Complicated & Complex Systems in Safety Management

When General Stanley McChrystal took over the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command[1] (JSOC) in Iraq during the mid-2000s, he inherited an organisation struggling to overcome the Al Qaeda insurgency plaguing the country. After a few weeks in the job, he realised his new team had been viewing their enemy through the wrong lens, and therefore had been using the wrong strategies to defeat them. Ultimately, this insight led him to … Continue Reading ››

A Choice to Punish or To Learn from Parkland

After the Parkland, Fl., school shooting February 14, 2018 the nation’s anger focused for a while on then-school resource officer Scot Peterson, who appeared to freeze outside the school while the gunman was firing. That focus has returned with a vengeance!

Peterson said in a TV interview six months later "It's easy to sit there for people to go, 'Oh, he should have known that that person was … Continue Reading ››

Health and Safety II?

At a recent conference I attended, there was a paper describing an attempt to “manage” the risks involved in rock climbing. This highlighted the desire of climbers to push the boundaries to demonstrate mastery over evermore seemingly “unsafe” situations. (Solo unaided, unsupported climbs reliant only on the courage, skill and wit of the individual climber?). This was a somewhat paradoxical example of a person deliberately putting themselves “at risk” and … Continue Reading ››

Incident investigation: Learning vs Blaming

I would like to tell a story. The story is not in itself unique and I suppose many persons have seen or experienced similar. There are two ways to tell this story with two very different outcomes for both the organisation and individuals involved.

Let me set the scene, a difficult project is under pressure to produce, machinery is not in one hundred percent working order, operatives … Continue Reading ››

When does a reduction in injury numbers become statistically significant?

By Dr. Marloes Nitert and Dr. Sidney Dekker

Those who’ve been around safety (and particularly safety differently) long enough, know that LTI (Lost Time Injuries) is a lousy safety measure. LTI, after all, was once instituted as a productivity measure, not a safety measure. But LTI is actually quite a silly measure too. This blog shows just how silly it gets, and how foolish (or statistically meaningless) any claims about LTI … Continue Reading ››

An Introduction to the 5 Phases of HOP Integration

In just 5 days, you’ll see a dramatic increase in energy and decrease in body fat. You’ll have more stamina to do the things in life you truly enjoy. You’ll feel better, look better, have better relationships, make more money, find inner peace, increase your intellect, develop more empathy...for just 5 payments of $19.99...

Despite being bombarded with messages that promise us the world in exchange for … Continue Reading ››

Adaptation at sea: Hindsight and foresight

It’s 4PM and a container ship is getting ready to depart from port. The crew has had a long day going through an intensive safety audit with a company superintendent onboard. Now the mate is dealing with last minute cargo manifests. Cargo lashing is still not completed by the shore gangs. The engineers are waiting to test the main engines but for this the gangway needs to be cleared off from the quayside. The … Continue Reading ››

How to improve OHS through Human and Organisational Performance

Understanding how Australian, or indeed international corporations fare with regards to Human and Organisational Performance (HOP) requires us to reflect upon both what we measure and what optimal performance looks like.

The term Human and Organisational Performance describes the interactions and interdependencies of humans and organisa- tions in the execution of work. Used within a professional practice context, it has come to be paradigmatic of a broad range of relativ- ist and … Continue Reading ››

Learning Teams, Learning from Communities

Over the last decade, I have spent a lot of time listening to operational, technical, specialist, support and managerial staff in small groups around Europe. The conversations – aimed at learning about safety – have changed over the years. What started off as strongly facilitated workshops to interrogate safety culture questionnaire results, became only loosely based on questionnaire results, and more on what mattered to participants, but still with predetermined issues in mind. Finally, the conversations became much more open still. … Continue Reading ››

Innovative and critical safety thinking