Keywords: organisational culture, sociotechnical design, system safety, safety culture, total safety management, organisational design, job design, work organisation, technology use
Safety culture and its reflections in job and organisational design: Total Safety Management
Recent attempts to capture system safety have focused on the term 'safety culture', indicating a shift in emphasis from individual and directly accident-related factors to organisational and 'latent' factors related to safety. Based on the socio-technical systems approach, an extension of existing models of safety culture is suggested, termed Total Safety Management in accordance with current models of quality assurance, stressing the importance of defining the primary task of a production system in terms of quantity, quality and safety of production. This concept includes not only characteristics directly related to safety, such as safety guidelines, training programmes, operating procedures etc., but also characteristics of job and organisational design that can be assumed to have an indirect effect on safety as they influence the degree of control over variances and disturbances by the operators in the production process. Investigations in four chemical companies and one transportation company, comprising observations in production units, interviews with various company experts in the fields of safety, production, and engineering, questionnaire responses of more than 600 respondents in a wide spectrum of production areas, professional fields and hierarchical levels, as well as the analysis of company documents including incident statistics, served to study relationships between safety, work organisation and technology use. Findings providing some first indications of the usefulness of the Total Safety Management model and practical implications of the results are discussed.