June 24, 2010 | Mark Paradies

What is an “Accident”

After I started writing about the BP/Transocean Deepwater Horizon accident, I’ve had several people write me that I should stop using the term accident because it implies there is nothing that can (or could have) been done to stop “an accident” from occurring.

So I thought I would look up an official definition of the word and see if I was misusing the term.

Here’s the definition from Merriam-Webster’s On-Line Dictionary:

1 a : an unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance b : lack of intention or necessity : chance <met by accident rather than by design>

2 a : an unfortunate event resulting especially from carelessness or ignorance b : an unexpected and medically important bodily event especially when injurious <a cerebrovascular accident> c : an unexpected happening causing loss or injury which is not due to any fault or misconduct on the part of the person injured but for which legal relief may be sought d —used euphemistically to refer to an involuntary act or instance of urination or defecation

3 : a nonessential property or quality of an entity or circumstance <the accident of nationality>

I think the definition covers events like the BP/Transocean Deepwater Horizon explosion, the BP Texas City refinery explosion, Three Mile Island, … . Especially when you consider 2 a.

2 a :  an unfortunate event resulting especially from carelessness or ignorance.

Also, you might think about definition 2 c.

2 c : an unexpected happening causing loss or injury which is not due to any fault or misconduct on the part of the person injured but for which legal relief may be sought 

In both of these cases you can do something (or could have done something) to prevent the accident.

Accidents are not “unpreventable.” They are un-prevented.

Therefore, I will continue to use the word accident knowing that we can do something about accidents. Either proactively (before they happen to prevent them) or reactively (after they happen to prevent them from happening again).

After all, that’s what TapRooT® is all about – proactively or reactively preventing accidents.

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