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Andrew Hopkins
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Human Dimensions of Fire Management
High Reliability Organizing

NRFSN number: 15906
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The Esso gas plant explosion of 1998 represents a series of organizational failures that resulted in devastating consequences, including two deaths. This book examines those organizational failures through the findings of the Royal Commission. The author argues that the accident was preventable and was caused by a number of failures including the failure to heed warning signs, communication problems, insufficient attention to hazards, deficient auditing, and a failure to learn from past experiences. Due in part to these failures, the Royal Commission found that fault for the explosion lay not with the plant operators but with Esso. The failures that led to the explosion are not atypical organizational failures, and thus an analysis of the factors leading to this explosion bears implications for other organizations facing major hazards. A number of themes are integrated into this book, including practical preventability, accident cause, operator error, market forces, governmental influence, organizational analysis, high reliability organizations, and a comparison to the Moura mine disaster.


Hopkins A. 2000. Lessons from Longford: the Esso Gas Plant explosion. Sydney: CCH Australia Limited. 184 p.

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