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  • We came across this topic, because of a conversation happening on LinkedIn. Thus, we thought it would be a good idea to dig into this subject and discuss it further.

    Listen in as we discuss what actually makes humans most visible in unsafe situations and what some studies have concluded.

    Topics:

    Why the results between lab and natural environments vary.How studies determine visibility.Which colors are best for high visibility.What makes humans most visible.Using high-vis colors to identify objects and humans.Practical takeaways.

    Quotes:

    “The general goal of this, is they just want to compare a whole heap of different factors.”

    “The ability to just spot high-vis and the ability to spot a human wearing high-vis, seem to be actually two different mental tasks.”

    “There’s been some suggestion in the research that we should actually standardize a human high-vis color.”

    Resources:

    The Roles of Garment Design and Scene Complexity in the Daytime Conspicuity of High-Visibility Safety Apparel

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  • This topic came directly from our Safety of Work portal, which you can locate on our LinkedIn page. Rhys Thomas was good enough to submit this topic and also provided us with some great resources.

    Join us as we dive into this topic and decide whether double-check policies help improve safety.

    Topics:

    What double-checking is.The difference between a practice and mandatory policy.Armitage and his history of papers regarding the medical field.Deference to authority.Formal risk assessment and internal risk assessment.Independent checking.What the evidence shows.Practical takeaways.

    Quotes:

    “How do you know whether an error has happened, if no one notices it?”

    “I think you’re doing a good job of qualitative research, if readers want to then go and actually read the raw data.”

    “And I am completely unwilling to say, ‘This is a bad practice, we should get rid of it’ until we’ve got the evidence.”

    Resources:

    Double Checking Medicines: Defence Against Error or Contributory Factor?

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    Safety of Work on LinkedIn

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  • So, on today’s episode, we discuss Occupational Health and Safety management and if it can be considered a profession.

    We’d love to hear from our international listeners if our findings match their experiences.

    Topics:

    Making generalizations about work across Australia.Collecting and defining OHS knowledge.Three broad criteria for defining a profession.Defining a role and career path.The OHS body of knowledge.Claim over decisions.Technical problems and social problems.How to define a professional organization and determine which is the premiere org for your profession.Do you need to be part of a professional organization?Why there need to be professional education programs.Practical takeaways.

    Quotes:

    “A profession should have an established hierarchy, it should have some consistency in role titles, and it should have a career path.”

    “We’ve got this wonderful project called the body of knowledge, but in the professional sense, we don’t have a stable body of knowledge; we have a really contested body of knowledge…”

    “Either you put up barriers to entry and say ‘safety work should only be done by recognized professionals’. Or you say ‘we want to grow as an organization and anyone can be a recognized professional, just send us the cash’. And either way, you end up diluting what it means to be recognized as a safety professional.”

    Resources:

    The Emergence of the Occupational Health and Safety Profession in Australia

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  • Russell is a safety practitioner based in New Zealand. He joins us to tell us about his work and together we wonder if safety and design processes change the design itself.

    Topics:

    Is safety and design effective?Risk shuffling.Russell’s key findings.The hierarchy of controls.The proper use of safety and design.Evaluating design to minimize risk.Practical advice from Russell.

    Quotes:

    “We don’t always have opportunities in safety science to get some objective artifacts…”

    “I’ve never heard of a designer saying they’ve got plenty of time and a ton of budget, so let’s, you know, get down and optimize for safety.”

    “And if we start by listing the operations before we list the hazards or risks, then we’re going to be in a much better place.”

    Resources:

    Russell McMullan on LinkedIn

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  • Today, we plan to discuss whether safety cases are headed towards an impending crisis.

    Join us as we figure out if the work safety community is headed for disaster.

    Topics:

    Shifting the burden of proof.The notion of “anti-safety”.Making the implicit, explicit.Trends of the past.Impediments to research.Variant and process theories.Disrupting beliefs and ideas to create a more favorable outcome.Why collaboration matters.

    Quotes:

    “...It’s a little bit paradoxical: Because why do we try to identify hazards, if not making the implicit claim that by trying to identify hazards and control them, we are making our system safer?”

    “People don’t share their safety case data with anyone they don’t have to share it with.”

    “And if we can turn the reasons why people do things into theories, and then test those theories, then we’ve got good potential for changing how people do things…”

    Resources:

    Safety Cases: An Impending Crisis?

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  • You may find that this conversation makes us look hypocritical, when discussing how to argue. We just want the best outcomes for all discussions regarding safety. Ultimately, this topic came out of some recent intense arguments in the safety field and we wanted to address how to constructively handle disagreements in person and online.

    Topics:

    Finding original sources.Figuring out what the original source says.Understanding context.Looking for the overall position of a paper or book.Design vs. behavior.Why new and old ideas aren’t mutually exclusive.The line between sharing and evangelizing.Knowledge and evidence that moves the debate forward.

    Quotes:

    “Unless an entire field is genuinely pseudoscience, it’s always very, very dangerous to dismiss an entire field.”

    “A lot of the time that there is a disagreement with Safety II, it’s basically people saying we shouldn’t be throwing out everything to do with Safety I. What we actually need is some kind of middle-ground between Safety I and Safety II.”

    “A lot of the time, when we argue, there’s an implicit assumption that we can only agree with one of the theories, because they’re somehow mutually exclusive.”

    Resources:

    Feedback@safetyofwork.com

  • The final chapters cover such issues as creating functional reporting systems and the pitfalls in creating such systems.

    Topics:

    Creating a solid reporting system.At what point does something become an incident?Voluntary vs. mandatory reporting.When your organization is facing prosecution.How reporting gets stifled.The problem with penalties.Looking after all parties involved in incidents.The outcomes safety professionals want.Practical takeaways.

    Quotes:

    “I think this is the struggle with those sort of systems, is that if they are used frequently, then it becomes a very normal thing...but that means that people are using that channel instead of using the line management as their channel…”

    “I think unless we work for a regulator, we need to remind ourselves that it’s not actually our job, either, to run the prosecution or even to help the prosecution.”

    “If you think your system is fair, then you should be proud of explaining to people exactly how it works.”

    Resources:

    Just Culture

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  • In this installment, we cover more chapters from Sidney Dekker’s book about just culture. Last week we covered the core ideas of just culture. This week, we go over retributive and restorative culture and the impetus behind rule-breaking.

    Topics:

    The problem with rewarding good behavior.How a retributive system functions.The standard for risk assessment.How restorative culture functions.Why sharing experiences is key.What is expected under a solid restorative justice system.Understanding rule-breakers.How the book fails to properly dissect rule-breaking.Practical takeaways.

    Quotes:

    “If our purpose is to make a better workplace, then we need a system that for most people, most of the time, it’s doing a good job.”

    “When we talk about safety, we’re not talking about elements of a typical criminal offense; we’re talking about things that in the criminal courts would be talking about negligence. Which is all about meeting acceptable standards.”

    “Sidney emphasizes a lot the importance of all stakeholders to share their stories with each other.”

    Resources:

    Just Culture

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  • For the next few weeks, we are going to cover ‘just culture’ and focus mainly on Sidney Dekker’s book of the same name.

    The laws currently on the books encourage businesses to focus on liability instead of actual safety. By focusing on culpability for an accident, this is a way for businesses to get out of compensating the worker for injury. This is just some of what we will discuss today.

    Topics:

    Safety theory vs. safety practice.Safety culture and the Swiss Cheese Model.Updates in the third edition.The definition of just culture.To whom you apply the process and why it’s important.Listening and actually hearing.Systemic and individual action.Can an individual be too much of a danger?Preventing unnecessary blame.What to expect from this series of episodes.Practical takeaways.

    Quotes:

    “We both know that Dekker a bit of a problem...a bit of a habit of being pretty harsh about how he characterizes some of the older safety practices.”

    “The ability of people to tell their stories and have those stories heard by all the other stakeholders, is a key part of restorative justice.”

    “We’re all in the same boat, we’re all, after that accident, have an individual responsibility to stop this happening again by making the system better.”

    Resources:

    Just Culture

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  • As risk assessment is such a central topic in the world of safety science, we thought we would dedicate another episode to discussing a facet of this subject. We loop back to risk matrices and determine how to score risks.

    Join us as we try to determine the subjectivity of risk assessment and the pitfalls of such an endeavor.

    Topics:

    Risk matrices.Why the paper we reference is a trustworthy source.Scoring risks.How objective are we?How to interpret risk scores.What the risk-rating is dependent upon.Practical takeaways.

    Quotes:

    “The difference between an enumeration and a quantitative value is that enumeration has an order attached to it. So it let’s us say that ‘this thing is more than that thing.’ “

    “I think this was a good way of seeing whether the differences or alignment happened in familiar activities or unfamiliar activities. Because then you can sort of get an idea into the process, as well as the shared knowledge of the group…”

    “So, what we see is, if you stick to a single organization and eliminate the outliers, you’ve still got a wide spread of scores on every project.”

    “We’re already trying pretty hard and if we’re still not converging on a common answer, then I think we need to rethink the original assumption that there is a common answer that can be found…”

    Resources:

    Are We Objective?

    Risk Perceptions & Decision-Making in the Water Industry

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  • It’s difficult to give an introduction to this topic, given that a JSA is such an amorphous topic. Generally speaking, we’re talking about job or task-hazard analysis; the idea behind task-hazard analysis is that you break the task down into steps and figure out what controls are necessary to keep the task safe.

    Tune in to hear us clarify the idea of and benefits from job safety analysis.

    Topics:

    The lack of standard terminology.Why some claims from JSA’s are implausible.The structure of the study covered in the paper.Why the analysis in the study is more of a comparison.The overconfident optimism of the researchers.How JSA’s clarify worker’s duties.Who makes the decisions.Hazard awareness.Loss prevention.Practical takeaways.

    Quotes:

    “I think it would be fair to say that I’ve never yet met a method of risk assessment that I fell in love with.”

    “The researchers are too optimistic about how much the documented JSA’s reflect what actually went on.”

    “Ultimately, in high risk work, the immediate hazard awareness of people is important for safety.”

    Resources:

    The Application and Benefits of Job Safety Analysis

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  • The article we reference provides a historical account of the “Swiss Cheese Model”. Since there are many versions of this same diagram, we thought it best to look back through time and see the evolution of this particular safety model.

    Topics:

    Why the model represents the presence of folklore in safety.The methods used in Good and Bad Reasons.The cognitive processes that lead to errors.Whether the model represents accident causation appropriately.A defense of the model.

    Quotes:

    “He’s just trying to understand this broad range of errors and sort of work with the assumption that there must be different cognitive processes.”

    “It was initially, sort of, only published once in a medical journal as an oversimplification of his own diagram.”

    “The other critique is that the model lacks guidance.”

    “ ‘I never intended to produce a scientific model’ is the worst excuse possible that an academic can give in defense of their own model.”

    Resources:

    Good and Bad Reasons: The Swiss Cheese Model and its Critics

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  • Every ten episodes or so, we like to indulge ourselves and cover some of our own research. This is one of those episodes. Since it is relevant to our last three episodes, we discuss the final paper that David wrote when pursuing his Ph.D.

    Topics:

    Defining a safety professional and other key terms.Two modes of safety: Centralized control and guided adaptability.Thematic analysis of different safety theories.The peer-review response to David’s paper.Understanding which resources people draw upon.Listening to technical specialists beyond the front line.Improving operational scenarios.Facilitating learning.Practical takeaways.What we’d love to hear from our listeners.

    Quotes:

    “Centralized control is the big, main idea that pervades, I suppose, our current and traditional... approach to safety, which is about trying to reduce the variability of work…”

    “We’ve got all of these people complaining that Safety II doesn’t give you any sort of practical implementation. So you...submit a draft of this paper and the immediate response is ‘Oh, this isn’t offering anything new’, when it was answering the exact thing that people are constantly complaining about.”

    “And then secondly...to understand the issues and uncertainties being grappled with by technical specialists. And try to look for where the organization might be discounting emerging information.”

    Resources:

    Safety II Professionals

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  • We dive into the final chapters of the book and analyze Hollnagel’s intent and offer our commentary on his ideas. Though our ideas don’t necessarily jibe with all of Hollnagel’s, we appreciate our time dissecting this seminal book.

    Tune in to hear our thoughts on the final four chapters. Make sure to let us know if you also read the book and your thoughts on the content.

    We hope you enjoyed our little end-of-year deep-dive. Have a happy and healthy New Year!

    Topics:

    A recap of the chapters we’ve covered thus far.Chapter 6Dealing with complexity,The role of resilience.Chapter 7Correct and incorrect functions.Determining the cause of accidents in complex systems.The faulty definition of Safety II.The purpose of Safety II.Chapter 8Recognizing, monitoring, and controlling performance variability. Why Hollnagel criticizes Safety I.Methods and techniques.Chapter 9Hollnagel’s predictions about the creation of Safety III.Practical takeaways from the book.

    Quotes:

    “So you think of Safety I just as it protects against lots of specific things, but it doesn’t protect against generic things that we haven’t specifically protected against.”

    “The fact is...we can make some fairly reliable and valid conclusions about what happened leading up to something going wrong.”

    “I think all theorists we should take seriously and not literally.”

    Resources:

    Safety I and Safety II: The Past and Future of Safety Management

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  • Picking up where we left off, we begin our discussion with chapter three. Over the course of this episode, we talk about Hollnagel’s definition of Safety I, the myths of safety, and causality (among other things). Tune in for part two of our in-depth look at this important book.

    Topics:

    Chapter 3.

    Habituation.Preoccupation with failure.Work as imagined vs. work as actually performed.A definition of Safety I.

    Chapter 4.

    The four myths of Safety I.Causality.Misinterpreting Heinrich.Human error.

    Chapter 5.

    Deconstruction.Linear and non-linear systems.Cause and effect.General takeaways from chapters 3-5.

    Quotes:

    “...I think this one particular idea of work as imagined/work as done has been thought about a lot in the time since this book was published…”

    “What is this measure of successful work? What is this way that we would categorize something as successful, if it’s not, not having accidents?”

    “It’s a misinterpretation of Heinrich to apply the ratios.”

    “And that sort of criticism of the old to explain the new, I think is never as firm a foundation as clearly explaining what you’re sort of underlying ideas and principles are and then building on top of them.”

    Resources:

    Safety I and Safety II: The Past and Future of Safety Management

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  • For this episode, we are breaking away from the standard formula for this show. We thought it best to split this topic into three episodes, as we don’t want to oversimplify our breakdown of this seminal, two-hundred page book.

    We encourage all of our listeners to follow along and read the book with us. Join us as we dig into this influential book by Erik Hollnagel.

    Topics:

    Interpretations of new theories.Hollnagel being the direct intellectual descendant of Professor Rasmussen.Chapter 1: The Issues.The denominator problem.The regulator paradox.The problems with defining safety.Overall thoughts on Chapter 1.What to skim and what to read closely.

    Quotes:

    “Most theories are billed as critiques of other theories. So, any new theory implicitly, and usually, explicitly criticizes a lot of existing stuff. And it’s important to separate those two things out.”

    “He says that success and failure are not opposites.”

    “It means that every single data point, then, has a lot of uncertainty attached around to it, because they’re such isolated examples, such extraordinary events…”

    Resources:

    Safety I and Safety II: The Past and Future of Safety Management

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  • Ultimately, we want to help everyone understand the role of organizations and individuals when it comes to safety regulation.

    Topics:

    Why regulators are often spoken of negatively.The two forms of deregulation.Goal-based and rule-based frameworks.The progressive pulling-back of Government involvement in safety.Why overregulation occurs.What is actually being regulated.Conclusions from our conversation.

    Quotes:

    “So, the intention of this goal-based regulatory strategy is for organizations to understand their broad obligations to adopt a risk-based management strategy and to set their own safety management requirements inside their own organization.”

    “The second theme that came out of the analysis was that overregulation is because of liability management and management insecurity.”

    “The next important question to ask is are we regulating safety work or regulating safety of work?”

    Resources:

    Seeing Like a State

    How Deregulation can Become Overregulation

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  • The paper we use to frame our discussion is one that has been making the rounds on social media recently. We thought it was important to seize on the opportunity to discuss a work safety issue while it’s top of mind for the public.

    Topics:

    What it means when something isn’t peer-reviewed.Why statistics are ever popular.How many workers hours to decimal places.Using a model that weighs underlying variables and randomness.How this study is another nail in the coffin for this question.Practical takeaways.

    Quotes:

    “I’ve noticed in Australia, at least, there’s an increasing move to have safety statistics included in annual reports, at least for publicly traded companies.”

    “And their conclusion was: Almost all of it was explained by randomness.”

    “If recordable injury rates are used to record performance, then we’re actually rewarding random variation.”

    Resources:

    The Statistical Invalidity of TRIR as a Measure of Safety Performance

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  • We dig into how safety promotion is used and its effectiveness within an organization. Often, safety communication is about large-scale behaviors and societal problems. So, we found a paper that focused on workplace safety, which was hard to find. The Effects of an Informational Safety Campaign in the Shipbuilding Industry helps us frame our conversation about the efficacy of safety communication and injury reduction.

    Tune in to join the conversation!

    Topics:

    What we mean by “safety communication campaigns”.Surveying the efficacy of communication campaigns.‘70s-era seat belt campaigns.‘80s-era home safety campaigns.The conclusions from the communication campaign studies.What makes a communication campaign successful.Why the best safety research is often outside the workplace.Message retention rates.Practical takeaways.

    Quotes:

    “It doesn’t have to be a poster, it could be broadcast communications, video clips, stuff on a website, even a podcast. But it’s a verbal or written message from the organization…”

    “Most of this research is conducted on very large scale behaviors, which are things that people generally agree are bad behaviors. So, many of the campaigns that are most effective and are being studied are to do with things like drink driving or cigarette smoking.”

    “There could well be some more diffuse, more long-term effect here on the climate that our measurements just aren’t capturing…”

    Resources:

    The Effects of an Informational Safety Campaign in the Shipbuilding Industry.

    Feedback@safetyofwork.com

  • Given that the last two episodes were about theories, we wanted to get back to something more concrete in nature. Hence, the topic of parachutes. We find they are often used in military operations, but are rarely required for civilian aviation. Let’s look at this discrepancy and discuss whether parachutes are actually used to prevent injury or death.

    Join us for this interesting and somewhat surprising discussion.

    Topics:

    Are parachutes for life-risking activities or a life-saving tool?Measuring the usefulness of parachutes.The arguments against evidence-based medicine.When and why you only need a small sample size.Why it’s hard to design an experiment to translate to real-world results.Why we need more experiments on events with direct causal mechanisms.Practical takeaways.

    Quotes:

    “...They hide a few key considerations. One of the big ones is, that it’s not really a choice between at the point you have to jump out of a plane, whether to wear a parachute or not; it’s things like, do we make laws that all planes should carry parachutes just in case?”

    “So it’s not just that more research is needed, it’s that more research is almost guaranteed to reverse the result of this bad study.”

    “Very often, when it’s come to the practicality of how do we investigate this within an organization, we’ve decided that an experiment is not the best use of our time and resources.”

    Resources:

    Parachute Use to Prevent Death and Major Trauma Related to Gravitational Challenge

    Does Usage of a Parachute in Contrast to Free Fall Prevent Major Trauma?

    Parachute Use to Prevent Death and Major Trauma When Jumping From Aircraft

    Feedback@safetyofwork.com