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Cadernos de Saúde Pública

On-line version ISSN 1678-4464


VILELA, Rodolfo Andrade Gouveia; IGUTI, Aparecida Mari  and  ALMEIDA, Ildeberto Muniz. Guilty victims: a model to perpetuate impunity for work-related accidents. Cad. Saúde Pública [online]. 2004, vol.20, n.2, pp.570-579. ISSN 1678-4464.

This article analyzes reports and data from the investigation of severe and fatal work-related accidents by the Regional Institute of Criminology in Piracicaba, São Paulo State, Brazil. Some 71 accident investigation reports were analyzed from 1998, 1999, and 2000. Accidents involving machinery represented 38.0% of the total, followed by high falls (15.5%), and electric shocks (11.3%). The reports conclude that 80.0% of the accidents are caused by "unsafe acts" committed by workers themselves, while the lack of safety or "unsafe conditions" account for only 15.5% of cases. Victims are blamed even in situations involving high risk in which not even minimum safety conditions are adopted, thus favoring employers' interests. Such conclusions reflect traditional reductionist explanatory models, in which accidents are viewed as simple, unicausal phenomena, generally focused on slipups and errors by the workers themselves. Despite criticism in recent decades from the technical and academic community, this concept is still hegemonic, thus jeopardizing the development of preventive policies and the improvement of work conditions.

Keywords : Occupational Accidents; Occupational Safety; Working Conditions.

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