Peer Reviewed Publication:Hopkins, Andrew. "Chapter 1" in Safety, Culture and Risk (Sydney: CCH, 2005).Jim Reason’s book, Managing the Risks of Organisational Accidents,1 is probably best known for its “Swiss cheese” model of how accidents occur, as well as for its distinction between active failures and latent conditions. Less well known is its penultimate chapter on safety culture, which is arguably the most useful discussion of this concept to have been published.Safety culture is one of a number of ideas currently seen as having the potential to move organisations to higher standards of safety. A second concept which seems to spark interest whenever it is mentioned is mindfulness, advocated by Karl Weick and his associates. Safe behaviour is a third idea which very much in vogue. These three concepts are embedded in slightly different literatures, suggesting that they are more distinct than perhaps they are. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the way these ideas converge, and, in addition, to explore their limitations and tensions. The paper starts with an analysis of safety culture and then draws the connections with organisational mindfulness and safe behaviour strategies. The last section of the paper examines one distinctive safe behaviour strategy - the promotion of risk-awareness among employees.
Hopkins, Andrew, 2003, WP 7 - Safety culture, mindfulness and safe behaviour: Converging ideas, National Research Centre for OHS Regulation, Canberra