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This year's lectures, held at the Holiday Inn, Taunton mid way through the annual IIAI Diploma sessions, were devoted to just a few of the many areas that Difford's (2011) "Redressing the Balance-A Commonsense Approach to Causation" analyses and authoritatively comments upon. Every IIAI member should be in possession of a copy of this landmark text so please be sure to grab one at the reduced rate whilst stocks last. General visitors to this site and Neucom's may also obtain the book at the reduced rate but must first email Neucom to receive a voucher number. Members should also note that from 2012 onwards, a clear understanding of certain elements of the book will be needed by Diploma and CertLI candidates; in addition, prospective Fellows must be able to display a thorough understanding of it.


Pip Martin getting the sessions under way.


Pip Martin got the sessions under way with a re-cap of his presentation from 2010. Pip then focussed on the mechanism behind Shell Tripod® aligned Root Cause Analysis software programs to reveal that they have the philosophy of Reason's (1997:2004) Swiss Cheese model (SCM) running in the background (note from Ed, Difford's (2011) "Redressing the Balance - A Commonsense Approach to Causation" has rejected the SCM as a causal model and also disproved the underlying theory). Pip said that SCM aligned RCA programs actually force the investigator beyond what would be the normal stopping point of the investigation as regards the central causal enquiry.

Concluding a lengthy and incredibly informative session, Pip offered that the SCM type philosophy (based on Bird's (1974) 'updated sequence' and Petersen's (1971) Multiple Causation Theory; both also disproved by Difford in 'Redressing the Balance') is based (without users realising it) on an academic belief that workers have neither right nor inclination to exercise free-will in the workplace. However, he finished by saying that writers such as Petersen, Reason and Bird (none of whom are experts in the relevant fields) are effectively proposing a theory on the causes of behaviour that experts in agent causation have declared preposterous.




Trevor was next up. Carrying on from Pip's concluding comment he touched upon agent causation over the past 300 years and the academic debate surrounding free-will.

Just so long as we bear in mind that the word blame is not in our vocabulary and that his session was a warning shot across the bows of certain academics, it is perhaps best summarised by the slide that remained on screen behind him throughout...

“ things that are within the reach of every man’s understanding, and upon which the whole conduct of human life turns, the philosopher must follow the multitude, or make himself perfectly ridiculous” (Reid 1764).


Keith Scott draws from 'Redressing the Balance' to highlight one of the critical flaws in modern day theories of causation.


The third speaker of the evening was Keith Scott, IIAI Honorary Fellow and Chairman of the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management. Delivering a challenging talk, Keith touched upon what is perhaps the most difficult, but critically important, concepts that industry and causal analysts must come to terms with; i.e. the difference between causes and conditions. Summing up his session, Keith quoted the following from Difford (2011 citing Hart & Honore 2002)...

In distinguishing between a cause and a condition, two contrasts are of prime importance. These are the contrasts between what is normal and what is abnormal in relation to a given thing or subject-matter and between a free deliberate human act and all other conditions. The notions in these contrasts lie at the heart of most metaphors that cluster around notions of cause and must be used in any literal discussion of the facts which they obscure.

In conclusion, Keith said "unfortunately, a number of theories have not complied with that most vital requirement" and then handed over to Paul Difford to explain the reasons for, and ramifications of, that failure. (Note to IIAI/IIRSM members, Keith's presentation also cemented his IIAI Honorary Fellowship which was originally awarded at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management and the Institute of Industrial Accident Investigators in June 2009).


Difford, explaining the whereabouts and nature of the holes in Reason's (1997) SCM theory.


Paul Difford was next up and presented a summary of his case for the empirical, logical and scientific refutation of Petersen's (1971) Multiple Causation Theory, Bird's (1974) 'updated sequence' and Reason's (1997: 2004) Swiss Cheese Model (SCM). The audience were left in no doubt as to where the fatal flaws lie in the philosophy of the management failure and organisational accident schools and why the latent condition (the critical component in Reason's SCM) must be removed from industrial and academic vocabularies. Paul explained in layman's terms why the SCM and its latent failure/condition results in a legally absurd, empirically contrary and logically invalid causal statement.

Difford's session will not be discussed further here since readers of his book, "Redressing the Balance - A Commonsense Approach to Causation", will find all that they need there in user friendly language. For the academically inclined, the book contains a wealth of references.


Proposer Difford looks on as Alan Dell MBE (right) notifies the membership of his

intention to add William Johnston (seated) to the IIAI roll of Fellows.


Thanks go out to the master of ceremonies for the evening, William Johnston, who flew in from Belfast to keep an eye on things. One of the matters to be attended to before the evening commenced proper was not on Will's formal agenda; i.e. the announcement by Alan Dell (IIAI Memberships Committee Chairman) that he would be adding William's name to the roll of IIAI Fellows on the 1st of February 2012. Congratulations Will (an IIAI Honorary Fellow for the past 8 years) from all of us at the Institute.


Also receiving an award on the evening was Babcock International Group SHEQS Manager, Dave Yeaman. Dave, who was unable to attend last year's award ceremonies, is pictured below left receiving his IIAI Diploma from Alan Dell MBE.









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