The Phylmar Group, Inc. Newsletter
March 2016
In This Issue
How to Put Leading Indicators into Practice
EPA Releases Online Mapping Tool to Help Protect Drinking Water Sources
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Issue #74: Putting Leading Indicators into Practice; EPA Releases Online Mapping Tool on Drinking Water Sources
 March 2016

Dear Subscriber,  

Welcome to the March 2016 edition of the Phylmar Newsletter. 
We begin with an article discussing a recent white paper on implementing EHS leading indicators.  Released by the Campbell Institute, Elevating EHS Leading Indicators: From Defining to Designing, describes how Institute members and partners used leading indicators and outlines important lessons learned along the way.  The goal is to help more organizations gain confidence in launching a program and to take advantage of the predictive power of leading indicators. 

Next, we turn to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the recently released tool DWMAPS - the Drinking Water Mapping Application to Protect Source Waters.  This application allows users to learn about their watersheds, understand more about their water supplier, see if sources of their drinking water are polluted and possible sources of pollution.  With the growing recognition that U.S. water sources and infrastructure need serious attention to address contaminants such as lead, this tool can help users identify potential risks from their water source.     
We also want to remind folks to come visit the PhylmarTV channel on YouTube to find videos covering a variety of topics for the EHS/Sustainability professional.

As always, please provide us with any feedback you might have and let us know if there is a topic that you'd like us t o cover in future newsletters .
Mark Katchen, CIH
Managing Principal 
The Phylmar Group, Inc.
How to Put Leading Indicators into Practice
Article by Joy Inouye, NIOSH, February 17, 2016 

The use of leading indicators is a growing hot topic in occupational and environmental health and safety.  The Campbell Institute at the National Safety Council has been studying leading indicators for the past two years to help more organizations take advantage of their predictive power. The Institute defines leading indicators as proactive, preventive, and predictive measures to identify and eliminate risks and hazards in the workplace that can cause incidents and injuries.  Consider an indicator as a concept that a company would like to measure, such as "employee engagement."  In contrast, a metric is a way of actually measuring this concept, such as "number of employees leading safety meetings."

While the Institute's research described leading indicators, explained their importance and provided specific examples of indicators, many organizations were still unsure about how to start using them.  This became the focus for the most recent stage of research released by the Campbell Institute in a new white paper, Elevating EHS Leading Indicators: From Defining to Designing.  The paper describes how eight Campbell Institute members and partners used leading indicators and outlines important lessons learned along the way.

Four common themes and takeaways arose among the Institute participants:
  • Leverage what is already being measured
  • Just get started - don't spend too much time deliberating
  • Make sure indicators communicate meaningful and actionable information
  • Secure leadership support

Leverage What is Already Being Measured

There's no need to reinvent the wheel. Take an inventory of all your existing indicators to see what might work well. Schneider Electric started looking at safety training hours because this was already being measured.  Don't be afraid of the "bottom up" approach.  The tracking of training hours as a leading indicator was first adopted at individual Schneider Electric sites before being rolled up to corporate.

Just Get Started

It may seem overwhelming to start a leading indicators program, but even Institute members admit they began with very small programs.  Don't get tied up in trying to find the "perfect" leading indicator, as a universal one doesn't exist. You really won't know the true value of an indicator until you give it a chance.  Knowing that most leading indicators will have to be adjusted in the future makes it even more practical to just begin somewhere.

Cummins, Inc. started small by tracking health and safety assessments and corrective/preventive actions.  The main reason for choosing these two indicators was that these data were readily available at the site level and worksites would not be burdened by gathering additional information.

Track Meaningful and Actionable Information

Leading indicators should provide a clear path forward on how to improve safety.  Over time, Schneider Electric realized that merely tracking training hours was not as predictive as it had been at the beginning.  They shifted their focus to instead track the effectiveness of training by periodically quizzing employees in the months following the training.  They found that retention of training information was more indicative of injuries and near misses.

Secure Leadership Support

Leadership support for leading indicators is crucial.  It's great when the mandate comes from top management, as it was for Johnson Controls and ExxonMobil.  However, this isn't always the case.  A couple of participants noted that getting buy-in from different parts of the organization (management, human resources, frontline workers, engineers, etc.) required speaking "different languages" to appeal to their unique needs.  Jeff Ruebesam of Fluor states, "Most people understand the concept of identifying and managing risk.  Would you rather be chasing incidents or would you rather be proactive about addressing hazards?  No matter what function you're in, you can wrap your head around that.

Differences among the research participants were few, but raise some interesting points for future discussion.  Not all participants agree that near misses should be considered leading indicators, or that individual sites should determine their own leading indicators.  There is also not consensus that leading indicators should be tied to leadership's performance evaluations.

Any successful safety management system should have a balance of predictive leading indicators as well as more outcome-based lagging indicators, such as fatality and injury rates.  However, the research shows that every organization's journey is slightly different, and a strategy that works for one may not be relevant to another.  The key is to just dive in and find what makes sense for you.

Additionally, "Occupational Health Indicators" (OHIs) are being used by states with NIOSH sponsored OSH surveillance programs, as well as other states to evaluate their state's occupational health status and needs.  OHIs are measures of health (work-related disease or injury) or factors associated with health (workplace exposures, hazards, or interventions).  OHIs give states the opportunity to evaluate trends over time and the effectiveness of prevention activities and interventions. 
For more details on this white paper and on all of the stages of leading indicators research from the Campbell Institute, visit
You can also register to attend a webinar at no charge on this new research taking place March 10, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. EST.
EPA Releases Online Mapping Tool to Help Protect Drinking Water Sources
EPA News Release, February 19, 2016

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released DWMAPS - the Drinking Water Mapping Application to Protect Source Waters.  DWMAPS allows users to learn about their watershed and understand more about their water supplier.  DWMAPS also lets users see if sources of their drinking water are polluted and if there are possible sources of pollution that could affect their communities' water supply.  DWMAPS can even guide users to ways they can get involved in protecting drinking water sources in their community.
"A key part of having safe drinking water is protecting the sources - the streams, rivers, and lakes where utilities withdraw water.  DWMAPS is the latest example of how EPA is using technology and digital tools to better protect public health and the environment," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.  This robust, online mapping tool provides the public, water system operators, state programs, and federal agencies with critical information to help them safeguard the sources of America's drinking water.

Utilities and state drinking water program managers can also use DWMAPS with their own state and local data.  It allows them to identify potential sources of contamination in their locations, find data to support source water assessments and plans to manage potential sources of contamination and evaluate accidental spills and releases.  DWMAPS also integrates drinking water protection activities with other environmental programs at the federal, state, and local levels.

DWMAPS can provide users with information to update source water assessments and prioritize source water protection in any location or watershed in the country. Specifically, DWMAPS helps users to: 

  • Identify potential sources of contamination in locations defined by users;
  • Find data to support source water assessments and plans to manage potential sources of contamination.
  • Evaluate accidental spills and releases, identifying where emergency response resources must be readily available.
  • Promote integration of drinking water protection activities with other environmental programs at the EPA, state, and local levels.

The mapping system will not display the locations of Public Water System facility intakes,
but it does contain a wide variety of data useful to the protection of drinking water sources.  EPA developed DWMAPS in consultation with EPA regional drinking water programs, state drinking water regulators, and public water systems. 

For more information visit the Drinking Water Mapping Application website.
Upcoming Events
Upcoming Environmental, Health, Safety and Sustainability Events

Leading Indicators, from Defining to Designing, Campbell Instiutute Free Webinar, March 10, 2016

Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting and ToxExpo, New Orleans, LA, March 13-17, 2016

ACGIH Fundamentals in Industrial Ventilation, Cincinnati, OH, April 4-8, 2016

Ceres Conference 2016, Boston, MA, May 4-5, 2016

15th Annual Sustainability Summit, New York, NY, June 22-23, 2016 
About The Phylmar Group, Inc.
The Phylmar GroupĀ® is an organization that partners with best-in-class companies on their most challenging environmental, health and safety, and social responsibility issues by working in a vertically integrated way from anticipating clients' needs from strategy to implementation. This is achieved through trusted expert client advisors who deliver innovative, responsible, efficient solutions addressing client needs and creating added value. For more information, visit or call 310.474.3937.

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