Building a Just and Trusting Safety Culture


Workshop Description

As of 01 January 2009, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) now requires all Operators to implement a Safety Management System (SMS). However, like in other high-hazard industries (e.g., oil and gas), the implementation of “good systems” does not necessarily mean significant improvements in safety and performance will be sustained or implementation will be without its hurdles. Analysis of data from the oil and gas industry (which implemented SMS subsequent to the Piper Alpha disaster in 1988) showed that by the late 1990s a plateau (in terms of incident rates) was about to be reached after the implementation of the systems approach and that “more of the same” would no longer be sufficient to achieve the desired improvements in performance. It was at this point that efforts were directed to further embed systems into everyday practices by exploring the behavioural and cultural aspects of safety performance improvement.  

As experts such as Dr Patrick Hudson note, an SMS defines sound systems, practices, and procedures, however, paradoxically, it is never enough if practised mechanically; an SMS requires an effective safety culture to “flourish.” One essential component of such a culture of safety is trust. Discussions at various conferences, workshops, and with our clients around the world have shown, time and time again, that trust plays a key role in the successful implementation of, acceptance of, and workforce involvement in, an SMS (and other safety/ performance improvement initiatives). In order for employees, at all levels of an organisation, to feel intrinsically motivated to operate the elements of the SMS - because they believe in it, rather than that they are being forced – a level of trust within the organisation is essential. Central to this is a “just culture.” As Dr James Reason notes, a just culture exists in an atmosphere of trust in which people are encouraged (even rewarded) for providing essential safety-related information, but in which they are also clear about where the line must be drawn between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. 

To ease the implementation of SMS and allow it to flourish, there are steps that management can take to help work with employees to build a level of trust within their organisation. This workshop will examine these steps in the context of safety culture, leverage points for culture change, human error (including threat and error management) and ways organisations can work to improve their safety culture (i.e., safety culture maturity) whilst building trust and commitment at all levels of the organisation. 

Who should attend?

Individuals from such areas as the military, airline operations, and airport operations who are involved in planning, directing or              managing a safety programme and supervisors who are required to supervise an accident prevention / risk management programme.

Workshop Duration, Location and Tuition

Workshop Duration: 2 days.

Fee: $950.00 CAD, bulk rates for organisations available.

Location: Various locations – In-house available.

Next Classroom Course:

Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Dates: 09 - 10 Feb, 2009


All Dutcher SMS courses can be delivered to your offices and tailored to your organisation's needs. If you have a group of 5 or more individuals for this course, please contact us and we will provide you with information about bringing this course to your offices at a time convenient for you and your staff. For courses delivered in the United Kingdom, all prices are in UK Pounds (GBP).  For courses delivered in all other European countries, all prices are in Euros. For delivery in other countries, please contact us.


Regular Facilitators:  John Dutcher and Mike Doiron


For More Information

Download  Brochure:

Building a Just and Trusting Safety Culture (67kb)

Related Courses:

Safety Management Systems

Behaviour-based Safety

  1. Evaluate and Enhance an Existing Observation Process
  2. Behaviour-Based Ergonomics (Using an observation process to target ergonomics)
  3. Human Error Reduction (Using an observation process to identify and manage human error)
  4. Behaviour-Based Incident Analysis

Safety Climate Assessment and SMS Maturity Path

Dutcher Safety & Meteorology Services (2003 - 2009)
Last Updated: 05 Jan 09