Most, if not all HSE professionals are familiar with the Heinrich Triangle where there are numerous risk events that lead to more severe consequences if they go uncorrected. Applying the Incident and Injury Free philosophy, we find that there are thousands of instances where there are underlying events that go unnoticed or undetected that will eventually lead to the "events” that, if left uncorrected, will eventually lead to more and more serious consequences. Think of it as running a red traffic light. There is a thought process that usually goes right along with the decision to stop, or go ahead and run past the light. If we consciously choose to begin stopping when we see the light yellow, there won't be an issue of running the red light. If, for one nanosecond, we debate the fact that we must begin the process of stopping when we see yellow, we will cause delays that will prolong the decision to stop and possibly allow ourselves to pass the safe zone for stopping in time for the red light. If we continue to debate, or try to convince ourselves that we can make it through the "caution” indicator (yellow light), we will be more and more confident that we can beat the red light and we begin ignoring the indicators (yellow light) all together until it becomes our nature or habit to ignore yellow and panic at red. It's just about then that we may come to the intersection and the oncoming truck has slowed to 50 mph because his light that was red is now green and he begins to accelerate at his "go” signal. You are just a half second late, and you realize that you can't make the stop, and you don't realize the hazard (truck) approaching, so you glide into the intersection just as the oncoming vehicle slams into the passenger side of your vehicle killing one of the people you love the most. It is then and there that you will remember how it all started and the "only if I” scenarios will begin running through your head like there is no tomorrow. YOU will be faced with being alone, and you will remember the rest of her birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and those memorable dates that she will not be able to spend with you because of a decision you made to ignore a hazard warning so many times that you became oblivious to it's true meaning. IT IS NEVER WORTH IT ! ! !
Above we have a slope of two planes indicating perception of danger and acquired knowledge and skills, or wisdom if you prefer the term. Our perception when we are inexperienced is that of a "wide eyed”, or "scared stiff” mindset. We are bug eyed and taking it all in. Our knowledge is very low, but we think that everything in the yard is going to kill someone, so we're on our toes day in and day out; that is until we realize that it's not all that bad and our perception of danger comes down to a more reasonable level. This is the perception level where we are the most effective. We are concerned enough to pay attention to things that matter, and our skill level is at a more comfortable level because we are paying attention and no one is getting hurt. We find that once the more experienced employee gains the wisdom and begins to test more waters, he finds shortcuts that work and through trial and error, those that don't work, but now and then, he tests his "luck” at those that didn't work in the past with a little different twist. It's then that he begins to sort of cruise through his job tasks and pays less and less attention to the things that could go wrong, because he's done it a thousand times and has gotten away with it 997 times without anything very serious happening. Through Incident and Injury Free training, we are able to maintain a higher level of perceived danger while allowing our employees to continue to ride the train up the ladder of success. We end up with a higher skilled and more aware workforce with less "asleep at the wheel” type causes as indicated by incident investigations.