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Leak in BP Pipeline and Toyota Product Recall: A Sense of Deja Vu

The last week has caused a strange sense of deja vu with the announcement of another Toyota product recall just as news emerged of a leak in a BP pipeline in Dorset (the leak actually occurred in November last year).  Whilst, on the face of it, the recurrence of such problems at these particular companies may seem hard to believe; the history of industrial crises is littered with repeated instances of the same (or similar) incidents within industries and, even, within companies.  The study of this organisational failure to learn from crises is a topic of both academic and practical interest.

From a practical point of view, the most important point is to ensure that a thorough debrief is held as soon as possible after any incident or near miss.  The debrief should focus on establishing what went well; what could be done better; and crucially, what needs to be done differently to handle crises more effectively in the future.  Specific actions need to be assigned to individuals, with deadlines for completion, and these actions tracked through to completion.