Accident Theories

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Theuse of theories to explain the causal factors behind accidents thattake place in the industry is important to understanding theunderlying factors behind the occurrence of the said accidents. Thereason for the occurrences of accidents has puzzled decision makersin the sector of safety and health, as pointed out by Goetsch (2011).Establishing a cause and effect relation between the factors thatpromote the occurrence of accidents is critical for their prevention.On that note, the paper will seek to understand the masked factorsbehind the occurrence of accidents using the most suitabletheoretical frameworks.


Inan accident report investigated by the National Transportation SafetyBoard NTSB (n.d), the briefs indicated that on the 24thof February 2015, just before dawn, a Metrolink commuter train, whichwas under the management of Amtrak was traveling from Oxnard to LosAngeles (n.d). The train collided with a 2005 Ford F450 Service Truckupon approaching the grade crossing at South Rice Avenue (NTSB, n.d).The service truck, according to NTSB (n.d), was towing a 2000 Wellscargo utility trailer. In the accident, the driver of the truckturned right from the South Rice Avenue to the track of the UnionPacific and was then lodged at about 80 feet west of the gradecrossing (NTSB, n.d). After the conduction of an investigation intothe accident, it was established that the probable cause wasattributed to the driver turning into the right-of-way into therailroad because of fatigue and unfamiliarity with the crash area.

TheHuman Factors theory of accident causation is the most applicable tothe accident in question. The Human Factors theory can be used toidentify the factors that led to the accident under the categories ofoverload, inappropriate response/incompatibility, and inappropriateactivities. In the overload category, consideration is made to thecapacity of the truck driver in question and his state whenundertaking his task, which is evident when the driver was proven tobe fatigued at the time of the accident. This was facilitated by anextension of his travel time because of the mishaps he experienced inhis journey (NTSB, n.d). Under the category of inappropriateresponse, it can be deduced that the truck driver failed to call 911for help amid the detection of a potential hazard because hepanicked. Additionally, an incompatibility issue is apparent when thetruck driver was unfamiliar with the area he was to be working in(NTSB, n.d). Finally, under the inappropriate activities, the truckdriver turned right too soon and immediately entered the right of wayinto the railroad, where he traveled until his truck was stuck in therails after about 80feet (NTSB, n.d).

Undoubtedly,human factors had a hand in the railroad crash accident. In theabsence of the human errors, accidents and the loss that resulttherefrom, such as the one above can be prevented.


Inanother accident reported by the U.S. Department of Labor (n.d), itwas established that an employee fell from a scaffold platform thatwas elevated about 21 feet from the ground (U.S. Department of Labor,n.d). The platform was attached to a tractor with a forklift that wasof variable reach (U.S. Department of Labor, n.d). The employees weretasked with the removal of windows from a wall when the forklifttipped over. The facts of the case reveal that an inspection of theworksite was not done in addition to the fact that the company thathired the employees in question had poor health and safety programand employee training and education in place (U.S. Department ofLabor, n.d).

Thetheory that is most applicable to the accident at hand is the Dominotheory, which holds that a series of five things happen in thesubsequent events that lead to the occurrence of an accident(Goetsch, 2011). The theory can be used to understand the causalfactors o the accident through the following. The ancestry/socialenvironment of the employees indicated a series of negative traits ofpoor work practices facilitated by inadequate training on the job athand and health and safety. Thanks to the poor work practices, faultyoperations were undertaken by the forklift operator were present.Unsafe acts were noted by the fact the operation of machinery at thesite by unqualified personnel. Thanks to the unsafe acts, a fallaccident occurred, which resulted in the fatal injury of one of theemployees who died.

Itis essential to note that in agreement with the views of Goetsch(2011) if the core Domino is eliminated i.e. the factors associatedwith unsafe acts that result in accident causation, the above casewould not have occurred.


Insummary, understanding accident causation is imperative to launch aneffective preventive mechanism. The use of theoretical frameworks asskeletons for grasping the essence of accident causation isparamount. The use of theories like the ones presented above isone-step closer to isolating and eliminating the factors that promotethe occurrence of accidents.


Goetsch,D. L. (2011). Occupational Safety and Health for Technologists,Engineers, and Managers.

NationalTransportation Safety Board. (n.d). Highway Accident Brief Train andTruck Crash on Railroad Right-of-Way and Subsequent Fire. RetrievedMarch 19, 2017, from

TheU.S. Department of Labor. (n.d). Accident Report Disaster Facts.RetrievedMarch 19, 2017, from