Safety leadership and systems thinking: application and evaluation of a Risk Management Framework in the mining industry

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Safety leadership is an important factor in supporting safety in high-risk industries. This article contends that applying systems-thinking methods to examine safety leadership can support improved learning from incidents. A case study analysis was undertaken of a large-scale mining landslide incident in which no injuries or fatalities were incurred. A multi-method approach was adopted, in which the Critical Decision Method, Rasmussen’s Risk Management Framework and Accimap method were applied to examine the safety leadership decisions and actions which enabled the safe outcome. The approach enabled Rasmussen’s predictions regarding safety and performance to be examined in the safety leadership context, with findings demonstrating the distribution of safety leadership across leader and system levels, and the presence of vertical integration as key to supporting the successful safety outcome. In doing so, the findings also demonstrate the usefulness of applying systems-thinking methods to examine and learn from incidents in terms of what ‘went right’. The implications, including future research directions, are discussed. Practitioner Summary: This paper presents a case study analysis, in which systems-thinking methods are applied to the examination of safety leadership decisions and actions during a large-scale mining landslide incident. The findings establish safety leadership as a systems phenomenon, and furthermore, demonstrate the usefulness of applying systems-thinking methods to learn from incidents in terms of what ‘went right’. Implications, including future research directions, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1336-1350
Number of pages15
JournalErgonomics
Volume60
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2017

Keywords

  • learning from incidents
  • safe performance
  • Safety leadership
  • systems-thinking

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