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Toolbox Tips #1 (Part 7a) - The Concepts of Incident Causation

Kevin Stretton - Monday, March 07, 2016


Summary of Part 6


In Part 6 we came to understand how human and social factors can influence our perceptions of incident causality and as a result we are often only concerned with the immediate past rather than the chronology of incidents. 


Objectives of Part 7:


By combining an engineering & social approach, understand & apply the basic concepts of causality when:-

•   Designing management & work procedures [Safe / Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) or Work Instructions (WI’s)].

•   Completing an incident investigation.


So that through continual improvement and time, elimination of hazards & the prevention of error becomes the norm.


Part 7a:           Engineering interpretations of occupational incidents


1.    Lack of control in management systems:-

a.    All factors in a management system have relevance

b.    These need to be understood by the managers

c.    The word ‘control’ refers to the 4th function of professional management:

                                          i.    Planning

                                         ii.    Organisation

                                        iii.    Leading

                                       iv.    Controlling

2.    Basic & immediate causes (Aetiology):-

a.    Includes personal & social factors

b.    Lack of job knowledge (training)

c.    Physical or mental obstacles

d.    Inadequate work standards

e.    Inadequate maintenance of equipment

f.     Unsafe acts and conditions including unsafe engineering design

g.    Operating without authority

h.    Nullifying safety devices

i.      Poor housekeeping

3.    Incident = contact with the hazard which is an undesired event.

4.    Injury, damage or loss = physical illness, injury &/or property damage & loss whether instantaneous (acute) or delayed (chronic).


Bird, F; Management Guide to Loss Control, Institute Press, Atlanta


Heinrich et al, Industrial Accident Prevention; pages 25 - 28

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