Achieving a safe culture: Theory and practice

James Reason
1998 Work & Stress  
This paper discusses four topics relating to safety culture, three theoretical and one practical. The first considers why it is that an unsafe culture is more likely to be involved in the causation of organizational rather than individual accidents. It is the pervasive nature of culture that makes it uniquely suitable for creating and sustaining the co-linear gaps in defences-in-depth through which an accident trajectory has to pass. The second topic relates to pathological adaptations, and
more » ... daptations, and discusses two examples: the Royal Navy of the mid-nineteenth century and the Chernobyl reactor complex. The third issue deals with recurrent accident patterns and considers the role of cultural drivers in creating typical accidents. The final topic is concerned with the practical question of whether a safety culture can be engineered. It is argued that a safe culture is an informed culture and this, in turn, depends upon creating an effective reporting culture that is underpinned by a just culture in which the line between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour is clearly drawn and understood.
doi:10.1080/02678379808256868 fatcat:aqcwhwkkjzaezgzxgyxnaushia