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Is it time, in the process industry, to question the limits of safety audits ?

Abstract : Many major accidents in the past ten years in the process industry have been challenging industry, regulators but also public's confidence about our ability to prevent them (e.g. Toulouse, 2001, Billy Berclau, 2003, Ghislenghien, 2004, Texas City, 2005, Buncefield, 2005, Macondo,2010, Pembroke, 2011). This abstract intends therefore to provide a critical perspective to the question addressed in the call 'How do I know that I am not going to have a major accident tomorrow?' This question has, in the literature, almost a thirty years old history. It was indeed Perrow's contention that 'normal accidents' could occur from time to time, despite all preventive measures, due the levels of complexity and coupling of certain kind of high risk systems (Perrow, 1984).His approach was very much technological, or structural, leaving not much space in his interpretation to understand the part played by actors, organisations and institutions in the genesis of technological catastrophes. Thus, a sociologist like Vaughan (1996) has been able to extend Perrow's argument, using Turner's incubation framework (Turner, 1978) in order to show that complex socio technical systems could fruitfully be analysed from a historical, dynamic and systemic point of view. Her study of NASA Challenger's accident has become a landmark in the fields of both social and safety sciences.
Mots-clés : ACCIDENT SAFETY AUDITS MODELS
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Jean-Christophe Le Coze, Michèle Dupre. Is it time, in the process industry, to question the limits of safety audits ?. Hazards XXIII, Nov 2012, Southport, United Kingdom. pp.244-254. ⟨ineris-00976234⟩

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