Key Takeaways

- The prevailing method of measuring safety performance, total recordable injury rate, is statistically and philosophically flawed.

- High-energy control assessment (HECA) is introduced as a new method to monitor the presence of safeguards against critical hazards (e.g., capacity).

- HECA is built on the philosophy that all life-threatening (high-energy) hazards should have an adequate safeguard (direct control).

- Methods to assess the energy magnitude and the presence of a direct control objectively and consistently are presented along with a case example.

- HECA is positioned as a performance monitoring method to continuously track and manage safety. HECA may generate sufficient volumes of data to inform reliable data-driven strategic decision-making.


Advancement of safety requires a standardized method of measuring and communicating safety performance. A common safety metric enables professionals across industries to compare outcomes, assess trends and make strategic decisions. Although never explicitly intended as a comparative safety metric, total recordable incident rate (TRIR) has been the dominant indicator of safety performance for more than 50 years (Hallowell et al., 2021; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019). Defined simply as the rate at which a company experiences an OSHA-recordable incident scaled per 200,000 work hours, TRIR has been used to make important business decisions ranging from the prequalification of contractors to annual performance incentives (Karakhan, 2017; Lingard et al., 2017; Lofquist, 2010; Wilbanks, 2018). TRIR has become ubiquitous, in part because it is simple, standardized and easy to communicate. However, recent research has shown that TRIR has serious limitations that impede strategic decision-making and long-term improvement (Hallowell et al., 2021; Korman, 2022). This leaves the safety community and other business professionals asking, “If not TRIR, then what?”

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