How Organisations Learn from Safety Incidents: A Multifaceted Problem

Dane Lukic, Anoush Margaryan, Allison Littlejohn

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Purpose: This paper seeks to review current approaches to learning from health and safety incidents in the workplace. The aim of the paper is to identify the diversity of approaches and analyse them in terms of learning aspects.
Design/methodology/approach: A literature review was conducted searching for terms incident/accident/near misses/disaster/crisis modified with learning/training and safety. Shortlisted articles were analysed by questioning who is learning, what kind of learning process is undertaken, what type of knowledge is employed and the type of problem that these incidents addressed. Current approaches to learning from incidents were critically analysed and gaps identified.
Findings: Very few papers addressed all the envisaged aspects when developing their learning from incidents approaches. With support from literature, it was concluded that all the four perspectives, namely participants of learning (participation and inclusion), learning process (single loop, double learning), type of incident and its relation to learning (Cynefin complexity framework) and types of knowledge (conceptual, procedural, dispositional and locative) are important when deciding on an appropriate learning from incidents approach.
Research limitations/implications: The literature review focused on journal articles and identified keywords, which might have narrowed the scope. Further research is needed in identifying ways to embed the learning from incidents aspects in the organisation.
Practical implications: The framework developed could be useful by safety planners, safety managers, human resource managers and researchers in the area of organisational learning and safety.
Originality/value: The paper concludes by outlining key questions and proposing a framework that could be useful in systematically analysing and indentifying effective approaches to learning from incidents.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Workplace Learning
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)428-450
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Health and safety
  • Workplace
  • Workplace learning

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