2008:50 Study on Developments in Accident Investigation Methods: A Survey of the “State-of-the-Art”

The objective of this project was to survey the main accident investigation methods that have been developed since the early or mid-1990s. The motivation was the increasing frequency of accidents that defy explanations in simple terms, for instance cause-effect chains or “human error”. Whereas the complexity of socio-technical systems is steadily growing across all industrial domains, including nuclear power production, accident investigation methods are only updated when their inability to account for novel types of accidents and incidents becomes inescapable. Accident investigation methods therefore typically lag behind the socio-technological developments by 20 years or more.

The project first compiled a set of methods from the recognised scientific literature and in major major research & development programs, excluding methods limited to risk assessment, technological malfunctions, human reliability, and safety management methods. An initial set of 21 methods was further reduced to seven by retaining only prima facie accident investigation methods and avoiding overlapping or highly similar methods.

This report is also available in Swedish:
2008:49 En studie av olycksutredningsmetoders utveckling: En sammanställning över “State-of-the-Art”