Safety Book Club
One of the tragic findings of research on major accidents is that the companies concerned had failed to learn from previous major accident events. To learn from those events we need to study the accounts that have been written of them, and that study needs to be as active as possible. Some companies have set up “book clubs” or discussion groups which take a particular book and study it chapter by chapter, week by week. Book club meetings can be made more effective if they are guided by a set of questions. A set of
questions, developed by Andrew Hopkins is now available to be used with his books:
- Disastrous Decisions: The Human and Organisational Causes of the Gulf of Mexico Blowout
- Failure to Learn: The BP Texas City Refinery Disaster
- Lessons from Longford: the Esso Gas Plant Explosion
How to run a book club
There are various ways that book clubs might be run.
- Face to face groups of up to 15 people
- Larger video-conference groups
- Email bulletin board discussions, where the bulletin board remains open for a week and participants make their contributions during this time period
- Forum within web based training program
Book club meetings have become a very productive way of upholding safety awareness and bringing consideration to any existing or evolving hazards and risks and learning from previous major accidents. The leader can bounce off the experience of participants, and use that experience to emphasise the importance of a concept. It provokes active employee participation with lessons learnt from previous accidents and in applying the lessons to the circumstances within your organisation. These question sets have been developed by Andrew Hopkins to accompany his books to ensure active learning.
How to use the question sets
The book club leader will choose one or more chapters to be read each week. Not all questions will be relevant for all audiences and the leader should identify which of the listed questions should be
addressed. The leader may also add additional questions that are relevant to the particular
For many book club groups, later chapters in the books may not lend themselves to discussion as much as
earlier chapters and fewer questions are listed. In particular the chapters on regulation may be irrelevant for most groups and could be skipped. When reading these chapters, you should focus your reading in such a way as to help you answer the questions. But you should also identify (highlight) things that you
find interesting or want to talk about, including things that you don’t understand. The leader may find it useful to start with your observations and issues before moving to the set questions.