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Analysis, Causality and Proof in Safety Investigations


The quality of a safety investigation's analysis activities plays a critical role in determining whether the investigation is successful in enhancing safety. However, safety investigations require analysis of complex sets of data and situations where the available data can be vague, incomplete and misleading. Despite its importance, complexity, and reliance on investigators' judgements, analysis has been a neglected area in terms of standards, guidance and training of investigators in most organisations that conduct safety investigations.

To address this situation, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) developed a comprehensive investigation analysis framework. The present report provides an overview of the ATSB investigation analysis framework and concepts such as the determination of contribution and standard of proof. The report concludes by examining the nature of concerns that have been raised regarding the ATSB analysis framework and the ATSB's consideration of these concerns.

The ATSB believes that its investigation analysis framework is well suited to its role as an independent, no-blame safety investigation body. It is hoped and expected that ongoing development and provision of information about the framework can help the safety investigation field as a whole consider some important issues and help develop the best means of conducting safety investigations to enhance future safety.

Type: Research and Analysis Report
Author(s): Michael B. Walker and Kym M. Bills
Series number: 2007053
Publication date: 26 June 2008
Publication number: 08196
Related: Human factors
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Last update 07 April 2014
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