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PUBLISHER'S CORNER


ACCIDENTS WILL HAPPEN TONY CORPIN, PUBLISHER


agement Services in the early 1990s, there are three major reasons: People don’t pay attention, exceed their capabilities and develop patterns of unsafe behaviors. In my case with the spilled milk I wasn’t paying attention and was trying to do too many things at once. A valuable safety theory that you may or may not be aware of is called Heinrich’s Law. It states


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that for every accident in the workplace that results in a major injury there are 29 accidents that cause minor injuries and 300 accidents that cause no injuries at all. Because many accidents share common root causes, addressing more commonplace accidents that cause no injuries can also prevent accidents that cause injuries. Te work of H.W. Heinrich, the assistant superintendent of the Engineering and Inspection Divi-


sion of Travelers Insurance Company during the 1920s and 1930s, is the basis for the theory of behav- ior-based safety. Tis holds that as many as 95 percent of all workplace accidents are caused by unsafe acts. Heinrich came to this conclusion after reviewing thousands of accident reports completed by super- visors, who generally blamed workers for causing accidents without conducting detailed investigations into the root causes. In your transportation operation, what’s the most common type of accident with your school buses?


According to the School Bus Safety Company the most common types that could occur on the road are: hitting fixed objects; backing; side swipe; head-on collision; struck vehicle from rear; struck while parked; ran off the road; overturned; hit low overpass; struck parked vehicle; struck stopped vehicle; struck pedes- trian; right or left turning collision; intersection T-bone; struck debris in road; struck animal; and, finally, railroad crossing collision. Have any of these types of accidents happened to you or your school bus drivers in the last year? Did you identify why the accident happened and what the behavioral cause was? Accidents will happen because we assume risk in our daily lives by crossing the street or getting into a


car, bus, an airplane – or school bus. It sounds like a basic concept, but it’s true that we all take risks every day. How much risk tolerance we have increases or decreases our chances for an accident. I love snowboarding, for example, and when I was younger I wasn’t worried about taking that big jump. I


definitely fell down or crashed my fair share of times, and those were minor accidents. I could have caused myself serious injury but was lucky. I was assuming a lot of risk based on my actions. Tese days I realize that, and I’m not as willing to take the risk of injuring myself. As a result I’ve lowered my risk tolerance. What risks do you find acceptable and unacceptable in your personal as well as business life? Risk will always exist when transporting children on school buses, but by establishing norms you can help eliminate unsafe behaviors and unsafe conditions that cause accidents. When observing a team member engage in safe or unsafe behaviors, leaders can choose to reward or punish to create a norm of acceptable behavior. Most importantly you need to inspire others to do things safely. Show your staff members the value


of safety and build a culture around it. Norms are far more powerful than rules, regulations, policies or procedures. You want buy-in and agreement from your team so it will be the way you always operate with minimal error. Accidents will happen but it’s how you respond as a leader that will make all the difference in learning from those mistakes. 


he day I wrote this column I was running a little late to work. In preparing my breakfast I accidently spilled the milk, literally. I of course didn’t plan on that happening, and as a result it only made me even later as I had to clean up the mess. "It" happened.


But why do people have accidents? According to a safety study performed by Laidlaw and Avatar Man-


66 School Transportation News May 2014


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