Cross posted from Legal Planet.
A couple of key observations about the oil rig blowout, based on my work on disaster issues.
First, “human error” is a cop-out when you’re dealing with major technology. It’s not like human fallibility is a surprise. Training, good management, and smart design should be the responses, not whining after the fact that the workers weren’t perfect. Or, if human error is unavoidable and the outcome would be catastrophic, you’d better rethink the project.
Second, it’s probably true that this was a very unlikely way for an oil rig to go wrong, but that doesn’t mean much. Suppose this was an eight-thousand-year event at any given oil rig. That is, you’d expect to have such an accident at that rig once in eight thousand years, or to put it another way, the odds in any …