Really, now...Are ALL workplace accidents avoidable?

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Forum topic by poopiekat posted 01-10-2011 02:00 AM 5085 views 0 times favorited 33 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4189 posts in 3155 days

01-10-2011 02:00 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

This is the bold statement of this province’s safety board! ALL Accidents Are Preventable! With the TV ads, and billboards, they’re trying to impress this message upon everyone. How does one come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as an “Accident”? Is the Workmen’s Compensation board just looking for some wiggle room for dubious claims? As I understand it, there apparently is a need to NOT accept accidents as a necessary by-product of industrial activity. These slips, trips and falls, burns, injuries and other incidents that sometimes happen, in the words of the safety literature, are not to be thought of as merely accidents, but of failure to foresee the potential for something to go wrong. Therefor, 100% Human Error!
So, I it logical to believe that 100 percent of workplace accidents are preventable?

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

33 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8523 posts in 3069 days

#1 posted 01-10-2011 02:03 AM


-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 2201 days

#2 posted 01-10-2011 02:23 AM


You may have done everything in your power to avoid getting the cat angry, but

when she decides to use your sawdust as a litter box just as you start that fine angle cut…

Well, concentration’s lost and so’s the tip of the cats nose !

Hmm, for the cat that may be seen as an accident..for you..devine retribution..

But seriously, 100% ????

Not likely, especialy if there’s more than one person in a work space..we’ve got 8 to ten trades people in our workplace weekdays now doing a 6 figure reno and I’m amazed nobody on staff’s gotten beaned by a passing light fixture, sheet of drywall or been electrocuted making coffee !
The trades know what they’re doing, but I know most of my co workers have no idea when to duck and when to SIT ! STAY !..

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

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4541 posts in 2495 days

#3 posted 01-10-2011 02:50 AM

I believe there are accidents that could not have been prevented by any means other than not doing the work. I had a large piece of walnut fly off the lathe and hit me very hard in the face. I later determined that there was a flaw in the wood that was not visible on the outside. I admit that the damage (9 stitches) could have been reduced with a face shield, but that would not have prevented the accident from happening.

While rare, there are also accidents due to equipment failure. For example, if a band saw blade were to break due to a flaw in the metal or weld. .

However, I agree that most accidents are preventable.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View poopiekat's profile


4189 posts in 3155 days

#4 posted 01-10-2011 03:16 AM

Thanks for the great replies! It is starting to make me wonder, as I have received various emails at work, and also some provincial press releases, about an awfully scary change in the labor statutes, that is, that individuals working in a job setting may be found liable for creating a dangerous situation if it results in an injury to another employee. Say ‘Joe’ parked a forklift because it was leaking hydraulic oil. ‘Bob’ comes by, and slips in a spill of the oil. Joe could be found negligent, and deemed personally liable for Bob’s injuries. I recall, years ago, a woman fell sick from oil-smoke fumes which were vented outside properly, however the Plant Manager did not know that the intake unit for the rooftop furnace was exactly downwind of the vent stack on certain days. Long story short, he was sued, the claimant was victorious, and this guy lost his home, his job, and ultimately his marriage. The curious clause in US labor law is this concept of “Joint and Several Liability”. By this parameter, she had the right to sue not only her employer, but specific individuals thought to be at the root cause of the problem. And now I see the concept has worked its way into Canada. This is frightening, I’d always assumed that an employers’ liability insurance had deep enough pockets to cover any workplace incident, but as I understand it, a judgement can be made even for punitive damages!!! Without ever setting foot in a courtroom!!! So for heaven’s sake, be careful out there!

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View Tim29's profile


307 posts in 2571 days

#5 posted 01-10-2011 03:36 AM

Of course they are 100% avoidable. Here is the surefire, no hassle, absolute, can’t miss way to avoid an accident.
It goes like this.

Avoid the work.

There are ways of deterring accidents such as having all safety guards in place, paying attention, having all loose articles of clothing and hair tied back, etc. But you can do all of those things and still get hurt. The only for sure way to not get hurt is to not do the job. But then how much would ever get done anywhere.
Mike Rowe did a special episode of Dirty Jobs on this subject called “Safety Third”. He brought up some very good points.
Having said that however, I think that most accidents are avoidable. Keep your mind on the task at hand is the most important safety rule.

-- Tim, Nevada MO

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5590 posts in 2653 days

#6 posted 01-10-2011 03:44 AM

Absolutely. You can completely avoid the workplace, thus avoiding workplace accidents…

-- My workshop blog can be found at

View Tim_456's profile


170 posts in 3016 days

#7 posted 01-10-2011 04:20 AM

other than staying home under the covers..

it is possible to prevent all accidents, however it is not probable to prevent all accidents. There will always be a class of accidents attributed to things that would be cost prohibitive to prevent. As mentioned above, a hidden flaw in the wood or in a weld COULD be prevented but the cost and time to analyze everything and then prevent something would put us all out of business (even if the business is fun). Basically we play the odds and prevent the ones we can but one can never make something 100% safe. Something unanticiapted always go wrong.

View hokieman's profile


173 posts in 3175 days

#8 posted 01-10-2011 04:40 AM

Not all accidents are preventable. Most accidents occur due to human error and many of those are due to mental lapses. Unless you have perfect human beings, there will be mental lapses and when those lapses occur under the wrong conditions the accident occurs. You can engineer our all risk. The only way to be accident free is to eliminate mental lapses which is impossible. It all comes down to managing risk to acceptable levels. What that acceptance level is is up to the individual.

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2620 posts in 2530 days

#9 posted 01-10-2011 05:07 AM

People are not machines, and so fail more…than machines, which fail, as well. I’m a little surprised at the employee being held responsible for injury to another employee in the event of a mechanical failure like an oil leak. I’d think that the employee/contractor responsible for the repair would be more at fault. But then, I’m a logical guy who expects a lot of the same from the rest population, and is thus frequently disappointed. Stupidity is not a cornered market. And the amount of stupidity seems to be increasing rapidly, lately.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View CanadaJeff's profile


207 posts in 3030 days

#10 posted 01-10-2011 05:15 AM

I have yet to hear about an accident where in retrospec a suitable and preventable measure couldn’t have changed the outcome. I would challenge anyone to describe a scenario where a no other measures would have prevented it. There may be some freak incidents, however if you are taking proper precautions and thinking ahead there is always away to avoid accidents.

View Keith Fenton's profile

Keith Fenton

325 posts in 2341 days

#11 posted 01-10-2011 06:17 AM

This is something that really gets my goat. I just think it’s a very dangerous way of thinking. I worked in the food industry and between safety regulations and sanitation regulations, it’s a wonder how anything got done. If we followed all the rules that we were supposed to, we wouldn’thave had a product to sell because nobody would be willing to pay the cost.

It’s all going too far. There is always somebody who can get sued….what a way to live! I can go on and on about this matter but fortunately I gotta go to bed :). Maybe tomorrow.

-- Scroll saw patterns @

View Manitario's profile


2393 posts in 2304 days

#12 posted 01-10-2011 06:42 AM

There is a whole science devoted to studying accident causes. I think that there are several different types of accidents:
-obviously avoidable accidents, eg. failing to use proper safety equipment, using a tool without proper training etc, -accidents which happen because of human error despite proper training and safety equip. eg. accidentally leaning on the “on” switch for the TS when lining up a board for a cut and having it kick back suddenly
-freak, unforseeable, not preventable accidents.

Most of the workplace safety stuff concentrates on #1; which makes sense because I think most of the accidents that happen are as a result of people being careless, or not using proper safety equipment.
The second category of accidents is mainly preventable by better tool design; eg. a recessed “on” switch for a TS. Another example would be the use of GCFI receptacles in wet areas; no-one plans to electrocute themselves, and most people are not stupid enough to go around throwing water on electrical boxes, but electrical engineers realized that “accidents” happen and developed a switch that could cut off the current should a ground fault occur.

I think that you’re right in that you can’t prevent 100% of accidents. I worked for a summer with Manitoba Hydro, in which we had to fill out a “Hazard Report” for every job we did. This got a little bit stupid after awhile, and I think made us care even less about safety.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

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Bob #2

3809 posts in 3442 days

#13 posted 01-10-2011 07:30 AM

The vast majority of “accidents” are a testimonial to the hypothesis behind Darwinism.
I suppose you could legislate stupidity and carelessnes but legislation seems to have little or no effect on crime so I hold out little hope for it.
I thinkyou just have to factorr a part of the problem into the reality of life.

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 2729 days

#14 posted 01-10-2011 08:08 AM

Definitely avoidable and preventable…Total focus and concentration along with common sense will do the job.

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407 posts in 2659 days

#15 posted 01-10-2011 08:48 AM

Accidents are 100% preventable. Stay home on your couch watching TV.


-- That was not wormy wood when I started working on it.

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