Episode Summary

David and Drew discuss a research paper published this year in the Journal of Safety Research entitled “Exploring Bias in Incident Investigations: An Empirical Examination Using Construction Case Studies” by Sreeja Thallapureddy et al.

Episode Notes

You’ll hear David and Drew delve into the often overlooked role of bias in accident investigations. They explore the potential pitfalls of data collection, particularly confirmation bias, and discuss the impacts of other biases such as anchoring bias and hindsight bias. Findings from the paper are examined, revealing insights into confirmation bias and its prevalence in interviews. Strategies for enhancing the quality of incident investigations are also discussed, emphasizing the need to shift focus from blaming individuals to investigating organizational causes. The episode concludes with the introduction of Safety Exchange, a platform for global safety community collaboration.

Discussion Points:

  • Exploring the role of bias in accident investigations
  • Confirmation bias in data collection can validate initial assumptions
  • Review of a study examining confirmation bias among industry practitioners
  • Anchoring bias and hindsight bias on safety strategies
  • Recognizing and confronting personal biases
  • Counterfactuals in steering conversations towards preconceived solutions
  • Strategies to enhance the quality of incident investigations
  • Shifting focus from blaming individuals to investigating organizational causes
  • Safety Exchange – a platform for global safety community
  • The challenges organizations face when conducting good quality investigations
  • Standardization, trust, and managing time and production constraints
  • Confirmation bias in shaping investigation outcomes


  • Techniques to avoid bias in accident investigations and improve their quality
  • Safety Exchange – a safe place for open discussion
  • Six key questions
  • The answer to our episode’s question – Very, and we all are as human beings. It does mean that we should probably worry more about the data collection phase of our investigations more than the causal analysis methodology and taxonomy that we concern ourselves with


Link to the Paper

The Safety of Work Podcast

The Safety of Work on LinkedIn