March 2, 2021 / Larry Sloan

Leading Health Metrics: A Step Toward Sustainable, Ethical Corporate Governance

Last year, AIHA convened a task force of professionals from the industrial hygiene, medical, and health and wellness communities to complete the “Best Practice Guide for Leading Health Metrics in Occupational Health and Safety Programs” (PDF). Our goal was to identify leading occupational health metrics for the broad community of OEHS professionals. The guide discusses practices, strategies, and measurements currently used by leaders in the field.

Leading health metrics measure some exposure, factor, risk, program, or control that occurs or exists before an unwanted health outcome. Prospective by design, leading metrics can assist with predicting and influencing health and safety performance related to occupational illness and worker health. Leading metrics focus on disease prevention and health preservation. Lagging metrics, in contrast, focus on safety or injury outcomes.

Yet it is not enough to simply create a metric. It is necessary to monitor and manage the metric to make sure it is interpreted consistently and used to drive desired actions or behavior.

Leading and lagging metrics complement one another. Together, they are used to monitor, predict, influence, and manage exposures, hazards, actions, and conditions.

Leading metrics also are a key element of the NIOSH Total Worker Health (TWH) initiative. TWH ties together all aspects of work in integrated interventions that collectively address worker safety, health, and well-being. Leading metrics help both employers and workers understand the importance of preventive measures.

Furthermore, leading metrics fit into the realm of human capital, which is a core element of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations. These three key factors measure the sustainability and ethical impact of a company. They also provide investors a way to see how companies perform against ESG criteria when considering investments. ESG factors are a subset of non-financial performance indicators, which include ethical, sustainable, and corporate governance issues such as establishing systems to ensure accountability, manage the corporation’s carbon footprint, and adhere to stronger occupational health and safety protocols.

The AIHA Board of Directors recognizes that AIHA can help define the knowledge, skills, competencies, and abilities necessary for professionals to contribute to human capital and ESG. The Board has approved the creation of a new Human Capital/ESG Task Force, which will advise the Board on how AIHA and the OEHS profession should approach ongoing dialogue that pertains to this space. If you’re interested in serving on this task force, keep an eye out for the call for volunteers, which will be announced soon.

Additionally, AIHA University is offering a webinar on March 30, 2021 that will expand upon the concepts outlined in the “Best Practice Guide for Leading Health Metrics in Occupational Health and Safety Programs" guidance document. More details can be found here.

Larry Sloan

Larry Sloan, CAE, is AIHA’s CEO.


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