ACCIDENT PRONENESS

Reviewers have concluded that individual susceptibility to accidents varies to some degree, but that attempts to reduce accident frequency by eliminating from risk those who have a high susceptibility are unlikely to be effective. The reduction which can be achieved in this way represents only a small fraction of the total. Attempts to design safer man-machine systems are likely to be of considerably more value. The safety profession has taken up this alternative approach with commendable enthusiasm, and has been supported by other professional disciplines, notably engineering medicine and psychology. The legal profession has more recently lent its support, and actions in which substantial damages have been awarded against industrial corporations and public authorities on the grounds of unsafe design, poor maintenance or uncontrolled risk to persons have begun to appear in our civil courts frequently. Trade unions have campaigned effectively to secure enforcement of safety regulations in the building industry, to take an example which received some publicity in Melbourne recently. The 50-year campaign to lay the ghost of accident proneness is nearly over. In 1971 Pergamon Press issued Volume 11 in their prestigious International Series of Monographs in Experimental Psychology. It is entitled Accident Poneness and the authors are Lynette Shaw and Herbert Sichel, both well known for their joint research into accident causation among bus drivers in South Africa. The book has attracted a good deal of attention; there has been no other attempt to examine the concept in such detail, and at such length. The purpose of this paper is to examine the evidence presented and the arguments developed by Shaw and Sichel, since they draw conclusions about the importance of accident proneness which are at variance with those of most other writers on the subject. If they are correct, then the emphasis on safety by design and protection which has characterized our efforts in recent years may be misplaced. A re-examination of our methods may be necessary.

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  • Corporate Authors:

    Pergamon Press, Incorporated

    Maxwell House, Fairview Park
    Elmsford, NY  United States  10523
  • Authors:
    • Cameron, C
  • Publication Date: 1975-5

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00125361
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Highway Safety Research Institute
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Dec 3 1975 12:00AM