Safe by Design

(Atlanta, Georgia – August 16, 2021). In Safe by Design: A Behavioral Systems Approach to Human Performance Improvement (Performance Management Publications, Atlanta), safety experts Judy Agnew (Safe By Accident) and David Uhl make a compelling case for leaders to understand how their current systems truly impact behavior so that they can minimize blame and work cooperatively with the front line.

A thorough behavior analysis of safety incidents often points to organizational systems as the primary cause. Based on decades of research and work with many of the world’s leading corporations, Agnew and Uhl reveal how many companies design organizational systems with good intentions, but those systems often fail to produce the desired outcomes and can even undermine safety performance.

Every component of a Safety Management System (SMS) requires behavior for it to be operational. Ensuring the consistency of that behavior requires a scientific approach to behavior. The authors explain the science behind how organizational systems influence frontline and management behavior and introduce a framework for improving their impact on a workplace safety culture.

Agnew explains how this book corrects a common misperception about behavior-based safety: “It’s been encouraging to see the increased attention to the role of organizational systems on safety over the past several years. This book has allowed us to demonstrate how a properly executed behavioral approach to safety is in fact a systems approach.” Uhl adds, “This book illustrates the significance of behavioral science in human and organization performance improvement. We included case studies and practical tips to give readers workable solutions to system disconnects in their organization.”

Agnew and Uhl examine these nine common systems that have unintended effects:

  • Measurement
  • Training
  • Incentives
  • Near-Miss Reporting
  • Incident Investigation/Analysis
  • Hazard Identification and Remediation
  • SIF Prevention
  • Goal Setting
  • Safety Technology

The book explores the application of the science of behavior to these systems and provides suggestions for improvement, using scenarios based on the authors’ work in hundreds of organizations, where the systems presented were not working as intended.

Avoid Putting Good Workers in Bad Systems!


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