Types and sources of fatal and severe non-fatal accidents in industrial maintenance

Salla Lind

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)


Due to the various work phases in disassembly and assembly, coupled with, for example, the pressure of time and working in close contact with machinery, industrial maintenance operations include several occupational risks. This article presents the results of an analysis based on real accident data. The data consisted of public Finnish accident reports describing fatal and severe non-fatal accidents in Finnish industry. The examination was limited to those accidents that involved full-time maintenance workers executing industrial maintenance operations. In the case of fatal accidents, the examination included the reports that were published during the years 1985–2004. The analysis of severe non-fatal accidents included the publication years 1994–2004. The accident types as well as their sources were examined in the light of Reason's theory on organizational accidents. During the reference periods, a total of 37 maintenance workers died in 33 accident cases. The respective number of victims among severe non-fatal accidents is 90. The findings indicate that the most typical accident types in both fatal and severe non-fatal accidents are crushing, falling, and accidents involving falling objects. The most frequently identified unsafe act leading to fatal accidents is dangerous working method (including conscious risk-taking), while the severe non-fatal accidents occur most often due to working at a running process. Within both types of accidents the most typical latent causes are defects in work instructions and machinery safety equipment. Based on the findings, the most essential roles in accident prevention are played by organizational factors, such as safety management and operations planning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)927-933
JournalInternational Journal of Industrial Ergonomics
Issue number11-12
Publication statusPublished - 2008
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • industrial maintenance
  • accident types
  • sources of accidents
  • accident prevention


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