16th Dec, 2019 Read time 2 minutes

An introduction to the ‘Just Culture’ concept in HSE

Minimising risk is a crucial aspect of health and safety and the establishment of a just culture will help to promote best practice. The foundations of a just culture will require compliance with two principles:

  • The acceptance that human error is inevitable and organisations must review their practices, policies, and processes to manage the risk of mistakes
  • Individuals within an organisation should be held accountable for their actions if they knowingly disobey safety protocol or procedures

Essentially, a just culture encourages a culture where individual mistakes are not punished and are instead analysed against the process to review any inconsistencies with the health and safety protocol within an organisation.

In addition to the basic principles, there are 3 select sets of behaviours that must be considered in a just culture. They are:

  • Human error: inadvertently doing what should have been done
  • At-risk behaviour: behaviour that increases risk that is not necessary
  • Reckless behaviour: A behavioural choice that knowingly disregards a substantial risk

Educating your employees on these behaviours, in theory, will give them a better understanding of their actions and the impact they have on health and safety. Ongoing reviews like this help to improve procedures from a human behavioural point of view.

What are the benefits of adopting a just culture?

Since the inception of the ‘just culture’ movement there have been a number of reported benefits for organisations, these include:

  • An increased sense of trust between those working at different levels of the workforce
  • A drop in operational costs due to a more motivated workforce and a safer work culture
  • A reduction in the total number of accidents
  • An increase in the reporting of accidents and unsafe incidents

One of the key ideas behind a ‘just culture’ is the requirement that it must work for all. These benefits should be benefits for the whole organisation.


How do I start implementing a just culture in my organisation?

Whilst the benefits of just culture implementation are good it comes over the consistent development of certain practices over time.

A key step to take is to ensure your employees have a frictionless system for delivering feedback on practices. This is part of the steps needed for developing an overall reflective culture.


Further steps towards a ‘Just Culture’

As with many aspects of health and safety, a multi-faceted approach is needed. Taking steps towards analysing human performance and how to optimise it with your businesses process will help to break through any lack of improvements your organisation has seen in HSE.

Many organisations take steps towards developing their own ‘just culture’ guide as key part of the process is to be able to justify the actions being taken.

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