Why Is It so Difficult to Learn From Someone Else's Mistakes?

T. Vande Capelle
2013 Chemical Engineering Transactions  
Why is it so difficult to learn from mistakes others have made in our industry? Would you rather learn from the mistakes of others or make them all yourself? Certainly, you will learn better by making your own mistakes, but those lessons can come with extreme high risk and cost. There have been several unfortunate industrial disasters in the process industry in the past. There will likely be many more to follow as our daily working conditions, materials, equipment and performances keep changing
more » ... ances keep changing and getting more and more demanding. Major accidents like Seveso, Flixborough, Piper Alpha, Bhopal, Chernobyl, Texas City, and the most recent Deepwater Horizon have all painfully revealed certain failures that we can learn from. Failures that come with a cost of life, environment and capital investment. Today, we have the knowledge that each of them could have been prevented if people would have designed the plant or process for failure and used adequate competency to avoid such things happening again in the future. But as Mr. T. Kletz (2009) once stated: "Accidents are not due to lack of knowledge but failure to use the knowledge we have."Human nature does not like to admit or reveal knowledge of problems. So for the past 30 y, certain standards have helped engineers apply good engineering practices, but the weakest link in the safety culture remains the human being. Standards such as, but not limited to, DIN V 19250 (1989), ANSI/ISA84.01 (1996) and the later ANSI/ISA 84.00.01 (2004), EN IEC 61508 (1998) and the later EN IEC 61508 Edition 2.0 (2010) and EN IEC 61511 (2003) have been put in place to force a safety culture in our industry in the hopes of achieving a better world where people, environment and investment can be safe. The objective of this paper is to begin with a short overview of some of the major accidents followed by a discussion on how these accidents have influenced the safety standards and culture. New technologies have forced some of those Functional Safety Standards to bring out revisions. Edition 2. [...]
doi:10.3303/CET1331085 doaj:67a6f96249784518ab88e6602d141437 fatcat:wwk546w37jedflgqa64jmthft4