'Accidents' or 'Incidents'?



When I started writing about demining accidents I tried to form a sensible distinction between the terms 'accident' and 'incident'. I decided to call an unintended explosive event (or an intended explosive event that resulted in injury) an 'incident'. This was because an 'Incident report' would be generated from which lessons that might prevent repetition of the event might be derived. I noted that the word 'accident' was used for all unintended occurrences, from dropping the kettle to a car crash, but did not always apply to an intentional event that resulted in an injury. So, at that time, the term 'Incident' made most sense to me.

Later, the database was nominally managed by GICHD for a short time and they imposed a reverse definition - and that definition was used within all of the IMAS documentation at that time (since changed). Confusion reigned, with many field people making no distinction between the two terms. GICHD also required that the Database of Demining Incident Victims (DDIV) be renamed the Database of Demining AccidentS (DDAS).

Because the database itself is 'relational' a more correct name would have been the DDAV, Database of Demining Accidents and Victims. Effectively, it is two databases intertwined - one of victims and one of incidents/accidents. The output of the entire database combines the two separate datasets into 'Accident/incident reports'. Those reports are the main content of this website.

To avoid further pedantic confusion, I have continued to use the name DDAS - and refer to any unintended explosive event (or any intended explosive event that results in injury) that occurs during any demining activity as a 'demining accident'. I refer to the discovery of an explosive hazard on land that is released as being free from hazards as an 'incident' which should be investigated to correct the errors that led to its release - whether or not any injury results.