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The Safety Triangle Explained – IES

Posted by On 18-09-2017
The Safety Triangle Explained – IES

At Wills Transfer, our Health/Safety/Environment Coordinator provides safety content for twice weekly Tool Box talks for all Wills teams at each branch location (Smiths Falls, Perth, Ottawa, Brockville). This Tool Box talk can be used for any working environment in any capacity. The Triangle visual explains that “major injuries are rare events and that many opportunities are afforded by the more frequent, less serious events to take actions to prevent the major losses from occurring” (IES “International Educational Services”).

TOOL BOX talk at Wills Transfer Limited – Sept 18, 2017

In 1969, a study of industrial accidents was undertaken by Frank E. Bird, Jr., who was then the Director of Engineering Services for the Insurance Company of North America. He was interested in the accident ratio of major injury to minor injuries first discussed in the 1931 book, Industrial Accident Prevention by. H. W. Heinrich.

In referring to the ratio detailed in this triangle it should be remembered that this represents accidents reported and incidents discussed with the individuals and not the total number of accidents or incidents that actually occurred but went unreported.

The significant point is that major injuries are rare events and that many opportunities are afforded by the more frequent, less serious events to take actions to prevent the major losses from occurring.

In reference for every single fatality there are at least 30,000 at-risk behaviors, defined as activities that are not consistent with safety programs, training and components on machinery. These behaviors may include bypassing safety components on machinery or eliminating a safety step in the production process that slows down the operator. With effective machine safeguarding and training, at-risk behaviors and near misses can be diminished. This also reduces the chance of the fatality occurring, since there is a lower frequency of at-risk behaviors. The variation can be explained by distance or time – for example, the injury was missed by one second or by one inch.


  • Consider that the closer to the peak of the triangle the more severe the injury or consequences. When looking at this triangle why is it so important to report all unsafe conditions or unsafe acts? (Lower levels on the triangle)

Action / Investigation can occur to correct the condition or stop the unsafe act and possibly help to avoid a more serious                event

  • How can we reduce the number of unsafe acts or conditions?

Intervene, this might mean having an open, friendly and honest conversation with someone about safety. Or it might be                 from taking action to wrap a pallet in racking or shovel, sand and salt a slippery or snow covered walkway. (stopping the                 unsafe condition)

Follow procedures, don’t take short cuts. Maintain safe work practices.

  • Why is important to pause and assess the work to be performed or stop and refocus when any changes occur?

Permits you to identify possible hazards, allows for review of task, if questions arise you can seek advice prior to continuing.