1st Edition

Safety Leadership A Different, Doable and Directed Approach to Operational Improvements

By Robert J. de Boer Copyright 2021
    150 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    150 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    Aimed at those who are responsible for the overall performance of organisations, divisions or departments in diverse industries such as healthcare, aviation, construction, oil and gas, nuclear, railways and defence, this book introduces a new safety paradigm in comprehensible and practical terms. It aims at improving safety and overall organisational performance through a doable, different and directed approach using multiple small steps.

    This book will help readers in understanding how to integrate the natural variability of human performance – and our ability to compensate for unpredictability elsewhere – into organisational systems, thereby ensuring successful outcomes. It covers important topics, including complexity, effective workplace innovations, micro-experiments, maintaining alignment between rules and reality, maximising learning and restoring relations. It includes practical examples and supporting material referenced in the expansive notes section.

    This book:

    • Presents multiple small steps that collectively facilitate the improvement of safety
    • Discusses improving safety in routine work;, not triggered by accidents
    • Covers a chapter on what to do when things go wrong
    • Discusses these methods with the help of numerous vignettes
    • Has a separate section on each industry

    Safety professionals, academicians, researchers and students (undergraduate and graduate) in health and safety, human factors, ergonomics, occupational health and safety will also appreciate the brevity and clarity of this work in conveying the latest scientific insights on safety.

    1 Introduction

    1.1 A different, doable and directed approach to safety

    1.2 Why you might want to read this book

    1.3 Reading guide

    2 Your Role as a Leader

    2.1 Welcoming ‘bad news’

    2.1.1 Creating psychological safety

    2.1.2 Avoiding retribution

    2.2 Setting the scene

    2.2.1 Making sense of the situation

    2.2.2 Trading targets for transparency

    2.2.3 Circumventing confusion about culture

    2.3 Redirecting the safety department

    2.4 Conclusion

    3 Alignment between rules and reality

    3.1 Work-as-Imagined

    3.2 Work-as-Done

    3.3 The elusive gap

    3.4 Identifying gaps

    3.5 Closing the gap

    3.6 Maintaining alignment between rules and reality

    3.7 The soft skills

    3.8 Conclusion

    4 Effective workplace innovations

    4.1 Complexity

    4.2 Micro-experiments

    4.3 Designing and executing micro-experiments

    4.4 Conclusion

    5 Staying safe

    5.1 Drifting into failure

    5.1.1 Competition and scarcity

    5.1.2 Decrementalism

    5.1.3 Sensitivity to initial conditions

    5.1.4 Unruly technology

    5.1.5 Contribution of protective structures

    5.2 Countering eroding safety margins

    5.2.1 Keeping the discussion on risk alive

    5.2.2 Building expertise

    5.3 Conclusion

    6 What to do when things go wrong

    6.1 Hearing about incidents

    6.2 Understanding the event

    6.3 Maximising Learning

    6.4 Restoring relations

    6.4.1 The triggering event

    6.4.2 Three simple questions

    6.4.3 The demanding nature of Restorative Practice

    6.4.4 If Restorative Practice fails

    6.5 Conclusion

    7 Taking action

    7.1 Ultra-safe industries

    7.2 Process industry and road infrastructure

    7.3 Construction industry

    7.4 Healthcare

    7.5 Military

    7.6 Regulatory bodies

    7.7 Conclusion



    Robert J. de Boer MSc Ph.D. (1965) was trained as an aerospace engineer at Delft University of Technology. He majored in man-machine systems and graduated cum laude in 1988 on the thresholds of the vestibular organ. After gaining experience in line management and consulting he joined Fokker Technologies in 1999. Here he was asked to develop the Program Management methodology for Fokker in compliance with aerospace requirements, as a prerequisite for Fokker to participate in the A380 program. This led to the appointment as the Director of Engineering in 2002. In this role, he supported and guided an increasing number of engineers (up to 300) occupied in a large number of new design projects across the globe. These experiences inspired his current scientific interest in team collaboration and safety, culminating in a Ph.D. (achieved in May 2012) at the Delft University of Technology. From 2009 to 2018, he was appointed as Professor of Aviation Engineering at the Amsterdam University of Applied Science (AUAS). In this role, he executed research in the field of aviation, with a focus on Human Factors & safety, maintenance process improvement, and condition monitoring. He is currently the Director of the Amsterdam Campus for Northumbria University. In this newly created role, he is responsible for the start-up of the Amsterdam campus and its growth to ~ 500 students of all levels (doctorates, masters, bachelors) in the coming few years, and combining this with safety research and consultancy. He has supported organizations such as OKG (nuclear, Sweden), Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust (health care, UK), Shell, BP, Exxon Mobile, Neptune (oil & gas industry, global), Luton Airport, Lufthansa Technic, Thai Airways International, KLM, EASA, TUI aviation, the Dutch armed forces, Dutch railways, and the Dutch road authority.