Suddenly deciding to ride with a neighbour, a man rushed out his front door as the neighbor’s car was beginning to pull away. Failing to see a pipe that workmen had laid on the sidewalk, he tripped and broke a kneecap. A few years later he injured his back when a heavy roll of paper that he was stacking in a factory fell on him. Shortly thereafter he developed a hernia from lifting heavy boxes, and not long after it was repaired he got another hernia in exactly the same manner. From appearances it would seem that this man is accident-prone.
To be accident-prone means to have a greater number of accidents than other people have under the same circumstances. Has this been your experience? Do you have repeated accidents, tripping over things lying on the floor of your home, tumbling down stairs, falling off ladders, cutting yourself when working with sharp tools, and so forth? Why is it that some persons seem to have more than their share of accidents? What can they do to overcome the problem?
It can be something of real concern to them because it can affect their employment, besides being a cause of great discomfort from the injuries. Employers may be inclined to dismiss them in an effort to reduce work injuries.
[ad # 468by60]
Why Do Some Have More Accidents?
It is difficult to say precisely why some persons seem to have more accidents than others. That they do appears to be confirmed by the findings of Professor Hans Hahn, who estimates that 25 percent of the population have this problem. Other researchers think the number in a working force runs from 10 to 30 percent, with this group suffering from 40 to 60 percent of the injuries from accidents.
A number of factors are undoubtedly involved. One, for example, could be lack of proper training in work procedures for doing a particular job. The man who was injured by the paper roll falling on him lacked proper training in handling such things. He was helping out at work that was unfamiliar to him.
A similar situation can exist in a factory where a man is put on a machine without sufficient training and supervision. He is more likely to have an accident than the person that has been given training in proper work procedures.
Another factor might be a person’s mental capacity for a certain type of work. He might not be suited for the work because of being rather slow mentally, whereas alertness and quick decisions may be necessary for the job. He would, therefore, be more subject to accidents. If he were given something else to do that would better suit his mental capacity he probably would have fewer accidents.
The same can be true of a person that lacks the physical capacity for a job that requires the moving of heavy objects. He may be best suited physically for a job as an office worker and may not be in condition to work at something that requires considerable physical strength. Failure to recognize this may lead to accidents.
The nervous temperament of a person is still another factor. He may be emotional or easily upset when under nervous tension. If something does not go just right, he could lose his customary caution and react in a way that could cause him to have an accident.
How to Overcome the Problem
It is not possible to lay out a simple solution, because many different factors are involved. Contudo, there are things that can be done that may help to overcome the problem.
An employer, for example, can recognize the limitations of a person who seems to be accident-prone. If better training and safety instruction are necessary, that would be worth while. It could improve the safety record of his establishment as well as production. Or it may be best to shift the person to another job, one that would be within his capabilities.
As for the person himself, he too needs to recognize his limitations. If he is not in physical condition to do work that requires heavy lifting, he would be wise to seek other employment, and thus avoid possible accidents. If a type of work puts him under a nervous strain and he knows that he is of a nervous temperament or very emotional, he could seek a different job. Thus by recognizing his limitations he can try to avoid situations that he knows will be dangerous for him.
Oftentimes accidents occur when a person loses self-control during moments of emotional stress. It is not unusual for an automobile accident to occur when the driver is under such stress, perhaps being angry about something. So the person who tends to have repeated accidents because he gets angry easily or is stirred emotionally would do well to work on developing self-control. He needs to learn how to overlook things that can cause his anger to rise up.
See Dangerous Situations
To avoid accidents, a person needs to train himself to follow the warning given to automobile drivers at some railroad crossings—“Stop! Look! Listen!” In this case he might Stop! Look! and Think!
By training himself to look over a situation before acting, he is more likely to avoid an accident. If the man mentioned earlier had first looked about him when leaving his house, he would undoubtedly have noticed the pipe lying on the sidewalk and would not have stumbled over it.
For a person who has established a habit of rushing nervously about, it will not be easy to train himself to look and think first. But if he makes a determined effort to do it, he stands a better chance of not getting hurt. In the pain and expense of past accidents he has ample incentive to change his ways.
He can often anticipate what could happen in a situation. For example, suppose you have highly polished floors in your home. To enjoy their beauty you may decide to put throw rugs on them. Now, do not stop there, but look ahead to what could happen when you step on one of those rugs when rushing to answer the phone or the doorbell. The rug could slip out from under your foot and cause a bad fall. Seeing that possibility, you can try to avoid a possible accident by fastening material to the underside of the rugs to prevent them from slipping.
In another situation a person may be about to light a burner in a gas oven. If he does not think ahead to what might happen if the oven is filled with gas, he could have a serious accident. It could explode in his face. Instead of turning the gas on before he lights the match, he ought to turn it on afterward so the gas will not have time to accumulate. That would show good thinking.
When sitting in a bathtub of water a person may decide to turn on a radio or flip a light switch. Here again he needs to stop and ask himself, Is there danger here? What could happen if I touched an electrical appliance while sitting in water? Since water is a good conductor of electricity, he could receive a fatal shock.
Suppose he gets up in the night to get some medicine from the medicine cabinet. Knowing where the bottle usually is, he may reach for it without turning on a light. Here is another dangerous situation. He needs to stop for a moment and think. He should ask himself: “Suppose someone has moved the bottle and I get the wrong one; what then?” There could be a serious accident. The same danger exists in taking medicine from an unlabeled bottle. A mistake can too easily be made. These are accident traps that a person needs to train himself to recognize.
Still another dangerous situation is to sit in a parked car with the motor running and the windows rolled up. Some persons have done this in the wintertime so as to keep warm with the car heater while waiting for someone. With no air coming into the car, what can happen? Carbon monoxide can leak in and kill the passengers. This has happened many times.
Situations such as these cause accidents among people who have not trained themselves to see accident traps. As the habit of looking both ways before crossing a street is established in a person from the time he is a child so that it becomes automatic, so the accident-prone person needs to remind himself constantly to stop, look and think. He needs to be continually conscious of his proneness to accidents so that caution becomes a habit.
When he is given safety instructions at work he ought to pay more than the usual attention to them, remembering that he needs them more than anyone else. When he comes across published articles on safety he does well to read them carefully so he can be helped to recognize dangerous situations, accident traps. When he reads about people having accidents he can take particular note of what they did that was wrong so he can avoid it.
By establishing the habit of stopping, looking and thinking before acting he will automatically become cautious under all kinds of circumstances. It can save him from many unnecessary accidents and help him to get rid of the unpleasant reputation of being accident-prone.
[ad # FooterText]