Recovery uncovered: How people in the chemical process industry recover from failures

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Traditionally, the focus of those who work in safety and reliability management has mainly been on the prevention of technical failures, human failures or errors, and more recently also organizational or management failures. However, additional benefits can be gained from focusing on what can be done after a failure has occurred, but before this leads to negative consequences. The research described in this thesis aimed at gaining a better understanding of the processes people follow to recover from different types and combinations of failures in work situations, and the factors that influence these processes and their outcomes. To this end, five empirical studies were performed in the chemical process industry, using existing event reporting systems, interviews, event diaries, and vignettes. The results showed that a variety of recovery process scenarios exist, composed of three main types of recovery steps: detection, which always occurs first, explanation, and countermeasures. The latter two do not always occur in the same order, nor have to occur both, and both can also recur later during the process. Recovery processes appeared to be facilitated by a timely detection of the problem, teamwork, communication, and detailed process knowledge. Organizations can use the insights presented in this thesis to evaluate and expand their recovery possibilities.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEindhoven, the Netherlands
PublisherTechnische Universiteit Eindhoven
Number of pages211
ISBN (Print)ISBN 90-386-1788-7
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


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