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Probative blindness and false assurance about safety

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Publication details

JournalSafety science
DateE-pub ahead of print - 26 Oct 2016
DatePublished (current) - 1 Feb 2017
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)190-204
Early online date26/10/16
Original languageEnglish


Safety activities may provide assurance of safety even where such assurance is unwarranted. This phenomenon – which we will call “probative blindness” – is evident both in hindsight analysis of accidents and in the daily practice of safety work. The purpose of this paper is to describe the phenomenon of probative blindness. We achieve this by distinguishing probative blindness from other phenomena, identifying historical instances of probative blindness, and discussing characteristics and causes associated with these instances. The end product is an explanation of the features of probative blindness suitable for investigating the probative value of current safety activities, and ultimately for reducing the occurrence of probative blindness

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© 2016, Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.

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