This paper is an introduction to a collection of real accidents which we use to illustrate the importance of root cause analysis. Learning the lessons from past accident information is an invaluable part of our work as risk management professionals.

Risk Management

When carrying out risk assessment, we identify the hazards and try to work out the likelihood of that hazard being realized, and also the resulting severity. In the UK, it is law that we must have written risk assessments for everything we do. How likely is it to happen? Who could be injured? How bad could the injury be? How likely is it to be that bad? When going through scenarios in the classroom, we use our knowledge of previous accidents and say, "It could happen because it has happened."

The fundamental aim of all Safety Professionals is to prevent accidents. In order to carry out these accident prevention duties, we all have to make educated guesses about what might happen. We may all have different ideas about what is possible, practical or reasonably practicable.

We all investigate accidents which happen within our own area of responsibility but it is also essential that we learn about accidents from other organizations. These details, even if the accident happens in a different industry, are an invaluable resource for effective risk assessment and risk management.

We often immerse ourselves in complicated data and detailed statistics to impress our CEO's; and demonstrate our professional skills to external auditors, but sometimes we forget to go back to the heart of our jobs - accidents.

These are real people, suffering real injuries, and families who may have to face the future without their loved ones.

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