Forgetting the Heinrich Pyramid with Incident Management Software

Forgetting the Heinrich Pyramid with Incident Management Software


Sometimes shaking up a system can lead to transformative breakthroughs. At least that’s what many senior EHS leaders have said regarding ditching the Heinrich Pyramid – a traditional way of tracking occupational illnesses and injuries.

What is the Heinrich Pyramid?

How it works is quite simple. The Heinrich Pyramid (also commonly referred to as the Safety Triangle or Loss Control Triangle) quantifies the amount of reported workplace incidents into four main categories: major injuries (e.g. fatalities), severe accidents (e.g. DAFW cases, restricted cases, and other recordable information), first aid cases, and near misses. Employee concern reports, safety observations, and at-risk observations can also be added to the base of the triangle to incorporate leading indicators into the analysis.

This is a 1-10-30-600 model. For every 1 incident reported in the major injury category, severe accidents are 10 times as likely to happen. Also, for every 1 major injury, approximately 30 first aid cases, and 600 near misses.

When companies plug their own incidents into this model or pyramid, they can see if they have the corresponding model ration, as described above, and if they have a significant amount of major and severe incidents. The premise for this model is that the more companies focus on reducing the numbers at the bottom of the pyramid, the more likely they are to reduce major safety incidents at the top.

Why EHS leaders are now thinking that the Heinrich Pyramid is flawed?

The pyramid is inclusive of many types of injuries and incidents, but it doesn’t assist EHS professionals with narrowing down the data to the critical cases/accidents, root causes, and solutions. For example, a site could have a series of cases that stem from ergonomic related issues and spend significant amounts of time on root cause and trend analysis instead of the cases/accident that have a high potential to result in an employee fatality or significant property damage.

Critics of the Heinrich Pyramid also claim that, “adhering to it can lead to an over-emphasis on worker behavior and not enough attention on health and safety management software systems.” No matter the flaws though, there is always a solution to the system.

What are some new models people are using?

Many industry EHS professionals and safety teams are refocusing this model to clearly identify the HiPo (high potential injury analysis) cases/accidents that make up a smaller subset of the pyramid and spending their time analyzing those data sets. For example, a near miss that would have resulted in an employee death or catastrophic equipment or property damage, versus a near miss that would have resulted in a small spill in a contained area. Identifying and focusing time and attention on the first near miss is far more valuable than the second.

Gensuite Incident Management Software has incorporated the ability to track HiPo incidents with incident tracking, reporting, and corrective/preventative action tracking tools.  Datamining software solutions are also available to the subscriber community. These solutions have provided many businesses with the ability to quickly gain insights and to have a laser focus in their trending and analysis processes. In additional, subscribers across a variety of industries have worked with the Gensuite team to supplement this analysis by developing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are specific to their operations and business profile, providing a well-rounded set of data for analysis. Examples include employee safety training, internal audit results, etc.

If you choose to integrate leading indicators into a lagging indicator model, there are a variety of options. Many use cloud-based software systems that compile data and build risk assessments without placing too much emphasis on worker behavior.

How can you benefit from shaking up your system? Transitioning to incident tracking software, focusing on the HiPo model in conjunction with business-specific KPI metrics could be a great solution to effectively analyzing data and identifying focus areas for reducing your workplace’s occupational hazards. No matter your path, there are several options to help you implement a better management system for a safer and healthier workplace. To learn more about Gensuite Incident Management Software, request a free trial.

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