Preventing Accidents and Building a Culture of Safety: Insights from a Simulation Model
36 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2008
Date Written: February 25, 2008
Research has approached the topic of safety in organizations from a number of different perspectives. On the one hand, psychological research on safety climate gives evidence for a range of organizational factors that predict safety across organizations. On the other hand, organizational learning theorists view safety as a dynamic problem in which organizations must learn from mistakes. Here, we synthesize these two streams of research by incorporating key organizational factors from the safety climate literature into a dynamic simulation model that also includes the possibility for learning. Analysis of simulation results sheds insight into the nature of reliability and confirms the dangers of over-reliance on 'single loop learning' as a mechanism for controlling safety behaviors. Special emphasis is placed on strategies that managers might use to encourage learning and prevent erosion in safety behaviors over time.
Keywords: safety, simulations, models
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