February 20, 2013 | Mark Paradies

Root Cause Analysis Tip: Categorization of Incidents

Part of the TapRooT® Software is the ability to set up custom categorization fields for incident/accident reports.

Many companies categorize incidents as safety, quality, maintenance, production, environmental, …

The idea I’m going to share here is another way to categorize safety incidents.

In our Best Practices for Reducing Serious Injuries and Fatalities Using TapRooT® Course, we teach that there are three separate pyramids that make up the major accident pyramid – an auto safety pyramid, and industrial/occupational safety pyramid, and a process safety pyramid.


In other words, instead of one pyramid like the one above (from Heinrich’s book, Industrial Accident Prevention, 3rd edition, 1950), there are actually at least three pyramids like the one above – one for auto accidents, one for industrial accidents, and one for process safety accidents.

Each of these separate pyramids are summed up in your “safety” data.

Why is this important? Because each of these pyramids are produced by different systems. When you add them up, you are summing unlike systems and “muddying” your data.

What do I mean by this? A trend in auto and industrial safety getting safer may mask a trend in process safety getting worse. This is especially true because the major accidents in process safety are so few and far between and the “minor injury” and “no-injury incident” equivalents in process safety may seem so minor.
In other words, you should not try to trend all three systems at once. You should trend each system – auto, industrial, and process – separately.

That’s why you need to keep track of these statistics separately by categorizing them separately under your safety data.

By the way, if BP had been doing this before the Texas City accident, they could have detected separate trends in their various systems that result in overall employee safety.

Does this make sense?

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