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Occup Med (Lond). 2001 Jun;51(4):266-71.

The calculation of accident risks in fitness for work assessments: diseases that can cause sudden incapacity.

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  • 1The Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.


Risk equations have been developed to assist in determining fitness for work of people with diseases that may cause rapid loss of control. The four equations calculate the frequency of fatal injury to the person with the disease, the frequency of fatal injury to colleagues in the workplace, and the cost of fatal injury and property damage to the employer. It is suggested that the additional risk of fatal injury to the person with the disease should not exceed the fatal injury rate in high-risk industries such as forestry, fishing and mining. It is also suggested that the additional risk of fatal injury to each colleague should be no more than one-tenth of the fatal injury rate due to motor vehicle accidents in the community. Two hypothetical case examples are given, demonstrating the use of the equations. The equations highlight the need to examine the risks associated with individuals, their specific jobs and their workplaces. They also highlight significant uncertainties in the determination of fitness, which perhaps have been underestimated in the past. Wherever possible, redundant defences should be utilized to prevent accidents in the event of sudden incapacity.

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