Learning from Incidents and Implementing Action


Investigating how energy companies learn to work safer by distributing information about incidents


Energy companies invest a large amount of time and resources into learning from not only their own accidents and near-misses, but those of other companies. Following an incident, a company will investigate and create a summary of lessons to be learnt that can be distributed to a wide range of interested partners. The aim is to learn from the small incidents to prevent large-scale disasters. However, how this information is distributed and what happens when teams receive it remains unknown.

The LFIA project innovatively combined activity theory and social network analysis to explore how information on incidents was communicated around three multi-national energy companies. It also investigated how teams used that information to learn and improve practice, identifying both best practices and systematic barriers to learning.

The role of IET

The research was conducted as part of Victoria Murphy’s PhD. In collaboration with the Energy Institute and several industrial representatives, IET designed and carried out the research. After completion of the research the collaboration continued to publish the findings and transform the results into accessible resources for practitioners.


The project created academic impact by two presentations at the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction’s conferences. The innovative research design was also published as a chapter in a volume on mixed-methods social network analysis. There are several other academic articles that are currently in the process of being published.


The project has also had several practitioner focused impact initiatives. Three presentations were made at the Society of Petroleum Engineer’s HSSE Conference and the Energy Institute’s Human Factors conference. An article was also published in the trade magazine Petroleum Review. Two videos that explain key concepts and best practice have been created based on the research that will be published on the Energy Institute’s Toolbox website. Finally, a taxonomy of different indicators of learning has been transformed into a workshop that will be included in the next iteration of the Energy Institute’s Hearts&Minds toolkit.