Failure to learn after accidents – the lamentable situation in Denmark

Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations


Learning from own – and better, other people’s – past accidents and misfortune is an ancient accident prevention strategy. The benefits of such learning are obvious. What is not so obvious, however, is how to make this seemingly simple and straightforward idea work in practice. This presentation presents evidence in support of the view that such learning processes appear to be impeded, dysfunctional or entirely absent in Denmark. Two Danish accident cases in which major learning opportunities were foregone will be presented. The first case relates to a wood pellet facility, a sustainable renewable energy project, which experienced a devastating dust explosion. The accident was insufficiently investigated and root cause issues relating to principles of inherent safety were not identified. As a result, a repeat explosion took place eight years later. The case offers a text book example of the truism that if accidents are not investigated, and root causes not identified, accidents recur. The second case (not presented). In both cases, significant sector-relevant learning opportunities were foregone. Indeed, the cases have slipped into oblivion. There is no useful information in open sources that could potentially prevent repeat occurrences elsewhere. Learning is absent.
Period16 Nov 2015
Event title1st Nordic Chapter Risk Conference: The Future of Risk Analysis in the Nordic Countries
Event typeConference
LocationLund, Sweden