Denials Delusions and Bias

During the years that I have led process hazard analyses (PHA), I have repeatedly encountered team members who adamantly proclaimed that a scenario that I have proposed is invalid or too farfetched. Their reasoning is based on the idea that “It can't happen here” or “We have operated for twenty years and that's never happened.” To illustrate the concept of human bias and how it can affect the ability to adequately assess risk, two examples from actual Process Hazard Analyses (PHAs) are presented. 

The first example will examine the "it can't happen here" attitude and the second will explore the "it hasn't happened, so it won't happen" mindset. Through analyzing both of these scenarios, this presentation will delve into the development of human bias that leads to these determinantal attitudes. Each example will illustrate the prevalence of these type of human bias. It will also provide recommendations for addressing these two particular types of bias in a PHA.

Failure is an inherent product of these human biases. This presentation addresses why people fail to learn from prior incidents, both at their own company and those from other industries. It will also provide practical recommendations for addressing these types of bias in a PHA. Overcoming human bias will help us learn from past incidents and improve our ability to assess risk.

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