Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Practices. Topic 55-15. Tracking Safety Leading Indicators to Improve DOT Employee Safety Performance

What gets measured gets improved. For the safety and health of state departments of transportation (DOTs) employees, the primary, historic metric used has been the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recordable incident rate. This incident rate measures how often a state DOT employee sustains an injury that demands more than basic first aid. This metric is important for understanding injury frequency but does not assist with programmatic management of state DOT personnel's safety, health, and overall well-being. Functionally, the OSHA recordable incident metric and others like it are known as lagging indicators, which provide data after an incident.  Recently, public and private sector organizations with high-hazard tasks have turned to safety-leading indicators as metrics to manage occupational safety and health. These safety-leading indicators provide relevant data before an incident occurs and thus can lead to predictive insights that allow state DOTs to take action to avoid incidents altogether. Research efforts in the private sector have sought to identify, document, and measure the impact of safety-leading indicators; however, state DOTs do not have similar, comprehensive studies. Additionally, how state DOTs coordinate with other agencies that protect workers may provide valuable insights, such as departments of labor or state police. For example, DOTs may depend on those agency actions or roles and whether their indicators are shared or utilized.  There are safety risks for different work areas in a state DOT, such as maintenance (mobile and short-term activities), construction (stationary and long-term), or driving/fleet (mobile and continual). Factors like employee attitudes, behavior, culture, psychological safety, and training may provide additional quantitative or qualitative data for developing and using indicators.  The objective of this synthesis is to document practices used by state DOTs regarding the use of safety leading indicators to track and prevent occupational injuries and other incidents.


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  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $55000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 20-05, Topic 55-15

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Wadsworth, Trey

  • Start Date: 20230919
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01884620
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 20-05, Topic 55-15
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: Jun 5 2023 5:00PM