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Attendees Pack ASSE Symposium to Dig Deeper Into Why Workplace Error Occurs

Posted in on Thu, Nov 4, 2010

Des Plaines, IL (November 4, 2010) — A standing room only crowd of occupational safety, health and environmental professionals from around the U.S. were on hand today in San Antonio to hear Dr. Todd Conklin, of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, discuss new thinking on why error happens in the workplace. He discussed studies that have found 70 percent of companies’ systems have errors; that 90 percent of operating equipment errors are human; that 10 percent of error is due to equipment malfunction; and, much more at the opening of the two-day American Society of Safety Engineer’s Rethink Safety symposium at the Hyatt Regency San Antonio.

From looking at why a crocodile would clamp down on the head of the trainer after many years of working together; what caused a high explosive bomb to be dropped, but not go off; to ‘texting’ and the recent horrific train crash in California, Conklin asked the audience to dig deeper.
“Was it the texting that caused the accident,” Conklin asked the audience. “No, you can replace ‘texting’ with ‘distracted’ with ‘the wasp’ with many more factors, but it’s the system. Workers don’t cause accidents; they trigger latent conditions that exist in the systems’ process that lie dormant on the job site. Conditions that allow error or failure to happen. That’s what you need to find.”

The ASSE symposium will address this and other issues involving error and workplace safety this Nov. 4-5 at its “Rethink Safety” symposium including looking into the root causes of catastrophic events such as the Texas City BP disaster, the NASA Challenger and Columbia tragedies as well as the Chernobyl nuclear reactor catastrophe. The symposium will address why similar workplace incidents continue to occur, take a fresh look at the causes of human errors and offer new strategies to improve an organization’s safety and health. Although workplace fatalities nationwide dropped by 17 percent in 2009, on-the-job deaths rose in Texas by four percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Many were puzzled by the increase due to the ongoing push by all to enhance workplace safety in Texas.
In addition to Dr. Conklin, a renowned authority on organizational behavior, general session presenter Corrie Pitzer, MBA, CEO of SAFEmap International in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, will discuss recent disasters, the human element, how safety performance has stalled at many companies, the root causes of catastrophic or multi-fatality events and how to improve safety. Dr. Marilyn Sue Bogner, president and chief scientist of the Institute for the Study of Human Error in Bethesda, MD, will present her findings on errors taken from mishaps in healthcare relevant across all disciplines and discuss applicable solutions. She will also discuss lessons learned from the medicine and automobile industry and describe a tool for identifying the factors that contribute to error whatever the industry.

The “Rethink Safety” symposium corporate sponsor is CLMI Safety Training ( Founded in 1984, the Minneapolis-based CLMI is a long-time ASSE sponsor. CLMI Safety Training is a performance consulting company that provides training development services, as well as video and online programs for the safety, health and environmental profession.

Founded in 1911, the Des Plaines, IL-based ASSE is the oldest safety society. It has more than 32,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members who lead, manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in all industries, government, labor, health care and education. For more information please go to

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