Safety Lessons from the Titanic

Safety's been on our minds at ControlGlobal a lot of late. What with the latest body count from Bangladesh (1127!)  and the report due out tomorrow about the initial investigations at West, Texas, a story that seems to get stranger by the day,plus some of our own recent work, such as Jim Montague's latest column, reminding us that sometimes "Sorry" isn't enough and our May cover story on the complexities of managing risk and building a safety culture, that's not really surprising.

But when events seem to overtake us, it's always good to be reminded that there really is nothing new under the sun. This article this morning from the British newsletter The Engineer served that function today. It's a report on the first hearings into the sinking of the Titanic from May, 1912.

Seems like the rush to judgment by people who really don't know what they're talking about and the drum beat for selected heads to be displayed on pikes is nothing new. But even back then, the rational voice of the engineering expert speaking some uncomfortable truths did have a chance to be heard. What is more problematic is whether one should be comforted or depressed by the fact that designing, building and implementing safe systems hasn't gotten any easier or less complex in the last 100 years.

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