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The Accident Prevention Pyramid

Use the accident prevention pyramid in your safety training or toolbox meetings with your employees to create awareness of the accident prevention pyramid and steps which must be taken to address unsafe acts and conditions before they lead to incidents, severe injuries, and even fatalities. 

Most accidents in the workplace involve both unsafe conditions, such as inadequate ventilation or improper storage of hazardous materials, and unsafe actions, such as bypassing controls or failing to wear personal protective equipment (PPE).  Unsafe acts and conditions lead to progressively more serious injuries and even fatalities as you can see in the pyramid.

Organizations must work to eliminate both unsafe conditions and unsafe actions in order to bring down these other numbers.   

Most employers only focus on incidents that result in top 3 sections of the pyramid: medical attention, lost time and fatalities.

Why is this case you may ask? Because there is a cost or time element that is associated with these types of incidents. Ask yourself, “When is the last time I had a manager/supervisor or even an employee mention a near miss to the organization or safety committee?”   

If you start focusing on the near misses and unsafe actions, you will start changing the safety culture of your organization and the behaviors of your employees. 

Addressing Unsafe Conditions:

  • Unsafe conditions should be discovered by hazard assessments, including job hazard analyses (JHAs).
  • Ideally, hazards should be completely eliminated or substituted with safer options. If this is not possible, hazards should be managed with engineering controls, administrative controls, and PPE (PPE should be considered as a last resort because this requires employee compliance with wearing the (PPE) personal protective equipment).
  • Conditions should be monitored with regular inspections, audits, and safety observations.

Addressing Unsafe Actions:

  • Organizations must coach and train employees in safe behaviors.
  • Organizations must also develop a good safety culture by getting all employees and all levels of management involved in the safety program.
  • Hold you supervisors and managers accountable for accidents and incidents that occur in their department.    
  • The organization must be very clear with safety priorities. Management and supervisors must lead by example and be held accountable when not following your companies policies and procedures
  • Regular inspections, audits, and safety observations should also note employee behaviors and their understanding of safety procedures.
  • Good safety behaviors should be rewarded and reinforced and bad safety behaviors must be counseled and disciplined.

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