Accident Causation

Last updated: April 21, 2019

What Does Accident Causation Mean?

Accident causation is a safety model that interprets different acts and/or conditions as potential factors leading to accidents that could result in possible minor or serious injuries and/or damaged equipment. In 1932, safety engineer H.W. Heinrich introduced the domino theory covering key points designed to identify distinct elements attributed to accident causation. In essence, the domino theory represents a sequence of factors or chain of events such as repeat human error and/or neglected mechanical hazards creating an unsafe work environment. Since accidents are often unpredictable occurrences, the primary objective for employers to consider is to target the source and circumstances related to the accident.


WorkplaceTesting Explains Accident Causation

Accidents are prevalent and sometimes dangerous events that can occur in a number of workplace settings. While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to adopt safety policies to help minimize or prevent hazards, many companies have deficient safety measures in place. Accident causation reflects a stable interrelationship between personnel, machines/equipment, and the environment. Important risk factors may include behavioral disturbances in employees (i.e. alcoholism; restlessness), poor ergonomic modifications, and inadequate training methods.

In contrast to Heinrich’s theory, experts believe that concentrating exclusively on unsafe acts and/or conditions fails to identify the underlying cause that initially creates the accident. Research suggests further evidence linking unsafe acts and/or conditions with managerial oversights despite existing OSHA-based safety rules in workplace areas.

A communication breakdown between employers and employees can increase accidents due to lax guidelines, weak enforcement, and absence of rewards to inspire motivation and promote morale. Companies that provide a solid groundwork of safety policy and procedure involving employees, managers, and supervisors respectively lowers the risk of accidents. Statistical facts and audit reports can often misrepresent the social impact of many accidents because this data does not address the problem directly by gaining firsthand insight from employees.


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