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/understanding of all matters related to safety at all times


Deeper understanding of best safety practices (deep appreciation of ’why’)
Understanding of information
Understanding of  cause/effect/methods

Individual Behaviour

Share knowledge, understanding and experience
Seek appropriate/best practice knowledge/understanding
Receive others’ knowledge, understanding, expertise

Innovation – Strive for continuous improvement 


Capturing new ideas/improvements and transforming these into sustainable actions/solutions
Ability to define appropriate and relevant improvement solutions
Ability to implement sustainable improvement solutions

Individual Behaviour

Evaluate safety performance (e.g. debrief) to identify improvements
Follow through on safety improvement actions/goals
Consciously look for new ideas for improvements

Influence – Constructively stimulating a robust safety climate


Encourage an open, trusting, communicating and learning atmosphere to share ideas, concerns and experiences
Ability to take the lead on safety performance
Ability to be a good role model

Individual Behaviour

Show the way by being a positive inspiration to others and demonstrating best practice behaviour
Be open towards others’ input and get inspired by others too
If assessed necessary, respectfully challenge colleagues in safety matters

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


Acting promptly on observations, concerns or inputs to an ongoing process
Being open and receptive towards others’ interventions
Encouraging interventions and a backup mind-set among colleagues

Individual Behaviour

Stop unsafe acts immediately to avoid accidents/incidents/unsafe situations
Constructively interrupt or correct in unsafe situations irrespective of ranks
Establish attention to safety critical acts or processes

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


Ability to apply safety related precautionary measures during any work process
Ability to apply safety related precautionary measures towards others’ work processes
Full acknowledgement among all employees of their accountability towards safety

Individual Behaviour

Perform formal or informal risk assessment in all work processes regardless of the nature
Identify obvious overlap in areas of interest and cooperation points with colleagues/departments
Embrace safety to become a natural part of your mind-set, work activities and actions

*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.

Need help?

Contact us for personal advice

Stine Skelbo
Stine Skelbo
Senior Consultant

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