A memorial to the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster, a fatal accident resulting from police failure
An accident is an unintended, normally unwanted event that was not directly caused by humans. The term accident implies that nobody should be blamed, but the event may have been caused by unrecognized or unaddressed risks. Most researchers who study unintentional injury avoid using the term accident and focus on factors that increase risk of severe injury and that reduce injury incidence and severity. For example, when a tree falls down during a wind storm, its fall may not have been caused by humans, but the tree's type, size, health, location, or improper maintenance may have contributed to the result. Most car wrecks are not true accidents; however English speakers started using that word in the mid-20th century as a result of media manipulation by the US automobile industry.
Accidents during the execution of work or arising out of it are called work accidents. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), more than 337 million accidents happen on the job each year, resulting, together with occupational diseases, in more than 2.3 million deaths annually.
Vehicle collisions are not usually accidents; they are mostly caused by preventable causes such as drunk driving and intentionally driving too fast. The use of the word accident to describe car wrecks was promoted by the US National Automobile Chamber of Commerce in the middle of the 20th century, as a way to make vehicle-related deaths and injuries seem like an unavoidable matter of fate, rather than a problem that could be addressed. The automobile industry accomplished this by writing customized articles as a free service for newspapers that used the industry's preferred language. Since 1994, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has asked media and the public to not use the word accident to describe vehicle collisions.
Incidence of accidents (of a severity of resulting in seeking medical care), sorted by activity (in Denmark in 2002).
Poisons, vehicle collisions and falls are the most common causes of fatal injuries. According to a 2005 survey of injuries sustained at home, which used data from the National Vital Statistics System of the United States National Center for Health Statistics, falls, poisoning, and fire/burn injuries are the most common causes of death.
Accident triangles have been proposed to model the number of minor problems vs. the number of serious incidents. These include Heinrich's triangle and Frank E. Bird's accident ratio triangle (proposed in 1966 and shown above).
Many models to characterize and analyze accidents have been proposed, which can by classified by type. No single model is the sole correct approach. Notable types and models include:
^Yvonne Toft; Geoff Dell; Karen K Klockner; Allison Hutton (April 2012). "Models of Causation: Safety". In HaSPA (Health and Safety Professionals Alliance) (ed.). OHS Body of Knowledge(PDF). Safety Institute of Australia Ltd. ISBN978-0-9808743-1-0. Archived(PDF) from the original on 2017-02-25. Retrieved 2017-03-25.
^Svenson, Ola (September 1991). "The Accident Evolution and Barrier Function (AEB) Model Applied to Incident Analysis in the Processing Industries". Risk Analysis. 11 (3): 499–507. doi:10.1111/j.1539-6924.1991.tb00635.x.
^Reason, James T. (1991). "Too Little and Too Late: A Commentary on Accident and Incident Reporting". In Van Der Schaaf, T.W.; Lucas, D.A.; Hale, A.R. (eds.). Near Miss Reporting as a Safety Tool. Butterworth-Heinemann. pp. 9–26.
^Perrow, Charles (1984). Normal Accidents: Living with High-Risk Technologies. Basic Books. ISBN9780465051434.