Managing Major Hazards: The Lessons of the Moura Mine Disaster

Managing Major Hazards: The Lessons of the Moura Mine Disaster

Managing Major Hazards: The Lessons of the Moura Mine Disaster

Managing Major Hazards: The Lessons of the Moura Mine Disaster

Synopsis

Examines workplace risk management in the context of a major mine disaster

Excerpt

Things are always going wrong in organisations. Information fails to get to people who need it; erroneous or counterproductive beliefs undermine good decision making; things fail to happen because no one actually has responsibility to make them happen; and people follow their own agendas at the expense of the organisation's goals. This is all routine. And normally the consequences are not too serious. The organisation might not be as efficient as possible, and the product or service might be less than optimal. But errors, if they are serious enough, will be corrected and no great harm is done. Thus, organisations lumber on, and the ways in which they are fairing remain unexposed.

But when a disaster occurs, when people are killed, the organisation concerned is placed under a spotlight. External authorities conduct detailed inquiries which may generate thousands of pages of transcript evidence. In the process, the workings of the organisation are laid bare and its failings, normally hidden from view, are open to scrutiny. Disasters therefore offer an unparalleled opportunity to study the workings of an organisation and to identify where things are going wrong.

This book examines a particular disaster in order to shed light on the way things go wrong in organisations. It is a study of an explosion in a BHP coal mine at Moura in central Queensland in 1994 in which eleven men lost their lives. The official inquiry provided a fascinating insight into the organisational failures that led to the disaster, failures that we can assume are present in many other contexts and that will continue to give rise to disasters . . .

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