7 episodes

The fire coloured the night sky. A wall of flames engulfing the building. From her bedroom  in a neighbouring tower block Gill Kernick watched in horror as the Grenfell tower burned. 72 people lost their lives. Gill had lived on Grenfell’s 21st floor for three years. She loved the place, the exquisite views and the community. Now it was gone. As a consultant working in  high hazard industries to create the culture and leadership needed to prevent disasters, Gill felt helpless. This should never have happened. This podcast and the book it accompanies is the result of a vow Gill made as she watched the building burn, a vow to make sure we learned, to in some way honour the lives of those lost. In this series, Catastrophe The Podcast, Gill Kernick and journalist Matthew Price, who she met while he was covering the Grenfell Tower fire, examine how we create disasters. How our established ways of thinking and working contribute to catastrophe. They explore previous major accidents and explore how and why we rarely learn. And they discover that if we are to stop the next catastrophe we need to tear up the established ways of doing things and start along a new road.
Catastrophe The Podcast is sponsored by JMJ Associates and is a Mother Come Quickly Production.  It runs along side the book by Gill Kernick - Catastrophe and Systemic Change: Learning from the Grenfell Tower and Other Disasters, published by the London Publishing Partnership 


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Catastrophe Gill Kernick

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.6 • 11 Ratings

The fire coloured the night sky. A wall of flames engulfing the building. From her bedroom  in a neighbouring tower block Gill Kernick watched in horror as the Grenfell tower burned. 72 people lost their lives. Gill had lived on Grenfell’s 21st floor for three years. She loved the place, the exquisite views and the community. Now it was gone. As a consultant working in  high hazard industries to create the culture and leadership needed to prevent disasters, Gill felt helpless. This should never have happened. This podcast and the book it accompanies is the result of a vow Gill made as she watched the building burn, a vow to make sure we learned, to in some way honour the lives of those lost. In this series, Catastrophe The Podcast, Gill Kernick and journalist Matthew Price, who she met while he was covering the Grenfell Tower fire, examine how we create disasters. How our established ways of thinking and working contribute to catastrophe. They explore previous major accidents and explore how and why we rarely learn. And they discover that if we are to stop the next catastrophe we need to tear up the established ways of doing things and start along a new road.
Catastrophe The Podcast is sponsored by JMJ Associates and is a Mother Come Quickly Production.  It runs along side the book by Gill Kernick - Catastrophe and Systemic Change: Learning from the Grenfell Tower and Other Disasters, published by the London Publishing Partnership 


See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

    Welcome to Catastrophe!

    Welcome to Catastrophe!

    A podcast about how we create disasters and why we don’t learn from them. Led by high hazard consultant Gill Kernick and Radio 4 journalist Matthew Price.
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    • 2 min
    1. FIRE

    1. FIRE

    TRIGGER WARNING: THERE IS A VERY SHORT CLIP OF THE FIRST EMERGENCY CALL AND SOUNDS OF THE NIGHT NEAR THE BEGINNING OF THIS PODCAST
    In this first episode Gill Kernick and Matthew Price go back to June 2017 when Gill witnessed the terrible fire at Grenfell that killed 72 people.  As she watched the fire rip through the building she felt helpless. She knew, as a consultant advising high hazard industries on how to prevent disasters, that this should never have happened.  With the help of Guillermo Rein, who is a professor of Fire Science at Imperial College London and Diane Coyle who is an economist and co-director of the Bennett Institute for Public Policy at Cambridge University, Gill and Matthew examine the complexities of building safety and look at the myth that regulations keep us safe.
    Sponsored by JMJ Associates - A Mother Come Quickly Production. 



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    • 35 min
    2. AIR

    2. AIR

    In this episode Gill Kernick and Matthew Price examine what went wrong with the Boeing 737 Max aircraft.  Why did 346 people lose their lives?  With the help of the consulting editor at Flight Global, David Learmount,  Gill and Matthew look at the culture of Boeing at the time of the accident, and find out why not even the pilots of the new plane knew about MCAS  - a  new technology that led to the disasters.  They speak to retired  NASA Astronaut Jim Wetherbee and domestic airline pilot Laura Einsetler about the importance of listening to the front line and how if bad news is well received we stand a better chance of avoiding catastrophe. 
    Sponsored by JMJ Associates - A Mother Come Quickly Production.


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    • 43 min
    3. WATER

    3. WATER

    In this episode Gill Kernick and Matthew Price look at the Costa Concordia disaster - the ship that hit rocks  and capsized off the coast of italy.  Despite being so close to land, 33 people lost their lives. A subsequent investigation focused on the shortcomings in the procedures followed by the Costa Concordia’s crew and the actions of her captain Francesco Schettino.  He was later jailed for 16 years.  But while the fingers were pointed at a rogue captain in order to explain this disaster, Gill and Matthew explore what this accident tells us about leadership, and about how companies must create a culture in which safety is paramount. They are joined by Rose Mecalf, a dancer who was on board the Costa Concordia as it was sinking - who has a deep understanding of what actually went wrong. They also speak to Andy Brown, CEO of the Portugese Energy Company Galp about what makes a good leader, and how a good leader creates safety. 



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    • 38 min
    4. DISEASE

    4. DISEASE

    In this episode Gill Kernick and Matthew Price look at why we weren't more prepared for the pandemic..  We knew it was coming. The World Health Organisation published its first pandemic plan in 1999. The UK had also planned for it. What on earth happened?  And what does that story tell us more broadly about why we fail to prevent catastrophe?  Gill and Matthew speak to two front-line workers, Chidera Ota and Louise Curtis to find out how they adapted to a fast moving emergency situation.  They also speak to David Alexander who is a professor of risk reduction at UCL, and Jill Rutter a senior research fellow at UK in a Changing Europe about the underlying systemic problems that meant the UK was never equipped to deal with a pandemic. And they explore something new. What is the role of  empathy in preventing catastrophe? 
     
    Sponsored by JMJ Associates - A Mother Come Quickly Production.


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    • 45 min
    5. BLAME

    5. BLAME

    In this episode Gill Kernick and Matthew Price look at our obsession with blame and blame-avoidance and how that cements our inability to learn. They speak to the former government advisor Salma Shah and Times Radio correspondent Charlotte Ivers about the relationship between politicians and the media and how blame plays a central role.  They also speak to Christopher Hood  Emeritus Professor of Government at All Souls Oxford and author of The Blame Game - Spin, Bureaucracy, and Self Preservation in Government. He describes how finger-pointing and mutual buck passing is a familiar feature of politics and that blame avoidance pervades government and public organisations at every level.   They explore the likelihood of this blame obsession changing, and look at the role of consequences in enabling change and learning. 

    Sponsored by JMJ Associates - A Mother Come Quickly Production.

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    • 40 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
11 Ratings

11 Ratings

Simon Rosser ,

Engaging, linking the human story to the hope of a simple solution

Gill Kenrick shows the emotion and personal connection with Grenfell Tower, and uses this to connect with the human effects of other tragedies that could have been avoided given the political and commercial will.

The abiding message though is one of hope, that these events are never repeated and that the ‘powers that be’ really do learn from events and not pay lip service to them.

ow87 ,

Boring and self-indulgent

This could have been really interesting but it wasn’t. Just a bland monologue from someone that seems to be more interested in self-promotion than building safety. Not recommended.

Shantha22 ,

Culture Change

This is wonderful and essential. A heartfelt and emotional wander through how and why we create catastrophe and how many missed opportunities we also create when we fail to learn lessons.

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