Process safety: A wicked problem?

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Abstract

The nature of process accidents is discussed, and the relevant definition of Horst Rittel's social phenomenon, “wicked problems,” is examined. Existing accident models are reviewed for inclusion of social drivers thought to dominate process accidents. A suggested method, new to process safety and termed morphological analysis, is offered to uncover unacknowledged drivers. Give the purported fit of process safety as a wicked problem, an assessment of the US Chemical Safety Board's “Most Wanted” is made doubting its potential reduction in accidents. © 2016 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Process Saf Prog 36: 14–17, 2017

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