Despite decades of reduction in safety-related deaths and injuries on-the-job, catastrophic accidents appear to be on the rise. In the last ten years, there have been at least nine industrial accidents that resulted in more than 125 deaths. Two accidents in 2010, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the Upper Big Branch mining disaster in West Virginia, have not only caused injury and death; they have wreaked untold economic and environmental havoc in the communities in which they occurred.
Why are we seeing such catastrophic accidents when workplaces, on the whole, are safer? In my opinion it is because there is a widespread lack of understanding of the science of behavior in the safety profession.