“Risk Can Be Identified and Controlled. Therefore All Industrial Disasters Are Preventable.” Discuss.

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“Risk can be identified and controlled. Therefore all industrial disasters are preventable.” Discuss.

This essay discusses the apparently logical proposition that if risk can be identified and controlled, industrial disasters are preventable. It first examines the concepts of ‘risk’, ‘identification and control’, ‘disaster’ and ‘preventable’ before examining the nature of the industrial disaster through a systems approach; it will be shown that a disaster can be deconstructed in order to present a series of ‘hooks’ on which preventative action could be taken. However, the nature of the system and organizational culture in which it operates prohibits those lessons from being applied. Furthermore, not only are there limits to lessons, …show more content…

This systems approach seeks to identify lessons in order to predict future disasters within industry because of the isomorphic nature of these systems. From an organizational perspective, Toft and Reynolds (2005 cited in Module 1, Unit 5: 5.6) argued that although disasters are low frequency events when viewed in the context of one organization, managers could benefit from isomorphic foresight if they viewed incidents which occurred across the whole industry and learned from one another, where organizations and/or operations are similar. Thus, given the availability of theoretical models and empirical evidence, it would appear to be a rational assertion that industrial disasters could be prevented because industry could learn from its own experiences. However, there are a number of barriers to this, both in general and specifically, due to limitations on isomorphic learning.

The first general issue of reductionism (Elliott, 2000). There may be a tendency to take a simple approach to causes of disasters (Richardson, 1994) reducing them to simplistic activity or blame; this diverts attention away from emergent properties, or previously unforeseen system interactions (Elliott, 2000) and inhibits a holistic approach which would otherwise consider the range of political, economic and

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