Skip to main content

CROSS Topic Paper

This one will bring the house down

Region: CROSS-UK Published: 1 April 2009


This is the text of a lecture given at ICE in 2009 on the potential impact of systemic failure, within a company, and more broadly within industries, including the construction industry.

Background is given to the terrible Clapham Junction railway disaster of December 1988 when 35 people died, and hundreds were injured after a crowded commuter train passed a signal momentarily showing a proceed aspect.

Other major catastrophes and their relation to human behaviour, management, and systemic failure are mentioned. There are valuable lessons for board members and leaders.

Note: this Topic Paper was published by SCOSS (Standing Committee on Structural Safety). Since March 2021, SCOSS is integrated under the name Collaborative Reporting for Safer Structures (CROSS).

Who should read this?

Principal Designers and Principal Contractors. Board members and senior managers of companies in the construction and fire sectors.

Submit a report

Your report will make a difference. It will help to create positive change and improve safety.

Our secure and confidential safety reporting system gives professionals the opportunity to share their experiences to help others.