Leading Indicators

Electricity Canada is working to advance the implementation of leading indicators for health and safety.


Leading indicators are proactive, preventive, and predictive measures that provide information about the effective performance of a utility’s health and safety activities. They are recognized as proactive measures, in contrast to reactive measures (known as lagging indicators).

Lagging indicators of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) track incidents that have already occurred, such as the frequency or severity of injuries. Records and number-based data, however, are not a measurement of the safety of an organization. Instead, they are measurements of the consequences of health and safety incidents that have taken place over a certain period and have the potential to be a proxy for successful reporting rather than a culture of safety.

Used in conjunction, leading and lagging indicators provide a more complete picture of the factors affecting safety performance than they do separately.

As Electricity Canada member companies consistently work to improve their safety performance, leading indicators can offer insight into the state of their safety practices to protect and strengthen injury prevention.

Key messages

  • Lagging indicators are strongly embedded in reporting culture but have significant limitations.
  • Metrics that are validated as ‘leading’ or predictive to some organizations will not necessarily be proven so for other organizations. This largely depends on the organization’s level of sophistication and safety culture maturity.
  • Due to the interaction of leading indicators with safety culture maturity, implementing leading indicator reporting requires flexibility and tailoring to the organizational environment.