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Jon Lewis
Jon Lewis
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Are they Really Accidents?


I just finished a book called "Safety 24/7 – Building an Incident-free Culture". The authors, Gregor M. Anderson and Robert L. Lorber, Ph.D, make it clear that there are very few true "accidents". In the book, they call them "incidents". What’s the difference? In the book, they define the difference as follows:

Incident vs. Accident: an accident implies the result is outside a person’s control. In 97 percent of the cases, what happens – the incident – is easily within someone’s control.

Somewhere along the line, we started calling "incidents" "accidents". Why? When someone runs a red light and causes a collision, is it an accident? When someone is texting on their cell phone and has a crash, is it an accident? When someone drinks and drives, is it an accident?

These aren’t accidents. These are choices people make. We choose whether to pay attention to the roadway. We choose whether to look at the radio or look at the road. We choose whether to drive defensively. These are choices, and the term "accident" implies we have no choices.

When we are in a court of law, you will hear the defense attorneys constantly refer to the term "accident". Plaintiff attorneys will use the terms "collision," "wreck," or "crash". Which is more accurate?

In future posts, I will discuss more of the theme of this book. It does not only apply to car wrecks. it also applies to the workplace, public stores, and other commercial establishments. If you are interested in the book, you can purchase it from Amazon.com.

Or, you may call or e-mail our firm, Lewis, Feldman, Lehane & McAtee, LLC, for your free copy.


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  1. Steve Lombardi says:
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    Jon, Redefining the language is one way to avoid taking responsibility for causing it and for insurance companies to avoid paying for it. And we wonder why this next generation is confused? Go figure! I need to get that book, how much does it cost?

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    Great Post and so true! In most states we have been drawn into calling “Wreck Reports”, “Accident Reports”. In focus groups all over the country we hear people say, “it was just and accident, things just happen”. “Accident” implies, no fault and that is not usually the case.

  3. Jon Lewis says:
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    It’s $14.95 new on Amazon. Small paperback and quick read. It takes you through an individual’s appointment as Safety Director of an international company whose mission is to reduce workplace incidents. It discusses how to create a “safety culture” within the company.

    Greg, I think it’s up to us to spread the message and change the philosophy. The more we talk about it, the more we can make people think.

  4. Mike Bryant says:
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    The language is everything, Steve had a great post on this issue a couple of months back, I also will look into this book, thanks for the helpful information.