Heinrich’s Accident and Safety Triangle was devised to illustrate the relationship between serious accidents, minor accidents and near misses in the workplace. The theory states that if the number of minor accidents is reduced it will reduce the number of major accidents.
Criticism of the model
Some criticised the model as it draws a conclusion that human error is the most common cause of workplace related incidents. Poorly manged systems have been identified as more detrimental to workplace health and safety. This highlights the need for proper process management in a business’s health and safety plan.
The findings of the model also suggest that professionals working to minimize risk in the workplace should focus on reducing minor incidents in order to reduce the resulting incidents as a whole. Many health and safety professionals feel this led to managers not giving enough attention to more serious incidents in the workplace that were less likely to occur.
Should I apply it to my business’s health and safety policy?
Whilst the model has heavily influenced health and safety policies and general health and safety culture over the past 100 years it has also been heavily criticised.
Many professionals and academics feel the triangle reflects differently in different industries. It’s impact on health and safety in the oil and gas industry was not as positively affected by the change as in others.
If you are planning on using the triangle to inform your health and safety decisions in the future, make sure you consider the criticism of it. Inform your policy with other forms of best practice based on information from reputable sources to ensure you have adequate health and safety practices in place.
You as a business should take the necessary steps to reduce all kind of incidents and potential incidents in your workplace. Considering some of the principles behind the model when writing a health and safety policy will be beneficial to your practices
Where can I go for more information?
Heinrich’s Triangle has informed large parts of health and safety policy in the western world over the last decades; however it does not exist in isolation. The HSE Network aims to connect health and safety professionals and also provide the best information to those seeking guidance on HSE topics.