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.
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?
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?
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™:
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.
Insight – Seek and share knowledge/understanding of all matters related to safety at all times
Innovation – Strive for continuous improvement
Influence – Constructively stimulating a robust safety climate
Intervention – Be the backup for your colleagues and intervene whenever you see unsafe conditions and acts
Integration – Integrate safety in all work processes, plans and activities
*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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