Accidents have plagued man since the beginning of time. They have caused him injury. They have caused him property damage and loss. And sometimes they have cost him life. Accidents often have been considered inevitable. In one sense, they are—they are the inevitable result of human failure.

Accidents have changed the course of history. They certainly change the course of our life if we are the injured or our property is lost or damaged. Accidents have increased to such a degree in modern life that they require our best efforts to prevent them. Much is available in the literature of the world on how to prevent accidents, and I am sure this paper will give nothing new in accident prevention. But if it re-emphasizes safety fundamentals, it will serve a useful purpose.

There has been some tendency to limit accident prevention to study of injury-producing ones and to overlook accidents that cause damage or loss of property. This tendency is understandable. Personal injuries are rightly more demanding of our attention than destruction of property. But this limited view has delayed progress in accident prevention.

I think it is appropriate to define the word "accident" as a professional safety engineer uses it:

"An accident is any unexpected event that interrupts of interferes with the orderly of production, activity, or process."

Under this definition, an accident may cause damage to equipment or material or cause a production delay without resulting in an injury. It is here that the campaign to prevent accidents must start for almost every accident has the potential of causing injury.

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