Author Topic: Caving accident statistics  (Read 7578 times)

Offline crickleymal

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Caving accident statistics
« on: March 04, 2011, 10:12:23 am »
A long time ago I read some stats about the likelihood of being involved in an accident or incident underground. From what I recall it's something like (for your average weekend caver) once in every 140 years for a cave rescue call out and once in every 1000 years for a call out involving serious injury/death. Just for my own curiosity, can anyone point me in the direction of some published stats please?

I can find stats that say there were X number of callouts etc., but none that give the chance of injury.
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Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Caving accident statistics
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2011, 10:40:44 am »
IIRC off the top of my head Descent 153, article by Peter Mohr, University of Lincoln (probably wrong on the city and issue number, though, but pretty sure of the author).
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Offline mikem

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Re: Caving accident statistics
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2011, 10:55:19 am »

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Caving accident statistics
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2011, 04:11:44 pm »
Thanks for the link, Mike. Yes, Peter Mohr:

http://www.wildplaces.co.uk/descent/authorindexM.html

Issue 153, 2000(!) - wow, long time ago now!
« Last Edit: March 04, 2011, 06:24:11 pm by cap 'n chris »
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Offline Amy

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Re: Caving accident statistics
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2011, 05:12:07 pm »
That looks like a really need publication....does anyone actually have the numbers? I'm curious.
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Offline Alex

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Re: Caving accident statistics
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2011, 07:47:17 pm »
Cool so the call out in Hammer a couple of years ago is the last one... oh wait there was that one on leck fell but I was not actually in the cave where it happened. Just with the same group. So adding it together I will not be involved in another call out for 279 years woohoo.
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Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Caving accident statistics
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2011, 08:09:09 pm »
Not how I remember reading the article! - the accident rate was, IIRC, based per 100,000 hrs caving. Therefore a non fatal accident rate (NFAR) of, say, 160 meant that, per 100,000 hours of caving (approximately), 160 non-fatal accidents occurred. In raw (and hence open to debate) statistical terminology this could be bastardised to:

100,000 hours = 100,000/24 = 4,166 (days) /365 = 11.4 years.

Therefore, in an average caver year you might expect 160 / 11.4 = 14 non fatal incidents, i.e. 1.16 per month.

Bear in mind, though, that most people going caving don't do 24 hour long trips per day, more likely a 2 hour sporting trip in any given day and hence the figures should be divided by 12. Thus equating to:

1.16 non fatal incidents per year, instead of per month. This assumes you are caving for 2 hours every day of the year!. Review, revise and recalculate according to your own caving habits.
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Offline Bob Mehew

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Re: Caving accident statistics
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2011, 09:03:41 pm »
I did some research for a booklet on Radon last year and came up with

In comparison, it is possible to make an order of magnitude estimate of the actual risk from caving.  BCA (2009) reports to the AGM state that the caving active membership of BCA for 2008 was 4423.  Given the considerable variability of the frequency that this population actually goes caving, an average of 10 trips per year is probably optimistic but would more than offset the absence from this estimate of those cavers who do not belong to BCA.  The annual report of the British Cave Rescue Council (2009), states that between 1983 and 2007 the total number of underground incidents was 992, which included 50 fatalities, of which 7 were of divers.  Because cave diving involves a very small number of persons who expose themselves to hazards quite separate from those taken by ordinary cavers, the deaths attributable to diving are ignored.  Thus there have been 1.6 deaths per year on average over the last 25 years.  This gives an estimated risk of death for a recreational caver from an accident in a cave during one caving trip of about 1 in 30,000.

The BCA ref is British Caving Association 2009.  BCA 2009 AGM Reports, Item 15: Membership Administratorís Report. From BCA web site, see http://british-caving.org.uk/admin/AGM_Reports_2009.pdf as at 14/07/2010 and the BCRC ref is British Cave Rescue Council 2009.  British Cave Rescue Council Incident Reports.  From BCRC web site see http://www.caverescue.org.uk/ as at 14/7/2010. 

BCRC gives numbers of persons "assisted" if you want to pursue it further.  No doubt there is room to argue over the number of cavers but don't expect me to put up much of a fight.

Offline crickleymal

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Re: Caving accident statistics
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2011, 01:53:50 pm »
Bear in mind, though, that most people going caving don't do 24 hour long trips per day, more likely a 2 hour sporting trip in any given day and hence the figures should be divided by 12. Thus equating to:

1.16 non fatal incidents per year, instead of per month. This assumes you are caving for 2 hours every day of the year!. Review, revise and recalculate according to your own caving habits.

That's fairly close to the figures I quoted from memory at the top. I read them in a book about caving, one of those books that covers everything from what you need to wear through to SRT and obviously cave rescue. It must have been published about 15 years ago at the latest.

If you say 2 hours caving per week then 100000 hours = 961 years for 11 incidents or 1 incident every 84 years.
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Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Caving accident statistics
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2011, 02:05:22 pm »
Indeed; or put another way. 8 cavers can each do a weekend trip for a decade and all of them might reasonably expect to avoid any serious incident!

* Note this is based on a guessed/recollected NFAR (non-fatal accident rate) of 160/100,000hrs.
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Online graham

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Re: Caving accident statistics
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2011, 02:11:19 pm »
Indeed; or put another way. 8 cavers can each do a weekend trip for a decade and all of them might reasonably expect to avoid any serious incident!

* Note this is based on a guessed/recollected NFAR (non-fatal accident rate) of 160/100,000hrs.

Which probably means that a certain celebrated GSG member has had exactly the number of accidents that should be expected?
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Offline solocavediver

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Re: Caving accident statistics
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2011, 02:12:33 pm »
I read through the BCRO rescue reports for a period of 10 years a little while ago & came away with the following tidbits of information:

(1) 12 caver/cave diver fatalities altogether. So caving kills about 1 per year in Britain. There are thought to be about 5000 active cavers, so one can do ones own arithmetic there except not all the fatalities are active cavers - quite a few are school-trips-gone-wrong etc. So your chances of killing yourself at our sport are probably a little less than 1/5000 per year, or 1/250 in a 20 year caving life (if your caving is done in a high radon area I think you may have to add on a larger number for the risks associated with radon - maybe as much as 3/100). Of the 12, 2 deaths were cavedivers. Active cavedivers are, I suspect, a good deal fewer than 1/6 of the active cavers so chances are higher among cavedivers.

(2) 10 cavers were killed by the water (either drowned outright or by hypothermia); only one killed  by falling down a pitch, plus one heart attack. The water is definitely the most dangerous thing in the cave..

(3) Statistician at heart, I must point out that by having an active sport one is probably reducing ones chances of dying boringly of something cardiovascular. So overall our sport may be "revenue neutral" as far as overall life expectancy is concerned. It may even increase it!


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Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Caving accident statistics
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2011, 03:34:19 pm »
Lots of rummaging through my archive crates and "I found it"! Issue 153.

Rather than rudely scanning and publishing the article here, I'll just pick the two important statistical figures as they relate to this thread.

Table 3: Comparative Fatal Accident Rates (FAR) and Non-Fatal Accident Rates (NFAR) for selected sports (p.22). England and Wales, 1988-1992 (data from Professor Ball's paper in Sports Exercise and Injury, 1998).
Caving. No. of deaths 11. No. of times activity is undertaken (millions/year) 0.35. FAR 157. NFAR 2.5*

FAR is measured as number of fatal accidents per 100 million hours of activity
*NFAR is measured as number of accidents per 100,000 hours of activity.

An NFAR of 2.5 radically alters the outlined figures in this thread's previous postings - by a significant factor/order of magnitude!

___________


100,000 hours = 100,000/24 = 4,166 (days) /365 = 11.4 years.

Therefore, in an average caver year with an NFAR of 2.5:-

2.5 / 11.4 = 0.2192 non fatal incidents, i.e. 2.1 in a decade.

Bear in mind, though, that most people going caving don't do 24 hour long trips per day, 365 days per year for a decade at a time!.... (apart from Gerbil007!)...  more likely is a 2 hour sporting trip in any given day and hence the figures should be divided accordingly.

If we assume, for the sake of an example, a caver who goes underground EVERY weekend, doing on average a 5 hour caving trip, equating to 5 x 52 = 260 hours of caving per year. 100000/260 = 384 caver years results in a likelihood of 2.5 non-fatal accidents, i.e. one non-fatal accident per 153 caver years.

Happy for my appalling mathematics to be ruthlessly exposed as glaringly wrong but it certainly appears on first glance that caving is safer than eating peanuts.


« Last Edit: March 07, 2011, 03:45:17 pm by cap 'n chris »
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Offline Amy

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Re: Caving accident statistics
« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2011, 04:15:51 pm »
Oh damn, I should stop eating those peanuts then...

I probably have a higher chance that my heart suddenly forgets how to deal with RBBB and such looking at those stats. Yay I feel safer!

I wonder how caving compares to rock climbing or such.
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Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Caving accident statistics
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2011, 04:27:42 pm »
Table 3 gives comparative FAR & NFAR figures for:
Air sports
Climbing
Sailing
Swimming
Riding
Fishing
Soccer
Rugby
Badminton
Running
Golf
Wrestling alligators.

But I'm loathe to simply cut and paste the info here on the grounds that it's not my copyright to do so and back copies of Descent are easily available for anyone who wants the article. Also, the article is now 11 years old and hence the data are perhaps not as relevant anymore.

Made the last one up.
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Offline carabeener

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Re: Caving accident statistics
« Reply #15 on: March 07, 2011, 08:19:55 pm »
So does that mean if I push someone off a ledge, then that is our party's accident for this decade and I should be good for another decade?  :chair: :halo:

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Caving accident statistics
« Reply #16 on: March 07, 2011, 08:22:29 pm »
Nope.
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Offline johnv

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Re: Caving accident statistics
« Reply #17 on: March 07, 2011, 08:38:11 pm »
as ever, after all the analysis is done, the best advice is to make sure you aren't the one who has the accident.   :-)


John

Offline Amy

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Re: Caving accident statistics
« Reply #18 on: March 07, 2011, 08:49:07 pm »
I was gonna say, do you really have alligators there? I thought those were a Florida thing.  :lol:

Hrm...I wonder if my migraines occurring in caves count as non-lethal accidents. If so, since that's happened 4 times (twice really bad, other two times not so much, funnily enough 2 were in one cave, 2 were in another, which makes me wonder if something about the cave itself since they are usually smell triggered maybe something about the mud smell or I dunno...something *shrugs*) but still 4 times then I should be set for life now, right? lol
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Re: Caving accident statistics
« Reply #19 on: March 07, 2011, 09:06:25 pm »
There are some reptiles in UK caves, sadly, two legged ones.

But that aside, Amy's story is a classic example of why carabeener is wrong.
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Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Caving accident statistics
« Reply #20 on: March 07, 2011, 09:08:04 pm »
I think it's a very safe assumption that migraines while caving do not classify as accidents any more than would a sharp hunger pang, noxious indigestion, offensive BO, nausea, glue ear, sudden onset of heinous sweat, curly monobrow, violent belching, spontaneous polarised unpopularity, overwhelming bout of disabilitating blenching (aka jingly disco-leg), full bladder, leaking wellington or a combination of any or all of the above, plus a host of othersuch similar maladies besides.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2011, 09:27:55 pm by cap 'n chris »
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Offline seddon

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Re: Caving accident statistics
« Reply #21 on: March 07, 2011, 09:14:10 pm »
Pity. otherwise I should surely be so safe (statistically speaking) that I might well be immortal. As long as I stayed in a cave, at least...
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Offline Amy

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Re: Caving accident statistics
« Reply #22 on: March 07, 2011, 10:52:29 pm »
Well, the one time I was so dizzy and my friend didn't catch me in time (I was between two people to help stabilize if I started really getting wobbly or slipped or something) - I was dizzy, fell on breakdown, slid, threw my hand out to grab onto something/anything which I got it (luckily, since if I had kept sliding there was about a 10-15 ft crevice at that point of me stopping only about a foot in front of me to fall into, heh) which ended up with the hitting uneven bumpy rock I landed on a protrusion bruising my coccyx and strained my wrist (it torqued a bit as it stopped my slide). I think that should count :P (I made it out fine still, I was just *really really sore* the next day, at the time I was more just concerned with getting out of the damn cave, lol)

Caving with full blown migraine = not fun. That was like my 3rd trip ever too. I learned quickly to always have medicine on me! (which, tends to make me sleepy and ditzy in and of itself, but, it's better than a full blown migraine - working on getting one that doesn't do that to me so it's safer for caving on)
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Offline Duncan Price

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Re: Caving accident statistics
« Reply #23 on: March 07, 2011, 11:14:48 pm »
IIRC - recreational skiing (not the off-piste variety which I only do unintentionally) is 500x more dangerous than caving (what I heard) seems to figure with my own experiences.  I've dislocated my right shoulder twice whilst skiing (my GP said that if it happens again that I should take lessons).  I've been out on the piste perhaps a dozen times - only once have I injured myself sufficient to require a trip to A&E (trip down Easegill - CRO not involved).  Caving over 25 years and several hundreds of trips.  Driving to/from cave is more risky.

Cave diving incidents are fairly bimodal - get out or not.

Offline carabeener

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Re: Caving accident statistics
« Reply #24 on: March 08, 2011, 02:19:32 am »
as ever, after all the analysis is done, the best advice is to make sure you aren't the one who has the accident.   :-)


John

Exactly!  Push them off the ledge and statistically you are safe for that trip!

It's never me that has the accidents, just everybody around me.   ;D ;D ;D