Ending on a positive: Examining the role of safety leadership decisions, behaviours and actions in a safety critical situation

Sarah Louise Donovan, Paul M. Salmon, Timothy Horberry, Michael G. Lenné

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Safety leadership is an important factor in supporting safe performance in the workplace. The present case study examined the role of safety leadership during the Bingham Canyon Mine high-wall failure, a significant mining incident in which no fatalities or injuries were incurred. The Critical Decision Method (CDM) was used in conjunction with a self-reporting approach to examine safety leadership in terms of decisions, behaviours and actions that contributed to the incidents' safe outcome. Mapping the analysis onto Rasmussen's Risk Management Framework (Rasmussen, 1997), the findings demonstrate clear links between safety leadership decisions, and emergent behaviours and actions across the work system. Communication and engagement based decisions featured most prominently, and were linked to different leadership practices across the work system. Further, a core sub-set of CDM decision elements were linked to the open flow and exchange of information across the work system, which was critical to supporting the safe outcome. The findings provide practical implications for the development of safety leadership capability to support safety within the mining industry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-150
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Ergonomics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Actions
  • Behaviours
  • Decisions
  • Mining
  • Safety leadership
  • Systems-thinking

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