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Immediate Cause Of Accident; Explained

We have been hearing “Immediate Cause Of Accident“, but only few people can really define what is it in clear terms.

To be able to carry out an effective accident investigation, you must understand the concept of immediate cause of accident. At the end of this article, you will no longer be looking for words to use to describe immediate cause of accident, as detailed definition and explanation will be made available.

Immediate Cause Of Accident

What is Immediate Cause Of Accident – Immediate cause of accident can be said to be a Proximate cause, a direct cause which occurs immediately prior to the incident. It is a cause that directly resulted to the unplanned, unpleasant occurrence and if eliminated or modified, would have prevented the undesired outcome.

Immediate cause is mostly associated with unsafe act, unsafe conditions or both.

Examples Of Immediate Cause Of Accident

There are several examples of immediate cause of accident, some are enumerated below:

  1. Improper housekeeping, and/or no housekeeping
  2. Improper use of tools, equipment, facilities
  3. Unsafe or detective equipment, facilities
  4. Lack of proper procedures
  5. Improvising unsafe procedure
  6. Failure to follow designated procedures
  7. Lack of awareness of hazards involved
  8. Lack of proper tools, equipment, facilities
  9. Lack of guards, safety devices

Note: There is a marked difference between immediate cause and root cause.

Let us talk briefly about root cause.

What Is Root Cause Of Accident

A root cause is a fundamental, underlying, system-related reason why an incident occurred that
identifies one or more correctable system failures.

The root cause of an accident in the workplace is the triggering event or condition that results in a workplace injury, illness, or near miss. During a root cause investigation, an employer will seek to identify all of the factors that contributed to an event. Such investigations should look beyond the easily identifiable, or surface, causes and identify systematic errors or flaws that enabled the event to occur.

READ: Work Accident – Types, Causes & Prevention

The root cause of an accident is a set of underlying condition(s) that led to the existence of the immediate cause.

Examples Of Root Cause Of Accident

  1. Hazards not recognized
  2. Facilities inadequate for storage
  3. Inadequate training
  4. Not following procedures
  5. Lack of procedures
  6. Poor design or selection
  7. Poor maintenance
  8. Poor or Lack of supervision
  9. Poor safety culture

Root Cause Analysis

Root Cause Analysis abbreviated as RCA is a popular technique that helps people answer the question of why the problem occurred in the first place. It seeks to identify the origin of a problem using a specific set of steps, with associated tools, to find the primary cause of the problem, so that you can:

  1. Determine what happened.
  2. Determine why it happened.
  3. Figure out what to do to reduce the likelihood that it will happen again.

Root Cause Analysis assumes that systems and events are interrelated. An action in one area triggers an action in another, and another, and so on; like a chain reaction. By tracing back these actions, you can discover where the problem started and how it grew into the symptom you’re now facing.

In RCA you will usually find three basic types of causes:

  1. Physical causes – Tangible, material items failed in some way (for example, a car’s brakes stopped working).
  2. Human causes – People did something wrong, or did not do something that was needed. Human causes typically lead to physical causes (for example, no one filled the brake fluid, which led to the brakes failing).
  3. Organizational causes – A system, process, or policy that people use to make decisions or do their work is faulty (for example, no one person was responsible for vehicle maintenance, and everyone assumed someone else had filled the brake fluid).

READ: 5 Important Questions To Ask During Accident Investigation

RCA looks at all three types of causes. It involves investigating the patterns of negative effects, finding hidden flaws in the system, and discovering specific actions that contributed to the problem. This often means that RCA reveals more than one root cause.

Difference Between Immediate Cause Of Accident and Root Cause Of Accident

An immediate cause is the direct, obvious cause of the incident, usually as an unsafe act or condition, such as not wearing PPE.


Root or underlying cause is the events or condition that allowed the immediate cause to develop, such as poor company culture and management controls.

So, above is a clear difference between immediate cause of accident and root cause.

I also believe that you can now authoritatively explain what immediate cause of accident it.

If you have any question, you can ask via the comment box.

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