Jeffrey Smith makes a plea for more information about the causes of site deaths in order to guide changes in design and site methods (NCE 23 November).
Unfortunately the nature of the law and the processes of its enforcement agencies militate against the production of such information. The response to any significant accident is not 'let's find out what went wrong so that we may try to prevent it from happening again' but 'let's identify the culprits so that they may be punished'.
Everybody involved therefore, naturally fearful for their reputations, careers, and even liberty, tends to keep very quiet. When the matter eventually reaches the courts nobody is very much interested in the truth as such. Even inquiries are increasingly adversarial rather than inquisitorial.
It is understandable that society should wish to find somebody to blame for any accident, particularly where people have died or been badly injured. But this aim is largely incompatible with that of learning useful lessons from our mistakes. We cannot have it both ways.
John Horsler (M), 65 Beauval Road, London SE22 8UH