Definitions & Context : Accidents/Dangerous Occurrence

Accidents/Dangerous Occurence Definitions

An accident is an unplanned and undesired occurrence which results in injury to a person/persons

A dangerous occurrence is an unplanned and undesired occurrence (incident) which has the potential to cause injury and which may or may not cause damage to property, equipment or the environment.

Sometimes it is hard to distinguish between a dangerous occurence and an injury accident until further information comes available e.g. an simple activity that causes an inert dust to enter the eye, e.g. when cleaning euipment, may cause discomfort until the material is washed out / finally clears out of the eye but no actual injury or infection may result. The dislodgment and swallowing of a dental filling or burr by a patient during a dental procedure, whilst undesirable, may not result in an injury once an examination/x-ray confirms that it has been swallowed and has not been inhaled. A fall or stumble may result in soreness but not a physical injury.

Personal Medical Incidents such as fainting, a heart episode or an epeliptic fit are not accidents/dangerous occurences unless an physical injury arises in the process e.g. result of fainting and striking an object or there was the potential for an injury due to use of machinery or whilst driving ( e.g. a dangerous occurence). 

Accidents and dangerous occurrences may result from a sequence of events and circumstances involving a combination of unsafe acts, unsafe conditions, system failures, human factors and/or omissions.

Incident Reporting Imperatives.

Legal and Insurance Imperatives

The University and its consitituent College's are required, under law, to promptly report lost time accidents and prescribed dangerous occurrences to the Health and Safety Authority.   Similarly the University/each College is required, under the terms of our insurance policies, to report all accidents, fires and other occurrences to the University's insurers, to facilitate prompt and efficient claims handling.

In addition to the above, the staff elected Safety Representatives have a statutory right to investigate accidents and dangerous occurrences.   Accordingly, the Staff Safety Representatives need to be advised of such incidents.

Learning from Incidents

An even more important dimension to the collection of information on accidents and dangerous occurrences is the requirement, of facilitating Schools/Departments and the relevant College, to collectively learn from each accident/incident so as to prevent recurrence.

There are long established statistical relationships between near miss no damage incidents, property damage incidents, minor injury accidents and serious injury accidents. ( Commonly referred to as the Accident Pyramid see above previously). Awareness of  an increased frequency of near miss incidents may be an early  forecast to department management of more serious trends and the need for early intervention to reduce overall #'s of incidents and to prevent the undesirable incidents at the apex arising.



Accident costs in practice emulate the Iceberg.


Accident Costs -

Footnote on Economic Costs. Most Incidents have an economic cost associated with them. A lost of these costs may not be recoverable. ( See examples of indirect costs below the water line below and typical ratios). Large sums of economic capital or income may need to be generated collectively in order to service such costs at the prevailing operating profit margin on turnover ( where applicable). Prevention of incidents at source eliminates such costs arising and benefits the overall € bottom line! 

Example: €20 K direct measurable costs and €80K inirects costs = €100 k costs p.a. 

If the profit return of a business was 5%, then €2,000,000 in sales/ income is required to service the accident costs.

Health & Safety Office

Sláinte agus Sábháilteacht

5 Carrigside, College Road, Cork