The need to establish consistent international safety investigation guidelines for the chemical industries

Alpo Vuorio, John Stoop, Christopher Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The Bhopal pesticide accident triggered a number of responses from the companies involved from the Indian government as well as reforms in the United States. These initiatives reached a range of different conclusions that arguably failed to provide a coherent framework for action around the globe. In other domains, organisations such as the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), provide a common point of reference for the many different investigations that may be conducted in the aftermath of an accident. The early origin of the international aircraft safety investigation process can be traced back more than 70 years and has developed in the course of time to be useful in improving aviation safety. Despite these practices can't applied directly to other industry they may help to develop good practices. Even today, the international chemical industry lacks international guidelines for safety investigations. There are, however, initiatives to support investigations within individual nations. Without greater consistency, we argue that there is little prospect of ensuring international cooperation in mitigating the consequences or reducing the likelihood of future accidents across increasingly globalized chemical industries. This contribution elaborates on the engines for change, taking into account system inherent properties and safety management concepts that serve as barriers for implementation. Such barriers are of a methodological nature, originating from differences in goals and perspectives between accident investigation in aviation and risk management strategies in nuclear and chemical industries. We also identify opportunities to overcome these barriers through the exchange of good practice across these industries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-74
Number of pages13
JournalSafety Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • Accident
  • Aviation
  • Chemical
  • Industry
  • Investigation
  • Safety

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