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Accident ProneA History of Technology, Psychology, and Misfits of the Machine Age$
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John C. Burnham

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780226081175

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226081199.001.0001

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Eclipse of the Idea Among Experts

Eclipse of the Idea Among Experts

(p.166) 9. Eclipse of the Idea Among Experts
Accident Prone
University of Chicago Press

This chapter investigates the subject of accident proneness from the profile of experts' writings. The decline of accident proneness occurred simultaneously with the rise of a new epidemiology and the idea of risk groups. The centrality of statistics to accident proneness came from the fact that Karl Marbe, Major Greenwood, and Hilda M. Woods extracted an idea of accident proneness from statistical material in the first place. The critics of the idea of accident proneness were advocates of safety strategies. Epidemiology and risk groups effectively replaced accident proneness in the technical literature. Public health experts used epidemiology to move away from blaming individuals for injuries. The epidemiology of injuries could introduce social viewpoints, as opposed to clinical treatment of the individual. Neither accident proneness nor even risk groups were important to engineering safety. However, knowing about risk groups could suggest areas on which to focus engineering efforts.

Keywords:   epidemiology, risk groups, Karl Marbe, Major Greenwood, Hilda M. Woods, public health, engineering safety

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