5. Introduction

Many disasters have occurred because organizations have ignored the warning signs of precursor incidents or have failed to learn from the lessons of the past. Normal accident theory suggests that disasters are the unwanted, but inevitable output of complex socio-technical systems, while high-reliability theory sees disasters as preventable by certain characteristics or response systems of the organization.

Module 6 has discussed various models of accidents. One of the reasons has highlighted the failure of organisations policies and supervision at higher level for effective implementation to ensure the OSH policy. This module will discuss in detail about the flaws at organisational level so that accidents or disasters can be reduced if appropriate actions are ensured for proper monitoring of implementation of organisation's OSH policy and programmes.

Let's have a view of the vital components of a complex process plant. After reviewing the literature we can come to the conclusion that following components make a system or process plant (Figure 1):

  • Organisational environment and working culture
  • Design criteria from safety considerations
  • Grooming of manpower including the workers, supervisors and managers etc.

Figure 1

All these three factors are integrated industrial safety and depend on each others. every new technology starts out by stressing technical factors like design and construction specifications, then moves on to "discovering" the importance of errors by individual human operators and finally switches to organisational and management aspects as the most important factors.

In this school of thought an integral approach is followed by assuming that all three types of contributing factors must be investigated and acted upon. The most important question then becomes: What is the relative importance of each factor and of the interactions between them?

Figure 2 shows a simple model of the main components involved in incident causation, and also defines three basic terms used throughout this module: accident, incident, and near miss. Technical and organisational failures can initiate the chain of deviation leading to incident causation events both directly , and indirectly. (E.g. By inducing operator failure). Only very seldom is an actually dangerous situation assumed to follow from such failures.

Figure 2


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