Accident management means actions taken in order to mitigate adverse effects of an accident. This is a broad term, encompassing different types of accidents. The approach to accident management varies between companies and depends on the nature of business activities the company is involved in. However, the primary objective of accident management policies is to "ensure safety or reduce risk to the population (Bruegge, B., 1994, p. 1). Although accident management can be applied to various spheres of human activity, the concept of accident management is especially pronounced in reference to numerous sectors of industry and mass events.
Systems developed by companies are becoming more resilient nowadays. The definition of resilience resembles the one of accident management, being described as "an ability of a system and its component parts to anticipate, absorb, accommodate, or recover from the effects of a shock or stress in a timely and efficient manner" (Mitchell, T., 2012, p. 2).
In order to manage accidents effectively, companies need to develop an information system that would allow them to react quickly in case of an emergency (Bruegge, B., 1994, p. 1). According to Bruegge, such a system should consist of two subsystems (1994, p. 1):
- "reference information", which is relatively stable and remains unchanged in the situation of an accident
- "decision support information", which constitutes a dynamic part of an information system.
Rapid development of technology has supported accident management. Modern risk management "involves interactions between multiple human operators, procedures and technical systems" (Blom, H., 2003, p. 3). In order to mitigate negative effects of accidents, there is a need for establishing procedures that would clearly specify the steps that should be taken once the emergency situation occurs. This is crucial especially in reference to accidents and breakdowns whose consequences can affect a large number of individuals, as it was e.g. in case of a disaster that happened in a nuclear power plant in Chernobyl in 1986.
Key steps in accident management
Lathrop lists the steps that should be taken in the course of accident management (1981, pp. 6-7):
- recognition and identification - accidents do not always happen suddenly, there might be some initial events or conditions that trigger them. Therefore, it is important to control and monitor high-risk activities. Early detection and identification of the problem is crucial as it may help to avoid its further escalation
- determining the scale of the accident
- informing all the parties affected by the accident
- selecting the counter steps - it refers to the activities that should be undertaken in order to stop further escalation of the problem
- applying countermeasures
- taking steps to restore the conditions existing before the accident or improving these conditions to avoid similar accidents in the future
- drawing conclusions and translating them into safety procedures that should be followed in an organisation.
Effective accident management may be hindered if the information about the accident is inaccurate or insufficient (Tang, O., 2011, p. 3). This is especially important for the step involving the selection of proper countermeasures. If the management is misinformed about the situation, they might decide on the implementation of the procedures that fail to mitigate the consequences of an accident and, as a consequence, lead to its further escalation.
Examples of Accident management
- Workplace Accident Management: Workplace accidents are a major concern for employers and employees alike. Companies need to create an effective accident management policy that outlines the processes for reporting and responding to workplace accidents. Such policies should include procedures for incident reporting, investigation, corrective action, and prevention.
- Road Accident Management: Road accidents are one of the most common causes of injuries and fatalities in the world. Accident management strategies for road safety involve educating drivers on proper driving behavior, enforcing speed limits, and ensuring that safety measures such as seatbelts and airbags are in place. Additionally, traffic control systems, intelligent transportation systems, and automated emergency response systems can be used to help reduce the number of road accidents.
- Emergency Response Management: Emergency response management is a critical part of accident management, as it involves responding quickly and efficiently to emergencies. This includes preparing for and responding to natural disasters, such as floods, fires, and earthquakes. It also involves responding to man-made disasters, such as explosions, hazardous material spills, and civil disturbances. Emergency response plans should be developed in advance, and they should include a chain of command, response protocols, and resources.
- Event Management: Event management is also a form of accident management, as it involves coordinating and managing activities to ensure the safety of participants and spectators. Event managers need to be aware of potential risks and must develop strategies to mitigate potential hazards. This includes setting up barriers, providing crowd control, and implementing security measures. Event managers also need to have contingency plans in place in order to minimize the impacts of any accidents that occur.
Advantages of Accident management
- Accident management helps to minimize the financial losses that could occur due to an accident. By implementing preventive measures and having a plan in place, organizations can better anticipate, prepare for, and respond to any accident that might occur.
- Accident management provides a framework for identifying and assessing risks associated with any activity. This helps to ensure that proper safety measures are taken, which decreases the chances of any incidents or accidents.
- Accident management also helps to ensure that any accidents or incidents are properly reported and documented, which serves to provide a record for future reference. This can be useful when assessing the cause of an accident and can help inform preventative measures in the future.
- Accident management can also help to reduce any legal issues that might arise due to an accident. By having a comprehensive policy in place, organizations can show that they are taking the necessary steps to ensure safety, which may help to minimise any claims or litigation.
- Accident management also helps to provide a safe working environment, which can potentially increase employee morale, productivity and reduce absenteeism.
Limitations of Accident management
Accident management has certain limitations and drawbacks. These include:
- Cost: Accident management can be expensive, as it requires resources to be allocated and personnel to be trained and equipment to be purchased.
- Time: Accident management can also be time-consuming, as it requires personnel to be trained and the entire system to be implemented.
- Complexity: Accident management can be complex and difficult to understand, as it requires personnel to understand and adhere to the safety regulations.
- Compliance: Accident management often requires companies to comply with local, state, and federal regulations, which can be difficult to follow.
- Liability: Accident management may increase the company's liability, as the company is held responsible for any accidents that occur.
- Adaptability: Accident management may not be able to adapt to rapidly changing conditions or new situations, as it is often based on past experiences and data.
- Crisis Management: Crisis management involves responding to crises and anticipating potential threats before they arise. It involves anticipating, preventing, and managing potential risks that could lead to accidents or other types of disasters. Crisis management strategies include risk assessment, training, and communication protocols, as well as developing and implementing procedures for responding to crises.
- Disaster Recovery: Disaster recovery is the process of returning to normal operations after a disaster or accident has occurred. It involves restoring and rebuilding systems, data, and infrastructure. The goal is to ensure that the company can continue to operate even in the event of a disaster.
- Risk Management: Risk management focuses on identifying and assessing potential risks, developing strategies to reduce the likelihood of accidents and disasters, and providing the necessary resources to handle the aftermath of a disaster. This approach is designed to help reduce the financial, operational, and reputational risks associated with an accident.
- Incident Management: Incident management is the process of responding to and resolving incidents that have already occurred. It involves gathering and analyzing information, developing plans of action to respond to the incident, and providing resources to manage and mitigate the consequences of the incident.
In summary, accident management involves a range of approaches to minimize the effects of an accident. These approaches include crisis management, disaster recovery, risk management, and incident management. Each approach focuses on different aspects of accident management, such as anticipating and responding to crises, restoring operations after a disaster, and managing the consequences of an incident.
|Accident management — recommended articles|
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- Blom, H., (2003), Stochastic analysis background of accident risk assessment for Air Traffic Management, "EU IST Programme"
- Bruegge, B., (1994), Design Considerations for an Accident Management System, Toronto Press, Pittsburgh
- Lathrop, J., (1981), Planning for Rare Events: Nuclear Accident Preparedness and Management, Pergamon Press, Oxford
- Mitchell, T., (2012), Resilience: A risk management approach', Overseas Development Institute, London
- Tang, O., (2011), Identifying risk issues and research advancements in supply chainrisk management, "International Journal of Production Economics", nr 133
Author: Małgorzata Goryl