System accidents and emergence

15/11/2012

A Working Definition and a Key Question…

One of the truisms of systems safety theory is that safety is an emergent attribute of the design. But looking at this in reverse it also implies that system accidents are emergent, if unintended, attributes of a system. So when we talk about system accidents and hazards we’re really (if we accept the base definition) talking about an emergent attribute of a system.

But what are emergent attributes? Now that is a very interesting philosophical question, and answering it might help clarify what exactly is a system accident…

One response to System accidents and emergence

  1. 
    Vera EL-Bacha 25/11/2012 at 4:27 pm

    Safety by design – helps us identify the possible failures attributed to a system. In reverse naturally a system will have emergent issues. But following v – model phases can definately assist in minimising emergent system risks. The challenge is embedding this process from the start of system concept and ensuring all stakeholders have the same picture of the system and its subsystems to be able to identify key emergent issues. Also understanding interfacing systems and their affects will assist in a more robust application of safety by design.

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