Accident theory places such an emphasis on the idea of ’cause’ that it is often hard for people to understand the relative insignificance of this concept. Heinrich understood that while one thing may ’cause’ an ‘accident’ something else altogether might be needed to control the potential for the damage, but few who rely on accident theory have bothered to read or understand what Heinrich said or recognise the significance of the difference.
A recent tragic case illustrates that the distinction is important and that it may well be recognised by people whose thinking process, one may reasonably assume, have not been affected by accident theory as it is promulgated.
On 13th July, 2016 two trains collided head-on in Southern Italy. According to the report in Telegraph newspaper (UK) (see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/12/at-least-10-dead-dozens-injured-in-train-crash-in-southern-italy/ viewed 27th July, 2016).
These two reports come from the web article:
Cause ideas predominate in some minds…
“Investigators have told AFP it is possible the collision was caused by human error.”
“There is yet to be any official confirmation of what caused the crash.”
“… a committee of inquiry would also be held into the cause of the accident.”
And more enlightened ideas in others…
“It is unacceptable that such incidents can still occur in 2016, and even more unacceptable that to speak about ‘human error’,” said Carlo Rienzi, president of the consumer group, Codacons.
“All the railway lines in the world benefit from the most advanced technology available to avoid collisions, derailments and errors.
“Today’s tragedy demonstrates how the railway transport in southern Italy is still at an intolerable level.”
Eleonora Forenza, a European MP from Bari, said it was “incomprehensible” that such a popular railway line was on a single track.
Control measures such as signalling system upgrades and track duplication are regarded as important, and indeed the need for them had been recognised for a long time on this line but bureaucracy is reported to have significantly delayed the works. According to some reports the line relied on a 1960s phone system with one station master phoning the other.