The leading edge: a systems thinking methodology for assessing safety leadership

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

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearch

7 Citations (Scopus)


Leadership is progressively being recognized as a key factor in supporting successful performance across a range of domains. This is particularly important when considered within the context of safety, with the now widespread acceptance that safety is an emergent property of overall work systems. As such, the decisions and actions that characterize safety leadership thus become important emergent properties in the prevention of incidents, which should be considered within the context of the broader organizational system and not merely constrained to understanding events or conditions that shape performance at the ‘sharp end’. This paper presents a first-of-its-kind test application of a methodological approach, underpinned by systems thinking, to the examination of safety leadership. A case study incident is examined using the Critical Decision Method, Rasmussen's Risk Management Framework and corresponding Accimap method to identify safety leadership decisions and actions, and their contribution to the incidents important safe outcome (no injuries or fatalities were incurred). The merits of the methodological approach utilized are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProcedia Manufacturing
Subtitle of host publication6th International Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics (AHFE 2015) and the Affiliated Conferences, AHFE 2015
EditorsTareq Ahram, Waldemar Karwowski, Dylan Schmorrow
Place of PublicationAmsterdam Netherlands
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9781510815377
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventInternational Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics 2015 - Las Vegas NV USA, Las Vegas, United States of America
Duration: 26 Jul 201530 Jul 2015
Conference number: 6th

Publication series

NameProcedia Manufacturing
ISSN (Print)2351-9789


ConferenceInternational Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics 2015
Abbreviated titleAHFE 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited States of America
CityLas Vegas
Internet address


  • Accimap
  • Critical Decision Method
  • Rasmussen's Risk Management Framework
  • Safety leadership
  • Systems-thinking

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