Generative HSE
Safety beliefs, standards, leadership & performance


To err is human

We spend so much time focusing on improving our safety management systems and processes that when incident occurs, our root cause analysis often points the finger at 'user error'. According to our own devices, us mere mortals are almost always to blame, finger pointing is the default position no matter what has been said prior to the incident. 

So how do we wrangle the unwrangleable? How do we tame the human beast? - Automate? Add stronger systems and processes? More discipline? Another checklist? ...Another poster?

We argue that the solution lies with changing our perspective. We shouldn't try to tame the humans, but embrace them instead. Let people be themselves in all of their creative, unpredictable glory.

Make people part of the solution instead of seeing them as the problem. Include them. Ask them 'when do things work well?', 'when is work difficult to do?' and 'what can go wrong?' Use their insights to improve things.

If employees identify a certain element of work as 'difficult to do', human nature says that they will take shortcuts. So, intervene before it happens. Get to the bottom of the difficult process and invite the user to make it simple.

Systems and processes have taken us this far in our safety journey. The next important step is to embrace people as the solution, not the problem.

ArticlesKristy McGrathComment