V.L Grose’s Multiple Causation Theory

As per this theory many contributing factors combine together in random fashion, causing accidents. Such factors should be identified As shown in figure below, mostly man, machine and media interact with each other to generate causes for accident and management has to identify them and provide necessary safety measures.

Grose multiple causation theory

In this theory –

  1. Man includes – workers, public etc.
  2. Machine includes – equipment, vehicle etc.
  3. Media includes – environment, weather, roadways etc.
  4. Management means within which above three parameters operate i.e. to controlled by the management.

Characteristics of –

  1. Man includes – Age, sex, height, skill level, training, motivation etc.
  2. Machine includes – Size, weight, speed, shape, material of constriction, energy etc.
  3. Media includes – Pressure, temperature, content, contaminants, obstruction on road etc.
  4. Management includes – Structure, style, policy, procedure, communication etc.

Simple example of this theory is a man slipping due to walking on a banana skin lying on the road. Here main contributing factors are as under:

  • Man – A man walking on the road.
  • Machine or object or vehicle – Slippery banana skin.
  • Media – Hard road.

All above causes are interacting with each other to lead to the accident. Absence of any one cause can avoid the accident. This indicates that slippery banana skin should be removed from the road or man should be more attentive for not walking on it or the road should not be so hard to cause slipping.




Let us take another example of a worker falling from a ladder. As per the domino theory an investigation is as under:

The unsafe act Climbing the defective ladder
The unsafe condition The defective ladder
The remedial measure Remove or repair the defective ladder and train the workers.

As per the multiple causation theory some of the contributing factors surrounding this accident can be found out by asking:

  1. Why was the defect in ladder not found in normal (past) inspections?
  2. Why did the supervisor allow its use? Why did he not get it repaired urgently?
  3. Didn’t the injured worker know he shouldn’t use it?
  4. Was he properly trained or not?
  5. Was he reminded or cautioned?
  6. Did and do the supervisor examine the job first?

The answers to these and similar questions would suggest the following measures:

  1. An improved inspection procedure.
  2. Repairing the ladder (machine, tool, job etc) immediately i.e. not waiting for an accident.
  3. Improved training and supervision.
  4. Better fixation of responsibilities.
  5. Pre job planning and checking by supervisors.

Thus application of the multiple causation theory leads us to deep causation analysis and improved management systems are suggested to eradicate the problem from its origin. The range and depths of the multiple causation factors provide many details of long-run safety measures.

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