It is a well-documented fact that a majority of incidents are due to human error. But how often are humans the reason for not getting hurt? We claim that 80-90% of all incidents are due to human error but we could also claim that shipboard operations are successful (no one getting hurt) 99.99% of the time because of human capabilities. In other words; humans are also the strongest asset for being safe.

Humans support, correct, deviate, communicate and adapt to the ever changing environment. In other words humans ensure – most of the time – that things don’t go wrong. As stated by Hollnagel* humans’ ability to adapt to the ever changing environments is an ability of great importance and should therefore not be underestimated.

What is then the best strategy?

Bearing these opposite directed statements in mind, what is then the best strategy forward to avoid any incidents?  Should we:

1. Focus on avoiding potential human error through the system control (Procedures**)? or..
2. Cultivate the development of human strengths and behaviours?

Humans support, correct, deviate, communicate and adapt to the ever changing environment

For Green-Jakobsen the answer is a combination of both beliefs. Companies should cultivate human strengths and behaviours believed to minimise human error. But as always when one question has been answered another question arises and could be expressed as follows: What human behaviours are believed to help minimise human error?

Creating a reliable safety performance through Safety I’s™

To answer this question Green-Jakobsen has prepared a safety behaviour concept defined as ’Safety I’s™. The purpose of Safety I’s™ is to help seafarers articulate and measure desired safety behaviours, competencies, leadership traits, accountability and human performance in general. In a stringent way Safety I’s define good safety behaviour believed to cultivate a reliable (anti-fragile) safety culture.

The strength of defining desired safety behaviour is that you create clear expectations and a shared language among employees. Thus Safety I’s™:

Serve as the foundation of creating clear expectations towards employee  safety behaviour
Define the level of competency to be achieved
Provide a safety leadership tool to help leaders give feedback on behaviour
Act as a starting point to ’legalise’ a communication among colleagues on own, others’ and shared safety behaviour/performance
Ensure accountability towards safety through the implementation of defined safety behaviours e.g. Green-Jakobsen Safety I’s
The strength of defining desired safety behaviour is that you create clear expectations and a shared language among employees

Introduction to Safety I’s™

The fundamental belief behind Safety I’sTM is that ’humans need humans to give to and get from’. Safety I’sTM act separately and interdependently, which will lead to the support of a resilient and anti-fragile, reliable safety culture. In other words we need to help our employees understand what behaviour will support the development of an anti-fragile and resilient safety culture.

Humans need humans to give to and get from

Insight – Seek and share knowledge and understanding of all safety related matters at all times

Behavioural key points

Share knowledge, understanding and expertise
Seek best practice knowledge and understanding
Ask questions and receive others' knowledge

Innovation – Strive for continuous improvement – go beyond compliance and reach for excellence

Behavioural key points

Challenge routines and evaluate safety practices
Implement improvement points
Be open towards others' ideas and new ways

Influence – Use your Influence to inspire your colleagues with good safety manners and to create an open and trusting atmosphere

Behavioural key points

Be a good role model by demonstrating best practice behaviour others and demonstrating best practice behaviour
Promote an open and trusting environment for discussions by others too
Appreciate others' input

Intervention – Be the backup for your colleagues and intervene whenever you see unsafe conditions and acts

Behavioural key points

Stop unsafe acts immediately and prevent accidents/incidents/unsafe situations
Serve as backup and extra eyes for your colleagues
Show appreciation when others correct you

Integration – Integrate safety in all work processes, plans and activities

Behavioural key points

Integrate safety practice and consideration in al work processes
Embrace safety to become a natural part of your mindset and actions
Acknowledge your role as safety performance driver

*Hollnagel – Safety I versus Safety II

** We need procedures to help understand best practice. However, since we can’t foresee all possible changes, conditions and others’ behaviour, we also need people’s ability to assess the situation, adapt to the conditions and deviate from the plan. Human adaptability is in other words a strong precautionary safety measure.

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Adam Helms
Adam Helms

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