Re: [SystemSafety] NYTimes: The Next Accident Awaits

From: Tracy White < >
Date: Sun, 02 Feb 2014 00:43:41 +0000 (GMT)

I am slightly confused and a little perturbed by an argument that a 'safety case' in someway replaces any regulatory control (or government interference). Even more that a safety case would not include a subclaim to have conducted a 'rigorous hazard analysis' program ... or to have applied appropriate 'procedures and standards'.  

Anybody who thinks that 'safety cases' in anyway replaces some form of regulation is ignorant of its purpose. I work in a regulatory environment and the 'safety case' is the primary communications  medium with that regulator,  elements of which will talk to hazard identification and compliance with standards and codes considered representative of engineering 'good practice'. I would agree that there are good and bad safety cases and I think that 'industries that do not 'have a good historical culture in terms of safety' are as ignorant of purpose of the safety cases as they of the need for safety in general.

Regards, Tracy

On Feb 01, 2014, at 12:48 AM, Nancy Leveson <leveson.nancy8_at_xxxxxx

It is very difficult to characterize the U.S. In general, the country is so physically large that there are extreme differences in culture and politics (generally but not always physically bounded). Much of the central government in the US and European worlds seem to be moving toward libertarianism, but I am probably mischaracterizing Europe based on biased news reports. The individual U.S. states show extreme differences. At the extremes, Texas and California may as well be in different worlds, let alone countries when it comes to safety regulations (and lots of other things irrelevant to this list). There are also such different cultures in different industries that it is difficult to make general statements. Mining and civil aviation are examples of such extremes.

But I will make one general statement that is only my personal experience. Because of my paper arguing against safety cases, I am getting many calls from government employees and company lawyers as well as individual engineers. Some of the companies pushing the "safety case" in the U.S. are those who don't want any government interference and see the safety case as a way to get around the rigorous procedural standards that now exist here in many industries. They seem to feel that they will be able to get rid of the procedures and standards that exist now and can write anything they want in a safety case and therefore save money and time in the rigorous hazard analysis now widely required while using any design features they want. These are primarily in industries that do not have a good historical culture in terms of safety.

Nancy. 


On Fri, Jan 31, 2014 at 4:08 AM, RICQUE Bertrand (SAGEM DEFENSE SECURITE) <bertrand.ricque_at_xxxxxx
Hi Nancy,
 
Concerning France you are right, and in that case I think that the cultural aspect dominates. There is no safety culture in the population as in UK, as acknowledged after AZF accident. The risk stops at the fence of the plant and you can safely build your house on the other side … The regulations have changed since but not the cultures. The safety engineers concerned by the new regulations live a nightmare as the choices are more or less, dismantle the plant versus dismantle the town … I think that the safety cultures have more impact on the final result than the competence of the safety community.
 
Bertrand Ricque
Program Manager
Optronics and Defence Division
Sights Program
Mob : +33 6 87 47 84 64
Tel : +33 1 59 11 96 82
Bertrand.ricque@sagem.com
 
 
 
From: systemsafety-bounces@lists.techfak.uni-bielefeld.de [mailto:systemsafety-bounces@lists.techfak.uni-bielefeld.de] On Behalf Of Nancy Leveson
Sent: Thursday, January 30, 2014 8:59 PM
To: systemsafety@lists.techfak.uni-bielefeld.de
Subject: Re: [SystemSafety] NYTimes: The Next Accident Awaits
 
It would be nice to actually introduce some data into the discussions on this list. First, although it is very true that the U.K. has excellent comparative occupational safety statistics, this exceptional performance predated safety cases by at least 100 years and is as much a cultural artifact of the U.K. as any current practices. While the rest of the world was suffering the results of steam engine explosions in the late 1800s, for example, Great Britain was the first to implement measures to reduce them. (I wrote a paper on this once if anyone is interested.) Although the British citizens on this list know more about the history of the UK HSE, I believe they were the first country to require companies to have safety policies, etc., after the Flixborough explosion. Safety cases, I believe, came into being only after the more recent Piper Alpha explosion.
 
Trying to tie accident rates in different countries to particular ways of regulating safety is dicey at best. First, there are significant differences between the engineering, agricultural, industry, and service rates of accidents in countries, often related to technical differences. Some have high agricultural accident rates but low service accident rates. For example, accident rates are going to be very different in a country with high tech agricultural techniques compared to those still plowing fields with a pair of oxen. Politics plays an even more important role. For example, western countries often put very dangerous processes and plants in third world countries or governments in these countries do not have laws that require manufacturers to use even minimal safety practices in manufacturing, for example, and they will not as long as they need the revenue and jobs. The safety culture in these countries will not change magically by using one type of regulatory regime.
 
Note also, that there are vast differences in industries. Those with the very safest records, such as the U.S. SUBSAFE program, do not use safety cases. (And they have managed to have an incredible safety record despite being in the U.S. :-)). If we want to compare the effectiveness of different regulatory regimes, then we need to provide scientific evaluations and not just misuse statistics (which may involve factors that have nothing to do with the actual regulatory regime used). 
 
Also, as Michael Holloway noted, culture differences will make different types of regulation more or less different in different countries and industries.
 
Finally, I would like to point out to those who are making some national comparisons and putting down the U.S. in comparison with France, for example, that the fatal occupational accident rate in the U.S. is less than that of France. Perhaps we can avoid mixing politics and chauvinism with science on this list.
 
Nancy
 
On Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 8:50 AM, Martyn Thomas <martyn@thomas-associates.co.uk> wrote:
I'm a non-exec Director at the UK's Health and Safety Laboratory (www.hsl.gov.uk). We carry out the basic research that underpins the UK's regulation of occupational health and safety, ranging from reducing accidents on construction sites and improving the tethering of loads on lorries, through to reproducing and analysing major explosions (such as Buncefield - http://www.buncefieldinvestigation.gov.uk/) and destruction-testing the physical integrity of tankers and rolling-stock.

We also undertake commercial work that uses our unusual experimental and analysis capabilities and very strong science base.

The UK is unusual in having a goal-based, safety-case regulatory regime and a regulator (HSE) with its own expert research establishment (HSL). We are getting an increasing number of approaches from Governments in the Far and Middle East who see the UK's good performance in occupational Health and Safety and who want to investigate setting up similar goal-based regulation.  

Maybe there is something in the HSE/HSL approach that the US chemical industry could benefit from.

Regards

Martyn
Martyn Thomas CBE FREng




On 29/01/2014 22:05, Peter Bernard Ladkin wrote:
A worthy opinion piece from the Chair of the US Chemical Safety Board. Note his suggestion that identifying hazards and mitigation is just well-established best practice. I can say from experience that it is not yet in Europe in all industries with safety aspects, even though he holds Europe up as having a factor of three fewer chemical accidents as the US.
 

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-- 
Prof. Nancy Leveson
Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems
MIT, Room 33-334
77 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02142

Telephone: 617-258-0505
Email: leveson@mit.edu
URL: http://sunnyday.mit.edu
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systemsafety_at_xxxxxx Received on Sun Feb 02 2014 - 01:43:57 CET

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