This study investigates the influence of error incident characteristics on organizational learning among operators in the chemical process industry. The study asks operators to describe recently occurred error incidents at time 0 (n = 87), followed up by measurements for learning 6 weeks later (n = 48). Organizations learn more from error incidents with more severe consequences. Severity of consequences relates positively to learning. When consequences are more severe, communication about an error is higher. Communication is subsequently related to learning. Error incidents without imminent negative consequences, however, can also be a platform for learning. This research recommends attention towards the promotion of learning from conditions that do not necessarily encourage employees to learn. © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.