Aircrash

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Similar Events At TOP-SET, one of our categories of ‘Indicators’ when investigating, is ‘Similar Events’. This week we saw the news reports on the tragic crash and loss of life on the Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302. News sources, quite rightly, are drawing parallels with the Lion Air Crash last October. At this stage, until full investigations have been conducted, it …

Communication – The Problem?

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‘The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.’ George Bernard Shaw Underpinning every difficulty or problem is poor communication in one form or another. Language, cultural or gender differences aside, a multitude of blocks combine to distort communication, create misunderstandings and even conflict. It is one of the hardest things to get inside the …

What Makes a Good Investigation Leader

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If you are heading up an incident investigation, no doubt you are already in a leadership role. You will have reached that position because you meet the brief of what makes a good leader. But when it comes to leading an investigation, the qualities required are slightly different. Tight control of the situation and an understanding of your team are …

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Message Received…

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…or was it? Communication is at the heart of every aspect of our lives. We only have to consider our own domestic lives; we cannot exist functionally without talking to our family and friends, but unless you are very unique, this frequently results in miscommunications. Applying the same thoughts to workplaces and safety critical situations, we can see how integral …

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Report Writing: The Deadly Bullet Point

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When it comes to writing an incident investigation report, there is one important factor that is crucial in conveying the right information so that recommendations can be enacted. It’s all about communication, communication, communication. Or should that be: communication communication communication 1.1 The bullet point was hardly ever used until Microsoft got its teeth into the issue and developed the …

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Culture and Disease Model – The Glasgow Experience

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The Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, says he may adopt a ‘public health’ model to tackle violent crime. What does he mean? He is espousing the notion that violent behaviour is a kind of epidemic that spreads from person to person, infecting and reproducing itself. It has long been apparent that this is indeed how behaviours spread, whether in schools, prisons …

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Interviewing – Four Paths to Failure

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We at TOP-SET are in a very strong position to comment on the skills of interviewing for investigation, not because we are all expert interviewers, but because our tutors role-play on many of our courses to give students interview practice. Consequently, we are at the raw end of very many interviews and have learned through experience the best techniques to …

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Genoa Bridge Disaster

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The major motorway bridge collapse in Genoa, killing 43 people and injuring many others on the 14th of August, prompted some thoughts about human factors and construction failures. Over the centuries, bridges, cathedrals and buildings of every sort have fallen down, sadly in most cases with significant loss of life. However, many ancient buildings, such as some of the Roman aqueducts, …

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Last Line of Defence

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There have been references lately on LinkedIn to how useful, exemplary and positive it is to talk about one’s failures in terms of learning from mistakes. This demonstrates that success can follow failure, and indeed often does, if the lessons are sought, studied and used. Admitting to error, however, is made more difficult in environments where there is a ‘blame’ …

‘Rage Against the Machine’? – What Automation Means for Human Error

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The increasing pace towards automation of industry and the workplace can only be a good thing, especially in terms of business and safety. Machines and computers are more efficient after all, and don’t make mistakes like humans do. But, as was observed in the Industrial Revolution of the early nineteenth century, where industrial processes replaced hand production methods, such radical …