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Redressing the Balance - A Commonsense Approach to Causation
(Difford 2011)


Trevor Williams,
Executive Committee Chairman,
Institute of Industrial Accident Investigators

In 1998, under contract with Neucom, the Institute (IIAI) initiated its first Ten Year Study. Aside a goal of identifying and harmonising the key subjects that an international community of investigators might utilise and draw from, a range of critical questions were posed. In particular, one such question was “what, exactly, should certain grades of IIAI member know about current models of causation?”

Following Difford’s (1998; 2004) reports, my committee agreed that reference to Heinrich (1941) and Bird (1974) would suffice since those effectively present contrary views on cause. The Chief Examiner felt that an understanding of them, transferred by suitable instructors, would highlight the matter of bias and promote objectivity in both evidence gathering and analysis.

Difford (1998) also analysed Petersen’s (1971) multiple causation theory and Reason’s (1997) Swiss cheese model (SCM) but rejected those as ill-founded. Following an academic response, I requested Paul (Difford) to re-submit his 1998 and 2004 rejections of Petersen, Bird and Reason as a more detailed (albeit as concise as possible) case for their on-going refutation (this book being the result). Whilst relevant IIAI materials will still reference Heinrich and Bird (despite Bird’s model being rejected for similar reasons to its modern day equivalent...the SCM), those will be tempered by Difford’s New Millennium Theory. In that respect, this book provides the substance and justification for future IIAI references to Difford’s Theory. Furthermore, it lays the ground for his model which is the only systems and error analysis tool ever approved by us. Inter alia, it highlights the means by which the numerous problems reported to the TYS as being created by ‘most’ of the Root Cause Analysis models (hard form and software) circulating the market place are either disposed of or, ideally, avoided altogether.

As regards a balanced discussion, that was impossible and Difford has made no attempt in that respect. The bias (for want of a better word) that prevents the occupation by all parties of the objective middle ground is truly enormous. To say that the bias is wholly one-sided and illogically out of balance would be an understatement. Therefore, as an attempt to redress the balance, do not consider what unfolds below as a ‘cherry picking’ exercise. All other arguments are essentially to the contrary in that they reside, juxtaposed to the arguments herein, on the other side of the fence. Within the following text, therefore, lies the argument that you have not heard before and I am certain that it will generate the debate that is so desperately needed if we are ever to see a logical and commonsense approach to the causes of industrial accidents.

Before leaving you to consider the many issues that Difford raises and deals with, he is but the messenger. Much of what follows has been written on the walls for decades; indeed, bleeding through the occasional whitewash, some of it has been there for centuries.

Trevor Williams
IIAI Executive Committee Chairman

Copyright Difford 2011. Permission to reproduce the extract from the Foreword granted under express written permsission of the publisher.