Scaled Management Systems

Part 5b – The Concepts of Incident Causation

Definitions –


That the employee’s injury was caused by the hazard in question and the level of risk was not controlled either through hazard elimination or risk minimisation.


That the employer’s operations involved a known hazard with an assessable risk means an incident (with or without injury) could have been foreseen.


Was there a reasonably practicable method of eliminating the hazard or minimising the risk?


Was it reasonable to have the hazard controlled via elimination or the risk reduced? The employer’s failure to eliminate the hazard or minimise the risk demonstrates a lack of reasonable care for the safety of employees.

Traditional legal application of the concept of causation

“The employee must prove that, but for the defect in the system, the injury would probably not have occurred. It is sufficient to prove that a dangerous factor present caused or contributed to the employee’s injury. Quite often the employee can show that some safety equipment that the employer could have provided (such as goggles, hearing aids, special boots or clothing) was not provided. If this is proved then the employer can escape liability only by proving that if the equipment were provided the employee would not have used it.”

Boulton, M (1988) Torts

“The most satisfactory formulation of the legal concept of causality affirms that conduct is causally relevant if it is necessary to complete a set of conditions jointly sufficient for the production of the consequence.”

Glass, H; Hughes, M; ‘The Liability of Employers’