Review: Managing the Risks of Organizational Accidents

Managing the Risks of Organizational AccidentsManaging the Risks of Organizational Accidents by James T. Reason
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had to read this book as part of my graduate work and I’m glad I did. It is an important look at how we can better work on reducing industrial accidents like oil rig explosions, airline crashes, and nuclear power plant explosions. A large part of the problem, in the author’s studied opinion, is the way we assign blame. We blame the person who had an accident rather than the system that created the situation for the accident. Except for extreme cases of negligence or criminal activity, this shouldn’t be the case and causes us to learn the wrong lessons; preventing a chance at stopping it from happening again.

I got deep into this book before my recent business trip – not a good idea. Most of the examples are about the aviation industry. You know how sometimes you’re waiting for a plane and they delay it for maintenance? According to this book you should not want to get on that plane afterwards – messed up maintenance is one of the biggest sources of airline accidents now. That’s right – maintaining the aircraft is, because of errors, ending up worse than letting the aircraft naturally fail.

The book is also smart about talking about theory and then talking about how to apply it in the real world. Too often management books (and self-help books on a personal level) talk about things in the ideal world, but life isn’t like that. Reason tries to give some examples of how you could take the research he’s aggregated and apply it in the real world.

I’d recommend first to anyone working in a hazardous field – energy, aviation, etc and second to anyone who’s an OSHA representative.

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