Episode 11 – Kegworth and Checklists

This episode examines British Midlands Flight BD92 (Kegworth). In the Kegworth accident, the Boeing 737 experienced an engine failure, but the pilots shut down the wrong engine. As usual, it’s a bit more complicated than it first sounds.

“Tick Box” often used as a criticism of safety, but this may be a bit unfair. Checklists have an important role to play in preventing accidents, and arguably could have made a difference for Kegworth. As they are adopted into other domains, we should consider what we hope to get out of using checklists, and how they can be used wisely.

In this episode I also try translating the idea that there are seven basic plots from literature to the world of accidents. I’ve provided the first four universal accident narratives, but help from listeners is needed to finish the list.

The next episode will be about medical devices. I’m looking for someone with expertise in the domain to be interviewed or to contribute a segment, so let me know if that sounds like you.

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Episode 10 – The Value of a Statistical Life

Value of a Statistical Life, the Ford Pinto, and Safety Cases.

In this episode I examine the ethics and practicalities of placing a value on human life. I discuss how
the value of a human life is determined, how it is used, and how it can be misused. We then delve into probably the most
controversial example of safety versus cost trade-off, the Ford Pinto in the case of Grimshaw v Ford Motor Company, 1978.

This episode also features an interview with George Despotou from the University of York. George and I talk about his recent
article, a “First Contact with Safety Cases”.

Episode 10 transcript is here.


  1. First Contact with Safety Cases
  2. The Myth of the Ford Pinto Case [pdf]
  3. 500 Life Saving Interventions and their Cost Effectiveness [pdf]

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