Safety Consultant
Dear All
How we can define these two terms...Incident & Accident...
How one is different from other...
Please come forward with your views so that we can understnad it in details...
With regards,
Dipil Kumar V

From India
In case of incident, there is no injury to person but may be property damage.
In case of Accident, there is injury to a peroson and may be property damage.
Eg. one slips by stepping on banana leaves.
Incident : Slipping but no injury
Accident : Slipping and got injury in body part.
Shailesh Mistry
Contact : 09898402719

From India, Pune

HR & Back end Operations
Its something similar to 'Cause' and 'Effect'. Incident can be termed as an event that is brought to notice during a normal course of action and Accdent can be termed as an event that alters the normal course of action.
From India, Mumbai
HR Executive
Dear Dilip,
As per the previous definitions of OHSAS 18001 the term accident is defined as the harm or loss to an individual or property, whereas as per the definitions of 18001:2007 the term accident is re-defined as incident. An incident may be an accident or a near-miss.
Accident term is no more used wherever organizations are ISO 18001 certified.

From India, Surat
Kesava Pillai

Occupational Safety & Health
Dear Friends,

This is a subject of debate since many years. There had been hundreds and hundreds of postings on forums to fill thousands of pages. Early days into the profession I was also getting confused over it.

I am reproducing two of the replies received from experts before. For those who need I may be able to provide hundreds of opinion from eminent safety people.

My Advice : you use either of the word with which you feel comfortable– it does not make any difference !

1. What Matters Is Not the Words but How We Communicate Them

The recent spirited debate over Accident vs. Incident has been educational, enlightening, amusing and entertaining. It also serves to illustrate the many differences among members of the same profession. But for me, it also illustrates how easily we get caught up in, or focus on, semantics and definitions and totally forget the key, which is effective communications! To me, neither term is effective on its own as demonstrated by this discussion.

I am a realist and as a trainer and safety consultant for more than 26 years, I have had ample time to make mistakes and learn from them. Words and terms used among safety professionals should convey specific information as clearly as possible based on a persons perception of he word rather than the text book definition. It is of little or no consequence what the book definition of a word is. What is important is the idea or image the word conveys; what the actual understanding and interpretation is to the person receiving and processing the language.

With this understanding of communication I would like to submit my two cents on this debate. Personally I use both terms to clearly identify what type of situation exists as communications in any situation using either of these two terms is important! I have never heard incident OR accident used in a casual conversation regarding safety! Both terms are normally used to convey a problem! Here are my feelings on the proper use of these powerful words:

Accident - Used to convey a situation in which there has been an injury involving a human. Reserving Accident to denote injuries helps save time! If I hear "Johnny has been involved in an accident" the word Accident triggers an immediate response plan involving first aid members, first aid equipment and immediate activation of the accident response team. This term supersedes the normal delay involved in evaluating the situation to determine what actually happened.

Incident - Used to convey damage to property. No threat to human life exists. Although the same elements of response mentioned above may still be required, there is not a threat to human life. Evaluation is normally my first response to an incident. I know immediately that although it may be serious and costly, anything involved in an incident is replaceable or manageable and does not involve Loss-of-Life.

As professionals, every word we use conveys a meaning to the person receiving the information. Whether they receive the correct meaning is up to us. In addition to the words already discussed, additional words also need to convey specific information. If their is an incident involving a chemical spill, the work SPILL should be used rather than trying to parse the meaning of Accident OR Incident. We do not have incidents involving fire, we have FIRE!

I would encourage everyone (myself included) to always consider not just the meaning of a word but their perception! A Rose by any other name may indeed still be a Rose, but you are going to spend a great deal of energy explaining to me why you refer to it as a visual and olfactory stimulation device! In an emergency the proper use and understanding of language can mean the difference between life or death. Choose your words carefully!

Bob Breslin, Director

OSHA Compliance & Education

Vanguard Environmental, Inc.

2. Get Over It!

WOW. The first thing I thought when I read the comments about the "debate" between the terminology of incident and accident was "Get over it". As safety professionals we have heard these debates before and if we have any experience we should know that most people outside of the profession are going to use these terms to describe their incident / accident. We should be focusing on causes, proper investigations and prevention not what we call it. If it drives us that crazy to hear the word accident you better bail out of the profession because you will hear that word for decades to come.

Use the words you want I know what you mean.

Name withheld.


Kesava Pillai

From India, Kollam

HR Executive
Wow !!!!!!!!!!!!
My Ex. Factory Manger always tell us in safety meeting that Safety Instructions, SOPs , Displays should be simple and understandable .
Kesava Sir : You have been always made this critical subject so simple and intersting
Thanks ... Thans ... Thanks

From India, Mumbai

Safety Consultant
Dear All
An incident is any event that could have resulted or did result in
>Injury or illness
>Property damage.
>Environmental impact.
>Adverse community reaction.
>Business interruption.
Referance: DuPont
An accident is any unplanned, uncontrolled event that could result in personal injury or property damage. According to Henrich's Domino Theory.
Experts in the field of injury prevention avoid use of the term 'accident' to describe events that cause injury in an attempt to highlight the predictable and preventable nature of most injuries.
But as said by Keshav Pillai sir, its good to use to term Accident in case of emergencies to facilitate quick response/medical help...
In written communications its better to use the word Incident, rather than accident... As Accident word creating a negative impact...
With regards,
Dipil Kumar V

From India
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