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Was the Deepwater Horizon incident a "normal" accident?

Slater, David H. 2023. Was the Deepwater Horizon incident a "normal" accident? Safety Science 168 , 106290. 10.1016/j.ssci.2023.106290

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Traditionally accident investigation approaches have been driven by the need to pin down exactly what went wrong. The answer is demanded by our insurance and legal processes, which need to establish who, or what was to blame. People like Turner (1997) and Rasmussen, (1997) however, came to the conclusion that much of the blame, lay with the organisations that were supposed to be managing these situations, safely (i.e., without accidents). Perrow, (1984) on the other hand, theorised that in highly complex, tightly coupled, stiff systems, accidents were inevitable; indeed, were to be expected and regarded as “normal”. He quoted the 3 Mile Island (Elliot, 1980) nuclear accident as an example. Hopkins (1999) has articulated the problems and confusion inherent in this explanation (justification?) of such incidents; and further queried whether even 3 Mile Island fitted this definition in practice. (2001) Many of the methods employed in the study of these accidents are focussed on finding what failures caused the consequences observed, whether of components, individuals, or organisations.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Engineering
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0925-7535
Date of Acceptance: 16 August 2023
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2023 11:00

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