Proactive leading indicators for occupational safety, health and wellbeing

News update - November 18, 2019!! You can still take part in testing the first drafts of the leading indicators - deadline is now November 30, 2019. Download the indicators and provide your feedback on the link near the bottom of the page.

An international research and development project funded by the International Social Security Association (ISSA) sectors is developing a set of fact sheets for companies to use regarding proactive leading indicators for occupational safety, health and wellbeing. The development process involves attaining information and evidence from companies applying a Vision Zero strategy ( and other frontrunner companies, scientific and popular literature, and the expertise and experience available in the project team and steering committee. Drafts of the first fact sheets will be tested by companies and discussed at various conferences in the fall of 2019, and the final products are planned for release in 2020. 

Leading and lagging indicators for occupational Safety, Health and Wellbeing can be used in a complimentary fashion. The objective of this project is to develop a tool that focuses on proactive leading indicators as defined as follows: 

  • Lagging indicators focus on outcomes such as reported and unreported accidents, injuries, sickness absence (e.g. disease, physical and psychological health issues), premature retirement and fatalities.
  • Leading indicators focus on processes such as auditing, provision of formal training, OSH meetings, employee surveys (perceptions, attitudes, behaviour). However, valid and reliable leading and lagging indicators in themselves do not necessarily improve prevention efforts
  • Proactive leading indicators reflect the actionable, current and ongoing processes, activities and performance that are doing more than merely controlling existing risks, but focus on recognising, creating and using opportunities for improvement. Examples of this could be ensuring that safety, health and wellbeing are an integrated part of regular production meetings and that there is follow-up and learning from reported issues - both issues that reinforce good practice and those that require corrective action.

For the purposes of this project Safety, Health and Wellbeing are defined as follows: 

  • Safety at work is characterized by the active promotion and maintenance/sustainability of safe conditions and behaviour at work, and the active prevention of sudden and unexpected adverse events such as accidents, incidents and near misses.
  • Health - Physical health at work is characterized by the active promotion and maintenance/sustainability of workers’ physical health and working capacity, and the prevention of chronic, unhealthy working conditions and behaviour. (ergonomics and industrial hygiene). 
  • Wellbeing - Psychological health at work is characterized by individuals’ positive mental health and ability to work productively and creatively, to engage in strong and positive relationships at work, fulfilment of professional goals and a sense of purpose. 

Research teamProfessor Gerard Zwetsloot (Project Manager, independent researcher and consultant, Netherlands); Senior Research Pete Kines (National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Denmark) and Professor Stavroula Leka (Universities of Cork, Ireland and Nottingham, UK).

Funding: The project is funded by ISSA 

Steering Committee: Secretary General Helmut Ehnes (ISSA Mining); Bernd Treichel (ISSA Secretariat); Gisela Derrick & Alan Stevens (ISSA Education); Sven Timm (ISSA Information for Prevention); Jens Jühling (ISSA Energy), Martina Hesse-Spötter (ISSA Energy and Chair of Special Commission on Prevention); Anja Renner (Special Commission on Prevention); Prof. Karl-Heinz Noetel and Petra Jackisch (ISSA Constuction); Christian Felten (ISSA Transport); 

Communication: Preliminary results will be presented and discussed at various conferences such as: ISSA Mining – 50 year Conference (South Africa, September 2019); Working on Safety (Austria, September 2019); APA/NIOSH Work Stress and Health (USA, November 2019); Vision Zero Summit (Finland, November 2019), and various ISSA network meetings.

Participate: The project team would like to involve a number of Vision Zero committed organizations in the project. Organizations can be involved in two ways: 1) January-June 2019 - sharing experiences with proactive leading indicators for SHW that the organization has experience with, and/or 2) September-November 2019 provide feedback on the draft set of indicators proposed by the project team. Organizations that are interested in participation are invited to contact Professor Gerard Zwetsloot. Organizations or researchers are also invited to send any relevant reports or articles on proactive leading indicators to Senior Researcher Pete Kines.

Download and evaluate a draft of the first seven leading inidcators here - until November 30, 2019 : Download and evaluate leading indicators


Time frame: January 2019 - March 2020