There are variations on this and obviously Edmund Burke meant to include women in this warning about omissions rather than acts, however the message is clear.
The 10th anniversary of Buncefield (just like the other major incidents in recent memory) should motivate us all to learn the lessons from the past, otherwise we are just new people making old mistakes.
I highlighted the similarities between Buncefield and CAPECO and the recent (and revamped) IChemE 'The Chemical Engineer' magazine has an invaluable article on the topic.
I've also mapped out the most notable incidents sourced from CSB & IChemE/BP animations and the top 20 of Marsh's 100 Largest Losses and visualised them on a timeline - but this is all for naught if we don't act upon what these incidents are telling us.
Even Andrew Hopkins' 'must-have' book "Failure to Learn: The BP Texas City Refinery Disaster" regrettably falls short (only) in it's title as we must go beyond learning and really start doing something about it.
The DIKW Pyramid presents a hierarchy of Data | Information | Knowledge | Wisdom and arguably learning lessons is a just a form of knowledge but that is not the end goal.
We must apply that knowledge to become truly wise - BEFORE the event, not after it!
Now we are in an era of 'big-data' - surely we can make this an era of 'broad-knowledge' and 'applied-wisdom'.
So what's stopping us ? Surely it's not a lack of competence - is it a lack of commercial or legal confidence or is it really the case we are afraid to admit our complacence.
Are we afraid ? As Roosevelt said "the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance "
Perhaps we are not afraid enough, as Martin Carter highlighted in his memorable Texas City Video "Are We Afraid?".
Please watch this and reflect on how 'brave' you and your organization are.