HECA is a new method of measuring and monitoring safety by assessing whether front-line employees are adequately protected against life-threatening hazards. HECA is computed as the percentage of high-energy hazards that have a corresponding direct control. By applying precise definitions of ‘high-energy’ and ‘direct control,’ we can ensure that HECA is consistently measured within and across companies. HECA may be assessed during typical site visits by observing work conditions and engaging with front-line employees.
How it works
HECA is specifically designed to integrate with site visits (otherwise known as safety observations, safety audits, safety checks, etc.). When visiting a site, HECA can be incorporated to help focus on life-threatening hazards and their controls. The data collected for HECA offers a new opportunity to measure and monitor safety as the presence of safeguards (capacity) rather than as the absence of injuries.
On a typical safety visit, HECA can be performed in three steps:
Step 1: Identify all high-energy hazards. When the energy associated with a hazard exceeds 500 ft-lbs, the most likely outcome is a serious injury or fatality (SIF). Therefore, high-energy hazards can be considered life-threatening hazards or the stuff that kills you (STKY).
Step 2: Controls Assessment. For each of the high-energy hazards identified, mark which have a corresponding direct control when you made your initial observation. To be considered present, controls must meet all three strict criteria shown below.
Step 3: Compute the HECA Score. Apply the equation below to determine the proportion of high-energy hazards that had a corresponding direct control.
Success: total number of high-energy hazards with a corresponding Direct Control
Exposure total number of high-energy hazards without a corresponding Direct Control
This method is summarized in our HECA 1-pager below
Read our full paper below.
published in Professional Safety in May 2023
What is different about HECA?
HECA marries principles of human and organizational performance (HOP) with the science of energy-based safety
HECA is based on the understanding that safety is not the absence of injuries, it is the presence of safeguards
HECA is based on the understanding that even the best employees make mistakes, so our controls against life-threatening hazards must be effective even when someone makes a mistake
HECA specifically focuses on prevention of SIFs by measuring and addressing SIF-related conditions before an incident occurs
HECA supports regular, sustained learning from both exposure and success
The story behind HECA
HECA was originally conceived by Dr. Matthew Hallowell following the creation of the Safety Classification and Learning (SCL) Model in 2019. Dr. Hallowell's vision was that the structured definitions of success and exposure may serve as the foundation for a new form of safety monitoring. HECA was envisioned to be SIF-focused and aligned with the modern understanding that safety is the presence of safeguards and not the absence of injuries. If used strategically, HECA may instigate a transition from measurement and response to monitoring and control.
HECA was first evaluated as a potential metric in the 'Alternatives to TRIR' project conducted by the Construction Safety Research Alliance (CSRA). HECA was the standout candidate, evaluated as strong in every category because it is objective, valid, clear, functional, and important.
HECA is now being operationalized by the Edison Electic Insitute (EEI) and the INGAA Foundation. Teams have been assembled under the guidance of Dr. Hallowell and his team to build resources, pilot test, calibrate, baseline, and integrate HECA into existing safety systems.
Many innovative people have contributed to the evolution of HECA, most notably Dr. Elif Erkal and the members of the EEI, CSRA, and INGAA Foundation teams.
HECA was trademarked by Dr. Matthew Hallowell in 2023 as a defensive effort to ensure that HECA remains free to use for all non-consulting purposes.
Contact us at email@example.com for express permission.
What we offer
Dr. Hallowell and his team offer workshops on HECA that include an introduction through video and photo exercises; a review of energy and control assessments, and a discussion of methods of integrating within typical business practices. This workshop is typically delivered with instruction related to effective engagements, assessment of pre-job quality, and precursor analysis, which are other components of excellent safety walks.