Objective: Overcoming the safety challenge?

In pursuit of safety culture, we risk becoming preoccupied with high-frequency/low-consequence events, like not wearing safety glasses. The fiction is that we have a safety culture because we have low counts on negative events – and the paperwork to show it.

And then we blow stuff up.

Existing safety interventions targeting people’s behavior are often founded on faith, not fact. We should not see people as a problem to control, but as a solution to harness. We need the courage to question industry standards – confronting fiction with facts, and faith with enlightenment.


Sidney Dekker is Professor in the School of Humanities at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. Previously Professor at Lund University, Sweden, and Director of the Leonardo Da Vinci Center for Complexity and Systems Thinking, he gained his Ph.D. in Cognitive Systems Engineering from The Ohio State University, USA in 1996.

He has worked in New Zealand, the Netherlands, and England, has been Senior Fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and visiting Professor in healthcare safety in Melbourne, Australia and Manitoba, Canada.

He has recently been flying part-time as pilot on the Boeing 737NG with an airline out of Copenhagen, Denmark. He is author of several best-selling books on system failure and human error.

Recent ones include “Behind human error” from 2010, “Drift into Failure” from (2011, “Patient Safety” from 2011, and “Just Culture” from (2012).