Re: [SystemSafety] NYTimes: The Next Accident Awaits

From: Nancy Leveson < >
Date: Sun, 2 Feb 2014 18:00:55 -0500


Writing a final report about what was done for a prescriptive regulatory regime is not what I or others are talking about when we talk about safety cases in a goal-oriented regulatory regime where the regulee determines how they will achieve the goal.

Let's not confuse the issue here. Writing a final report is done by everyone and does not need a special name nor does it require any special argumentation.

Nancy

On Sun, Feb 2, 2014 at 5:57 PM, Les Chambers <les_at_xxxxxx

> Hi Nancy
>
> Like Tracy I am having a problem understanding your opposition to safety
> cases. It may be to do with the way they are used in various countries and
> application domains. My experience is in rail. I wrote the safety case for
> an environmental control system in an underground Asian rail network. The
> project's compliance requirement was: CENELEC EN 50128 (still in draft form
> at the time). I used the safety case format specified in EN 50129. In the
> rail environment the safety case was only a component of the overall safety
> program. The CENELEC standards are highly prescriptive of engineering
> process, the level of "ceremony" required being a function of SIL level. I
> am assuming this is what you mean by "prescriptive regulation". So in this
> project we had both a safety case and prescriptive regulation. In fact the
> safety case was part of the prescriptive regulation. It was prescribed that
> we create one. And the job fell to me (for my sins).
>
> The thrust of the safety case was as follows:
>
> 1. Our initial safety plan indicated that we would do these things ...
>
> 2. This is what we actually did ...
>
> 3. Here is the evidence ...
>
>
>
> If you like, the safety case was a wrapup of the safety program. Most of
> the detail wasn't in the safety case document, it referred to the hazard
> log which was the core artefact for safety on the project. Hazards were
> identified on commencement and throughout the project, corrective action
> taken to reduce risk, evidence that the corrective action had been taken
> recorded and, at the end of the project someone (me) went through the
> hazard log and verified that all the hazards had been closed out (that is,
> evidence existed that corrective action had been taken). This project had
> 50 people and ran for three years.
>
>
>
> The safety case was a very clean way of communicating with the rail
> authority. They were pleased and astounded that we went to the lengths we
> did. It was also a neat way of wrapping up the overall safety program and
> making sure that we had all the bases covered. Over three years with people
> coming and going it is easy to forget where you're up to with a safety
> program.
>
>
>
> RE: your comments on confirmation bias, I couldn't agree more. It's a
> natural human failing ... And for that reason it's prevalent in all
> regulatory frameworks, not just safety case creation. My concept of
> prescriptive regulation is that you require developers to follow various
> processes and produce evidence that the work has been done. This is a very
> coarse-grained way of gaining visibility into the real workings of any
> project. The fact that a review was run or a test performed and beautiful
> paperwork created to record the event often has no bearing on the
> effectiveness of the review or the visibility a test might have given into
> the real quality of the work product. All regulation does is make sure that
> at least the developer is going through the motions. For this reason, if
> there happens to be a devil in the details, it is highly unlikely that a
> regulator will find it no matter what they do.
>
>
>
> My personal view is that the job of a regulator is to find gross
> departures from recognised best practice and put them right. If they just
> concentrated on that the world would be a better place. Examples of gross
> behaviour falling through the regulatory net are many:
>
> Fukushima: books written on the risk of backup generators being flooded by
> a tsunami before the tsunami hit
>
> Air France: don't train your pilots to fly with no air speed indication
>
> Road tunnels: open the tunnel before you've finished testing the safety
> systems (this is an Australian favourite I've personally experienced)
>
> Deepwater Horizon: why didn't you have an easily deployable recovery plan
> for a combination riser pipe and valve failure on the seabed (that would be
> a simple question for a regulator to ask wouldn't it?)
>
> Taiwan high-speed rail: ignore conditions of contract relating to safety
> compliance and do what you like (another company, not mine)
>
>
>
> The problem of visibility gets worse as these projects become larger and
> more complex. I worked on the Taiwan's high-speed rail project where we
> were five companies down on the food chain from the rail authority - we
> were a subcontractor of a subcontractor of a subcontractor of a
> subcontractor of a prime contractor. The only way to handle situations such
> as these is to get contractors to demonstrate as much commitment to safety
> as possible and that can only be achieved through the act of communicating
> in writing through safety cases and other project artefacts. Beyond that I
> am in furious agreement with the comment on SUBSAFE - it comes down to the
> culture of the company and the people they employ. If they are not
> producing paperwork they probably don't have the culture. If they are
> producing the paperwork and it looks bad they don't have the people. This
> should be when the alarm goes off and the regulator moves in. The fact that
> this doesn't happen too often (especially in banking) means we've got a
> long way to go with the very basics (forget about the minute details of
> whether or not a design is safe).
>
>
>
> I had an extreme experience recently that refocused me on this people
> issue. I joined 10 guys and one lady on a 51 foot yacht for a short sail
> across the Atlantic (2,970 NM). The highly effective teamwork that
> materialised almost instantly amongst a bunch of people who did not know
> each other was beautiful to behold (my blog entitled "Atlantic 13:
> Professional yachtsman and meddling bastards" is in the works - the skipper
> gave me the title - that's how he reviews engineers). The motivation for
> teamwork was something to do with the obvious consequences that would flow
> from bad actions or inaction (shades of SUBSAFE).
>
> My conclusion: Somehow we've got to find better ways to reconnect the
> non-safety community with nature, help them draw the obvious line between a
> bad helmsman, a big sea, a 50 knot gust, a crash jibe, a ripple of energy
> up the mast, a crack at the spreaders, tons of aluminium and flogging sails
> hitting the deck and a bunch of very sad (potentially injured) people
> clinging to a drifting boat, dead in the water, in the middle of a very
> large ocean.
>
> Until then - maintain the rage.
>
>
>
> Cheers
>
> Les
>
>
>
> *From:* systemsafety-bounces_at_xxxxxx > systemsafety-bounces_at_xxxxxx > Leveson
> *Sent:* Monday, February 3, 2014 5:52 AM
> *To:* Tracy White
> *Cc:* systemsafety_at_xxxxxx >
> *Subject:* Re: [SystemSafety] NYTimes: The Next Accident Awaits
>
>
>
> Tracy White wrote:
>
> "I am slightly confused and a little perturbed by an argument that a
> 'safety case' in someway replaces any regulatory control (or government
> interference)."
>
>
>
> I haven't seen anyone on this list say that.
>
>
>
> Nancy
>
>
>
> On Sat, Feb 1, 2014 at 7:39 PM, Tracy White <tracy.white_at_xxxxxx >
> 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 01/02/2014, at 12:48 AM, Nancy Leveson wrote:
>
>
>
> 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_at_xxxxxx >
>
>
>
>
>
>
> *From:* systemsafety-bounces_at_xxxxxx > systemsafety-bounces_at_xxxxxx > Leveson
> *Sent:* Thursday, January 30, 2014 8:59 PM
> *To:* systemsafety_at_xxxxxx > *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_at_xxxxxx >
> 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.
>
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> The System Safety Mailing List
> systemsafety_at_xxxxxx >
>
>
>
>
> --
> 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_at_xxxxxx > URL: http://sunnyday.mit.edu
>
> #
> " Ce courriel et les documents qui lui sont joints peuvent contenir des
> informations confidentielles, être soumis aux règlementations relatives au
> contrôle des exportations ou ayant un caractère privé. S'ils ne vous sont
> pas destinés, nous vous signalons qu'il est strictement interdit de les
> divulguer, de les reproduire ou d'en utiliser de quelque manière que ce
> soit le contenu. Toute exportation ou réexportation non autorisée est
> interdite.Si ce message vous a été transmis par erreur, merci d'en informer
> l'expéditeur et de supprimer immédiatement de votre système informatique ce
> courriel ainsi que tous les documents qui y sont attachés."
>
>
> ******
> " This e-mail and any attached documents may contain confidential or
> proprietary information and may be subject to export control laws and
> regulations. If you are not the intended recipient, you are notified that
> any dissemination, copying of this e-mail and any attachments thereto or
> use of their contents by any means whatsoever is strictly prohibited.
> Unauthorized export or re-export is prohibited. If you have received this
> e-mail in error, please advise the sender immediately and delete this
> e-mail and all attached documents from your computer system."
> #
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> --
> 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_at_xxxxxx > URL: http://sunnyday.mit.edu
>
> _______________________________________________
> The System Safety Mailing List
> systemsafety_at_xxxxxx >
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> The System Safety Mailing List
> systemsafety_at_xxxxxx >
>
>
>
>
> --
> 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_at_xxxxxx > URL: http://sunnyday.mit.edu
>

-- 
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_at_xxxxxx
URL: http://sunnyday.mit.edu



_______________________________________________ The System Safety Mailing List systemsafety_at_xxxxxx
Received on Mon Feb 03 2014 - 00:01:14 CET

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Tue Jun 04 2019 - 21:17:06 CEST