14th Feb, 2021 Read time 2 minutes

What is next for Safety Differently in 2021?

To an outsider health and safety may seem like a fairly straightforward profession with plenty of checkbox ticking and risk assessments taking up time, and whilst these are important endeavours, they all come under the overarching aim of any health and safety professional, keeping people safe. 

Since it’s inception, Safety Differently/Safety-II has seen large scale adoption and has been the subject of many lectures and health and safety conferences in 2020. Whilst this is a good start, many say that it is harder to implement the principles of Safety Differently in practice, and getting that buy-in from the organisation. 

In January of 2021, we revisit the Safety Differently philosophy, popularised by Sidney Dekker and what the new year will bring for the health and safety management philosophy. 


What is Safety Differently? 

Safety Differently is a new way of thinking about health and safety, moving beyond the process-driven approach that focuses on the negatives, and instead of shining a light on the human-driven approach that focuses on the positives. Instead of analysing how incidents have gone wrong, ask how they have gone right. 


How the pandemic has affected Safety Differently

When it comes to working out what is going right in an organisation, the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the strengths and potential weaknesses in many companies. 

With many being forced to work from home, those organisations that priorities people and view them as part of the solution are continuing to thrive in the new world of work. 

Conversely, organisations stuck in traditional working methods have struggled, and the accelerated change that 2020 brought means Safety Differently as a wider philosophy is now being viewed more favourably amongst safety managers. 

So what lies ahead for Safety Differently? It’s difficult to say. Many of the philosophies most forward-thinking adopters are continuing to instil the benefits of adoption in organisations, However, there are some detractors. 

A paper on Safety 3 from Professor Nancy Leveson goes over some of the issues with the Safety Differently/2 philosophy and discusses how a systems approach can be used as a way forward. 

On HSE Network we are pleased to announce that we will be sitting down with our content partner Andrew Barker, General HSE Manager of the Rezyat Group for a discussion on safety, the different philosophies, and how we can push the profession forward in 2021. 

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