A Serious Look at Serious Injuries and Fatalities
Is it luck, a solid safety system, low hazard work or a combination of all of those things? Although recordable incidents have been steadily going down across all industries, the number of serious injuries and fatalities (SIF) has increased. Why? This trend does not align itself with Heinrich’s triangle theory of reducing the number of underlying near-miss and lost time occurrences.
According to Heinrich’s principle, the occurrence of a serious (lost time) or fatal accident was the result of many precursor events. Minimizing all or most of these events significantly lowered the risk of an SIF. However, recent research has shown that not all underlying occurrences need to be removed. It is believed that only about 20% of recordable injuries have high injury potential and result in SIF outcomes. To reduce the likelihood of SIFs the goal is to identify and target those activities.
For example, not all falls are created equal. While two workers working at the same height could fall the same distance, the nature of their work, body positioning, and surface/object they may fall onto and other factors differentiate the two significantly in terms of their potential to cause serious injury or death. It is this detailed analysis of the hazard that allows safety professionals to focus on those activities that pose the greatest risk.