• Nate Braymen

Proactive Safety Reporting


All incidents are a product of an unsafe action and an unsafe condition coming together (see image above). Proactive safety is derived from the left side of the formula above and focuses on reducing unsafe acts, encouraging safe acts as well as changing unsafe conditions into safe conditions. Proactive safety reporting includes any type of communication from employees to management that identifies unsafe behavior or unsafe conditions. It can take the form of Near Miss, Hazard Recognition or Good Catch reports. 

Addressing safety through human behavior:

The brain operates in two systems of decision making: System 1 is an automatic, fast and often unconscious way of thinking, requiring little energy or attention, but is prone to errors. System 2 is an effortful, slow and controlled way of thinking. Actions that a person has carried out multiple times such as driving a vehicle forward, walking and opening doors are common activities that are most likely to utilize System 1. Reviewing an important report for accuracy, learning a new task, analyzing data and developing plans are most likely to utilize System 2. The majority of the time, people are utilizing system 1 thinking when incidents occur. Therefore, procedures should focus on stimulating system 2 thinking at appropriate times. This is the best way to reduce the exposure to risk from a human behavior standpoint. However, whenever possible, safety should focus on addressing unsafe conditions or latent organizational risks (hidden traps or imperfections built into procedures) since this is the only thing we have control over. This is why human performance improvement (HPI) focuses on fixing the system instead of fixing the worker. You cannot fix human.

There are two main benefits of proactive safety reporting:

1.     It encourages system 2 thinking when the brain would normally rely on System 1, such as walking down an office hallway they have walked down many times before. In other words, it encourages safe, mindful behavior/actions.

2.     It identifies unsafe conditions so they can be made safe.

The two primary benefits of proactive safety result in an increase in Safe Acts and Safe Conditions, which means fewer incidents. 

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