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Become who you are. Make what only you can make.Friedrich Nietzsche

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How to take safety to the next level?

How to take safety to the next level?

As atypical as they may be, the high-reliability organizations —aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, rocket launch bases, etc.—are characterized by a remarkably low number of accidents. How to learn from their methods to raise the bar on safety?


Many companies regularly launch safety awareness and training campaigns to improve deficient safety performance, only to find  that the benefits are often temporary. After a few months of heightened vigilance, people revert to their old habits until  the next slipup, which triggers a new campaign.

Sustainably instilling safe operational and human behaviors is not easy.  Many companies don’t know where to turn, because  they have the impression they have already done their utmost to improve safety.  Yet some organizations working in highly  complex and risky environments manage to have very few accidents.  Indeed, these “high-reliability organizations,” such as  submarines and aircraft carriers, have accident rates lower than many intrinsically less dangerous activities.

As atypical as they may be, these environments offer a very rich source of inspiration. Analyzing how air traffic control  towers or rocket launch bases are run can help more traditional organizations rethink their safety design and find new ways to continue to improve their reliability.

Our consulted authors focus particularly on three easily transposable practices:

- Beware of overly rigid discipline. Organizations must have a healthy respect for established standards and decision-making  processes to guarantee safety, but also be able to make exceptions when circumstances require!

- Offer many learning opportunities. Employees who have learned about a number of different case studies are better equipped to face the unexpected.

- Communicate clearly. Rigorous communication is critical to avoid the risks linked to the omission or distortion of information.

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