By Jack Caldwell

An incident is a small event that is a bit out of the ordinary; a mere trifle; a nuisance & irritation; a bit embarrassing maybe; but in the end nothing to worry about. Or is this correct?

Today I saw the aftermath of a tiny incident: somebody got a little stuck in some wet soil. No problem. They more or less pulled their legs out and rolled to firm ground. Everybody, please get back to work.

I am getting old and fractious. I am developing a crotchety gut feel about some things, and this was one of them. So we drove out to look.

This was the first time I have ever seen quicksand. I had been lectured on how it occurs; and I had set exam questions involving the principles. In brief quicksand develops when groundwater comes up more or less vertically through a cohesionless sand layer, and the sand becomes a more-or-less fluid mass.

We walked around establishing the topographic, groundwater, and soil conditions that give rise to piping. Mainly an innocent berm constructed by mechanical engineers; lots of rain; upgradient runoff; and ponding.

I cannot here go into the details of the implications and end result—theyare still working themselves out. But I had to do some fast talking to convince folk to deal with this as an incident, for in my opinion, it is a harbinger of far worse conditions to come.

And that is the essence of an incident: left unattended, unexamined, unrectified, far worse will transpire. They say ten incidents per one accident; ten accidents per one death. (Or is it one hundred?)

Thus I add this plea: deal immediately and proactively with incidents, even small ones.