Team: building a safety culture

Humans belong to the species of group animals. In the past they survived and propagated themselves by staying together.

Overestimation of skills

Nowadays we still are better at estimating safety behavior of others than that of ourselves. In general people have a tendency to overestimate their own safety performance. They recognize their safe behavior and at the same time justify their own unsafe actions. This leads to an attribution failure. Feedback from teammates is required to compensate for this failure. But feedback also requires an open atmosphere in which teammates can feel free to express their point of view.

Model learning

We learn a lot form other team members just by observing them. We call this model learning. This form of learning can contribute in a nonconscious way to the development of safe behavioral patterns.

Behavior is contagious

At the same time team behavior can also have disastrous consequences when the safety behavior of the team is at a low level. Well-trained new personnel can be thwarted in their attempts to be accepted by the other team members. Negative group pressure always overcomes positive training.

Long time investment

Cultural programs can be effective if they are based on model learning, which requires a lot of time and constant management attention. At least three generations of management committed to preaching safety are required to create a sustainable effect.