Are Leading Indicator Surveys Accurate?

Surveys regarding injury and illness leading indicators are used frequently in the construction industry for contract bidding purposes, but are they really accurate? A new research report says they are. Because the effectiveness of such surveys had never been proven, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-funded Center for Construction Research and Training supported the research. Researchers found higher survey scores of leading indicators were linked to worksites with a greater safety climate and lower injury rates, according to a story in NIOSH’s December 2020 newsletter.

Construction sites and projects appeared more critical in increasing safety than specific subcontracting companies. Results suggest the importance of safety for the overall construction project and its worksite as both relate to workers “perhaps somewhat independent of the individual subcontractor level.”

The research was conducted by researchers at Northeastern University in Boston as part of a larger project called Assessment of Contractor Safety (ACES).

Researchers designed and tested a 63-item organizational survey assessing subcontractors’ leading indicators of safety performance, which was filled out by 43 subcontractors on 24 construction sites.

At the same time, they conducted a survey of 1,426 workers on those same sites and recorded injury rates for the duration of each project.

Worksites, Not Companies

At the worksite level, higher average ACES scores were associated with higher worker safety climate scores and lower rates of injury involving days away.

However, within subcontracting companies, no associations were observed between ACES scores and worker safety climate scores and injuries.

The study appeared in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.