

12 December 2012

This document provides an overview of the need for, identification, use, measurement and application of leading indicators for occupational health and safety (OHS) in the mining industry, to fill a gap in currently available literature.

  • Prevention of negative OHS outcomes is a key moral imperative and business value driver. Avoiding immediate and longer-term damage to people, the environment and property is sound financial business practice that also reduces business interruptions. Ideally, a hazard should be prevented from manifesting by understanding and managing the circumstances preceding it. 
  • Indicators that can measure these circumstances – that can give advance warning” about what might be going wrong are called leading indicators. 
  • Using leading indicators, mining companies can identify whether proactive risk-lowering decisions and actions are being effective, and why a desired result has or has not been achieved.
  • Terminology relating to leading indicator development is highly inconsistent. Terminology is suggested in this document that is thought to be most descriptive of the intended message
  • The use and implementation of leading indicators is placed within the context of OHS management systems but does not describe fully the development of such systems.
  • Available guidance for other industries is not repeated: an overview of approaches within the mining industry is provided and the reader is directed where necessary to other more detailed readily available information. 
  • This overview represents a move away from relating all OHS issues to incidents, towards highlighting the broader value case for leading indicator use.
  • This overview is neither prescriptive nor all encompassing: approaches should be tailored to suit the circumstances and culture of each unique company, country, site or department.