Off-campus WMU users: To download campus access articles, please use the following link to log in with your WMU ID and password: log in to proxy server


T. A. Kletz

Document Type

Article Restricted

Publication Date


Journal Title

Process Safety and Environmental Protection

Volume Number


Issue Number


First Page


Last Page



After paying the high price of an accident, we often miss opportunities to learn from it:• We find only a single cause, often the final triggering event. • We find only immediate causes and do not look for ways of avoiding the hazards or for weaknesses in the management system. • We list human error as a cause without saying what sort of error though different actions are needed to prevent those accidents due to ignorance, those due to slips or lapses of attention and those due to non-compliance. • We list causes we can do little about. • We change procedures rather than designs. • We do not help others to learn as much as they could from our experiences. • We forget the lessons learned and the accident happens again. We need better training, by describing accidents first rather than principles, as accidents grab our attention; we need discussion rather that lecturing, so that more is remembered; we need databases that can present relevant information without the user having to ask for it. Finally, we ask if legislation can produce improvements.