Chapter 1

Resilience – the Challenge of the Unstable

Erik Hollnagel

Safety is the sum of the accidents that do not occur. While accident research has focused on accidents that occurred and tried to understand why, safety research should focus on the accidents that did not occur and try to understand why.

Understanding Accidents

Research into system safety is faced with the conundrum that while there have been significant developments in the understanding of how accidents occur, there has been no comparable developments in the understanding of how we can adequately assess and reduce risks. A system is safe if it is impervious and resilient to perturbations and the identification and assessment of possible risks is therefore an essential prerequisite ...

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