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Incident vs Accident: Do You Know The Difference?

Incident Or Accident: Which Is It?

Incident vs accident: Have you ever used these two words to describe the same type of event? You’re not the first person and you probably won’t be the last. But did you know they are actually two different things?

Incident and accident are often used to describe the same types of events because they sound alike. For example, both of these words end with the letters c-i-d-e-n-t, and both words describe a past, present, or future event. However, they shouldn’t be used interchangeably, and this is especially true when you are referring to an incident or accident in the workplace. Instead, they should be used with certain conditions. Here is why:

What Is An Incident?

An incident is an unplanned, undesired event that hinders completion of a task and that has the potential to cause injury, illness, property damage or some combination of all three.

Unplanned and undesired do not mean unable to prevent or unable to prepare for.

A Near Miss: is a subset of incidents that could have resulted in injury, illness or property damage, if given a different set of circumstances, but didn’t. Near misses are also known as ‘close calls.’

What Is An Accident?

In the workplace, an accident refers to an event that resulted in an injury, illness, property damage or some combination of all three.

When an accident happens in the workplace it shows the safety management measures that are in place are not enough to ensure a safe work environment. If the safety measures were adequate, the accident wouldn’t have happened in the first place.

Therefore, while both are serious events that provide evidence of unsuitable safety measures, an accident is more serious nature than an incident because it usually results in an injury or damage to property.

What To Do If You?ve Been Involved In An Incident Or Accident?

If you have been involved in either an incident or accident the first thing you should do is report it and set the wheels in motion for an investigation to be carried out. Every single incident or accident that happens in the workplace, whether it is a near miss or an actual injury-related event, should be investigated. Many people wrongly think the purpose of an investigation is to find someone to blame. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Proactively investigating and analyzing every incident, accident or near miss in the workplace is extremely important because it will allow management to get to the root of the problem and establish how and why it happened.

The main reason all of these types of events should be reported is that an investigation will allow management to identify and control threats to employee safety before they lead to a more serious accident. Investigations into incidents and accidents are a valuable tool for identifying and uncovering hazards that have been overlooked or managed to slip out of the controls that are in place to stop them from happening. So incident/accident investigations are really about improving working conditions for you and your fellow workers.

Are You Entitled To A Claim?

If you have been injured while you were at work you may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation. Even if your insurance company acts immediately and is providing benefits, you may be entitled to more than you know. Workers compensation may be able to provide you with the medical treatment you need to recover from your work related injury or illness and may also partially replace the wages you will lose while you are recovering.

workers' comp claims process

Disclaimer: For informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for legal advice. If you need legal advice please contact us.