Sample Critical Thinking Paper on Systems Model of Organizational Accidents

The modern technology applied in the production processes reduces the likelihood of accidents in companies, but there are still some incidents when they occur. Such accidents may result in adverse psychological effects for the individuals who are directly affected. They may also lead to huge financial losses by the company as it tries to replace the lost assets. The financial and non-financial costs incurred by the companies in case the accidents occur make it necessary for companies to identify measures that can mitigate the accidents. A study conducted by Reason (2008), classifies accidents into individual and organizational based on the causation. Individual accidents are caused by the employees, mainly due to the failure to follow instructions or confusion related to the same. The organizational accidents on the other hand, are caused by the failure of management to address company challenges over time. It is easy to identify the cause and remedy for individual accidents, but organizational accidents are more complex.

This paper discusses the approach that managers can implement to address organizational accidents. It discusses in detail the systems model of organizational accidents that can be useful to managers in avoiding occurrence of accidents. An inverse relationship exists between a company’s profitability and organizational accidents. This implies that the frequency of organizational accidents affects the ability of a company to meet its set objectives, and consequently its competitive advantage. In the highly competitive market today, it is important for companies to ensure that they operate more efficiently than their competitors, and one way of doing this is by mitigating risks that may adversely affect the company’s performance. The paper argues that a company’s performance is influenced by the ability of managers to mitigate risks by implementing the most suitable approaches that reduce occurrence of accidents such as the systems model of organizational accidents.

Today, most companies have invested heavily on technologies that reduce occurrence of accidents such as monitoring devices and operator training and selection techniques.  Despite the measures put in place to prevent the accidents, they still occur resulting into massive financial losses. The occurrence of organizational accidents is mainly due to action of a trigger on one or more failures that has existed for some time. The accidents do not just occur as a result of a single unit, but a system of units in the organizations (Qureshi, 2007).  The system model of organizational accidents proposes that the origin of an accident in a company cannot be traced to one unit of operation, but multiple parts of the organization.  This implies that the failure of a company to effectively manage a single unit affects the efficiency of the other units and eventually, this ineffectiveness affects the whole system of operations. Addressing organizational accidents is difficult since they are complex. The accidents are caused by inefficiency in operations in different parts of the company, which occurs over a long period making it hard to pinpoint the direct causes of the accidents.

Causes of organizational accidents

The complexity of organizational accidents is mainly brought about by the fact that they cannot be traced to the failure of a single unit or a violation of instructions by a single employee. Reason (2008) identifies three primary causes of these accidents including organizational factors, local workplace factors and unsafe actions. Organizational factors include the strategic decisions that entail the process of production. Inaccurate strategic decisions may lead to organizational accidents due to inefficiencies in the production process over time. Examples of such decisions include adopting low cost technologies that may save the company’s income in the short-run, but have adverse impacts in the long-run (Shappell & Wiegmann, 2012).

The other organizational factor is the actions of auditors in an institution. The auditors are expected to identify any inefficiency that affects the company’s productivity. An accurate audit should identify the development of any system failures and suggest ways of addressing the same before it affects the operation of the entire system.

The local workplace factors that lead to organizational accidents include poor communication among the employees such that information is delays before reaching the intended destination. This may lead to accidents, especially if the information concerns operational instructions. The other local workplace factor is the quality of training provided to the employees (Mitropoulos, Abdelhamid & Howell, 2005). Most of the organizational accidents result from system failures that may be due to inappropriate working procedure by the employees over time. How safe the company’s actions can be,depends on both the organizational and the local workplace factors.

Implementing the systems organizational accident model

The occurrence of organizational accidents threatens the success of a business and may even lead to bankruptcy due to massive financial losses. It is important for companies to implement strategies that may help avoid these accidents for sustainability. One of the strategies that can be helpful in reducing the occurrence of these accidents is evaluation of strategic decisions on a regular basis. This helps in identifying any inefficiency that may lead to system failure over time (Leveson, et al., 2009). The other strategy that can be adopted is ensuring that auditors’ work is professional so as to identify any challenges that the company may be facing with regard to production processes. Companies should also consider employing employees who are qualified and have the suitable experience in the required field. The company should ensure that the training policy focus on enhancing the technical skills required to enhance productivity of the company.

In conclusion, the systems organizational accident model can be used by managers to identify possible areas that are prone to organizational accidents. The model emphasizes on the need to ensure efficiency of the whole system of operations in an organization to avoid the accidents. To be more efficient in preventing the accidents, companies need to ensure that their systems are effective at all times. Involving highly qualified auditors and training employees on technical skills required to execute duties in the company are among the strategies that can be used to reduce the occurrence of organizational accidents. There is a positive link between reduced organizational accidents and the company’s ability to meet its set objectives (Aron&Headrick, 2002).  Organizational accidents interrupt the normal operations of the company and this may lead to massive financial losses as well as loss of market share. This affects the company’s competitive advantage and may even lead to bankruptcy. A company’s management plays a primary role in ensuring that risks facing the company such as accidents are avoided. It is therefore important for the management to ensure that appropriate measures such as the systems organizational accident model are implemented in the comp


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Mitropoulos, P., Abdelhamid, T. S., & Howell, G. A. (2005). Systems model of construction        accident causation. Journal of Construction Engineering and Management131(7),   816-825.

Reason, J. T. (2008). The human contribution: unsafe acts, accidents and heroic recoveries.           Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.

Qureshi, Z. H. (2007, December). A review of accident modelling approaches for complex            socio-technical systems. In Proceedings of the twelfth Australian workshop on Safety           critical systems and software and safety-related programmable systems-Volume          86 (pp. 47-59). Australian Computer Society, Inc.

Shappell, S. A., & Wiegmann, D. A. (2012). A human error approach to aviation accident            analysis: The human factors analysis and classification system. Ashgate Publishing,          Ltd.