What is Tripod?

In short, Tripod is a way of thinking about and modelling why incidents happen.

It is a scientifically backed model which has helped revolutionise how we think about incidents and has directly and indirectly led to the development of commonly used tools in industry, including the Bow Tie methodology, Tripod Beta, Tripod Lite, and the Life Saving Rules.  It is the basis of the Swiss cheese model, and it even allows you to find the causes of accidents before they happen.

At its heart, Tripod is about understanding people’s good intentions.  People do not come to work to have or to cause an accident.  They come to work to do a good job and go home safely.  Although many incidents are initiated by people with good intentions, the true root causes of incidents occur deep within the organisations system and processes.

The Tripod model of incident causation

Fig: The Tripod model of incident causation

Tripod is extremely powerful.  Borne out of research commissioned by Shell International and carried out at the Universiteit Leiden and the University of Manchester during the 1980s and 1990s, Tripod helps us to investigate simple and complex incidents.

About the Tripod Foundation

The Tripod Foundation is a non-profit organization.  We have been at the forefront of organisational learning since 1998, when we were set up to safeguard and promote the Tripod suit of methodologies, which were developed in Shell and then gifted to the World.

The Foundation's objectives are to:

  • 1. Develop and maintain the Tripod Intellectual Property
  • 2. Acquire, develop and maintain methods to promote safety
  • 3. Provide funds for Tripod research
  • 4. Provide funds for research into safety management
  • 5. Make available knowledge, experience and results of research to Tripod users, and
  • 6. Liaise with other organisations worldwide with similar objectives

Made up of seven volunteer Board members from industry and academia, in partnership with the Energy Institute, the Foundation leads a growing community of Tripod Practitioners and Trainers.

Together we strive to provide thought leadership, tools, and resources to improve how organisations learn from, and prevent, incidents.

We do this by:

1. Defining good practice:

We publish the official Tripod Beta methodology for accidents and incident investigation
We co-created the free publication Learning from incidents, accidents and events, in collaboration with the Energy Institute
We developed the Investigation insights toolkit to help engage leaders in investigation and learning

2. Sharing knowledge

Supporting research

3. Building skills

Accrediting Tripod Beta training courses
Accrediting Tripod Practitioners to bronze, silver and gold levels

Current Stichting Tripod Foundation Board members

Emanuele Cimica (Chair)
Dr Robin Bryden
Prof. Jop Groeneweg (Research and development)
Tony Gower-Jones (Secretary)
Charlotte Mitchell
Andrea Parker
Willem Peuscher (Treasurer) 
Dr Mark Taylor


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