Incident management is our most requested EHS software module; it stretches from hazard observations to major fatal incidents. Incident management forms capture a gold mine of data, however, these insights often do not reach their full potential as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Incident management KPIs can be used to indicate improvements and resolve issues before they reach incident stage – not unlike how KPIs are used in football.

So, let us look at the Beautiful Game to see what else we can learn about incident management KPIs.

How KPIs are used to exceed in sport and Incident Management

Imagine that the team you’ve supported since you were a kid are losing every match and have hit the bottom of the league.

Soon, a new manager is brought on board and things begin to turn around. You’re still losing some matches, but there’s indicators of improvement: increased possession, less penalties, fewer fouls and more shots on target. These indicators improve before your league position does.

Just like football managers, EHS professionals may intrinsically know where weaknesses lie – perhaps in processes, communication, or the skill set available.

In football, a weak defense hinges on luck to win and no-one, be it in EHS or the field of sport, wants to rely on luck! Failed passes at the back is a key indicator of a flimsy defense and may result in conceded goals.

In incident management, indicators can help identify areas for improvement. Attaching goals transforms the indicators into Key Performance Indicators.

Whether leading or lagging, incident management KPIs should be CURRIE (not the edible kind):

  • Cost-efficient
  • Understood
  • Relevant
  • Reliable
  • Immediate
  • Easy to measure

The good news? Now the identified weaknesses are ready for improvement. By analysing and taking action, a more positive outcome is within reach.

KPIs are either leading or lagging

KPIs, both in incident management and sport, are either leading or lagging.

An example of lagging indicators in incident management could be how many people got hurt and how badly. In football, a lagging KPI could be the team’s position in the league, or the score from the last time the team played the opposition.

The information for lagging KPIs comes after the unsafe event or lost match, and is always output related.

Lagging indicators are required by regulation in EHS, but despite this, they tend to provide limited insight in terms of preventative measures.

Lagging indicators in incident management KPIs include:

  • Number of incidents
  • OSHA recordable rate
  • Worker compensation costs

Leading indicators are metrics helping to resolve issues before reaching a critical stage. Leading indicators are input orientated - clear to the trained eye, but less obvious for newbies.

A football manager could use the team’s effort in training, or even the intake of a new member, as  leading indicators. Similarly, an incident management leading indicator could involve tracking workers’ participation in safety training, and positive safety interventions.

Leading indicators in incident management include:

  • percentage of root causes corrected
  • percentage or number of CAPAs overdue
  • safety training participation rates

There’s a lot of noise on pushing towards leading indicators and leaving lagging indicators behind. However, it’s arguable that lagging and leading KPIs have equal value and are intrinsic for a well-performing team and EHS processes.

KPIs help engage workers and influence the board

Is it any wonder that we have statistics thrown at us during halftime? Team possession, possession percentages, ball spent in areas of the pitch, corners, fouls, and successful crosses … You get the idea.

In this respect, KPIs help involve the fans and can even help turn a spectator into a fan: thanks to the added insight, the game is better understood and enjoyed - the audience gets the big picture and become more engaged.

Do you want your workers to get the big picture and become engaged in working safely?

The EHS professional can use their incident management KPIs to support change. Empirical evidence adds weight to expert findings and strengthens your case a board-level. It’s difficult to argue against the numbers, or the staring red dot, telling you more incident CAPAs than you’d like are running overdue.

KPIs are helpful, there’s no doubt about it – but it’s what you do with this information that really counts. The human element and interaction of a match is all part of the fun; however, thanks to the data, the manager has decisions to make and the commentators something to analyze.

It can be either leading or lagging KPIs – but using them is how improvement is made.


If you’re thinking “but I don’t know how to do this!”, then you’re not alone. According to independent analyst firm Verdantix, over half of other EHS leaders say the same.

With this mounting data, you want a tool to do the maths for you? Step in EHS software, right? Not so fast. Verdantix’s 2019 Global EHS Leaders Survey 2019 found a barrier: “56% of respondents cited EHS software not having analytical tools as a significant factor in limiting their ability to conduct EHS analysis.”

Pro-Sapien has risen to the occasion. We suggest placing deep data analysis at the forefront of your EHS analysis. Vendor sales teams can be slick, but by assessing solutions without common biases, you’re more likely to end up with what you need.

It’s important to understand the difference between leading and lagging indicators, but also how to put them to use as KPIs – an important skill in both EHS and football.

Why not review the applicability, benefits and considerations of leveraging Office 365 for EHS management?

Office 365: An EHS Portal No-Brainer? Is it right or wrong for you? Decide with this PDF →