Lean Safety: Using Leading Indicators of Safety Incidents to Improve Construction Safety

Kevin Ng1, Alan Laurlund2, Gregory Howell3 & George Lancos4

1Project Manager, XL Construction, Milpitas California. [email protected]
2Vice President, XL Construction, Milpitas California. [email protected]
3Executive Director, Lean Construction Institute, [email protected]
4Senior Project Manager, Johnson & Johnson, [email protected]


Safety and organization of a construction site were improved with the application of safety leading indicators and a 5-S assessment tool on a project managed using Lean principles. Safety related data collected on safety walks on a daily basis was organized for each specialty contractor and normalized for worker hours. The implementation of the 5-S assessment rated the site organization from zero to five for each contractor by a variety of key stakeholders. The observation of safety leading indicators provided a measure of safety risk on the construction site and a measure and mechanism for continuous learning. As a result, safety continually over the life of the project. Early results of the 5-S program clustered at the low end of the scale at the beginning of the project and significantly improved over time and reached almost 5 as the project approached completion. The paper will reflect on related conceptual foundations and propose follow up investigations aimed at exploring leading indicators and other assessment tools related to safety and quality of work. The paper will also explore challenges faced by a general contractor in the on going efforts to implement the leading indicators principles on a company-wide basis.


Safety, Leading Indicators, Lean Construction, Visual Management, 5-S.



Ng, K. , Laurlund, A. , Howell, G. & Lancos, G. 2012. Lean Safety: Using Leading Indicators of Safety Incidents to Improve Construction Safety, 20th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction , -. doi.org/

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