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Accident reports play a key role in the safety of complex systems. These reports present the recommendations that are intended to help avoid any recurrence of past failures. However, the value of these findings depends upon the causal analysis that helps to identify the reasons why an accident occurred. Various techniques have been developed to help investigators distinguish root causes from contributory factors and contextual information. This paper presents the results from a study into the individual differences that can arise when a group of investigators independently apply the same technique to identify the causes of an accident. This work is important if we are to increase the consistency and coherence of investigations following major accidents.
Date of Conference: 15-18 Oct. 2012