For the last century, the evolution of accident investigation can be tied to research and the scientific advancements in how we view our work systems
. Three major lenses of scientific research emerge as we begin to examine key influences on accident investigation processes: Classic mid-century faith in engineering was termed, Scientific Management, which was followed by Systems Thinking and, ultimately, an emerging understanding of Complex Adaptive Systems.
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We have long struggled with trying to capture the facts associated with an accident in order to prevent the next one. This has been largely effective when applied to machines. In mechanical systems things are measurable, observable and more objective.
The information we get from people is always subjective. There are always issues of memory, shame, fear and politics that influence the ever-changing stories we tell. If you think about it, you have probably altered a story to … Continue Reading ››
Editor’s Note – Following a post from Gary Wong’s post on Should We Do a Safety Audit or Do Safety Differently, Tim Austin commented in the Safety Differently LinkedIn group about the important role of psychological safety in making such a different auditing approach successful. So we asked Tim to share his thoughts on what psychological safety is and how to create it in an organization. Enjoy!
A worker in a high pressure manufacturing plant notices … Continue Reading ››
Understanding and improving human work is relevant to most people in the world, and a number of professions are dedicated to improving human work (e.g. human factors/ergonomics, quality management, industrial/work/organizational psychology; management science). The trouble with many of these professions is that the language and methods mystify rather than demystify. Work becomes something incomprehensible and hard to think about and improve by those who actually design and do the work. Recently, some notions that help to demystify work have gained popular acceptance. One of these … Continue Reading ››
A little while ago, I participated in a workshop for CEOs discussing health and safety matters. We did the usual workshop thing of breaking into table discussions and feeding back to the group in time-honoured fashion. It is relatively rare to bring together such a large group of influencers, so I was looking forward to the output and the opportunity it could give to drive wholesale improvements across a number of businesses and … Continue Reading ››
Picture the scene: The car carrier Hoegh Osaka
has just departed from the port of Southampton, at which point the master calls up the mate and says that the ship did “not feel right”, to which the mate in charge at the loading computer replies “I am working on it”. Soon afterwards the vessel runs aground and eventually capsizes, leading to a catastrophic accident off the port approaches. The investigation into the case finds that the vessel was … Continue Reading ››
It is reasonable for management to want evidence of a problem before they put resources into fixing it, and we would like to be evidence driven ourselves. All too often, though, we assume that having good data
means having more data
. We live in the time of Big data
where the value of some companies is measured in terms of the size of the data set they hold. Our phones collect and report our habits, … Continue Reading ››