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Efficient and effective learning for safety from incidents


Learning from incidents is important for improving safety. Many companies spend a great deal of time and money on such learning procedures. The objectives of this paper are to present some early results from a project aimed at revealing weaknesses in the procedures for learning from incidents and to discuss improvements in these procedures, especially in chemical process industries. The empirical base comes from a project assessing organizational learning and the effectiveness of the different steps of the learning cycle for safety and studying relations between safety-specific transformational leadership, safety climate, trust, safety-related behavior and learning from incidents. The results point at common weaknesses in the organizational learning, both in the horizontal learning (geographical spread) and in vertical learning (double-loop learning). Furthermore, the effectiveness in the different steps of the learning cycle is low due to insufficient information in incident reports, very shallow analyses of reports, decisions that focus at solving the problem only at the place where the incident took place, late implementations and weak solutions. Strong correlations with learning from incidents were found for all safety climate variables as well as for safety-related behaviors and trust. The relationships were very strong for trust, safety knowledge, safety participation and safety compliance.