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Poster-discussion: Injuries
What's in a name? Accidents or injuries?
  1. Yogindra Samant,
  2. Ebba Wergeland
  1. Norwegian Labour Inspectorate, Trondheim, Norway

Abstract

An occupational accident is an unpleasant “event” which occurs unexpectedly and causes injury or damage. Accident also denotes a range of different phenomena such as fate, coincidence, luck, misfortune and thus is a vague term. The word injury means a harm, wound or trauma done to a person's body. Our aim is to highlight the somewhat erroneous use of the word “accident” instead of injury. Methodically it is important to know what are we measuring? In case of occupational diseases a cogent distinction is globally accepted. Exposure measures are not disease measures. Similarly, an accident statistic is not necessarily an injury statistic. In medieval times, Black Death was a phenomenon that was poorly understood and was explained as punishment for our sins. However, modern science distinguished between the cause (Y. Pestis) and the outcome (Bubonic Plague) and measures to prevent the outcome followed. History shows that successful prevention mandates a demarcation between the preceding event and the following outcome. An occupational car accident implies both event and injury. The extent of the injury is a result of the car crash which could be restricted by airbags. Isolation of the event (car crash) and the outcome (injury) is therefore critical to prevention technologies. All potential causes of the injury may be impossible to eliminate, but the outcome could be modified by targeted interventions. “Incident” is perhaps a precise term instead of accident for epidemiological applications. Regardless, if the word accident is indispensible, we recommend a more appraised use of the words accident and injury in epidemiology.

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