No theory forbids me to say "Ah!" or "Ugh!", but it forbids me the bogus theorization of my "Ah!" and "Ugh!" - the value judgments. - Theodor Julius Geiger (1960)

Reducing Injuries and Their Results: The Scientific Approach

“Traditionally, the emphasis in accident prevention has been on human behavior and attempts (commonly unsuccessful) to change it.
The concept of "human error," however, is much less appropriate than concepts that emphasize the relationship between human capabilities and the complex demands of a task (…).” - Baker & Haddon (1974, p. 381).

Injuries often get dismissed as mere 'accidents'—fate or chance occurrences. Yet, they're the consequence of human-environment interactions, not unforeseeable events. Baker and Haddon suggested time was due to treat injuries scientifically, mirroring the approach used for environmental hazards.

After studying the specific injury sources—mechanical, thermal, electrical energies, and more—, strategies outlined by Haddon ( involved curtailing harmful energy exposure and enhancing individual resilience to injuries.

Addressing three key phases—pre-event factors, the event itself, and post-event responses—reduced injury burdens.
- Pre-event: Baker and Haddon emphasized systemic changes, tackling vehicle inadequacies and separating traffic to reduce collisions. Further pre-event measures like addressing alcohol's impact on highway safety substantially cut down severe crashes and fatalities.
- Event: human interaction with the causal agent called for protective 'packaging' of occupants during crashes and robust federal standards concerning crash-phase measures.
- Post-event: Salvaging after damage occurs aimed to save lives and prevent disability.

A holistic approach, integrating measures across pre-event, event, and post-event phases, is crucial to effectively reduce injury losses.

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Baker, S.P., Haddon, W. Jr. (1974), Reducing Injuries and Their Results: The Scientific Approach, in: The Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly, Health and Society, Vol. 52, No. 4 (Autumn, 1974), pp. 377-389.