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Accidents. If someone says “I had an accident” what assumptions do you make?. What is an accident?. In the OSH setting Unintended and untoward event

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If someone says

“I had an accident”

what assumptions do you make?

what is an accident
What is an accident?
  • In the OSH setting
    • Unintended and untoward event
    • Unplanned, unexpected event, in a sequence of events; it results in physical harm, injury or disease to an individual, damage to property, a near miss, a loss, or any combination of these effects
    • A failure of a person to cope with the true situation presented to him.
who cares
Who cares?
  • Victim
  • Governments
  • Researchers
  • Employers
  • Engineers, organisational psychologists, socioligists, quality controllers, high risk industries
  • Safety managers and other OSH professionals
accident prevention
Accident Prevention
  • Hazard Identification
  • Risk Assessment
  • Controls
  • Tools for Occupational Health and Safety Management
osh reasons for collecting accident information
OSH reasons for collecting accident information
  • Analysis of past accidents, patterns and trends
  • Accident investigation
  • Accident notification requirements (the law)
  • Insurance company requirements – claims management
  • Allocation of blame
  • Collecting information = accident investigation
accident investigation
Accident Investigation
  • Purpose
    • To prevent accidents happening in the future
    • To determine the immediate (proximate) AND the underlying (distal or root) causes of accidents
  • Methods vary
    • Systematic look at all contributing factors
  • Outcomes
    • Focus on the root cause as opposed to the consequences or a scapegoat
    • Conclusions linked to what actually happened
    • A list of recommendations for change
osh law
OSH law
  • Injury and illness prevention is a legal requirement
  • Accident reporting to a competent authority is a legal requirement (subject to T&C)
  • Accident investigation is not a legal requirement
  • Analysis of organisational data is not a legal requirement
the cost of work related accidents
The cost of work-related accidents
  • 5,500 people killed annually in Europe
  • 60 people killed annually in Ireland
  • 500 million working days lost in EU in 1998 as a result of accidents
  • 4.7m accidents resulted in absences of more than three days in EU in 1998
direct costs of workplace accidents
Direct costs of workplace accidents
  • Employee lost time
  • Medical and hospital costs
  • Compensation and liability claims
  • Legal costs
  • Insurance costs
  • Replacement costs (equipment, products, personnel)
indirect costs of workplace accidents
Cost of time lost by other employees who stop work

Cost of time lost by supervisors

Cost of first-aider time

Cost of injury to equipment or spoil to materials

Cost of interference with production

Cost die to ensuing loss of profit

Overhead cost of injured employee

Administrative costs

Indirect costs of workplace accidents
accident statistics
Accident Statistics
  • National and international
  • Classification schemes
    • Harmonisation: ESAW, ILO
  • Local
    • Recording procedures
  • A single major accident can dramatically alter accident statistics
accident causation models
Accident Causation Models
  • Heinrich’s domino model (1920s)
  • Bird’s loss control model (1960s)
  • Hale and Hale’s model (1971)
  • Reason’s organisational accidents model (1990s)
  • There is NO universally accepted model
  • Causes are generally seen to be at individual level or organisational level (work activity, working environment and organisational factors)
accident causation
Accident Causation
  • Accidents usually arise from a particular combination of circumstances, not from a single cause (but it is often necessary to attribute a principal cause)
  • Accidents often preceded by near misses
  • No one causitive factor is implicated in all accidents
  • There are wide variations in the consequences of similar accidents/incidents
bird accident triangle 1969
BIRD Accident Triangle (1969)





Major injury

Minor injury

Damage only

No injury or damage

accident investigation tools
Accident Investigation Tools
  • MES – multilinear events sequencing
  • ECFC – Events and causal factors charting
  • FTA – fault tree analysis
  • MORT – management oversight and risk tree
  • STEP – Sequentially timed events plotting
  • SCAT – Systemic causal analysis technique
  • CMT – causal tree method
  • WAIT – Work Accidents Investigation Technique
  • …and many more…
accident research
Accident Research
  • Accident causation models been developed since early 20th C
  • In the past two decades accident research has focused on major accident analysis
  • Emphasis is shifting towards ordinary and frequent accidents
occupational safety and health in ireland
Occupational Safety and Health in Ireland
  • Wide variety of work situations
    • Busy
    • OSH is not always a priority
  • OSH solutions need to be:
    • Easily applicable - not over-technical
    • Practical and user-friendly
    • Clearly defined with minimum ambiguity