This open educational resource is the culmination of my work health and safety (WHS) management teaching and research from 2010 until 2023 spanning two universities; the University of Wollongong (Australia) and the University of Otago (New Zealand). This resource was therefore produced, in part, on Dharawal country (Wollongong, Australia) and in Ōtepoti, Te Waipounamu, Aotearoa (Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand). Please note that when teaching in New Zealand I often use the terms Aotearoa and New Zealand interchangeably, however, for the purposes of this publication I have only used the term New Zealand. This choice has been made as effectively I am solely referring to the WHS jurisdiction established by “the Crown” in the legislation which does not, unfortunately, incorporate mātauranga Māori perspectives on safety management. However, where possible and appropriate, I have sought to proffer insights on how British colonial perspectives on Australia and Aotearoa have impacted modern Human Resource Management practices (see Past Influencing the Present in Chapter 1).
As an important, yet emerging field, WHS research will continue to evolve at a rapid pace so this resource is unable to address all currently emerging ideas in this field but, instead, is designed to provide a clear historical context to the approaches (Part I) and processes that contemporary organisations are drawing on today (Part II and Part III); as such this resource is mainly is derived from a Safety I perspective but acknowledges, and integrates where possible, the emergence of Safety II.
In Part II, the chapters focus on establishing, implementing, and closing the loop in a WHS system in an attempt to outline what occurs in each phase of the safety management system, rather than exactly how to achieve every aspect, given each organisation, due to its jurisdiction and context, will likely adopt unique approaches. Please do accept my apologies for any oversights on aspects of safety management implementation, as these are likely due to either the innate constraints of publishing or reflect the limitations of my personal knowledge.
Thank you for taking the time to read this open educational resource and I sincerely hope that it enhances your work health and safety practice.
Safety management is increasingly being classified into two eras (or paradigms); Safety I and Safety II.
Safety I, the dominant safety management paradigm from the 1960s into the 2000s, can be explained as a safety management approach that " presumes that things go wrong because of identifiable failures or malfunctions of specific components: technology, procedures, the human workers and the organisations in which they are embedded. Humans—acting alone or collectively—are therefore viewed predominantly as a liability or hazard, principally because they are the most variable of these components" (Hollnegal et al., 2015, p. 3). The Swiss Cheese Model of incident causation is an artifact of Safety I conceptualisations of safety management.
Safety II has emerged across the 2000s with Hollgegal advocating for a shift "from ensuring that ‘as few things as possible go wrong’ to ensuring that ‘as many things as possible go right’" (Hollnegal et al., 2015, p. 3). Their 2015 white paper "From Safety-I to Safety-II" essential coined the two terms and explained Safety II as assuming "that everyday performance variability provides the adaptations that are needed to respond to varying conditions, and hence is the reason why things go right. Humans are consequently seen as a resource necessary for system flexibility and resilience" (Hollnegal et al., 2015, p. 3).
In summary, Hollnegal et. al. consider Safety I’s focus to be on people as a source of error (active failures), whereas Safety II sees people as a “resource necessary for system flexibility and resilience” (Hollnegal et al., 2015, p. 4).